Connect with us


Gay governor of Sicily blocks U.S. military antenna

U.S. Embassy in Rome says antenna needed for support of NATO operations



MUOS, Mobile User Objective System, gay news, Washington Blade
MUOS, Mobile User Objective System, gay news, Washington Blade

The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) in Wahiawa, Hawaii — similar to the one under construction in Sicily. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John W. Ciccarelli Jr.)

Less than two months after taking office, Sicily’s openly gay governor has temporarily stopped construction of a U.S. satellite antenna in Sicily, saying he wants assurances that the large dish antenna won’t have an adverse impact on public health and the environment.

The decision by Rosario Crocetta, 61, to invoke his authority as regional governor to halt construction of the antenna outside the town of Niscemi in south-central Sicily puts him at odds with the national Italian government, which agreed to allow the U.S. to build the facility.

The antenna facility is part of a worldwide U.S. military satellite communications system known as Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). Military officials say it is designed to employ state-of-the-art technology to allow troops on the ground to better communicate with support operations in the U.S. and throughout the world.

When completed, the system will consist of five satellites in earth orbit and four ground antenna stations, including stations in Norfolk, Va.; Washiawa, Hawaii; Geraldtown, Australia; and the one in Niscemi, Sicily.

“As a member of NATO and an important partner in international security and peace, Italy, as well as all other NATO allies, will benefit from having MUOS for support of NATO operations,” the U.S. Embassy in Rome said in a statement.

“We are not against the Americans and are not against the MOUS,” Crocetta said in a statement to the media. “But we want all the guarantees for the protection of public health.”

Rosario Crocetta, Sicily, gay news, Washington Blade

Rosario Crocetta (Photo by DEEEP Project via Wikimedia)

Crocetta announced his decision to stop construction on the antenna station shortly after protesters opposing the facility clashed with Italian police at the site of the facility. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that protestors blocked trucks and cranes from reaching the construction site.

Among other things, opponents object to the decision by Italian and U.S. military officials to place the facility close to if not within a nature preserve, where they say it could damage the fragile ecosystem.

Opponents also have expressed concern that electromagnetic waves associated with outgoing or incoming signals from the antenna could lead to a greater risk of cancer or leukemia.

Steven A. Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, Calif., told the Blade that the Navy has worked closely with Italian experts in the fields of signal “spectrum and radiofrequency” on two separate surveys to determine the possible effects of the ground antenna station in Sicily on the public.

“The findings from both surveys were consistent,” he said. “The MUOS ground site meets all U.S. and Italian health and safety regulations.” He said tests also showed that the MUOS antenna won’t interfere with local cell phone signals or nearby commercial or government radio, TV or other communication transmissions, including signals from a nearby commercial airport.

Italian media outlets have reported that Crocetta, a former mayor of the Sicilian city of Gela, has spoken with officials in the U.S. Embassy in Rome about the antenna controversy. It couldn’t immediately be determined whether Crocetta and U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne discussed gay-related issues in addition to the dispute over the MUOS antenna.

In December 2010, Thorne, who speaks fluent Italian, took the unusual step of delivering a message in support of LGBT rights and an Italian LGBT helpline in a video broadcast over Italy’s version of MTV and YouTube.

“If you are a victim of discrimination or acts of bullying, talk to someone who is ready to listen,” he said in the video. “Call the helpline number listed on the screen. Your life is important. You are not alone. Things get better.”

Continue Reading


  1. Cristoforo Colombo

    January 17, 2013 at 7:04 am

    obama le antenne mettiteli a casa tua e nn rompere I coglioni a noi che gia ne abbiamo le scatole pieni con le tue guerre di occupazioni, svegliatiii combatti la MASSONERIA dentro il tuo parlamento unisciti al popolo americano.

    • Alfredo Vinci

      January 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Vai a cagare.

  2. Io Sono Consapevole

    January 17, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Popular mobilization against the "MUOS" has his reasons:
    – in the antimilitarism and in the opposition to the military servitudes that make Sicily an enormous "aircraft carrier" functional to the (present and the future) ipertechnological wars;.
    – in the defense of the territory and the environment from the devastation;.
    – in the guardianship (of the health of the citizens) from the electromagnetic pollution;.
    – in the expectations of a community whose development cannot be subordinate from the criminal war demands….
    It's clear now?

    NOTE: Crocetta is not gay (I write this only for respect to the truth).

    • Carmelo Di Maria

      January 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Nice post, Io sono consapevole, but the bloke is openly gay, but again as stated by others totally irrelevant in the matter.

