MALTESE

REACTIONS TO QUEER MEDITERRANEAN MEMORIES:

PENETRATING THE SECRET HISTORY AND SILENCE OF GAY

AND LESBIAN DISGUISE IN THE MALTESE ARCHIPELAGO (2010)

ENGLISH

The Cover

Alex Vella Gregory

‘Almighty blow to local views on LGBT history’

The Sunday Times, 18 April 2010, p. 44.

“From the point of view of an openly gay man living in Malta, I sadly have to agree with most of what the author points out though on a few counts I have my reservations.”

Joseph Farrugia

‘Homosexuality and undeserved publicity’

Letters, Times Of Malta, March 27 2010 

“I am disgusted by the publicity given on the national TV station, via Xarabank, on the theme of homosexuality in Maltese society … to give so much publicity to a book that tries to make people believe that among such people were dead persons who the Maltese … hold so dear, is an insult which cannot be tolerated in the civilised country we pretend to be.” Link.

I. M. Beck

‘Freedom, Tolerance And Words’

Times Of Malta, 27 March 2010

“Dr Joseph Chetcuti’s speculations are of supreme irrelevance to me. I haven’t read the book and nor do I intend to, though I do not exclude picking it up and having a browse, much in the manner of a seeker after gossip, if I were to find it lying in my general vicinity.” Link.

Press Release

Department of Information, Malta, 25 March 2010, No 0516

“Sfortunatament, dan l-aħħar kien hawn fostna minn ipprova jżeblaħ u jkasbar lil dan il-qaddis li fi żmienu tant għamel ġid lis-soċjetà Maltija. Il-Ministru qalet li l-istudenti kollha għandhom ikunu kburin li l-Kulleġġ tagħhom hu dedikat lil dan is-saċerdot qaddis ….”

“Unfortunately, recently, we had among us someone who tried to disparage this saint who during his lifetime did so much good to Maltese society. The Minister told students to be proud that their College was dedicated to a saintly priest ….”

Michael Caruana

L-Isqfijiet jikkundannaw kitba fuq San Ġorġ Preca

Bishops condemn writing on St George Preca             

MaltaRightNow.com, 28 March 2010

“L-Arċisqof Cremona ssokta li l-awtur mgħandu l-ebda prova li San Ġorġ Preca kellu orjentament omosesswali … Hu qal li kien għad irid jara l-ktieb u sostna li hu importanti li wara tinħareg stqarrija mill-Kurja kontra din l-inġustizzja.”

“Archbishop Cremona went on to say that the author had no proof that St George Preca was homosexual … He said that he still had to look at the book and insisted that it was important that the Church issues a statement about this great injustice.”

Joseph Chetcuti presenting the book to then Leader of the Opposition (Dr Joseph Muscat), now Prime Minister of Malta. Also in the picture is Gino Cauchi.

Malta's History Dragged From The Closet

Star Observer, 21 September 2009

“Melbourne author and lawyer Joseph Chetcuti methodically charts and ponders the secret sexuality of historical figures as far back as the apostle St Paul, who spent time in Malta, to modern-day patron saint George Preca and parliamentarian Mable Strickland.

 

Malta’s gay and lesbian [people] are ‘a people without a written history’. We have yet to trace our footprints, the events and people of significance to us. Our history, as told by our oppressors, is one of deceit, seeking to suppress any proof of same-sex love,” Chetcuti writes … Chetcuti is a trailblazer in his home country, writing the first book on homosexuality in the Maltese language, The Pink Book, in 1997.

 

So controversial was the book, in 2007 Chetcuti was banned from giving a lecture on it by the Maltese Community Council of Victoria. There was similar uproar in Malta.” Link.

Matthew Vella

A Secret History Of Malta

Malta Today, 28 March 2010

Not happy Joe! Joseph Chetcuti arguing a point with Fr Joe Borg (sitting) on the Maltese TV program Xarabank.

Standing: Peppi Azzopardi, host.

Sydney's first gay Mardi Gras: the book

AU$39.50Price

“As a chronicle of gay life, Queer Mediterranean Memories is an exhaustive memoir of gay haunts, beats, and clubs, and the personalities that brought these places to life. As the first historical record of its kind, much of Joseph Carmel Chetcuti’s monograph is based partly on anecdotal reminiscences, partly on personal inference on Malta’s queer who’s who. Much of his work is historically referenced, giving readers a coherent picture of gay life from the decadent heyday of post-war Strait Street with tales of its drag queens, orgies and gay hangouts; through to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and the creation of Malta’s modern gay rights movement …

In a way, Chetcuti’s stance is justifiable if we had to look at it from another perspective: much of the criticism levelled at his interpretation of Preca’s orientation comes from those whose prejudice is that the saint must have been undoubtedly heterosexual. So why is it ‘acceptable’ to think someone is straight, but ‘defamatory’ to think they are gay? …

Queer Mediterannean Memories is Chetcuti’s second major foray into bringing queer culture into the public fora. Chetcuti’s uncle, novelist Guze Chetcuti, ‘one of the great romantics’, had advised him back in 1994 not to appear on Pjazza Tlieta on PBS to debate homosexuality. ‘Open homosexuality’, he told me, ‘was still frowned upon in Malta’. He added that being out-and-proud would destroy any plans I might have had of a future career in Malta.


Years later, after his father died in 2006, Chetcuti discovered a letter to his father from his uncle, written in 1997, shortly after the publication of Il-Ktieb Roża. The subject was Joe’s appearance on a radio programme. ‘So far, he has come out with flying colours’, he wrote to his father. ‘The book is receiving much publicity and raises a subject that shows the number of homosexuals in Malta is far greater than I thought. He is making a success of it and is shaking our closed minds.’”

