While many have found amusement from the reaction to the kiss between Serena de Ferrari and Kyshan Wilson, we shouldn’t forget that in other contexts, there could be serious consequences


Ok. I admit it. Raised since childhood on a steady diet of comedy nuns – from Jake Thackray’s, Sister Josephine, to 1990s comedy, Nuns On The Run, through to the 2010 bad taste nunsploitation, Nude Nuns With Big Guns – I shall never not find the antics of the penguin-attired do-gooders ever so slightly ridiculous.

Nuns behaving badly is such an obvious comedy trope. So, I loved it when I found the Italian press reporting the story of a real-life nun going for broke last week when she found – “saints preserve us!” – two grown women out on the streets kissing.

Italian media played the story for comedy gold. We’re out in Napoli – the Spanish Quarter – and a photoshoot is happening. Centre stage are two young actor-models Serena de Ferrari and Kyshan Wilson. They also feature prominently in the TV series “Mare Fuori” – “The Sea Beyond” – a crime drama, focused on two teenagers, from organised crime backgrounds, who would rather pursue careers in hairdressing and music than the mafia.

It’s different. So why wouldn’t there be a photoshoot of two young women kissing?

Cue nun. She has been engaging two young girls who had rocked up to watch the shoot, inquiring them on why they had not gone to mass that morning, when … she spotted the models kissing. “Oh Dio!”

Faster than you can whip out a set of rosary beads she is on them, pushing them apart: “Che fate? Che fai? È il diavolo! Gesù, Giuseppe, Sant’Anna e Maria!”

Translation: “What are you doing, what are you doing? This is the Devil. Jesus, Joseph, Saints Ann and Mary!”

The episode lasts mere moments. The nun, an elderly woman in a white habit, continues on her way. She is clearly upset. The incident, lasting less than a minute, is over. But social media.

The reaction has been interesting. Many Italians expressed amusement – as did I, initially. Some sprang to her defence. After all, she is a harmless old woman, for whom the 21st century is clearly a bit much.

More interesting was a tweet from LGBTQI activist Fabio (@Iperbole_ on twitter) who describes this simple scene as a “violent and serious act” (“un gesto grave e violento”). Wassat? Just another woke warrior with too much time on his hands?

“È un gesto grave e violento, e c’è veramente poco da ridere perché fossero state due ragazze ‘comuni’ non avrebbero riso. Dopodiché, nessuno chiede la ghigliottina.”

Translation: “This is a serious and violent act, and truly there is little to laugh about here, because if they were two ‘common’ young women, they would not have smiled. After all, no one asks for the guillotine.”

Easy to say – and many in the mainstream media would say just that. But consider: nuns in Italy still have a status that they have largely lost in the UK. Individual nuns, as here, may be easy meat for comedy takes. But they are part of the Catholic church, which exerts significant political power. Even more in the next few years if dire predictions for a coming election turn out to be correct.

Nuns, priests and church have worked tirelessly against rights for women, and rights for LGBTQI people. And, as Fabio himself observes: this might have gone very differently if the women involved had been less famous, more “common”.

So, laugh if you will. But never for one instant forget that the background, the reality against which this elderly woman of faith operates is determinedly anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-lesbian. And that, in other contexts, in Italy today, continues to have fatal consequences.

You can catch some of jane’s other writing on jane-67706 at medium.com.


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