Here is an open letter and petition from Italian Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo, asking Guido Barilla, chairman of Barilla Pasta, to make amends for incredibly offensive comments about LGBT people, and create a commercial featuring LGBT families.
Dear Guido Barilla,
I remember the first television commercials for Barilla Pasta, in which I participated as an actor and a writer. They were hugely successful in establishing the Barilla brand. During that time I also had an opportunity to meet Peter, your father. He was a person full of creativity and intelligence, with a passion for arts and culture.
It was in those commercials where we introduced the world to Barilla, and introduced products that have become a symbol of Italy and Italians everywhere. Barilla Pasta is synonymous with Italy, with home, and with family.
Today our country is made up of many families, united by the love. Love that is not able to discriminate, and which has no borders. That love is all over the world and it can come between a man and a woman, two women, or two men.
A family is based on love, and your company’s statements want to represent families.
Asked why your company does not do commercials with gay families, you replied: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go and eat another brand. For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.”
Following these controversial comments, you stated: “I simply wanted to highlight the central role of the woman in the family.” And then again: “I have great respect for homosexuals and, of course, I respect the freedom of same-sex marriages.”
Guido, your company has come to define Italy — an Italy that is also made of unmarried couples, extended families, and families with LGBT parents.
That’s why I ask you to take this opportunity and to return to the spirit of those commercials I starred in during the 1950s. That’s why I ask you to end this controversy, and be an ambassador of equality for all.
I ask you, Guido, to reflect the true Italy of today and become an ambassador of equality and a voice of the present. And I ask you to commit to an upcoming advertising campaign from Barilla, where the family can finally be represented in all its infinite and wonderful shapes of our times.
Dario Fo is an Italian playwright, director, stage designer, composer, storyteller, satirist and actor. In 1997 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.