While Italy is certainly one of the more conservative nations in Western Europe, and LGTB rights are nowhere as good as nearby countries, there are a huge number of celebrities that are openly gay.
On this page, we’re going to take you through 12 noteworthy gay Italian celebrities. Our choices cover pretty much every celebrity walk of life here.
Do bear in mind that this is just a smattering of gay celebs in Italy. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other people that could have been included on this list. We’ve tried to go for the more famous Italians, especially those that have campaigned extensively for gay rights both in Italy and outside the country.
Gabriel Garko has been appearing extensively on Italian TV since the 1990s. Despite being in his 50s now, he has long been seen as a heartthrob. Nowadays, he doesn’t do too much in the way of TV or movie work. Instead, Gabriel Garko has decided to retire to the country where he engages in all sorts of pursuits, including running a horse riding stable, skiing, and more.
Interestingly, Gabriel Garko is an example of how Italian culture isn’t 100% accepting of LGTB right now. It wasn’t until 2020 that Gabriel Garko came out as a bisexual. He hasn’t worked all that much since he came out, bar a couple of TV judging jobs. We have no idea whether he decided to stop working as a career decision, or he simply couldn’t find any work due to his sexual orientation. Still, we’ve read a few recent interviews from him and he does seem to be doing pretty fine.
Francesca Gregorini is an Italian-American. She is a screenwriter and director. She has helped to create things such as Tanner Hall, The Truth About Emanuel, and Killing Eve (second series). Although she has yet to have any big-budget flicks to her name they will probably come at some point!
She’s part of a famous family too. Barbara Bach, an ex-Bond Girl is her mother, and Ringo Starr (of Beatles fame, if you didn’t know) was her step-father.
Francesca Greogrini has had a string of relationships in the public eye, with the most talked-about being when she dated Portia de Rosci from 2000 to 2004.
Bruno Tonioli is an Italian that isn’t that well-known on Italian TV. Instead, he has managed to forge himself a career in the UK and then, more recently, in the US. If you can name a dancing competition show, then chances are that Bruno Tonioli is going to be one of the people judging the competition.
Bruno Tonioli is very much openly gay. He has also spoken about his experiences growing up as a gay man. Bruno has made it one of his missions in life to help teenagers and those discovering their sexuality for the first time to deal with homophobic bullying. In fact, Bruno has spoken heavily about the homophobic bullying that he had to deal with when he was growing up.
While Rosalinda Celentano does have a good number of TV and movie credits to her name, all of that work is in Italy. Outside of Italy, she is known for one role – playing Satan in The Passion of the Christ.
Rosalinda Celentano was one of the first lesbian actresses in Italy to be fully out. Although, she says that she did not have an easy time coming out, particularly to her parents.
Rosalinda’s parents are both famous singers in Italy, and they were not very supportive of Rosalinda at all. In fact, she was forced to leave home and cut off contact with her parents. She eventually turned to drinking before she realized that she was happy with who she is. When she first came out, she was in a relationship with Simona Borioni, another famous person from Italy.
Antonio Di’Amico was a popular fashion designer and model in Italy. Although, he is perhaps best known for being in a relationship with Gianni Versace, another Italian fashion designer (we’ll talk more about him in a short while). They were in a relationship for fifteen years before Versace’s death (Antonio Di’Amico died shortly after that).
Shortly after Versace died, there was a legal battle over his will. You could barely read a newspaper or watch the news in Italy for a good long while without having Antonio’s name brought up. So, he remains a noteworthy gay Italian celebrity, with many people from the early 2000s growing up knowing him.
Outside of his marriage, he wasn’t an active campaigner for gay rights. Although, we suppose that is fine. As near as we can tell, he had one of the longest gay partnerships of all the celebs in Italy, and that is noteworthy enough. It certainly did help people to become much more accepting of LGTBQ causes.
As we mentioned, Antonio Di’Amico is perhaps more famous for being in a relationship with Versace than he was for the clothing that he designed. So, you can’t really have a list of the 12 noteworthy gay Italian celebrities without including Versace, can you?
Versace is a name that is known all over the world. When he was alive, he built a huge luxury fashion empire, an empire that exists to this very day.
Unfortunately, Gianni’s life was cut short in the late 1990s when he was murdered by an American spree killer.
Gianni Versace didn’t talk much about his homosexuality to the media. We suppose that he didn’t really have time considering he was running one of the biggest fashion empires in the world.
You can’t really talk about Italian pop music without mentioning Tiziano Ferro. Outside of a few artists, it is incredibly rare for Italian musicians to break out of Italy and take the world by storm. However, Tiziano managed to do that.
