The Lavender Mafia

“I want you to take care of that sonofabitch right away.  I don't want to see him no more. I want you to make that first thing on your list, understand?” (from The Godfather)

The history of the Mafia is sketchy but many believe that it was born in order to protect the less fortunate and the poor peasants of Sicily. The American branch begun around 1893 when Don Vito Cascio Ferro fled the island to New York after the murder of banker Emanuele Notarbartolo. The Italian mafia in the U.S. is sometimes referred to as La Cosa Nostra ("Our Thing"). It continues to dominate organized crime in the United States.

In a continuous effort to break down the mafia control over the southern part of the country the Italian government has been sending soldiers to fight the secretive and dangerous crime network. Something every Italian government has been trying to do, with varying degrees of flaccidity, for the last one hundred years.

"Pentito" the Italian word that has always carried a religious connotation (he who has repented in front of God) has now taken a new meaning.It designates people in Italy who, formerly part of criminal or terrorist organizations, following their arrests decide to "repent" and collaborate with the judicial system to help investigations.

"Omerta"- Sicilian for "code of silence”, the vow, among men of honor, that, for over 100 years kept them from betraying their secrets to the authorities, is being slowly broken, in more ways than one.

Many of those arrested have started to "sing and dance" and not to the soundtrack of "The Godfather".

A show tune seems to be more likely because a new twist has been thrown into the equation. The cement door of the closet has been opened, and Gay Mafia Dons are being outed in droves.

Gay life in Italy is a complex subject that often confuses queers from more open countries. The Italians, in a general sense, don't proclaim their sexuality if it's homo or bi.

Only in recent years has the subject been openly talked about. The Catholic Church continues to exert a tremendous influence on everyday attitudes. It is no accident the Mafia has grown in the home of the Vatican. Both demand the same fidelity from their followers and punish those who are different or stray from the rules with death, either earthly or eternal.

In the meantime the prosecutor in charge of the ongoing investigations has revealed that there are more gay bosses than ever imagined. These gay bosses are marked men, as good as dead. The Mafia does not tolerate homosexuality.

You can be a friend of Dominick but not a Friend of Dorothy.

On the outside they exhibit their usual machismo but in private they have male lovers or frequent male prostitutes.

The police have, following tips provided by the pentiti, intercepted and recorded dozens of phone conversations between rent boys who freely describe the homosexual preferences of powerful Godfather like figures.

In a page taken out of The Soprano, fiction and reality become one, and stealing directly from the show, we can just imagine the consigliere talking to the members of the famiglia after they have killed the outed capo:

“You know, maybe it is better this way. You wouldn’t want him to be a model for the children, after all.”

And if this was a musical comedy they would break into a Broadway number:

So, you little Italian devils,

you want to know about love?

If you want to make a woman happy

you rely on what you were born with

because it is in your blood..  "Be Italian" (from Nine)

Like the characters of the HBO hit, killing, lying, stealing and cheating on your wife aren’t sins. But going gay sure is. Vito Spatafore’s brutal end in the famous episode of The Sopranos was one of the most telling and chilling moments in the show’s expose of mob Catholic hypocrisy.

As Phil Leotardo watches, his henchmen tape Vito’s mouth shut and beat him to death. But do Vito’s killers suffer any remorse? Do they believe that they’ve done something sinful and wrong? Not for a moment. In fact, bolstered by perverted Mafia logic, they actually pat each other on the back for having performed a service to humanity and manhood itself, not to mention Jesus Christ and the Church.

Vito, whose character is based on real life Vito Arena, a homosexual mob associate in the Gambino crime family, is guilty of “making a mockery of the sacraments” and being “a disgrace to his family.”

The fact that they live a life dedicated to constantly breaking every one of the Ten Commandments doesn’t stop them from putting on God's mantle and passing judgment on one of their own, who murdered and stole like the best of them, but whose only crime, in their eyes, is that he had the balls to become a “ricchion.”

By telling the story with an explosive mix of sacred and profane, the show, and the real life events unfolding in Italy, brilliantly portrays the unblemished absurdity of their Catholic beliefs and it forces us to ask what religion really is, what it’s really supposed to do, and where the hell is God, for that matter?

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