Massimo Consoli

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Born in Rome 1946, (Luciano) Massimo Consoli is one of the founders of the Italian gay movement. He has also been a prolific writer of studies on the history of homosexuality, autobiographical works, and translations. Over several decades he accumulated a massive international archive of homosexuality, which is now housed in the Archivio di Stato in Rome. Long-term stays in the Netherlands and the United States consolidated his international outlook. Nonetheless he became best known for his work in challenging the Vatican and other hostile forces in his native Rome. For a number of years he edited the periodical Rome Gay News.

During the 1970s Consoli was the principal animator of the organization OMPO in Rome, which gave rise to the Gay House. For a number of years he has organized an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of the early German gay-rights pioneer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in L’Aquila.

In 2001 Massimo Consoli was diagnosed with colon cancer. Undeterred, he has continued to publish books and articles. For a number of years he has been working on a major work on the homolexicon, Etimologaya; it is hoped that this will soon be published Further information is available at his website www.cybercore.com/consoli/libri

Among Consoli’s most important publications are:

Viva l'omosessualità (poetry), Rome,1975
La porta del paradiso (poetry), Rome, 1980.
Homocaust il nazismo e la persecuzione degli omosessuali, Ragusa. 1984. Third, enlarged edition: Milan, 1991.
Ecce homo: l'omosessualità nella Bibbia, Milan, 1998.
Andata & ritorno, Rome, 2003 (autobiography).
Gay day: grande calendario GLBT, Rome, 2005.
Manifesto gay, Rome 2006 (reprints his early articles).


Here is an Italian appreciation of Massimo Consoli

Massimo Consoli ci ha lasciato all'1.50 di questa mattina (domenica 4 novembre). I funerali si svolgeranno martedì mattina alle 10, a Marino, non lontano dalla casa-archivio di Frattocchie.

La sua lotta contro il tumore, diagnosticatogli 4-5 anni fa, ha coinvolto emotivamente alcuni di noi, tra le persone a lui più vicine. Ha di sicuro coinvolto me personalmente, che ho annoverato Massimo tra i miei amici più cari - essendone parimenti corrisposto - e non solo in senso affettivo, ma nel senso antico del termine quando "amicizia" significava anche o soprattutto intesa intellettuale. Ma ha coinvolto più di chiunque altro Andrea Furlan - un vicino di casa trasformatosi nel tempo in una sorta di secondo figlio adottivo (anche qui, non solo in senso affettivo ma nel senso intellettuale del termine). Andrea è stato per Massimo il punto di riferimento più stabile, frequente e duraturo nel tempo, fornendogli (affiancato nobilmente dai suoi genitori) il massimo dell'assistenza fisica e morale possibile in questa ultima battaglia di Consoli - la battaglia contro il tumore. Quando anni fa i medici dissero a Massimo che gli restavano solo pochi mesi di vita, vedemmo il leone ruggire e impegnarsi in una battaglia per sconfiggere il male, protraendo la resistenza il più a lungo possibile nel tempo. Perché? Per riuscire a pubblicare i tanti testi importanti per il movimento Gay che Massimo non era ancora riuscito a mandare alle stampe. Mai battaglia per la memoria della vita reale contro l'oblio di una morte fisica annunciata fu condotta con maggiori energie e più nobili finalità. Chi di noi ha vissuto da vicino o da dentro questa prova di dignità umana, ha ricevuto una lezione indimenticabile dalla vita e può anche capire perché i pochi mesi concessi dalla scienza medica si siano trasformati in anni, per imposizione solo e soltanto della sua forza di volontà. Grazie Massimo, anche per questa lezione.

