Now there is a title I never expected to write even in my wildest dreams.
When I decided to visit Siena, there were a lot of things on my list to see, do and taste, but bearing witness to a Gay Pride Parade was not one of them. On the train from Florence to Siena I had noticed several people proudly displaying the Rainbow flag and wearing them, or even painting their faces. This being Florence in the summer, I assumed it was associated with another rock festival event. When my daughter googled the events in Siena for the day she was thrilled to discover that there was going to be a Pride Parade in the afternoon.
The topic of LGBT is nothing new to me, having grown up with it. The topic of LGBT parenting, on the other hand, is relatively new in comparison. I have been wanting to write about my daughter’s coming out for ages, and had her explicit permission to do so as well, but I wasn’t ready. Our family has always been supportive of each other’s decisions, no matter how difficult they may be for one member of the family or the other. Coming out and announcing her bi-sexuality was not shocking at all, nor did it change my attitude or friendship my daughter in any way whatsoever. On the contrary, I respect her courage and trust to be able to stand up for her personal beliefs.
Being a parent of an LGBT member demands a considerable amount of research into the topic to be aware of the nuances, familiarise myself with the lingo, and more importantly, be aware of all the related issues. Along with so many other things I am dealing with and coming to terms with in my life, the shift in parenting paradigm is another one. So yes, I suppose this is a coming out of sorts for me, as an open supporter of the LGBT movement and Gay Rights.
So, back to Siena… the peaceful and idyllic Piazza del Campo that we encountered in the morning was completely transformed in the afternoon. As we sat in a cafe and sipped our afternoon cappuccinos, the crowds of exotic looking members of the Toscana Pride walked by. By the time we made our way back to the Piazza del Campo, over 5000 people had gathered and the place was one big colourful party.
If you read my previous entry you will have a vague idea what the piazza looked like. But it transformed into a sea of flags and rainbows. For street photographers and photojournalists this was a perfect opportunity, and I was thoroughly in my element, as you can imagine. I just had to overcome my fear of crowds somehow, and deal with it. I don’t know what drained and confused me more, the plethora of LGBT groups that showed up or the sheer masses. All I know is that at one point I wished I could have squeezed in next to Champagne in her little bubble backpack.
Time stood still as I watched the people shout, dance, laugh, and hug – and was enthralled by the peaceful atmosphere of the event. Berlin has a totally different flair to it, more aggressive, and much more hecklers as well. Ever peaceful unflappable Champagne was just as fascinated and the crowds didn’t bother her one bit not even the numerous Pride Dogs who joined in the fun, flaunting their Rainbow collars and ribbons!
I lost my daughter to the crowds as she partied along with the others to her heart’s content, but was too busy with the camera to even worry about her. After all, she is 20 and can jolly well defend herself! It certainly was a huge learning curve for me, and I acquired a whole new insight into Tuscan society. Here is something I would like to share with you which spoke to me and summarises my experience yesterday: 10 things no one tells you about going to Pride if you are straight.