LGBT activist speaks at Villa Rossa Lecture Series
On Oct. 10, the Villa Rossa Lecture Series at Syracuse University in Florence hosted Vladimir “Vladi” Luxuria, an Italian actress, writer, politician and television host. The lecture, entitled “Across Ocean and Gender, Discovering the Unknown,” explored her time spent traveling and themes of “otherness.” Luxuria is a well-known LGBT activist and was the first transgender person to be elected to the Italian Parliament. She organized the first-ever gay pride parade in Italy in 1994 and spoke to students in Florence about her experiences.
The Fall 2012 Villa Rossa Lecture Series consists of five lectures throughout the semester. This year, the series will celebrate Vespucci 2012, the 500th anniversary of the death of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. The theme of the lectures will be “Encountering the Other: The Vespucci Anniversary Year 2012.”
In her speech, Luxuria encouraged attendees to emulate Vespucci’s “courage to venture into the unknown,” and expressed hope that people today will be brave enough to accept identities that are unfamiliar to them. She advised students to break down borders of prejudice and to work to dismantle the rigid gender stereotypes that define men and women. Her speech was followed by a question-and-answer session with students from SU Florence.
Sasha Perugini, director of the SU Florence program, said that she hoped that future speakers would provide as much emotion and poignancy as Luxuria did.
“This was a very important lecture for us because it ties closely with what studying abroad is about,” said Perugini. “Ex-MP Luxuria touched on themes such as tolerance, identity, crossing borders, exploring, self-acceptance, fears and phobias toward different religions, genders and legal systems.”