Wish It Was a Coming Out
Wish It Was a Coming Out is an ongoing long-term project, with which Ianniello wants to investigate the double taboo related to homosexuality and old age in Italy. This work originated from a personal experience of hers: Ianniello didn’t come out to her grandparents as lesbian, missing out on the chance to have a shared understanding with them. The lack of such a confession gave rise to the need for self-redemption, the necessity for an act of catharsis which would benefit herself and others. And so, as an indirect tribute to her grandparents, she began exploring the life experiences of people who were similar to them in terms of age, but similar to her in terms of sexual orientation. The protagonists of this work are a group of gay men and lesbian women between sixty and ninety years old. Ianniello began to connect with them in 2018, when she got their contact details through word of mouth and some online dating apps. Then, she started travelling around Italy to meet those who wanted to share their personal story. Ianniello decided to photograph these people as couples or alone, in their own homes, in scenes of true intimacy. In doing so, she captured smiles, worries, thoughts, love and desires, which are rarely given a voice. Beginning with the shared experiences, both hers and those of her subjects, her aim was, and still is, to provide insight into the lives of gay and lesbian people in Italy today who experience that contradictory and fascinating phase of life, known as ageing. To do this, Ianniello decided to search for these people in as many regions as possible, which is why she traveled, and continues to travel throughout the whole of Italy. This work, with its possibility of remedying those silences that one always carries with oneself, talks about the desire to expose oneself fully without negating any part of one’s identity: The words “coming out” in the title do not refer simply to one’s sexuality but also, and above all, to the intergenerational sharing of one’s own experiences, life, and whole self.

Melissa Ianniello (b. 1991, Naples) is an Italian documentary photographer based in Bologna, Italy. After graduating in Philosophy, Ianniello pursued her photography training, which was mostly self-taught, through periods of study in Bologna and New York, with photographers such as Michael Ackerman, Erica McDonald, Carolyn Drake and Davide Monteleone. Her artistic research is based on two main subjects: The role of the individual in the modern-day metropolis, and themes related to gender and sexuality. Her photographs have been featured in several magazines and her work has been awarded in Italy and abroad. 

Melissa Ianniello (IT) "Wish It Was A Coming Out" - Helphoto 2020
Melissa Ianniello (IT) "Wish It Was A Coming Out" - Helphoto 2020