I had to return to my homeland, a place that I have left when I was 19, exactly 14 years ago.
The feeling of coming back to these places was very intense from different perspectives.
On the one hand, I felt the nostalgia of the young days, my childhood and my coming into the world as a human being.
On the other side, I realised how much travelling, living abroad, experiencing bigger and more open realities have formed me into the person I am today.
Old feelings coming back, of course but also old fears with a new understanding.
Leaving these places and facing loneliness, hardships, psychological development and maturity made me understand a lot about the social hierarchies that more isolated places are based upon.
And what we are talking about here is an isolated place indeed, with wild countryside on on side and the Adriatic Sea on the other. There is no chance to experience change here, at least naturally. The wind did not and will not bring some fresh air here.
Visibility is not an option in these places; visibility is not only scary, it is to condemn. If you are visible here, you are either strange or someone who found their fortune and now is coming back to the town to show off; either way, you are an outsider.
Visibility is considered a threat to a system which had established itself centuries ago and which is impossible to eradicate.
When we talk about LGBTQI rights we often think of those countries where whatever is not heterosexual is condemned and punished legally. We think of Chechnya, the UAE, Saudi Arabia etc... Of course, I am not intending to negate the atrocities that happen daily in those countries. However, my point is that discrimination, shame and repression is still present and strong in the very same realities where equality is a reality (partial or total). What I want to discuss is the fact that media, sometimes or always, feed us with positivity which is not representative of the whole society. Taking a city like Dublin or Milan as case studies is not representative of the whole Irish and Italian realities, for instance.
There is an ethical issue here as far as journalism is concerned; a question that we should be asking ourselves is: are we talking about journalism or are we talking about propaganda? Of course there is very little interest in reporting about smaller realities, they are isolated and, for this reason, are not capable of being influential on the economy, market and society in general. Yes, boosting positivity can indeed influence the economy of a state; it does not matter if that is true or not, partially or totally accurate, business is business and the 'gays' are a big and wealthy (stereotype alter here) of the society.
It is important, therefore, to consider to what extent equality is applied in our country. We should be inquiring if and to what extent the civil and human rights of other citizens in more isolated areas are respected. We have a responsibility towards our fellow citizens and we should not assume that the same rights that we enjoy are applied to other people in different geographical areas.
Walking the streets of my hometown filled my heart with a sense of oppression, shame and hate. I saw desperation in people's eyes, the same look of somebody who has never known freedom.
Being visible in smaller and rural areas is therefore an act of bravery which everyone should acknowledge and praise. That is the real essence of Pride, that is the spirit behind the fight for social justice. These people may feel defeated in their own localities, however it is our duty to let them know that what they are going through is indeed a victory; they challenged the social hierarchy that has always oppressed them and broke the silence.