Il Cassero and Centro di Documentazione

cdcIl Cassero LGBT Center is a non-profit association of solidarity and social promotion dedicated to the betterment of LGBT lives. It represents one of the most innovative and important political, cultural and social experiences of Bologna, acting as a point of reference for the entire Italian LGBT community. Founded in June 1982, it was the first venue for an LGBT association to be obtained from a municipal administration in Italy and now, after 30 years, it regularly provides services to an average of 130,000 people, members and partners from the city of Bologna and region of Emilia-Romagna. The main areas of intervention are: political, health and well being, cultural, library and archive, legal, artistic events and gatherings. For more information visit:

The Centro di Documentazione, Il Cassero’s library and archive, has been growing since 1982 in order to promote, maintain and provide any user, both LGBT and non-LGBT, with critical elaboration instruments about sexuality, gender identities and social exclusion themes. It develops all its actions on a cultural ground, expressing it through interventions of research, conservation and analysis of the cultural heritage of the Italian LGBT movement. For 30 years it has gathered, archived, and promoted works of the LGBT movement and culture, both Italian and international: more than 14,000 volumes, 7,000 videos, 4,000 advertisements and posters, 1,200 articles, 5,000 photographs. The Center functions daily as a library, fostering a service of library loans and consultations. It is the largest Italian LGBT library and one of the most important in Europe.

Director’s Letter

My name is Sara De Giovanni and I am director in charge of Centro di Documentazione Arcigay Il Cassero in Bologna. In 2012 our archive celebrates its thirty years of activity and we will also attend the conference in Amsterdam in august. It’s an honor and a pleasure to receive your proposal for collaboration on the project Migrating Archives. We believe it’s so important to preserve LGBT history starting from ordinary people’s lives because, more often in the families, someone tries to erase their memory for “moral” reasons and everyone of us loses a piece of his/her history. So, I think it’s possible and important for us to contribute by remembering two gay activists who died some years ago and have been central to the history of the Arcigay Association in our city. They both have left important legacies to the archive: photographs, personal documents, letters, audio-visual recordings, books, newspaper’s clippings, etc. Their names are Stefano Casagrande and Antonio Frainer. We selected them as “delegate archives” and I am working with my staff to select significant materials to remember the lives of these two people.

Antonio Frainer (Trento, 4 marzo 1959 – Bologna, 22 dicembre 1994) Free man: I always thought that Frainer, Antonio’s surname, derived from German Frei, free, and Herr, sir. Perhaps it is not so, but it is certainly plausible, and Antonio was a free man. By 1978 he is already active in the nascent Italian gay movement. In 1980 he moved to Bologna, and is part of the Collettivo Frocialista Bolognese, then Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale XXVIII Giugno. In June 1981 he was president of the Circolo XXVIII Giugno when the first LGBT venue in Italy is obtained from a public administration: the Cassero of Porta Saragozza in Bologna. Movie buff, his shooting was used by director Roberto Nanni in the 1993 movie Derek Jarman Conversations (L’amore vincitore), last interview of the English director Derek Jarman. Communist and anarchist, environmentalist, Antonio died at the age of 35, killed by the virus HIV.
(text by Beppe Ramina)

antonio 2 antonia 1
Antonio Frainer (first kneeling to the right)
with the editorial staff of the gay Italian magazine
Babilonia, Milan, 1986 (Courtesy Felix Cossolo)
Anonio - Portrait in front of Cassero
Bologna - 1984
antonio 5  antonia 2 antonio 4
Book stamp - Antonio Frainer's legacy at Centro di Documentazione Gay demonstration against United States Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law. Milan, July,1, 1986. Antonio is the nun on the right. (Courtesy Felix Cossolo) Giornata dell'orgoglio omosessuale a Bologna, June, 28, 1980. Antonio is the first on the right. Courtesy Claudio Moschini)

Stefano Casagrande
(Roma,1960 – Bologna,2000)

cdc 6Entertainer of the Italian gay cultural scene of the ‘80s and ‘90s, creator of events, writer of fulminant aphorisms, cultural-trainer, designer, interior and exterior decorator, popularizer of fashions and idioms, sculptor, collagist, seamstress. For the Italian LGBT movement he has been one of the most important personalities in defining a culture and a gay sociality that joined a scathing creativity to political, social aggregation and dissemination of a culture of prevention.

His first artistic training took place with the experience, all Italian, of gay campsites in the ‘80s that functioned as veritable cultural and political laboratories for the entire gay community, which at the time was still very fragmented and nomadic. After a wandering apprenticeship in the gay communities of London, Berlin and Milan, he arrived in Bologna in 1983, the same year of the Cassero’s opening, becoming for 15 years its undisputed, endless, unforgettable art-director; in camp slang we could say an absolute queen.

He expressed his volcanic creativity and his indomitable organizational skills by creating cultural containers and theater reviews that made Cassero one of the most vibrant associations in the Bologna scene, its stage a white-hot spotlight for transgression, courage of actors and Dionysian osmosis between spectators, actors and artists. In particular, we recall the reviews: Perversailles, summer 1989, on the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, Condom Club, summer 1990, in sharp contrast to the then non-existent, if not harmful, anti-aids governmental policies; Bologna Russa (Bologna Snores), September 1992.

cdc 7
Stefano at Cassero's first opening, June 27, 1982   Stefano in his twenties in Rome with friends

He was ideologue, costume designer, set designer and manager of the fierce KGB & B (Kassero Gay Bands & Ballet), a theatrical patrol that raged in Bologna and in Emilia Romagna from 1983 to 1990. With the group he staged: Anathema on you, 1983; Sodomiadi, 1984, in honor of the Olympics that were taking place in Los Angeles; Laida, 1985, parody about the world of opera; Fascistissima, 1987, about twenty years of bellicose rhetoric and sloppiness during fascism. In 1993, he launched The Italian Miss Alternative beauty contest for young men in drag, a charity event to raise funds to fight HIV / AIDS, which made him known nationwide.

In 2008 the Mayor of Bologna, Sergio Cofferati, approved the naming after Stefano Casagrande of a public space, a garden, opened in May 2012. It was an historical event for Italy: for the first time an administration dedicated a public space to an historical figure of the LGBT movement.
(text by Marco Barbieri)

cdc nine stephano red dress
Postcard commemorates the opening of the public
garden dedicated to Stafano.
May 26, 2012
Stefano on The Italian Miss Alternative stage
Bologna 1997