    • Carmelo Di Maria

      January 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Nice post, Io sono consapevole, but the bloke is openly gay, but again as stated by others totally irrelevant in the matter.

    • Io Sono Consapevole

      January 17, 2013 at 11:46 am

      I confess that I didn't know that Crocetta was gay (I thought that it was a mistake because there is another gay Governor – Nichi Vendola, Apulia's Governor) so I record this fact today.
      * errata corrige (about previous message)*:
      Crocetta is gay ( but "frankly I don't give a damn") ;)

  3. Paolo Margaira

    January 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Why did you write "Gay" governor? What's the journalistic necessity to specify? Would you agree if I write a topic whose title would be "U.S.A Government-Slave journalist writes an article on MUOS in Sicily"? Be Impartial Please.

  4. Davide Allù

    January 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

    le antenne americane costruitele in america, non nel giardino di casa mia. Crocetta = Gay as Obama = Nigga? shut up racist.

  5. Carmelo Di Maria

    January 17, 2013 at 10:59 am

    May I also add to previous comments, which I heartily endorse, that the choice of photograph posted in the article is malicious and in bad taste, if not utterly homophobic – is the pursed-lips pose meant to underline the governor's homosexuality? This is childish, c'mon, behave now.

  6. Marzia Sapuppo

    January 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

    se leggete qualche notizia sul giornalista Lou Chibbaro vedrete che sostiene la comunità LGBT pertanto il sottolineare che Crocetta sia gay è, suppongo, motivo di orgoglio, e non scherno. ciao ciao

    • Carmelo Di Maria

      January 17, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Marzia, non sono d'accordo, certo non hanno intenzione di essere omofobici visto che pare si tratti di una rivista gay. Ma un gay stesso puo essere complice nelll'alimentare la generale discriminazione se non sta attento a come usa le parole. Che senso ha sottolineare il fatto che sia gay cosi come fatto nel titolo? (salvo poi ad avere tutto il diritto di includere quell'informazione nel corpo del testo come un addendum). Secondo te avrebbe senso dire, 'Black President of USA…'

    • Marzia Sapuppo

      January 17, 2013 at 11:45 am

      mah… magari per una rivista "black-friendly" sottolineare che Obama sia nero può essere solo motivo di orgoglio! è solo una questione di punti di vista. Questo articolo va contestualizzato e se la maggior parte dei lettori della rivista è omosessuale, allora ha un senso. Capisco perfettamente ciò che intendi tu e la questione "gay pride" mi fa riflettere ma l'orgoglio è orgoglio!! :-)

  7. Rosario Inferrera

    January 17, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Ma andate a cagare americani guerrafondai di merda! Le antenne piantatevele

  8. Elena Baio

    January 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    GO HOME! Le antenne fatevele a casa vostra!

  9. cirino Latteri

    January 17, 2013 at 8:55 am


  10. Tonino Costa

    January 18, 2013 at 12:12 am

    U.S.A. Aren't the lord of world, Sicily is our home and our country, and here the sicilian people is sovereign. Your fucking antenna you MUST build at your home. Yankee Go Homeeeeeee!

    • Alfredo Vinci

      January 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Why didn't you say go home when we saved your ugly ass from the nazis or when we saved your ass when Gheddafi wanted to bomb you

  11. Salatore Monelli

    January 18, 2013 at 1:05 am


  12. Vincenzo Lombardo

    January 18, 2013 at 1:31 am

    The governor is gay: so then? Go home, you homofobist blood bastards.

    • Alfredo Vinci

      January 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm


    • Francesco Previte

      January 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      a questo gli rode che ha vinto Obama

  13. Alfredo Vinci

    January 18, 2013 at 11:50 am

    In Sicily they are against everything except mafia and misery.

  14. Will Russell

    January 18, 2013 at 6:54 am

    The installation has NOTHING to do with NATO. It’s only for the US Military. The fact that NATO could make use of it doesn’t mean it’s being built for them. It’s also being built on a reserve and could affect nearby commercial airports.

  15. Ciro Difresco

    January 18, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Please, insert your antenna in your ass… We don't want to lose other healt for your game! Sicilian people want the indipendence from ITALY, EUROPE, and indipendence FROM BANK!

  16. Kevyn Cucciolo

    January 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm


    • Alfredo Vinci

      January 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      The gay governor would love a big American antenna up his ass..,

    • Ciro Difresco

      January 19, 2013 at 12:32 am

      No, no,… Sicilians Want American Woman to satisfy in Sicily during Holidays…. ;) hauhauhauahuahuauha

  17. Ciccio Popolo

    January 18, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I'm a guy but I'm not gay.i'm "Siciliano" and I agree with my president. The America has perhaps asked if we were okay? I do not want to blame politicians useless my beautiful island become an important military objective. we are a tourist island. Remember? "ITALY, SPAGHETTI, MANDOLIN"… The war have it delivered to your home and do not break our peace "SICILY FREE"!

