Luglio 4 2024
Roma Pride: thirty years between love and revolution

LGBTQ+ pride from 1969 with the riots in New York, through 1994 with the first official Italian march, up to the present day

“Amo come amo Ich liebe wie ich liebe Amo como amo” is the slogan displayed on the red float of the German and Mexican embassies participating in the parade. The Roma Pride on June 15 2024, is a full-fledged celebration: colours are everywhere, voices blend in the streets of the capital, people wave rainbow flags, and dances and songs are passionately performed, felt, lived. Broken identities and rediscovered lives, lost struggles and battles yet to be won, emotions and feelings intertwined in one big word: community. Some join the celebration of LGBTQ+ pride for the first time, measuring every step and facing their fears, while others, veterans, express themselves proudly and without hesitation.

“We chose this slogan for our float to spread the message that everyone is free to love who and how they want in Italian, German and Spanish. With this phrase, we aim to send a simple signal: Mexico and Germany recognise everyone’s right to a fulfilling life. Three words of universal value that exclude no one, because they embrace every form of identity and/or sexuality,” explains Rodrigo Zepeda, a collaborator of the Mexican Embassy.

Colours, costumes, makeup, and music are no accident: “The theme of the float is red because firstly it symbolises love, and secondly it is the only colour present in the flags of Germany, Mexico, and Italy. As we know, on these occasions, creativity and artistic flair are always welcomed with enthusiasm, so we invite our colleagues to use extravagant makeup and attire. The music will be provided by a famous Italo-German queer DJ known for his cultural remixes,” says Isaura Portillo, head of the political office of the Embassy.

Today, more than ever, in a historical period where far-right political movements opposing LGBTQ+ rights are gaining more and more support, as demonstrated by the results of the latest European elections, it is essential to raise voices and take to the streets to express support for freedom. “Every year we honour the Pride Month with different and creative initiatives,” adds Zepeda.

June is known as “Pride Month,” during which events are organised to raise awareness among citizens about LGBTQ+ issues and celebrate Prides globally. For thirty days, the queer community takes centre stage, discussing equality, fairness, and diversity. It is important to remember, however, that Gay Pride, before being a celebration and a peaceful march, was a protest and a symbolic revolution.

“Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud.” This is one of the slogans used during the Stonewall Riots. It all began on the night of June 27-28, 1969, in New York, when a group of LGBTQ+ people rebelled following a violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a bar on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. In the 1960s, police regularly planned raids on American gay bars, beating, arresting, and threatening patrons. For the first time, community members decided to take to the streets, showing themselves as they were: different, free and proud, claiming their right to exist as human beings and no longer as outcasts on the fringes of society.

In Italy, this wind of change arrived a few years later. On July 2, 1994, Rome hosted the first official national Gay Pride organised by the Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale Mario Mieli. More than ten thousand people marched from Piazza Santi Apostoli to Campo de’ Fiori. Today, in 2024, thirty years have passed since that turning point: “It is essential to remember this period because it marked the beginning of a story, our story. Without the courage of those people who took to the streets defying the times, much of what we have achieved today would not exist. This year we celebrate those people and our pride. It is a significant thirtieth anniversary,” says Mario Colamarino, spokesperson for Roma Pride and president of the Circolo Mario Mieli.

However, the data does not depict an inclusive reality. According to Amnesty International, 63 countries worldwide criminalise sexual acts between people of the same sex. Among these, 8 impose the death penalty and 9 life imprisonment. “We live in a country where the Meloni government votes in Europe against a pro-LGBTQ+ direction along with nations like the Czech Republic. But Italy does worse. In the ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) ranking that maps the violation of community rights in Europe based on policies with a direct impact on it, we have dropped to thirty-fifth place behind Orbán’s Hungary. This parade is a way to make our voices heard. To make it clear that we are here and do not want to hide as some would like, especially those who govern us at this moment,” continues the spokesperson.

As the American author Mark A. Roeder writes, “the whole world continues to talk about love” and “poets spend their lives writing about it,” yet we still struggle not to judge the love of others. Dante Alighieri saw far when he concluded the Divina Commedia with the phrase: “Love that moves the sun and other stars.” There is no stronger and less changeable feeling, the only one capable of continuing the revolution that began nearly sixty years ago in New York. The solution lies in the words that appeared on a wall in Trastevere in 2023, painted by the Roman artist Mirko Leuzzi: “In front of love, silence is the only answer.”

Read this article also in Italian and in our latest issue of Zeta magazine (page 40-41)