Perdiamo un grande compagno (fondamentalmente anarchico, come si autodefiniva, oltre che fervente anticlericale), una delle ultime intelligenze formatesi negli anni '60-'70 e sopravvissute alle successive devastazioni. Perdiamo il padre fondatore del movimento Gay italiano, il compagno infaticabile di viaggio di tale movimento e soprattutto il suo esponente più radicale, più intransigente, più incorruttibile. Avverso alle derive istituzionali del movimento, alieno dalle ipocrisie partitiche, insensibile ai miraggi elettoralistici, politicamente scorrettissimo, Consoli può a giusto titolo essere considerato il massimo esponente del pensiero Gay rivoluzionario, sicuramente in Italia, ma con ampia proiezione internazionalistica (dall'Olanda agli Usa, a seconda dei periodi). Ci sentiremo ancora più orfani, anche se Massimo ci ha lasciato un grande patrimonio a) in libri (pubblicati per lo più dalla Kaos, da Massari editore e Fabio Croce, ma anche dalla Fiaccola, Malatempora, Edizioni del Giano e altri) e b) nell'Archivio storico del movimento Gay che, dopo una lunga battaglia con le istituzioni, è stato acquisito dal Ministero dei Beni culturali. Massimo ha raccontato la storia della sua vita, con gli inevitabili intrecci di politica e personale, le sue frequentazioni con l'intellighenzia gay italiana ed estera (nomi come Dario Bellezza, suo compagno di un tempo, Sandro Penna, Pasolini e tanti altri) nel suo libro autobiografico - "Affetti speciali" - che ha sempre considerato un po' come il suoi testamento teorico. A lui dobbiamo la riscoperta di Ulrichs, questo ottocentesco Max Weber del pensiero Gay, venuto a morire in esilio in Italia, all'Aquila, per sfuggire alle prime leggi liberticide antigay del mondo giuridico borghese, nella fattispecie di Bismarck. Coloro che negli anni si sono recati con lui intorno alla data di compleanno di Ulrichs (28 agosto) per la cerimonia sulla sua tomba all'Aquila, possono testimoniare della passione con cui Massimo si è assunto l'onere e l'onore di "pontifex Massimo" della riscoperta del pensiero di Ulrichs. Il mondo intero della cultura gay e non-gay deve essergliene grato.

Molto ci sarebbe da aggiungere sul suo calore umano, la sua istintiva generosità, la sua integrità morale (che gli ha sempre impedito di utilizzare il suo ruolo nel movimento gay per farne carriera politica), la sua fede nel futuro, il suo culto della grande madre-terra, la vastità enciclopedica dei suoi interessi, la sua intransigenza su tutto o quasi tutto (che unita al carattere irruento gli ha reso ostili una quantità incalcolabile di persone dentro e fuori i gruppi della ex sinistra, dentro e fuori il movimento gay e glbt in genere). Molto ci sarebbe da aggiungere e certamente verrà aggiunto sulla sua battaglia esistenziale per la libertà sessuale in generale, ma in particolare per la libertà di espressione d'ogni differenza sessuale o di identità di genere. Ricordiamo le sua parole al termine della presentazione della biografia di Ulrichs: "Mi auguro che il suo esempio possa servire alle nuove generazioni: che lo rivendichino con amore e fierezza, e anche da lui apprendano ad essere orgogliose di chi amano e di come amano".

Faremo di tutto perché le nuove generazioni ti ricordino, Massimo. Ti ricorderemo. Hasta siempre Roberto Massari


Here is the translation of the Italian appreciation above by Hubert Kennedy

Massimo Consoli departed from us at 1:50 this morning (Sunday 4 November). The funeral will take place Tuesday morning at 10:00, at Marino, not far from his home/archive in Frattocchie.

His struggles against the tumor, which was diagnosed 4-5 years ago, emotionally involved several of us among the persons closest to him. It certainly involved me personally, since I counted Massimo among my dearest friends - the correspondence being mutual - and not only in an affective sense, but in the ancient sense of the term when “friendship” meant also or above all an intellectual agreement. But it involved more than any other person Andrea Furlan - a house neighbor transformed in time into a sort of second adoptive son (here, too, not only in the affective, but in the intellectual meaning of the term). Andrea has been for Massimo the most stable point of reference, frequent and enduring, furnishing him (nobly seconded by his parents) the greatest physical and moral assistance possible in this final fight of Consoli - the fight against the tumor. When the doctors told Massimo some years ago that he had only a few months of life left, we saw the lion roar and enter into battle to overcome the evil, stretching out the resistance as long as possible. Why?

To succeed in publishing the many important texts for the gay movement that Massimo had not yet succeeded in sending to the press. But the battle for the memory of the real life against the oblivion of an announced physical death was conducted with the greatest energy and most noble purpose.

Those of us who have experienced close up or within this test of human dignity has received an unforgettable lesson of life and can also understand why the few months allowed by medical science were transformed into years by the imposition alone of his force of will.