    • Ciro Difresco

      January 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      And, don't forgot… Sicilian Blood is very expensive! Don't make a war aganist We… ;)

    • Alfredo Vinci

      January 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Your island sucks.

    • Ciro Difresco

      January 19, 2013 at 12:33 am

      America has not an identity… Sicily IS the Story!!! Until 3000 Years!

  18. Enzo Gullo

    January 19, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Io non vi scrivo in inglese..non ne sono tenuto e come noi tutti siciliani non siamo tenuti a diventare vostri bersagli! Lo siamo stati forse in passato, ma la musica sta cambiando e presto la sicilia tornerà ad essere TERRA LIBERA ED INDIPENDENTE!

  19. carlo

    February 6, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Sicily is land of art and culture. No MUOS no military base!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Activists demand ICE release transgender, HIV-positive detainees

Protest took place outside agency’s D.C. headquarters on Wednesday



Jessycka Ckatallea Letona, an indigenous transgender woman from Guatemala who spent nearly two years in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, participated in a protest in front of ICE's headquarters in Southwest D.C. on Oct. 27, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Jessycka Ckatallea Letona is an indigenous transgender woman from Guatemala who fled persecution in her homeland because of her gender identity.

She asked for asylum in the U.S. in 2016 when she entered the country in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Ckatallea on Wednesday told the Washington Blade that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials placed her in a pod with 70 men at a privately-run detention center in Florence, Ariz. She also said personnel at another ICE detention center in Santa Ana, Calif., ridiculed her because of her gender identity and forced her to strip naked before she attended hearings in her asylum case.

Ckatallea spent a year and eight months in ICE custody before her release. She won her asylum case and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“It was a very traumatic experience,” said Ckatallea as she spoke with the Blade in front of ICE’s headquarters in Southwest D.C. “I came to a country thinking that it would take care of me, that it would protect me because of my gender identity.”

Ckatallea is one of the more than a dozen immigrant rights activists who participated in a protest in front of ICE’s headquarters that Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Immigration Equality and the End Trans Detention campaign organized. Ckatallea, Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron Morris and other protest participants demanded ICE immediately release trans people and people with HIV/AIDS from their custody.

The groups placed on the sidewalk in front of the building a Day of the Dead “ofrenda” to honor three trans women—Victoria Orellano, Roxsana Hernández and Johana “Joa” Medina León—who died in ICE custody or immediately after their release. The “ofrenda” also paid tribute to Pablo Sánchez Gotopo, a Venezuelan man with AIDS who died in ICE custody on Oct. 1.

Immigrant rights activists on Oct. 27, 2021, placed a Day of the Dead “ofrenda” outside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Southwest D.C. that honored three transgender women and a man with AIDS who died while in ICE custody or immediately upon their release. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Ckatallea, Morris and the other protesters approached the building’s entrance and presented security personnel with a petition that calls upon President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to “immediately release all transgender people, people living with HIV, and people with medical conditions from ICE custody.”

ICE has repeatedly defended its treatment of trans people and people with HIV/AIDS who are in their custody.

The Blade in July 2020 interviewed a person with HIV who was in ICE custody at the Adams County Detention Center, the same privately-run facility in which Gotopo was held until his hospitalization. The person with whom the Blade spoke described conditions inside the detention center as “not safe” because personnel were not doing enough to protect them and other detainees from COVID-19.

Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) is among the dozens of lawmakers who have called for the release of all trans people and people with HIV/AIDS from ICE custody. The Illinois Democrat on Tuesday reiterated this call during a virtual briefing that Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Immigration Equality and the End Trans Detention Campaign organized.

“ICE’s clear inability to do better leads me to seek to end of ICE’s detention of all trans migrants,” said Quigley. “During both the Trump and Biden administration I led dozens of my colleagues to demand that ICE release transgender detainees and end its practice of holding trans migrants in custody. We had hoped that things would change with the new administration, so far I’m disappointed.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) also participated in the briefing alongside Immigration Equality Legal Director Bridget Crawford and Sharita Gruberg of the Center for American Progress and others.

Continue Reading


17th Street High Heel Race draws large crowd

D.C. Mayor, three Council members, police chief mingle with drag queens



34th annual High Heel Race. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Close to 1,000 spectators turned out Tuesday night to watch D.C.’s 34th Annual 17th Street High Heel Race in which several dozen men dressed in drag and wearing colorful high heel shoes raced along a three-block stretch of 17th Street near Dupont Circle.

