REACTIONS TO IL-KTIEB ROŻA (1997)
(Translation) “As far as is known, this is the first book that talks about homosexuality and homosexuals from beginning to end. It is also the first book written by a Maltese in Malta who has publicly disclosed his sexual orientation.”
“Sa fejn hu magħruf, dan huwa l-ewwel ktieb bil-Malti li jitratta, mill-bidu sa l-aħħar, dwar l-omosesswalità u l-omosesswali. Hu wkoll l-ewwel ktieb miktub minn Malti f’Malta, li stqarr pubblikament l-orjentazzjoni omosesswali tiegħu.”
‘Introdott l-ewwel ktieb bil-Malti dwar l-omosesswali’
Launch of the first book on homosexuality in Maltese),
L-Orizzont, 18 February 19907, p. 7.
(Translation) “With these words, lawyer Joseph Chetcuti begins the introduction to a book that is bound to create controversy about a subject that, unfortunately, remains controversial in our country. Without doubt, the initiative of Dr Chetcuti is daring and timely. Timely because it is about time that the Maltese understand that homosexuals are no different, deserving of their rights as anyone else. It is time that we end the stigma, the labels and name-calling that is so much a part of Maltese life. The book of Dr Chetcuti is an important publication because it is very rare in our country that a homosexual publicly declares, without fear or shame, his sexual orientation.”
“B’dan il-kliem l-avukat Joseph Chetcuti jibda d-daħla tal-ktieb li għandu jqanqal kontroversja ġmielha dwar suġġett li sfortunatament għadu wieħed jaħraq f’pajjiżna. Bla dubju ta’ xejn l-inizjattiva ta’ Dr Chetcuti hija waħda kuraġġuża u f’waqtha. F’waqtha għaliex wasal iż-żmien li l-Maltin jindunaw li l-omosesswali huma persuni bħal kulħadd, bi drittijiet daqs kulħadd. Wasal iż-żmien li jispiċċaw darba għal dejjem l-istigma, it-tikketti u t-tgħajjir li aħna l-Maltin tant niddilettaw fihom. Il-ktieb ta’ Dr Chetcuti huwa pubblikazzjoni importanti għaliex hija ħaġa rari għall-aħħar li f’pajjiżna l-omosesswali jiddikjara pubblikament, mingħajr biża’ jew mistħija ta’ xejn, l-orjentazzjoni sesswali tiegħu.”
Alternattiva, 21 February 1997–7 March 1997, p. 2.
(Translation) “Joseph has fired up the local Maltese homosexual community. He has drawn it out of its nest. He has challenged it to assume a profile. To assume dignity … It may well be the case that we are about to smash another taboo. Maybe.”
“Joseph ivvampja lill-kommunità omosesswali lokali. Ħariġha mill-bejta tal-ġrieden. Qed jistendinha tassumi profil. Tassumi dinjità … Forsi bdejna nġarrbu totem ieħor ta’ tabu. Forsi.”
Mario Azzopardi, ‘Kontrokurrent’ (Against the Currect),
n-Nazzjon, 24 February 1997, p. 13.
(Translation) “I heard him talk on the program ‘Il-Parlament tal-Poplu’ (the people’s parliament) on Live FM, I think a week ago today. A programme full of attacks on the Catholic Church and its teachings, peppered with insinuations and serious allegations against religious, priests and nuns—some of them Maltese. I heard Dr Chetcuti defy the church and its Maltese bishops, and interpret the Bible to suit himself.”
“Smajtu jitkellem fil-programm ‘Il-Parlament tal-Poplu’ fuq Live FM, jidhirli bħal-lum gimgħa. Ripetizzjoni ta’ programm ‘infinit’ mimli attakki kontra l-Knisja Kattolika u t-tagħlim tagħha, b’taħlita ta’ insinwazzjonijiet u allegazzjonijiet serji dwar reliġjużi, saċerdoti u sorijiet—anki Maltin. Smajt lil Dr Chetcuti jisfida lill-Kurja u lill-Isqfijiet Maltin u jinterpreta l-Bibbja ‘skond kif jaqbel’.”
Joe Cassar, Media Line,
In-Nazzjon, 26 February 1997, p. 20.
(Translation) “We admire the great courage of lawyer Joseph Chetcuti who took the initiative to publish, for the first time, a book of research on homosexuality in Malta. Hence the Maltese Gay Support Group is most grateful to him.”
