Proud To Go To The Pride?

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A few months ago, I was chatting with my ex about my upcoming trip to Italy to participate in a seminar at the end of June. She immediately told me that she was planning to take part in the National Gay Pride Parade in Napoli on the 26th of June with a group of her friends: “Why don’t you move your flight a few days and join us?” My first reaction was a happy and huge “Yes!” And I honestly cannot wait to be there!

Why am I so proud to go to the Pride?

First of all, this year’s National Pride is in Napoli, in the south of Italy, which is still known to generally have a conservative attitude.

For different reasons, Italy itself is an exceptional case inside the so called ‘civilized’ Europe.

For 2,000 years, we have had the pope residing in our country. The Roman Catholic Church has had great political power and a strong moral influence on everybody’s life in the country. Whatever the matter under discussion may be, the Church feels that it has the authority to intervene and to try to impose its opinions on the issue, no matter if it is a political, social, scientific or a civil rights debate. We can hardly talk of a laic state and unfortunately the Catholic Church is daily pressuring our state to refuse basic civil rights to queer people with the excuse that these rights will kill the traditional family and society.

I’m proud to go to the Pride because in my country, homophobic violence is a growing trend. Although it is difficult to have accurate statistics on this subject because many cases go unreported, or are merely reported as violence without specifying the homophobic nature of the aggression, in 2009 alone the homophobic and transphobic acts reported in Italy were 12 killings, 80 aggressions, and 21 episodes between blackmailing and harassment.

I’m proud to go to the Pride because it is a huge social and political event: the calendar of the Naples Gay Pride 2010 is a very rich month of activities (seminars and conferences, book and film presentations, theater performances and concerts) starting on the 21st of May 2010 and concluding with the Gay pride Parade on the 26th of June 2010.

The pride today has assumed the colorful form of a big carnival and it gives the impression that it lost its political value. This Mardi Gras impression is mainly due to image the media gives of this event. For reporters, it is much more interesting to snap two naked men dancing in a chariot full of foam than to take a shot of all the “boring, normal looking people” marching for their rights. Actually, for each so-called exhibitionist wearing (or rather, not wearing) absurd dresses and acting “loudly,” there are a hundred people just marching in their everyday clothes, with their everyday partners.

When it occurred to me to participate in a Pride, I noticed with pleasure that it was full of people of every kind, and the majority, I have to say, you would think ended up in the Pride Parade by pure chance if you take the television images as a reference.

The Pride gives the possibility to the queer community, in all its forms and expressions, to meet on a large scale, to feel part of a huge movement, and to be visible. It is also a huge party to celebrate the day-by-day activism efforts, the fight for civil rights and the resistance against oppression and social exclusion.

Finally, even if we want to reduce the Pride just to a huge street party, I still don’t think that we can deny its political and social values as a means of public, joyful self-expression. Unfortunately, when you are queer it never “just so happens” that you can walk in the street and just be who you are 100% and with no compromise. This is what the Gay Pride is, and it is so for all: for those who desire to enter a public space dressed as they do when hidden in night clubs or at private parties, for those who desire to kiss their partner in the middle of the street, for those who wish to finally walk hand in hand with their beloved, and for those who just desire to walk in the street surrounded by a big crowd they can feel part of; it’s just such a sweet sensation!

- Contributed by Camilla

Guest Contributor

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