After a successful first edition last year, Pride Park Firenze returns this summer with a revamped formula: an entire month of DJ sets, performances by Italian and international artists, parties, talks, debates and book presentations to foster a dialogue between entertainment and LGBTQI* culture. Valeria Santini is the event manager and one of the many figures behind Azione Gay e Lesbica Firenze, a non-profit association that has been promoting the wellbeing of Florence’s lesbian and gay community since 1989.
Vincenzo D’Angelo: Pride Park is returning for an entire month. What’s new? Tell me a bit about this year’s edition.
Valeria Santini: Last year was great. It was the first Pride held in Florence, an overwhelming moment. This year we have decided to enhance the whole experience and we have a place where you can come and have a good time, meet new people and be yourself. The program is wide-ranging and includes entertainment and educational activities focused on raising awareness of LGBTQI topics, like civil unions, adoptions, homophobia and more.
VD: Will there still be that interesting dialogue between entertainment and culture?
VS: Absolutely yes. The first half of the week will be dedicated to workshops, debates and meetings. We will discuss gender identity, coming out, gay rights and adoptions. Plenty of associations and no-profit organizations will be there with their stands to inform and offer their support. There will also be yoga and fitness classes, dinners and special activities for the kids. Friday and Saturday is all about music with famous Italian and international DJs, concerts and private parties. Our main goal is to embrace and celebrate every nuance of our culture, as if they were the colors of the rainbow.
VD: Thousands of people flocked to the streets of Florence last year for Toscana Pride. Have you ever thought about organizing a “Firenze Pride”?
VS: Toscana Pride is organized by LGBTQI groups from all over Tuscany with the aim of bringing our culture to every city of the region, including the smaller towns. This year we are celebrating in Arezzo, a beautiful little town in the Valdarno area. Everyone is invited! Last year was phenomenal, so I’m certain that it will come back to Florence again in the future.
Valeria Santini, event organizer, Pride Park Firenze
VD: Pride Park is one of the many events organized by Azione Gay e Lesbica Firenze. What else does your association do?
VS: We have a bi-monthly film club called “Ciak… Azione”, showing two movies every month that they are of interest to our community. We endeavor to screen little-known films or films that are rarely shown in Italian cinemas. The program is designed to appeal to anyone with an interest in LGBTQI rights and film as an art form. Azione Gay e Lesbica Firenze also has a Documentation Center for Gay Studies, which has been fully digitized. It’s a great selection of gay literature, essays, magazines and local papers. We offer legal advice for civil unions, immigration and support for victims of bullying and homophobia. Then there are projects with local schools to promote respect and acceptance for LGBTQI youth, including a promotional campaign with posters and flyers. Sometimes even the most basic things, like writing the words “gay” and “lesbian” on a piece of paper, are a major accomplishment. Last but not least, our Necessariamente parties at the Flog club—we started them 20 years ago and they are now a fundamental part of Florence’s nightlife.
VD: How can you become a member of Azione Gay e Lesbica Firenze?
VS: Everyone’s welcome! Write a message on our Facebook page or just show up at one of our events and meetings. We are all very friendly and willing to introduce new members to our big and colorful family. Those who need psychological or legal help can write or call us to schedule a private appointment with one of our counselors.
VD: Any plans for the future?
VS: “Necessariamente” parties at the Flog will be back this September. We are already hard at work on the official program and would like to do something a bit different. In the next few months we will keep working on our many projects, but the main goal always remains the same: to promote and represent our local community, with pride and joy.
VD: Three reasons why we shouldn’t miss Pride Park 2017?
VS: One, it’s the first month-long Pride Park in Florence, a safe space where you can come, be yourself and chill. Two, the program is rich and varied: from fitness to music, culture and live performances, there’s always something to do. Three, the Limonaia di Villa Strozzi is a fantastic space, somewhere you should definitely check out in Florence.
Pride Park Firenze
Pride Park Firenze will run from June 10 to July 8 at Limonaia di Villa Strozzi, via Pisana 77, Florence. For the full program, visit the official website.
June 17-18, The Fitness Weekend
Two days of yoga, Zumba, dance classes and health-oriented workshops. Chilled cocktails and aperitivi included.
June 24, Muccassasina in Florence
Rome’s most popular gay event is coming to Florence for one-night only with special DJ sets, drag show and dancers.
June 30, DENTE live show
Indie-pop sensation, Giuseppe Peveri, AKA Dente, will perform his greatest hits, a mix of smooth folk and funky sounds. He is one of Italy’s best-known independent artists with four albums and sold-out European tours under his belt.
July 1-2, The Wedding Weekend
The best local wedding suppliers and specialists in the industry will hand out useful tips to make your special day perfect. Plus, a special celebration for newly married same-sex couples.
*In case you were wondering:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender + Transsexual, Queer, Intersexual.