“Nammiraw il-kuraġġ kbir ta’ l-avukat Joseph Chetcuti li ħa l-inizjattiva li għall-ewwel darba jippubblika ktieb ta’ riċerka dwar l-omosesswalità f’Malta. B’hekk il-Malta Gay Support Group huma ferm grati lejh.”
Rene Micallef, Anthony Farrugia and C Debono,
Alternattiva, 1 February 1997–7 March 1997, p. 11.
“The Archbishop’s Curia yesterday laid out the Church’s teaching on homosexuality in view, it said, of certain attacks being made against the Catholic Church and its teachings on the subject.”
The Times of Malta, 1 March 1997, p. 20.
(Translation) “After the publication of Il-Ktieb Roża, many homosexuals who spoke on the media registered their hurt at the attitude of the Church … The Church’s statement asks us to show pity towards homosexuals. Pity? Why do we have to pity them? Why not leave them alone to lead a normal life?”
“Wara li hareġ Il-Ktieb ir-Roża ħafna omosesswali li tkellmu fuq il-media nstemgħu mweġġgħa bl-attitudni tal-knisja … L-istqarrija [tal-knisja] titlobna biex nuru mogħdrija ma’ l-omosesswali. Mogħdrija? Ta’ xiex irridu nagħdruhom? Għax ma nħalluhomx jgħixu ħajja normali?”
Joe Azzopardi, ‘Jien Miġnun’ (I am mad), Spektrum,
Il-Mument, 9 March 1997, p. 15.
“I wonder how a learned doctor of law in his right senses could pride himself on TV and the press on being homosexual ….”
G Agius, The Malta Independent,
18 March 1997, p. 26.
(Translation) “I agree with Joe Cassar who called lawyer Chetcuti courageous following the publication of the first book in Maltese on homosexuality. While personally I do not fully agree with what Joseph Chetcuti said and wrote, he still deserves praise for tearing down our blinkers of ignorance, prejudice and silence that unfortunately continue to prevail in our country.”
“Naqbel ferm ma’ Joe Cassar meta sejjaħ lill-Avukat Chetcuti bħala kuraġġuż meta dan ippubblika l-ewwel ktieb bil-Malti dwar l-omosesswalità. Filwaqt li personalment ma naqbilx għal kollox ma’ dak li qal u kiteb Joseph Chetcuti, dan xorta waħda ħaqqu prosit talli qed jikser l-għamad ta’ l-injoranza, preġudizzju u omertà li sfortunatament għadhom jeżistu dwar dan is-suġġett f’pajjiżna.”
A C Azzopardi,
In-Nazzjon, 20 March 1997, p. 17.
(Translation) “The Committee of the Philharmonic Society Pinto … utterly condemns … the words spoken and photos shown about St Sebastian [when] the lawyer chose, without the Church’s approval, this saint as his symbol and that of homosexuals.”
“Il-Kumitat tas-Soċjeta Filarmonika Pinto … jiddeplora bil-qawwa kollha … il-kliem li ntqal u r-ritratti li ntwerew dwar San Bastjan [meta] l-Avukat stqarr li għażel, għalkemm mingħajr permess tal-knisja, dan il-qaddis bħala s-simbolu tiegħu u ta’ sħabu omosesswali.”
Statement of the Committee of the Philharmonic Pinto–Qormi,
Leħen is-Sewwa, 22 March 1997, p. 20.
“The attempt to give the impression that there are many homosexuals [in Malta], including politicians on both sides, is sheer bluff … Dr Joseph Chetcuti stated that in his book Il-Ktieb Roża, he suggests that a large number of priests and religious are homosexual. He also asks the arrogant question ‘if and how many cases of sexual abuse by members of the clergy and religious orders and societies have come to the attention of the ecclesiastical authorities in Malta’ … The dunghill of dirty sex is piling up rapidly everywhere. Caution and the sense of Christian charity are on the decline. Sensationalism, which arouses morbid curiosity, is replacing sound and healthy journalism.”
Professor Joseph Aquilina,
The Sunday Times, 23 March 1997, p. 17.