As she has in past years, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose office organizes the annual event, gave the official signal for the runners to start the race from a stage at the intersection of 17th and R streets, N.W. 

Joining the mayor on the stage was Japer Bowles, who Bowser recently named as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which plays the lead role in organizing the High Heel Race. 

Also appearing on stage after being introduced by Bowser were D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council members Robert White (D-At-Large) and Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2).

Bowser, who along with the three Council members delivered brief remarks before the start of the race, said the event highlights the city’s diversity and resilience coming after over a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we want the world to know – that even in a pandemic, even when we had to trim the budget, we stayed focused on how we can make life better for our LGBTQ community,” Bowser told the crowd. “And we’re going to keep on doing it,” she said. “We’re investing in making sure everybody in our community is accepted and safe.”

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, who walked along the three-block section of 17th Street before the race began, was greeted warmly by bystanders, some of whom called out his name to welcome him to what has become the city’s largest Halloween celebration.

“This is a great event,” Contee told the Washington Blade. “I enjoy coming out to be among D.C. residents and all who find our D.C. culture,” he said. “It’s just a great evening, so we’re happy to be out here supporting our community.”

Members of the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit were among the police contingent on duty at the event and overseeing the closing of the streets surrounding 17th Street.

Like past years, many of the race participants and dozens of others dressed in Halloween costumes paraded up and down 17th Street beginning at 6:30 p.m., more than two hours before the start of the race, which was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.  

However, the mayor this year gave the signal to start the race at about 8:35 p.m. Although a large number of drag runners participated in the race, some who planned to join the race didn’t make it to the starting line in time because they expected the race to begin at 9 p.m. as advertised, according to people in the crowd who knew those who missed the race.

To ensure that everyone had an opportunity to participate, Bowles and others from the mayor’s office agreed to hold a second race about a half hour after the first one. The number of participants in the second race appeared to be about the same as those who joined the first race, indicating many of the drag participants ran twice.

“This is a special treat,” said one bystander. “We got to see two races instead of one.” 

The High Heel Race was cancelled last year due to restrictions related to the COVID pandemic. Many in the crowd watching the race on Tuesday night said they were delighted the city decided to go ahead with the event this year at a time when other large events continue to be canceled or postponed.

Also similar to past years when the High Heel Race took place, the restaurants and bars that line 17th Street were filled on Tuesday night, including the gay bars JR.’s and Windows as well as the longtime LGBTQ-friendly Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.

Prior to the mayor’s arrival, gay local radio and TV personality Jimmy Alexander of DCW 50 TV served as host to a drag show and costume contest on the stage. DCW 50 also set up and hosted a separate stage on the sidewalk next to JR.’s bar in which race participants and others dressed in costumes were invited to have their pictures taken and provided with copies of the photos of themselves.

“I think it’s amazing,” Bowser told the Blade after the completion of the first race. “It’s good to be back. It was tough missing a year of activities,” she said referring to the business shutdowns brought about by the pandemic. “We had a lot of great, beautiful racers. And so, I’m really excited about it.”

To see more photos from this event, click here.

Continue Reading


Meet the new LGBTQ liaison for the Democratic National Committee

Sam Alleman joins DNC after work in abortion rights movement



Sam Alleman joins the DNC after working at Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The new LGBTQ liaison for the Democratic National Committee comes from a background not in LGBTQ advocacy, but in the abortion rights movement, and sees the two as working “hand in hand” for a common cause.

Sam Alleman, who started Monday as LGBTQ coalitions director for the DNC, said in an interview with the Washington Blade that his previous job as political outreach manager for five years at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund will inform his LGBTQ work going forward.

“The reproductive rights movement goes hand in hand with what we’ve been fighting for in the LGBTQ equality and equity movement as well,” Alleman said. “There is no being LGBTQ without your ability to have bodily autonomy and to make those same choices.”

The relationship between the LGBTQ movement and abortion rights may be more pronounced in the coming months: A national battle is taking place over a Texas law banning abortion in the state for any woman pregnant for more than six weeks as the U.S. Supreme Court will consider litigation with the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade. LGBTQ legal advocates, faced with a term at the Supreme Court with no major cases specific to LGBTQ rights, are already turning their focus to the abortion cases.

“I think that the gender equity lens here, as we move toward building out that permanent infrastructure that really brings all of those things together through more of a social justice lens, will be absolutely critical to being successful, particularly speaking to our younger demographics, to making sure trans and queer people feel included in a way that’s actually equitable and just,” Alleman said.

