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Our Story

The Queer Italian-Canadian Artists Project

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Original artwork by Ariana Magliocco

The seeds for the Queer Italian-Canadian Artists project were planted in early 2019. Licia Canton, founding editor-in-chief of Accenti Magazine, wanted to use her position within the Italian-Canadian literary and scholarly community to bring attention to queer writers and artists whose experiences had been ignored or gone unnoticed. Motivated by a desire to emphasize the importance of diversity, acceptance and inclusion within Italian-Canadian communities, Canton released the film Creative Spaces: Queer & Italian-Canadian (2021) and published Here & Now: An Anthology of Queer Italian-Canadian Writing (2021), the most comprehensive volume of writing by queer Italian-Canadians to date.  

In early 2019, we knew of only ‘a handful of writers’ who openly identified as members of both communities through their writing or in interviews. When this project began, some hesitated to participate because they would clearly be identified as members of the LGBTQ+ community, while others hesitated because the project is closely linked to their Italian upbringing (i.e. rejection, mistreatment). The reluctance to be identified as either queer or Italian-Canadian confirms the importance of our project, which has helped to shed light on the suffering that has taken place in Italian immigrant families and to create a space for conversation and healing (Canton, Frascà, p. 234).  

In the process of developing Here & Now, Licia Canton connected with University of Toronto Italian Studies professor, Paolo Frascà, and a collaborative friendship was born “with the clear goal of challenging normative conceptions of Italian-Canadian identity and creating not just safe, but joyful spaces for queer Italian-Canadians to connect and create together” (Canton, Frascà, p. 239). 

Supported by Dr. Nicholas Terpstra, former Director of the Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian-Canadian Studies and former Chair of the Italian Studies Department at the University of Toronto, the Queer Italian-Canadian Artists project began to take shape. Funding was allocated to interview queer Italian-Canadian artists featured in the Here & Now anthology, “in order to understand their personal and professional experiences more fully and to create pedagogical tools that allow students to learn about this important aspect of Italian-Canadian social and cultural life (Canton, Frascà, p. 239). 

Ideally, this project will reach beyond creative and academic collectives and encourage people in the community to start a conversation, ask questions, look for information, find answers. Every person that is touched by this project can help to fill the silence that has been detrimental to the queer children of immigrants, so that the Italian-Canadian community and the LGBTQ+ community can be in conversation with one another” (Canton, Frascà, p. 238). 

The research team is grateful to have received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Insight Grant Program) and the University of Toronto to continue this project and further develop academic and community networks that allow the intersections of queer and Italian-Canadian identities to be explored safely, openly, and creatively.  

Too often the experiences of queer Italian-Canadians are ignored, hidden or silenced. Rarely are queer Italian-Canadians given the space to share stories or build community in ways which celebrate their intersecting identities.

 

This project is a reminder that queer people always have, and always will be an important part of the Italian diaspora.

Paolo Frascà, Ph.D.

Co-Director

Professor Paolo Frascà (he/they/lui) teaches in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Toronto, where he is also affiliated with the Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian-Canadian Studies, the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, and the Global Migration Lab (Munk School of Global Affairs). His work and teaching focus on Italian language and culture pedagogy, Italian diaspora studies, and sexuality studies.

Nicholas Terpstra, Ph.D.

Project Advisor

Nicholas Terpstra is Professor of History at the University of Toronto.  His research explores questions at the intersection of politics, religion, gender, and charity, and he has integrated these into digital humanities with the Digitally Encoded Census Information and Mapping Archive (DECIMA) Project.  His most recent work is Senses of Space in the Early Modern World (Cambridge: 2023).

Daniele Laudadio, Ph.D. Candidate

Graduate Researcher

Daniele Laudadio is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Toronto, where he is completing his dissertation, "A Seat at the Table: Food and National Belonging in Contemporary Postcolonial Italy." Daniele joined the Queer Italian Canadian Artists Project in the summer of 2023: "I am proud to contribute to this important project and deeply inspired by these LGBTQ stories of resilience, belonging, and hope."

Licia Canton, Ph.D.

Co-Director

Licia Canton (PhD U de Montréal) is founding editor-in-chief of Accenti Magazine, director of Creative Spaces: Queer and Italian Canadian (2021), editor of the groundbreaking Here & Now: An Anthology of Queer Italian-Canadian Writing, author of The Pink House and Other Stories (2018), recipient of Premio Italia nel Mondo (2018).

Ariana Magliocco, M.A.

Project Manager

Ariana Magliocco (she/they) is a writer, researcher and visual artist. She has an MA in Social Justice Education from UofT OISE, with research interests in Italian-Canadian anti-racist and decolonial solidarity building and queer liberation. Joining the project in 2021, Magliocco describes her experience connecting with other queer Italian-Canadians as "nothing short of transformational."

Zhihao Zhang

Undergraduate Researcher

Zhihao Zhang is in his final year of a double major in Italian Studies and Actuarial Science. His passion lies in exploring Italian history and culture, with a particular interest in Italian literature. He is honored to be a member of the Queer Italian-Canadian Artists research project.

Our Team

Special thanks to former undergraduate researchers Heather Sdao and Sam Martin for their work on the initial stages of the research project.

This project is financially supported by:


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Government of Canada), Insight Grant
Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University of Toronto
Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian-Canadian Studies, University of Toronto

Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies, University of Toronto
 

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