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Here’s Why You Don’t Pick a Fight With Elton John

The Daily Beast

August 18, 2015

It’s only been a few months since his scrap with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana over their dismissive, prejudiced views of LGBT parenting.

Now Elton John has proved he’s ready for another Italian set-to.

This time his nemesis is Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice who—since being elected in June—has had 49 books that feature same-sex couples banned from Venice’s libraries.

Just as Instagram was John’s preferred medium in voicing his discontent at D&G, so the pop star—who has two children, Zachary and Elijah, with his husband, David Furnish—took Brugnaro to task via a post on the social media site.

Opposite an image of the cover of one of the banned books—Todd Parr’s The Family Book, which celebrates the many varieties of family—John wrote: “Here is one of the Furnish-John family’s favorite storybooks. It champions an all-inclusive world where families come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

“And most importantly, that families are about love. Our boys adore it.

And in the opposing corner we have Luigi Brugnaro, the extremely silly looking mayor of Venice. He’s stupidly chosen to politicize children’s books by banning titles that touch on same sex families living happily ever after.

“So instead of encouraging a world based on inclusiveness, tolerance and love, he’s championing a future society that’s divisive and fosters ignorance.

Beautiful Venice is indeed sinking, but not as fast as the boorishly bigoted Brugnaro. #ShareTheLove”

For years, John’s feuds were centered around fallings-out with showbiz stars like George Michael, Simon Cowell, and—most famously—Madonna, who came to his defense in the midst of the Dolce and Gabbana spat.

Arguably John’s saddest feud—and one still unexplained—is with his mother, Sheila, who claims to have been cut out of his life.

But, as the Dolce and Gabbana and Venetian mayor arguments show, John’s anger is now increasingly triggered by attacks on LGBTs—both parents and non.

He has condemned Russian homophobia, once on stage in St. Petersburg. He has said Jesus would support marriage equality. The Elton John Aids Foundation is a fundraising powerhouse.

Far from relaxing with his millions as he gets older, the 68-year-old John has become quite the activist crusader.

For his part, Venetian Mayor Brugnaro isn’t backing down over banning the books. “Absolute respect for the homosexual choices of whoever and for different living arrangements with the associated rights and freedoms. Kids have nothing to do with that,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mayor Brugnaro should know that denying one’s homophobia is probably best not couched in terms of “homosexual choices.”

Brugnaro also retweeted all the support he received from people, including those lobbing nasty, anti-gay insults John’s way. One wrote: “Listen, @eltonjohndotcom: we’re protecting our children from people like you. Full support to the Mayor of Venice.”

Back in March, John called for a boycott of Dolce and Gabbana stores, which was no pain for many who couldn’t afford their clothes or didn’t like them in the first place.

The singer had passionately disagreed with Dolce and Gabbana’s contention that children born via IVF were “synthetic,” adding they opposed gay adoption and that the only family was the traditional one.

Via Instagram, John replied: “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’. And shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF—a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfill their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana”

Time has certainly helped heal this wound, at least. Dolce apologized in the latest issue of Vogue for his remarks, stating, “I’ve done some soul-searching. I’ve talked to Stefano a lot about this. I’ve realized that my words were inappropriate, and I apologize. They are just kids. You don’t need labels, baby labels. I think everybody chooses for themselves. I don’t know everything about IVF, but I love it when people are happy. It’s like medicine. Science has been put on the table to help people.”

However, Gabbana reasserted that he couldn’t be a parent in Italy, and then—presumably to underscore the centrality of Catholicism in their lives—added, “Both our mothers wore medallions of the Virgin in their bras, for protection.”

Wow. It is a rare occasion when one of John’s opponents gets the last word, but Stefano Gabbana has—at least temporarily—managed it.