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Anyone who’s taken part in LGBT History Month, and read the accompanying profiles on LGBT+ people throughout history, probably knows that both Leonardo and Michelangelo had queer stories. But there’s still little attention paid to the same sex loves and desires of either artist. Now all that is set to change, as exclusive tourguides Quiiky launch their Italian-based historic LGBT-friendly tours.
Two of these tours follow in the footsteps of the great artists at the forefront of the Italian Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. There are two different towns to choose: Rome with its eternal beauty, and Milan, the fashion Capital, hosting Expo 2015.
‘Pope Francis and his step forward on gay rights has brought back many gay people to the Church,’ says Alessio Virgili CEO and Founder of Quiiky, the tour operator organizer of these tours. ‘His open mind is almost revolutionary and gay people seem to have appreciated it. Even the Vatican Museums has registered a high presence of a LGBT audience in the recent period.’
Quiiky tours make it possible to admire both Michelangelo’s and Leonardo’s works in a queer context, learning of their private lives and loves, and how same sex desire shaped their iconic work. Guides lead you through the Vatican Museums in Rome and locations linked to Leonardo’s life in Milan to examine how much the works of these great artists reflect their intimate desires and the aesthetics that emerged from their particular circumstances.
Quiiky tours specialise in highlighting the less often heard but more interesting details that art historians usually overlook. For instance, the Belvedere Apollos that inspired Michelangelo’s representation of the young Jesus as a ‘twink’. And, most subversive of all, you’ll discover the queer story of the Sistine Chapel’s gorgeous artwork, the Giudizio Universale. Perhaps the most important painting in the world, the artwork reveals two men in heaven kissing each other in the eyes of God.
In Leonardo’s paintings you will notice the recognisable face of John the Baptist in his portrait and in the Last Supper, modelled after Salaì, a young disciple of Leonardo’s who inspired much of his work and who Leonard described as ‘keeping me fool’ in his private writings. In The Last Supper you will find hints of this relationship emerging in the characters of Jesus and St. John – bringing a powerful homoerotic undertone to one of the most religious images of all time.
Quiiky is a project of Sonders & Beach tourism company and CEO Alessio Virgili is the Italian ambassador of the IGLTA and the President of the Italian Association of Gay Tourism.