Alleman identified two key priorities for him in his new role at the DNC — turning out LGBTQ voters for Democratic candidates and building an internal infrastructure for the LGBTQ community — and said his previous work at Planned Parenthood Action Fund working with candidates and coalition groups will help him reach that goal.

“I really plan to use a lot of the lessons that I learned there in building out to making an inclusive campaign, both in programs and in voter contact infrastructure, within the party itself as well,” Alleman said.

Alleman, reiterating he was still in the first days of his job, said the process for building out the LGBTQ community infrastructure at the DNC is still in its initial phases. Alleman said his vision would be not only turning out LGBTQ voters, but finding a way that “allows them to plug in as volunteers and leaders within the party to do the voter contact to hold the events on the ground, to work with our state party partners, and making sure that their voices are represented.”

Key to building out that infrastructure, Alleman said, would be making sure all voices within the LGBTQ community are heard. Alleman made a special point to say queer and transgender people “who have been our partners for so long and deserve a seat at the table” will be an essential part of the infrastructure.

The voice of LGBTQ people, Alleman said, will be increasingly important in elections as the numbers of voters who identify as LGBTQ increase. Pointing to 2020 exit polls showing 7 percent of the electorate identified as LGBTQ, Alleman said more LGBTQ people than ever turned out in the presidential election and overwhelmingly backed Biden by 61 percent. (Republicans were also able to claim a small victory, having doubled their share of LGBTQ voters from 14 percent to 28 percent who voted for Donald Trump after the previous election.)

“We know that that demographic is only growing,” Alleman said. “Within under 18 year olds, approximately 16 percent of folks identify as LGBTQ in this country. So really my priorities are building out an infrastructure here at the DNC, that will turn out LGBTQ voters for Democratic candidates as they become a larger and larger subsection of our voting population.”

Alleman joins the Democratic National Committee days before a Virginia gubernatorial election observers see as a national bellwether for upcoming congressional midterm elections. Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic former governor who said in a interview with the Blade his opponent is the “most homophobic, anti-choice” candidate in Virginia history, is running against Glenn Youngkin, who said recently he continues to oppose same-sex marriage but “will support” the law.

Polls show an exceedingly close race in a state President Biden won handily in the presidential election. An Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll found the race is a dead heat and McAuliffe and Youngkin are tied with 48-48 percent each. The election is Tuesday.

Asked what he sees as his role in the closing days of the Virginia election, Alleman reiterated he was still on Day One of his role at the DNC, but believes Democrats are “doing everything possible to turn out different constituency groups for Terry McAuliffe and Democrats, up and down the ballot in Virginia.”

“My role as I start to step in here is really working to make sure that our national partner organizations are doing everything possible to turn out that book as we head into GOTV, and be a partner to them as they drive their supporters out to make sure that we’re not leaving anything on the table come next Tuesday when we elect Terry McAuliffe governor of Virginia again,” Alleman said.

Lucas Acosta, a spokesperson for the DNC who joined in on the interview with Alleman, said the DNC is working with groups such as the Human Rights Campaign (his former employer) to highlight the records of both Virginia candidates.

“I think what happened last week — Youngkin’s comments on same-sex marriage — are concerning,” Acosta said. “That’s definitely something that we are going to continue to highlight in the closing days of the campaign. That obviously is just a further example why Youngkin is not the moderate he purports to be, but rather a Trump acolyte, who is going to turn back time on rights for a litany of Virginians, including LGBTQ folks.”

Democrats have enjoyed an advantage as a result of the sea change in support in favor of LGBTQ rights. But things may be beginning to shift as LGBTQ issues change and move away from same-sex marriage to other battlegrounds, such as transgender people participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Washington Post columnist James Hohmann reported this week on new data from the National Republican Senatorial Committee finding gender and race issues play out in favor of Republicans among suburban voters, if they’re on terms like critical race theory or concepts like “genderism.” According to the data, 65 percent said “allowing biological males to compete against women in high school and college sports is hugely unfair and will erase many of the gains women have made in athletics over the last 50 years.”

Just this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 25, which effectively bars transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, making the Lone Star State the latest state to enact such a measure in defiance of federal laws against discrimination based on sex.

Alleman, asked whether the DNC would change the way it approaches these issues, said he wasn’t aware of the data and questioned whether the conclusion of the data “really makes much sense.”

“I think we’ll at least continue to push forward the message of what we’ve done as Democrats which is fight for these individuals to be treated just the same as everyone else,” Alleman said.

Continue Reading

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts