Rocco / USA
“In 2011 I was in college. I decided I needed to step away from the east coast, and go revisit my roots. Italy. As a gay male, being in Europe almost seemed more safe than walking the streets of Connecticut and everything surrounding. Little did I know, I was wrong. I didn’t have much knowledge of rights in Europe. So I left. I went to study a few courses in Florence and be free and have 0 judgement and fully indulge in my culture and fall in love with the country I always thought was gorgeous and simple and judgement free. At this time, I was freshly out of the closet, vulnerable and nervous about how I acted, talked and walked. I wasn’t comfortable with my self quiet yet.
So, Italy was amazing. Up until 3 weeks into it, I decided to stay at an adorable bed and breakfast with some of my girlfriends. We dropped our luggage off into the rooms and left for the day. After our day of shopping and lunch, we came back to the bed and breakfast to find our suitcases waiting outside for us. All of our personal belongings just exposed outside. We went inside to see what was happening. The family of the bed and breakfast found out I was a queer male and was not too happy about it. They were livid. They seemed almost more uncomfortable than I was. The mother was screaming on the top of her lungs about gay being wrong and this country must stay pure. I didn’t know what to think. The friends I were with didn’t understand how much this effected me. I kept quiet and enjoyed the rest of Europe. It is an awful feeling to keep quiet. Not that I was hiding something. It’s just awful to feel like you can’t talk about something. I was stuck in a country that I thought to be so beautiful, ended up being so hurtful. Maybe I was just vulnerable and sensitive. I couldn’t help to only blame this one family. I had to blame the country. I didn’t know what else to think. For the next 4 months I felt that everyone was staring at me. I know people weren’t, I was another face in the crowed, but that lady and her family made me feel as if everybody was. They ruined it for me. After a few years, as I grew, I learned that this wasn’t just Europe. It’s everywhere in the world. Your neighbours and family could be your worst nightmare. Luckily mine aren’t. Recently I’ve traveled back to Italy and a more confident experienced queer male. Don’t worry, I fell in love with the country this time-like how I always wanted to.”