«I have an announcement, my cousin says.
He stands up and clears his voice. We are right in the middle of the first course. I’ve picked a plate of pasta al nero di seppia, which I haven’t been able to taste since I moved to London, while the other people sat at the table have gone for various other choices and my aunt Maria, who insists she is still on a diet, has skipped the course altogether. My aunt Agata chuckles. Have you finally found a girlfriend that you’re ready to introduce us to?
Not quite, my cousin says. It’s November and yet I can see his forehead getting damper by the second and, suddenly, I know exactly what what he is about to say.
Enzo, I say under my breath, sit down.
No, he says. Mum, Dad, I have something to tell you.
I look down at my plate. It was good while it lasted. Now, I thought it was a universally accepted rule that potentially delicate announcements are to be made at the end of the meal, when any heart attacks and premature deaths can be related back to cholesterol. Evidently, I was wrong.
I am gay, my cousin says. His sister Graziella sucks in a breath. I like men, he keeps going. Sono puppo, ricchione, frocio. iarrusu, checca, finuocchio, culattone, rottinculo e sucaminchia.
If a group of British hooligans and Italians Northern League supporters had met in a room and actively tried to draft a list of homophobic insults, they still wouldn’t have come up with as many colourful choices in two different languages. I turn to look at my uncle, who hasn’t moved a muscle since the word ‘gay’ and could now possibly be in another realm of existence. His round cheeks are red, his nostrils flaring.
Dad, my cousin continues, You’ve called me all these things, even unkowingly. Now you know. I won’t just stand in silence any longer.
In the back of my head, I realise that the rest of the small restaurant has gone quiet. [...]
It feels like nothing can happen in Sicily unless we make a show out of it. Life, and especially tragedies, can only be carried out in front of an audience. Life, in a nutshell, is performative.» — Snakeskin, Carmelita Zappala.