Saturday, June 26, 1999
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 1999
Contact: John Aravosis, Wired Strategies, email@example.com
10,000 CELEBRATE GAY PRIDE IN ROME, ANNOUNCE WORLD PRIDE 2000
Virtual Pride Site Now Online at www.wiredstrategies.com/pride.htm
ROME, ITALY - 10,000 Romans sang and danced their way through the city's oldest quarter last weekend in a uniquely Italian show of gay pride. Led by a drag queen cow named Vladimir, the parade marked the 30th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and the one-year countdown to Rome hosting the first-ever "World Pride" on July 1-8, 2000.
Photos and interviews from the June 26, 1999 event have been posted on a virtual pride Web site at http://www.wiredstrategies.com/pride.htm
In addition to the parade, the weeklong pride festivities included an open-air fashion show at Rome's Fori Imperiali, where thousands of spectators, and an Italian TV audience, watched two male models share a long onstage kiss. The show was a unique blend of high fashion and gay rights. It included top Italian celebrities and clothing, and even a few transgender models.
The week also included a series of dance-fundraisers called "Muccassassina" or "killer cow." The first mucca party was held several years ago at a slaughterhouse, hence its ironic name. Since that time, the sickle-wielding-cow that turns the table on its butchers has become a symbol of Rome's gay liberation movement.
This year's parade was one of the largest gay events ever held in Rome, according to Immacolata (Imma) Battaglia, president of the Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale Mario Mieli, Rome's largest gay organization. Battaglia says it is only a precursor to next year's World Pride Roma 2000.
"It's not a business event," Battaglia said about next year's World Pride, "it's a fun event, that will be fun and political. It's the starting point to show the world that we are millions and millions and that they cannot stop us." Battaglia said the weeklong World Pride will include sporting events, film, theatre, dances, workshops, conferences, concerts, fashion shows, art exhibits, and of course a march through Rome.
World Pride Roma 2000 will also be a chance for millions of gays around the world to find out that they are not alone. From the music of Madonna and Cher to the floats in the parade, one of the most striking things about Rome Pride 1999 was how much this American writer felt at home.
One float, for example, was called "GayWatch," and included good-looking men and women in skimpy swimwear. Another was dedicated to the Wizard of Oz, and included all the usual suspects. When Dorothy (aka Mario) was asked about the float, he said it was to honor the 30th anniversary of Judy Garland's death. At that moment, someone from the crowd yelled: "non siamo in Kansas!" (we're not in Kansas anymore!).
The theme of the parade was in English: "Break Down the Wall." T-shirts included the de rigeur "I can't even think straight" and "silence = death." And the crowd's chants included an Italian version of we're-here-we're-queer: "Orgoglio, orgoglio, orgogilio gay. Oggi Roma e tutta gay!" (Pride, pride, gay pride. Today Rome is completely gay!)
Even more telling were the personal stories that could just as easily have come from Washington, DC as from Rome.
Eleonora is an18-year-old high school student working as a volunteer for this year's pride. While she's straight, her sister is lesbian - a fact that bothers dad, but not mamma. Eleonora went to the parade to help teach people that someone's being gay isn't important, "it's what's inside that counts," she says.
Salvatore, a blonde-haired 34-year-old Sicilian, won the first-ever Mr. Gay Italia title in 1997. He is out to his family, if only because his parents read about his title in the local Palermo newspaper. When asked how they handled the news, Salvatore told me: "They said 'you will always be our son.'"
Luca, a 29-year-old student, attended the parade and other pride events, but is not yet out to his parents. He says he will come out to them some day because he wants to be able to share his life with them. When asked about the state of gay rights in his country, he says that Italian gay groups spend too much time fighting each other rather than focusing on common goals.
"I have a dream in which one day we will be all together, all free and all the same," Battaglia said. "I hope that World Pride will be that day."
The official World Pride Roma 2000 Web site can be found at: http://www.worldpride2000.com
Wired Strategies (http://www.wiredstrategies.com) is a Washington, DC-based political Internet consulting firm specializing in using the Internet to influence and implement public policy.
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