Rome sometimes suddenly smells of perfume. An intense and persistent aroma in the middle of the city blocked with traffic, waste and malfeasance. So Saturday at the Rome Pride Parade, an immense river of colorful, sweaty people danced, expressed and still struggled, but celebrating the new right to civil unions, like any other beautiful European capital. “We are 700,000,” a speaker announced, perhaps exaggerating tenfold, just a short walk from the Colosseum.
The Roman Gay Pride Parade has been organized in the capital for 22 years. This year was led by the official godmother Asia Argento — though obscured by a radiant Monica Cirinnà and the long lines of those who wanted to take a selfie with her — and for the first time, it was sponsored by a number of foreign embassies: British, German, Canadian, American, Australian.
The parade went through the streets and avenues, like a snake biting its tail, between Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza Venezia all afternoon. In the evening, it ended with the final event organized at the Gay Village, the historic symbol of Gay friendly music — all Roman Muccassassina, announced by one of the floats in the parade, the one topped by kissing lips on a black tent.
There were many flags with the words “Peace” and rainbow plastic garlands, worn around the neck or as a crown, and pink drapes with phrases protesting the obscurantism of the Roman Curia, blue drapes for animal rights, yellow and black banners representing the union of atheists.
Plus a lot of music to dance to, coming from above and under the trucks through speakers, interspersed in a long rally radio in the style of Sebastiano Francesco Secci, the spokesman — in the truest sense of the word — for the Roman Pride Parade. “Who’s not satisfied?” was the refrain at the end of each speech. “Fight!” came the unanimous response, according to the 2016 slogan.
Because although there is something to celebrate — the civil unions law, earned through sweat and tears — it is, Secci reminded the crowd, “insufficient,” “disappointing” and an “expression of a weak political will toward the most reactionary and homophobic opinions.” But it is still an achievement, hailed thus also by the ironic dance notes of hallelujah.
Along the way were some scenes worthy of a movie, such as the gay centurion at the Coliseum or when the undulating and queer snaking parade passed in front of the church of the Most Holy Redeemer precisely as a wedded couple — she in a white dress and veil — descended the staircase. “Let’s congratulate the newlyweds,” the speaker took the bait, “even if same-sex couples cannot get married yet. But we are not satisfied. We’ve got the law on civil unions, and we still await in the coming months the implementation decrees. But marriage reserved for heterosexual couples remains a segregating institution.”
There’s also the unequal process by which gay couples may adopt children or resort to artificial insemination methods. They demand “a full legal right, one that is not subject to the evaluations of the individual courts.”
On the other hand, judges so far have proven far more sensitive to protecting filial bonds even beyond the strict codes of the so-called “traditional family.” They prefer to protect the rights of the child within the true bonds of care and life, rather than referring to abstract paradigms and alleged family models.
The courts have proved to be ahead of the legislature and have intervened to fill gaps in rules over sex change procedures. A Constitutional Court ruling in 2015 established that a surgical operation should not be considered a prerequisite for obtaining a gender correction on the civil registry.
Trans and drag queens, as usual, attracted the attention of professional and amateur photographers, but in fact the bulk of the procession consisted of families, of various kinds and types, with children in tow. Among the floats, besides the usual hairy “bears” and men in undershirts and even in Adam-like attire, this year there was a truck for “parents against homophobia.”
And the Mario Mieli Homosexual Cultural Circle did not forget to remember to ask for direct interventions in schools for effective education, respect for differences in gender roles, in addition to homophobic bullying and the great problem of femicide. It was said: “A real education about the difference in schools will help to stem a cultural retreat in our country on all paths of self-determination.”
“We are not only here to fight homophobia, lesbofobia, biphobia, transphobia, but we are for the defense of Law 194 and the struggle against language sexism and patriarchy,” recalled Secci, who works as a lawyer.
The parade went on until late afternoon, among new pop hits by Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga and songs of yesteryear by Antonella Rettore, Heather Parisi and Madonna, initials of cartoons (Mila and Shiro), songs by Laura Pausini and Sabrina Salerno. And the hydrants this time were used not to disperse the crowds, but to restore paraders overheating in the sun with squirts of water.
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