It’s always special when an all-time great supports his local queens.
Ciro Immobile, who’s captain of the Italian national soccer team and one of the best players in the country’s history, was a guest judge on the most recent episode of Drag Race Italia. The highest scoring active Serie A player appeared alongside his wife, influencer Jessica Melena.
Immediately, Immobile’s comfort level with the queens was evident. He appeared in the “werk room” following their runway presentations, and took their good-natured flirtations in stride.
“What a handsome man! Having someone like you here is very important for us,” says Silvana della Magliani.
“We, along with all the drag family, want to thank you for your support and for your presence here,” added Melissa Bianchini, the first out transgender contestant ever on Drag Race Italia. “It means a lot, because that’s our intention, to bring the drag world to others.”
Then the queens presented Immobile with a beautiful red rose, because he’s “amazing.”
The 33-year-old Lazio captain is the first straight sports star to appear on an episode of Drag Race. Out gay athletes Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy and Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo have previously sat beside RuPaul at the judge’s table.
Prior to Immobile’s appearance, multiple queens were invited to watch Inter Milan, one of Serie A’s marquee franchises, take on Bologna. They showed up at the stadium in full drag, going viral in the process.
🏟️ The #DragRaceItalia Season 3 queens recently attended Inter Milan’s 2-2 draw with Bologna in Serie A, attended by over 74,000 fans at the San Siro. Fans mobbed them for selfies.— Sports Media LGBT+ (@SportsMediaLGBT) November 4, 2023
🗣️ “To be here doing what we do, we’ve demonstrated that we don’t lack courage” – Amy Krania https://t.co/ICzoyM8NiB
Immobile’s appearance on Drag Race Italia, the eighth international spin-off of the iconic franchise, comes at a fraught time for LGBTQ+ rights in Italy. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party are chipping away at gay rights, notably with national restrictions against surrogacy. The thinking is that banning surrogacy will make it more difficult for gay couples to have children.
In addition, Italian city councils were directed earlier this year to stop including same-sex couples on birth certificates. Italy is one of the few nations in Western Europe where same-sex marriage is still illegal.
Those backdrops make Immobile’s stint on the show even more powerful.
“We’re happy you choose us to spread this message of freedom,” he told the queens.
Immobile’s outward embrace of drag culture stands in stark contrast to the recent behavior of Jordan Henderson, previously considered one of the biggest LGBTQ+ allies in the game. The ex-Liverpool captain signed with a Saudi Arabian club over the summer, throwing his gay fans under the bus for $15 million.
On social media, users weren’t shy about making the comparison.
This is so great, would love to see more players actually doing something beyond a symbolic gesture or posting a link here & there, and i had no idea that immobile is this friggin hot— dan (@dengybad) November 4, 2023
As mentioned above, it’s one thing for pro athletes to talk about the LGBTQ+ community and wear supportive accessories, such as rainbow laces. But it’s far more impactful when players embrace gay spaces, which doesn’t happen often in the world of male pro sports.
We’d love to see Immobile keep leading the way on LGBTQ+ inclusion.
Frankly, we would like to see more of him, period. He’s a complete stud!
Immobile is used to putting the ball in the net, but in terms of LGBTQ+ allyship, his appearance on Drag Race was his biggest score yet.