In the Western world we live, fluidity is essential in all its forms at last. Expressions such as sexual fluidity or fluid sexuality are increasingly used to describe and address a new phenomenon, a change of our times or something about the new generations, however, it is not as “new” as it seems at all (one might recall the life in the ancient Greece and elsewhere) and it is not limited to human nature. What we call “fluid sexuality” is a more flexible and open way of living and expressing one’s sexuality, which is an issue new generations are more familiar with.
“It often refers to all those people who do not identify with a specific gender or sexual orientation, thus suggesting that some people are fluid and others are not,” explains Laura Massari, psychologist expert in LGBTQIA+ positive psychology and wellbeing. “Actually,” she adds, “sexual fluidity scientifically holds one more definition that affects us all a bit. It is the ability we have, as gendered human beings, to feel attraction to any or all genders, no matter what sexual orientation we identify with. It is a feature of human sexuality and as such not everyone experiences it.” Some may experience and practice it, while some will never do. Others may feel attraction to a person who doesn’t belong to the gender they are usually attracted to and still decide not to behave accordingly and not turn such attraction into a concrete reality.
“Sexual fluidity is the ability we have to feel attraction to any or all genders, no matter what sexual orientation we identify with”
In short, sexual fluidity “is not an additional orientation, as it is a common feature in all human beings” she points out, while sexual orientation “is an element that defines our identity, which is likely to be permanent over time but not unchangeable“. Fluidity, moreover, does not affect sexual identity: being sexually flexible does not change who we are or what makes us ourselves, and being “genderfluid” – a phrase that is often used today – does not mean that our identity changes all the time or that we do not hold one. We just have the natural ability to feel attraction to all genders, and such attraction can be developed at some point in life and, if we want to, we may also act as we feel.
We talked about this on a warm day in Rome (although it is late December) with Vittoria Schisano and Giancarlo Commare, two Italian actors who are sensitive to the issue and have shouted out to the world – in their own way – who they are and lived it to the fullest. We met them on the photoshooting set between a change of clothes, hairstyles and ad hoc makeup, and their seriousness has never given up a pleasant lightness that is vital, even when dealing with serious issues, as it is the highest form of flexibility, a daily exercise of tolerance alongside with (self-)irony, a proof of humanity.
“When I meet a new character, I feel like I meet someone who I have to listen to. I have to be open to them”
“I associate fluid with liquid: it takes on the shape of the container it is in just like water. Everyone should feel free to be themselves, without asking for permission, and express it as they wish”.
“In this regard, water makes me think of banks and fluidity doesn’t put up banks at all, a moment of awareness no one shares anymore. Today I like to think so, because being open to possibilities is always a great opportunity. It gives you the opportunity to surprise yourself and find yourself different from what you thought, and how you were yesterday. It is a great opportunity for everyone”.
How much does your work help you with that?
GC: So much. If I lived with “boundaries”, I could never deal with many characters that I’ve already played and play. I agree with Vittoria: you have to be who you are and always welcome, listen, open up. When I meet a new character, I feel like I meet someone who I have to listen to. I have to be open to them, otherwise I would never be able to put myself in his or her shoes.
VS: The great thing about doing this job is to be who you don’t have the courage to be, giving yourself the chance to be who you really are. Cinema gives you the opportunity to lead a life that is not yours or that you can’t live out of fear, prejudice or inability. It can teach and has the responsibility to tell that diversity, if it really exists, is never a limit but a true asset.
“Cinema gives you the opportunity to lead a life that is not yours or that you can’t live out of fear, prejudice or inability”
Besides being actors and dancers, you are both artists. To be an artist today is not easy at all: do you feel a sense of responsibility?
(They both thank for the compliment and smile)
GC: No, I don’t feel it and I don’t want to. If somebody wants me to have it, that’s fine of course, but I don’t take that kind of responsibility on my own initiative.
VS: That’s a good question, because you do feel some responsibility. Our work is a game, as suggested by the English word play and the French one jouer. When I work, I never have a real sense of what I am doing or what we are going to see, because I experience it from the inside. Of course, as a human being, I know very well that I’ll face the judgment of those who look at me and the emotional response of the audience, whether it comes out or not. I feel that sense of responsibility when I’m home, not on the set, because I always ask myself: was I good enough? Did I convey that message? When I’m on the set, I feel like I’m in my room dreaming about this job, that is playing.
GC: I take the responsibility in taking care of a character to the smallest details, because I play a person someone else will identify with. I should have a strong sense of responsibility and take care of it. This is the responsibility I want to del with when I tell a story through a character, as I respect who is looking at me or will do it eventually.
“When someone becomes aware of who they really are, if they change, it can only be for the best and it will definitely not have a bad meaning”
From set to real life: how hard is it to be yourself? Is it easy and thus not hard at all?
GC: It’s very easy to be myself for me. You just have to be yourself.
VS: To be yourself is a luxury and I’ve always have been, with all my virtues and flaws.
Are you afraid to change, not only in your appearance and work, or do you face changes with confidence and pride?
GC: I don’t call it courage, I think it’s a choice. Change definitely starts with ourselves, before anything else. When someone becomes aware of who they really are, if they change, it can only be for the best and it will definitely not have a bad meaning.
VS: I agree. Courage is a need: the need to improve yourself, surprise yourself, accept yourself for who you are, so it is never a choice. We can choose to change our hair color or get a tattoo, we can certainly choose to live, but not always “how” for some reasons. However, we can face the change that life brings. We are all constantly evolving and changing. We should have the courage to be surprised and always surrender to what’s new.
“Courage is a need: the need to improve yourself, surprise yourself, accept yourself for who you are”
“Be the change you want to see in the world”: do you believe in this quote from Gandhi?
GC: Of course, I like it very much. Change depends on us. If we wait for something to change and do nothing about it, nothing will change. If we change the order of things, they will change eventually. I find it fascinating in its own way.
VS: I like it too, that phrase has a special meaning, especially at this point in history when we are taught to be afraid, to stay within our comfort zone, to be afraid of those who have a different skin color or sexual orientation, or those who simply do not agree with us. Just think that diversity is richness and can bring change.
“I come from a land, Sicily”, Giancarlo says, “that is beautiful and unique precisely because of it. My island has been conquered and inhabited by so many people different in ethnicity, religion, food and more. Differences can only bring good”.
“Differences can only bring good”
Vittoria Schisano was born in Pomigliano d’Arco and studied drama at the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome. She made her debut in the film Mio figlio and we have seen her in Canepazzo, La vita oscena, Take Five, Nove lune e mezza, Nati 2 volte, Tutto tutto niente niente. She is among the leading stars in two Italian successful series, I bastardi di Pizzofalcone and Un posto al sole. Vittoria wrote the autobiography La Vittoria che nessuno sa and was the first transgender woman to pose for Playboy Italia. She has recently appeared in Bros, the first gay rom-com by Nicholas Stoller and Billy Eichner in the Grand Public section of Rome Film Festival 2002 and we will see her in a project signed by Netflix soon.
Giancarlo Commare was born in Castelvetrano. We know him as one of the leading actors in Maschile Singolare, a modern queer story, Ancora più bello, Sempre più bello and Rinascere, that is the true story of the swimmer Manuel Bortuzzo, who was shot and became paraplegic for a case of mistaken identity. He was among the most beloved stars of Skam Italia aired on Netflix. Giancarlo has been – and will be – in the musical Tutti parlano di Jamie, where he plays a boy who dreams of becoming a drag queen. He will appear soon in Ferzan Özpetek’s new film for Netflix, New Olympus. Havana, his caring mestizo dog, is always by his side, even during this shooting.
Editor in Chief Federico Poletti
Text Giuseppe Fantasia
Photographer Davide Musto
Stylist Simone Folli
Video-maker Federico Cianferoni
Ph. assistant Valentina Ciampaglia
Opening image: Vittoria Schisano wears body and trousers Alessandro Vigilante, earrings Simple Rituals; Giancarlo Commare wears jacket Alessandro Vigilante, tank top Sandro Paris, trousers Berwich, earrings Radà
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