Familiaring the Gay, Queering the Family. Coming out and resilience in Mambo Italiano

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This article explores how two Italian-Canadian families negotiate
the coming out of their sons in the film Mambo italiano, a comedy/
drama released in 2003 and set in Montreal, Canada. The Italian-
Canadian protagonist, Angelo, after years of living in the closet,
decides to tell his parents he is gay, outing at the same time his
Italian-Canadian lover, Nino, and provoking initially strong and
vexed reactions in their respective families. Although full of stereotypes
and cliches on ethnicity and gender identities, and following
closely the so-called coming-out films’ genre, arguably concerned
with positive representations of gay coming-out experiences, the
film portrays the ironic, creative, and interesting ways in which
these Italian-Canadian families negotiate a coming out despite the
homophobic prejudices they are imbued with. Moving from studies
of family resilience, this article argues that the major strategies used
for integrating gayness into the family are drawn from the resources
available to (post)migrant families. These are the use of rituals and
the adaptation of ethnic schemata to new realities in order to cope
with the unfamiliar, and the ability to envision family as an evolving
and changeable reality, as this capability and the hope for a
better future is what had sustained the survival of migrants in a
hostile land. These considerations are backed up with reference to
Italian-Canadian and Italian-North/American gay, lesbian, and
bisexual (GLB) writers, whose concerns are similar to those found
in Mambo italiano.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQueerying Families of Origin
EditorsMaria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Chiara Bertone
Place of PublicationNew York and London
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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