Tiziano didn’t come out as gay until the mid-2000s (a good few years after he launched his first single), and he did it in a very interesting way. He started talking to Vanity Fair where he officially came out as gay. However, at the same time, he released a biography which was essentially his teenage diaries. While he had led an interesting life up until that point, his diaries were absolutely packed with his experiences growing up as gay.
Since he came out in the mid-2000s, Tiziano has been at the forefront of many discussions on pro-LGTBQ issues.
Giorgio Armani is another famous Italian fashion designer, and one that you will almost certainly have heard of. Unlike Versace, though, Giorgio Armani has never publicly come as gay. In fact, he likes to lead a very private life when he is not running his fashion empire.
That being said, it is very obvious that he is gay, even though he has never spoken about it publicly. For starters, it is known in Italian media that Armani was in a relationship with Seriop Galeotti for several years (unfortunately, the relationship when Galeotti died in the late 1980s).
Nowadays, Giorgio Armani doesn’t talk much to the media and has remained private. Considering he is almost 90, we doubt this is going to change. There doesn’t seem to be any pressing need for him to come out as publicly gay at this point.
Luchino Visconti is another interesting gay Italian. He was born in 1906 and lived until the 1970s. So, he lived in a time period where Italian really wasn’t a fan of LGTBQ and, yet, Luchino Visconti was proud of who he was and refused to stay in the closet. In fact, he remained a member of the Catholic Church (which is sometimes proudly homophobic), despite ridicule by the general population.
He worked as a screenwriter, director, and stage director. In fact, Luchino pioneered many of the techniques that are still getting used in cinema to this day, perhaps most notably cinematic neorealism.
Outside of his celeb status, he had quite a life. He was part of the Italian Resistance during World War II, and almost ended up being executed by the Italian Government for the role that he played. He was saved by a last-minute reprieve. Honestly, it is no surprise that he was fine with being openly out in his era. He fought fascism and lived to tell the tale. He had every right to tell everybody exactly what his sexuality was!
We have another gay Italian fashion designer for you. Domenico Dolce is one half of the Dolce & Gabbana duo. In fact, Dolce and Gabbana were in a relationship for several years, and they have a very interesting relationship.
Neither Dolce nor Gabbana have ever made a secret of who they are. In fact, they shared a fact about their relationship that completely stunned many of those in Italy – it was a completely open relationship. This meant that while the two of them were partners, both were free to go and explore what else was out there. As a result, both of them were snapped plenty of times partying with all sorts of different men.
As you can probably guess, some people in Italy were not fine with this. We are, though. It shows that LGTBQ relationships can be just like any other relationship. It isn’t something that needs to be kept hidden.
Naike Rivelli is an Italian actress and singer, although she didn’t have a huge amount of success outside of Italy.
Naike has had a number of high-profile relationships with men, and she was even married to one for a while. But, in 2010, she came out as bisexual. She is rarely snapped in public with a woman, although she has talked heavily about what it was like to be in the closet. Although, she is (mostly) a very private woman.
We know that many people outside of Italy may not have heard of her, but she is a very big name within the country, hence why she managed to get a place on our list of noteworthy gay Italian celebrities. That and the fact that her coming out did signify that attitudes in Italy toward LGTBQ may be changing.
Last but certainly not least, we have Franco Zeffirelli. This man filled multiple roles in the industry, from director to producer, to actor. Most of his famous works involved him directing Shakespeare plays, with his version of Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson and Glen Close being the most notable.
Interestingly, he also served as a politician from 1994 to 2001. Although, he didn’t come out as gay until 1996. Based on what we know of the climate in Italy at the time, there is a good chance he wouldn’t have been elected if people knew that he was gay in 1994.
Over the years, Franco Zeffirelli hasn’t spoken all that much about his sexuality. He has said that he doesn’t see himself as gay. He sees himself as homosexuality. He is one of a few celebs out there (not just Italian ones) that has this way of thinking. A lot of people seem to believe that the word gay has become too stigmatized, so they want to steer clear of it.
Still, outside of the fashion designers, we think that Franco Zeffirelli may be one of the most notable gay Italian celebrities on this list, particularly among those that love more artistic movies and plays. Many people, not just in Italy, would have seen one of his productions.
As you can see, Italy certainly has no shortage of noteworthy gay Italian celebrities. We’ve just covered a few of them here. However, we can’t help but feel that the rather hostile culture in Italy is keeping many people in the closet. This is something that we do hope changes in the near future but, unfortunately, because Italy is an insanely religious country with an aging population, we doubt this is going to happen any time soon.