BY BILL WILSON
Copyright © 2008
It is difficult to try to put into words the experience that is Roma Pride. It is ordered chaos, disorganized order, out of control creativity, creative protests and wonderful celebration in which 300,000 people gather in one spot or somewhere along the parade route and walk, march, saunter or float to the end point and have a heck of a good time in between! Add to the mix a government that really doesn’t want the parade to happen so the end point wasn’t really determined until several days before the parade and you have a fantastic event known as Roma Pride 2008.
This year’s theme, “testardamente” literally translated as hard headedly (because according to my ace translator and soon to be legal spouse, Fernando, it is an adverb) accurately describes the tenacity and stubbornness that keeps the gay movement going. San Franciscans need to know that the California Supreme Court decision of May 15 was listed in the official program as among the successes of the movement.
Anna Paola Concia is the only openly gay member of the Italian legislature.
A member of the House of Deputies and the Italian Democratic party, she has introduced measures for antidiscrimination and civil unions that have gotten nowhere in a right wing dominated government. While we waited for the parade to start, Fernando was able to get a few words with her. He told her of our impending marriage in SF and she told him he was very lucky. On the ARCIGAY (Italian National Association ) float just before the parade started, there was a symbolic wedding ceremony in which Paola and Stefano Campagna, who is an Italian journalist, married three couples. Jef and Domenico were among the couples.
After about a half an hour beyond the scheduled start of the parade the first people started moving. There were no barriers anywhere along the parade route so people were free to join the march at any time. There were shrieks of greeting throughout the route. It gave the event a feeling of one big family reunion, which it was for Fernando as his nieces joined us for part of the march.
Because people were free to join anywhere it also meant there were as many hand painted banners as professionally printed banners. I can’t imagine any group or issue that wasn’t represented in some way.
The national monument which features the tomb of the unknown soldier is nicknamed the “wedding cake”.
With Prime Minister Berlusconi”s government now in power there has been a power shift to the right and no gay friendly legislation is expected. With the Prime Minister’s visit to the Pope still making headlines days after the event some feel that their rights are under assault. The parade ended at Piazza Navona, a square with famous fountains and sculptures.
It was a beautiful mix of ancient and modern beauty.
When the music got a little to loud, we decided to go to dinner. We walked back toward the coliseum.
We ended up at a gay friendly establishment that was among several along the Via di S. Giovanni of Laterano. The block closest to the coliseum was actually blocked off for one of many after parties scheduled for the evening.
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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past four years. Email Bill Wilson at email@example.com.
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