“Animosity is mounting among a section of Qormi residents for the homosexual lawyer who had the nerve to declare on television that St Sebastian, their patron saint, was also the protector of homosexuals. His words added fuel to the rivalry in Qormi between supporters of the parish church of St George and those of St Sebastian. Those who venerate St. George have often made disparaging remarks about the sexual tendencies of their rival’s patron saint. Joseph Chetcuti … has already provoked a statement by the Archbishop’s Curia about the teachings of the Church on homosexuality … Dr Chetcuti says that St Sebastian is relevant to the gay community …. ‘Saints are not the property of any one group of people. Their appeal extends beyond Catholic churches or parishes’ … He [Chetcuti] said he did not refer only to St Sebastian but mentioned other saints. He included comments by an Anglican bishop who considered St Paul, who is believed to have introduced Christianity to Malta, to be homosexual.”
‘Remark sparks off war of the saints’,
The Malta Independent, 23 March 1997, p. 6.
“The Maltese-Australian lawyer … has come and gone … He left us with Ktieb Roża, as full as an egg with the rights of homosexuals and unrestrained attacks against several institutions including the Church … Dr Chetcuti wants homosexuals to be treated like human beings but why treat us as fools?”
“L-Avukat Malti-Awstraljan … ġie u telaq … Ħallielna iżda Ktieb Roża mimli daqs bajda b’difiża għad-drittijiet ta’ l-omosesswali u attakki sfrenati kontra bosta istituzzjonijiet fosthom il-Knisja … Dr Chetcuti, irridu li l-omosesswali jkunu trattati tad-demm u l-laħam imma f’ġieħ il-verità titrattax lilna ta’ boloh!”
‘Pinu’s Column’ (Il-Kolonna ta’ Pinu),
Il-Mument, 23 March 1997, p. 18.
With Minister Evarist Bartolo and Dr Emmy Bezzina at the radio launch on Il-Parlament tal-Poplu.
Fireworks, St Sebastian and the launch of the book at the Lizard Lounge (Tom's bar) in Floriana.
REACTIONS TO QUEER MEDITERRANEAN MEMORIES:
PENETRATING THE SECRET HISTORY AND SILENCE OF GAY AND LESBIAN DISGUISE
IN THE MALTESE ARCHIPELAGO (2010)
“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.”
Alex Vella Gregory, ‘Almighty blow to local views on LGBT history’,
The Sunday Times, 18 April 2010, p. 44.
“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.”
Joseph Farrugia, ‘Homosexuality and undeserved publicity’, ˂malta.com/articles/view/20100327/letters/homosexuality-and-undeserved-publicity.300098.
“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.”
I M Beck, ‘Freedom, tolerance and words’, ˂malta.com/articles/view/20100327/opinion/freedom-tolerance-and-words.300136
(Translation) “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 ….”
“Sfortunatament, dan l-aħħar kien hawn fostna minn ipprova jżeblaħ u jkasbar lil dan il-qaddis li fi żmienu tant għamel ġid lis-soċjeta Maltija. Il-Ministru qalet li l-istudenti kollha għandhom ikunu kburin li l-Kulleġġ tagħhom hu dedikat lil dan is-saċerdot qaddis ….”
Press Release, Department of Information, Malta, 25 March 2010, No 0516.
“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.”
“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.”
Michael Caruana, ‘L-Isqfijiet jikkundannaw kitba fuq San Ġorġ Preca’
(Bishops condemn writing on St George Preca), MaltaRightNow.com, 28 March 2010.
“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.”
Star Observer, ˂
“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.’”
Matthew Vella, ‘A secret history of Malta’, ˂chive.maltatoday.com.mt/2010/03/28/interview.html.
“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’.”
‘Book’s gay claims aim to discredit church-bishop’,
“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!”
Dr Emmy Bezzina, prominent lawyer and TV personality,
online contribution to Bishop Grech’s statement.
(Translation) “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.”
“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.”
Aleks Farrugia, ‘L-istorja moħbija tal-omosesswali Maltin’
(The hidden story of Maltese homosexuals), Torċa, p. 22.
(Translation) “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.”
“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.”
‘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.
(Translation) “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.”
“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.”
Fr Mark Montebello OP, ‘L-istorja sigrieta tal-gay Maltin’
(The secret story of Maltese gays), Torċa, 14 March 2010, p. 27.
“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.”
“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, ‘Jitnieda l-ktieb dwar l-istorja tal-omosesswali’
(The book on the story of homosexuals is launched),
Torċa, 21 March 2010, p. 2.