In some ways, the world views it as like this center of Catholicism and right-wing dogma, but in other ways it is more willing to “codify” (to borrow from President Bush) gay rights than the US is, at least in Rome, home of the Pope. Following the World Pride Roma 2000 march that not-so-coincidentally took place at the same time as the Catholic Church’s Jubilee 2000 celebration, momentum was buliding for LGBT rights in Rome after around 100,000 people from around the world attended the march. A summer festival called “Gay Village” was started last summer and is an official component of “Roman Summer,” a city-funded entertainment program for people who can’t afford to leave Rome in August (an unbearably hot month when many Italians either leave the country or go to the coast). There is a nice article about the festival here.
I’d be curious to see how many people under the age of 30 attend “Gay Village.” After spending a year in Florence and travelling all around the country, gay culture seemed to be something of a “man’s club” that doesn’t exclude boys (I’m sure they’d love to have some more youthful members), but rather is forbidden to them because in Italy it is common for sons and daughters to live at home with their parents well into their twenties, and it’s hard to meet people when you have La Mamma breathing down your neck 24/7. I guess the up side is that they save a lot of money to spend on D&G and they never have to cook for themselves. Plus who needs to bring someone home when you can do it in the back of their tiny FIAT? That common activity might be behind the rising tide of back problems in Italy’s gay community.