09 March 2006

Drag queen says she's a serious politician

Italian will be Europe's first 'transgender' member of parliament if elected

ROME - Vladimir Luxuria will ditch the sequins, feather boas and bouffant wigs when she enters Italy’s parliament. The drag queen says she will be Europe’s first transgender member of parliament. and wants to be seen as a serious politician.Born Wladimiro Guadagno, the former organizer of Italy’s gay pride parades, considers herself neither male nor female but dresses as a woman and prefers to be referred to as "she."Luxuria has shot to national fame by running for parliament where she is practically guaranteed a seat at April’s general election by teaming up with the country’s main communist party.
“I’m going to be the first transgender to get into a parliament in Europe,” Luxuria, 40, told Reuters in an interview.
“It’s a way to say to people: don’t judge me by the way I look, don’t judge me by my sexual orientation. Please, judge me by my ideas.”
Reaching out to gay voters, Communist Refoundation has put her very near the top of its party list. With the party likely to get at least 6 percent of the vote, Luxuria’s place as a lawmaker is assured.But Luxuria, who stars in an upcoming film playing a Neopolitan transvestite who enters politics, is keen not to be considered a novelty candidate along the lines of porn star Ilona ’Cicciolina’ Staller who sat in the assembly in the 1980s and was famous for her impromptu stripteases.
'Parliament is not a theatre'
The drag queen dressed down for a recent news conference, wearing a trouser suit with a orange jacket and said she intended to attend parliament in similarly conservative but feminine clothes rather than her cabaret attire.“Parliament is not a theatre, it’s not a discotheque. It’s already revolutionary that a transgender gets into parliament. It wouldn’t be useful to provoke in such a stupid way.”
Luxuria’s political stand for gay rights contrasts sharply with Italy’s deep Catholic roots and the hostility to gays shown by many of its politicians.
The European Parliament rejected Italy’s choice for European Commissioner, Rocco Buttiglione, a member of the Catholic UDC party, because of his belief that homosexuality was a sin.
Despite attacks from government supporters, Luxuria jokes that she has something in common with image-conscious Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is lampooned in Italy for apparently wearing built-up shoes that make him look taller.“He wears make-up, like me, maybe a little bit less but he does. He wears heels, so sometimes, at least aesthetically we have more in common than he would think.”
A new view of Italy?
The center-left 'Union' coalition, led by former European Commission President Romano Prodi, has pledged to establish some form of civil union for homosexual couples, although gay groups say the wording is not clear enough.Luxuria said she will work in parliament to establish full legal recognition of such unions, but stressed that she is not pushing for adoption rights for gays, such as exist in Spain, because “Italian society isn’t ready to accept it.”While Berlusconi’s center-right coalition, campaigning on traditional family values, hopes that Italians will be put off by the sexually ambiguous Luxuria, the center left hopes her presence will demonstrate a modern, tolerant view of Italy.Last year an earring-wearing, openly gay man, Nichi Vendola, was voted governor of the southern region of Puglia, delivering victory for Refoundation and humiliation for Berlusconi’s party.“I think Italians are a bit more mature than many of the politicians who claim to represent them,” said Luxuria.
Three Cheers for Vladimir!


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