Thanks Massimo for this lesson too.

We are losing a great companion (fundamentally anarchist, as he defined it for himself, besides being fervently anticlerical), one of the last intellectuals who were formed in the years 1960-1970 and survived the devastation that followed.

We are losing the founding father of the gay Italian movement, the tireless travel companion of that movement and above all its exponent who was the most radical, intransigent, and incorruptible. Opposed to all institutional deviations of the movement, alien to all party hypocrisy, insensible to electoral mirages, politically very incorrect, Consoli can with right be considered the greatest exponent of revolutionary gay thought, certainly in Italy, but with a wide international projection (from Holland to the United States, according to the period).

We shall consider ourselves again more as orphans, even if Massimo has left us a large legacy: (a) in books (published mostly by Kaos, Massari editore, and Fabio Croce, but also by Fiaccola, Malatempora, Edizioni del Giano, and others) and (b) in the historical archive of the gay movement that, after a long struggle with the institutions, has been acquired by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Massimo has told the story of his life, with its inevitable political and personal entanglements, his mixing with the Italian and foreign gay intelligentsia (names such as Dario Bellezza, his companion for a time, Sandro Penna, Pasolini and many others) in his autobiographical book “Affetti speciali”, which he always considered a bit as his theoretical testament.

We owe to him the rediscovery of Ulrichs, that nineteenth century Max Weber of gay thought, who came to die in exile in Italy, in L’Aquila, to escape the first liberty-destroying antigay laws of the bourgeois legal world, in this case, those of Bismarck. Those who joined with him over the years around the date of the birthday of Ulrichs (28 August) for the ceremony at his tomb in L’Aquila, can testify to the passion with which Massimo assumed the burden and the honor of “pontifex Massimo” of the rediscovery of the thought of Ulrichs. The entire world of culture, gay and non-gay, should be grateful to him for it.

Much could be added about his human warmth, his instinctive generosity, his moral integrity (which always impeded him from using his role in the gay movement to make a political career), his faith in the future, his cult of the great earth mother, the vast encyclopedic extent of his interests, his intransigence in almost everything (which united with his impetuous character rendered hostile to him an incalculable number of persons within and without the groups of the ex-left, within and without the gay and glbt movement in general.

Let us recall his words at the end of his presentation of the biography of Ulrichs: “I wish that his example may serve the new generations: that they claim it with love and fervor, and that they learn from him to be proud of whom they love and how they love.”

We will do our utmost so that the new generations will remember you, Massimo. We will remember you. Hasta siempre Roberto Massari


Another appreciation from David Thorstad.

I met Massimo through the French "libertarian communist" (i.e., anarchist) writer Daniel Guerin in the early 1970s. Occasionally, I wrote for publications Massimo was associated with, such as /Con Noi/, and he often translated my writings into Italian. It was he who encouraged me to write an article on my trip to Siwa Oasis in the Egyptian Libyan desert, where the men marry the boys, and he published it in Italian translation. He was a radical who lived his politics, a lover of boys, Italy's most devoted gay archivist, indefatigable. The last thing he translated that I sent him was an item about the discovery of a gay work in a Kiev library by a British exile more than two and a half centuries ago, only a few months ago, and, to my astonishment, Massimo translated it and sent it out to his list within minutes of receiving it.

During his stay in New York around a quarter century ago, we walked down Christopher Street, when the West Village still retained a whiff of its post-Stonewall liberation atmosphere, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear him tell a young gay man we encountered, without any chitchat or serious attempt to cruise, "I love you." It was a spontaneous reaction to beauty on the part of an older man for a young one.

A few years ago, I wrote Massimo that I was growing fava beans, and this elicited a response in which he thanked me for reminding him of the wonderful times in his childhood when he had eaten favas raw, like candy. He said it thrilled him to learn that, in addition to everything else, favas were now a common bond between us.

Massimo was a dynamo for the liberation of sexuality. His was an exhuberant embrace of male sexuality, in all its variety, spiced with a contempt for authority. He was part of a vanishing breed, at a time when gay liberation has been increasingly displaced by same-sexers who prefer to accommodate the system instead of fighting its injustices.

His passing is a great personal loss. But it is a bigger loss for gay men everywhere,and especially for efforts to liberate human sexuality.

David Thorstad

November 6, 2006


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