In an interview with the Italian publication Corriere della Sera, gay Italian fashion designer Stefano Gabbana said, “I don’t want to be called gay, because I’m simply a man… full stop. The word ‘gay’ was invented by those who need to label people, and I don’t want to be identified by my sexual choices.” The Stefano Gabbana gay comment raises an interesting question of when it’s appropriate to identify people as gay.
Considering the Stefano Gabbana gay comment …
In the interview, Gabbana continued, “I thought that I could help spread a new culture as a famous person, a culture no longer based on gay rights but on human rights. We are human beings before being gay, heterosexual or bisexual.”
His comments raise an interesting and important question: When should people, particularly the press, mention a person’s sexuality and why? Does doing so ever diminish the person, reducing them to stereotypes, mere sexual behavior or even potentially harming the LGBTQ community?
We have mentioned before that not all LGBTQ artists wish to be pigeon-holed as “LGBTQ artists” because it boxes them into a set identity, reducing their artwork and potential appeal to the estimated 4% of Americans who openly identify as LGBTQ. When one makes art of any sort, it’s often with the hope that it will find a large audience — labelling it (or the artist) as “gay” or “queer” may lead others to make assumptions about the art’s content, politics or the artist’s persona (all of which may not seem “gay” in the least).
Some queer rights activists believe that visibility remains the LGBTQ community’s greatest tool for combatting homophobia. Indeed, when LGBTQ people remain invisible, it’s easier to discriminate and commit violence against them.
But highlighting a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity in stories that don’t directly involve either can seem needlessly provocative or even reinforce negative perceptions of the LGBTQ community, particularly when the person involved has committed a crime.
The Stefano Gabbana gay comment isn’t as controversial as his others
In 2015, Dolce called children born through in vitro fertilization “synthetic children” and implied that such kids would inevitably have psychological issues. In 2017, they told people who criticized their decision to dress Melania Trump to “fuck off” and vowed never to let musician Miley Cyrus’ brother ever model again after the pop star publicly disagreed with their politics. Amid the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations in America, Gabbana commented last month that sexual harassment isn’t a form of violence.
Featured image via Stefano Gabbana’s Instagram