Torċa, p. 22

"Li kieku Joseph Chetcuti ma kienx jeżisti, kien ikun meħtieġ li jinħoloq! Kellu jkun hu li jiġbor il-kuraġġ biżżejjed biex jikteb l-istorja tal-kommunità omosesswali f’Malta. Il-ktieb tiegħu … qanqal kontroversja sħiħa … Imma lilhinn mill-kontroversja hemm il-ħajjiet ta’ persuni li kellhom jgħixu taħt id-dell tad-diskriminazzjoni … kultant doppjament, meta d-diskriminazzjoni sesswali kienet imwaħħda wkoll ma’ dik socjali"

“If Joseph Chetcuti was not around, we would have had to generate him. It had to be him who gathered enough courage to write the story of the homosexual community in Malta. His book … created a massive controversy … But away from the controversy there are the lives of individuals who had no choice but to live under the shadow of discrimination … sometimes double lives, when discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was part and parcel of the social life.”

Aleks Farrugia

L-istorja moħbija tal-omosesswali Maltin

The Hidden Story Of Maltese Homo­sexuals

   L-istorja tal-omoseswalità f’Malta ppubblikata:

Miktub biex isir diskussjoni

The Story Of Ho­mosexuality In Malta Published:

Written To Generate Discussion

L-Orizzont, 13 March 2010, p. 4.

“Il-ktieb … hu ta’ l-ewwel xorta tiegħu f’Malta, għax għall-ewwel darba qiegħed jikteb l-istorja—sa fejn jista’, tal-omosesswalità f’Malta. Fil-ktieb jingħata rendikont dettaljat ta’ persuni minn kull qasam tas-soċjeta Maltija li kienu omosesswali jew ta’ tendenzi omosesswali.”

“The book … is the first of its kind in Malta to tackle the story—as far as is possible, of homosexuality in Malta. The book provides a detailed account of persons, from all sections of Maltese society, who were homosexual or had homosexual tendencies.”

Fr Mark Montebello OP

L-istorja sigrieta tal-gay Maltin

The Secret Story Of Maltese Gays

Torċa, 14 March 2010, p. 27.

“Tintebaħ mill-ewwel li biċċiet minn dan il-ktieb jaħarqu sew. U forsi ma jistax ikun mod ieħor. Għax din hija tema importanti li qajla kienet ittrattata qabel b’mod espliċitu u wiesgħa. Snin ilu, fl-1997, kien Dr Chetcuti nnifsu li xandar ktieb fuq l-istess linja … Kien dan il-ktieb li, aktarx għall-ewwel darba, beda jifqa’ s-silenzju u l-ipokrezija li dejjem satru din it-tema. Dr Chetcuti kompla jagħmel dan f’aktar dettall, b’riċerka estensiva u b’ħarsa aktar iffokata. Bhall-‘Ktieb Roża’, jiena nqis dan il-ktieb bhala mument sinjifikanti fil-ġrajja soċjali tagħna.”

“You quickly come to realise that some aspects of this book are very controver­sial. Perhaps it cannot be otherwise. Because this is an important subject that is seldom tack­led explicitly and widely. Some years ago, in 1997, the same Dr Chetcuti published a book along the same lines … It was this book, possibly for the first time, that broke open the silence and hypocrisy that are associated with this theme. Dr Chetcuti continued along this line, with more detail, more research and increased focus. Like ‘Ktieb Roża’, I consider this book as a significant moment in our social story.”

Gabi Calleja

Jitnieda l-ktieb dwar l-istorja tal-omosesswali

The Book On The Story Of Homosexuals Is Launched

Torċa, 21 March 2010, p. 2.

“Gabi Calleja li hija l-koordinatriċi tal-Malta Gay Rights Movement qalet li … jekk Chetcuti ried jagħti rendikont dwar l-istorja tal-komunità Maltija, ma setax ma jsemmix individwi. Qalet li l-MGRM tappoġġja l-ktieb minkejja li tista’ taqbel jew ma taqbilx mal-konklużżjonijiet tal-awtur. Calleja żiedet tgħid li dan huwa ktieb interessanti u ta’ kontribut siewi u ddeskrivietu bħala ċelebrażżjoni tal-kuraġġ ta’ dawn in-nies.”

“Gabi Calleja who is the co-ordinator of the Malta Gay Rights Movement said that … if Chetcuti wanted to tell the story of the homosexual community in Malta he could not do so without mentioning names. She said that the MGRM supports the book irrespective of whether one agrees or disagrees with the author’s conclusions. Calleja added that this is an interesting book that makes a useful contribution, and she described it as a celebration of the courage of these people.”

Kurt Sansone

Book's Gay Claims Aim To Discredit Church - Bishop

Times Of Malta, 21 March 2010

“Gozo Bishop Mario Grech has condemned a book claiming that St Paul and Malta's first saint had gay tendencies, saying th[at] its intention is to discredit priests by propagating a lie … Mgr Grech said the allegations were ‘serious’ and based on a ‘malicious agenda’.

 

The book, Queer Mediterranean Memories by Maltese-Australian lawyer Joseph Carmel Chetcuti, speculates on the sexual orientation of various prominent people including St Ġorġ Preca and Agatha Barbara among others.

 

Without referring to the book by name, Mgr Grech sarcastically described the reason it gives to justify the drop in the number of seminarians—the author alleges it is because the Church has admitted gay men to the priesthood—as ‘fantastic’.” Link.

Dr Emmy Bezzina, prominent lawyer and TV personality

Online contribution to Bishop Grech’s statement

“Bishop Grech’s statements remind us of Christ’s admonition about Him who is without guilt. The organisation to which Bishop Grech belongs has no right … to condemn other deeds when it is not seeing the beam in its own eye!”