This is a story of a boy named Lucky. If you’ve caught the reference, you’re on the right page. In this case, I’m Lucky because I have the chance to write about something I care deeply about. Let me get this straight: Florence is not New York or San Francisco, but it does have a vibrant LGBTQIA+ scene that needs to be discovered and told.
Get yourself an education at Associazione Gay & Lesbica documentation centre (via Pisana 32-34R, Florence). The archive includes gay and lesbian books, newspapers, reports and other documents related to gay rights, health and activism in Italy and Europe. Although most of the documentation is in Italian, it also contains material in English, German, Spanish and other languages. Open to the public by appointment only, you just have to send an email to email@example.com.
IREOS Comunità Queer Autogestita (via dei Serragli 3, Florence) meets every Monday evening from 8 to 10pm. It is a place where you can get emotional support and talk about gender identity, coming out and family issues supported by highly qualified professionals. The association also offers legal support for victims of abuse and mistreatment as well as bureaucratic assistance for transition processes. Events, courses and festivals are par for the course, including the Florence Queer Festival, which brings the greatest queer movies, short films and documentaries to the city every October. Embrace your inner Mariah Carey by joining Choreos, the choir open to gay, lesbian and straight people with no gender, age or identity distinction. All activities are free but a year’s membership is required, which costs 10 euro.
The best lessons are learned outside the classroom and over a drink. Piccolo Cafè (borgo Santa Croce 23R, Florence) is the oldest gay bar in town and it’s the perfect place to binge watch the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, while sipping a drink with your clique. Queer (borgo Allegri, 9R) is the perfect place for a casual apericena in an inclusive space that serves nice food and a good selection of cocktails. What about partying? The monthly events Necessariamente at Flog (FB @AuditoriumFlogFirenze / via Michele Mercati 24B, Florence) and MamaMia at Viper Theatre (FB @mamaflorence / via Pistoiese 309, Florence) are definitely not to be missed: pop music, drag queen divas, go go boys and girls, and bars, they have everything you need for an epic night.
Every summer all the LGBTQIA+ association in Tuscany join forces for Toscana Pride, the annual parade that brings our fight for self-affirmation, dignity and equality across the whole region. Florence hosted the parade in 2017, followed by Arezzo in 2018 and Pisa in 2019, which saw the involvement of more than 15,000 participants.
“Ballroom eleganza extravaganza” is the category at Magma Music and Arts, which organizes infamous themed balls where crews of dancers, performers and drag queens compete for trophies, prizes and glory. Ball culture has been brought into the spotlight by the popular American TV show POSE, but the “real thing” has been alive and dancing here in Florence for several years now. (Friendly advice: you absolutely have to go to a ball, you will L-O-V-E it!)
Get tested at IREOS. It’s anonymous, free and open to all, followed by a conversation with volunteers to reduce anxiety and provide information about risky behaviour, transmission, treatment and more. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot (it only takes 10 minutes). You can also get tested at Careggi Hospital (easily reachable from the city center with the T1 tram) daily from 7 to 10 am without a prescription or appointment, as well as at all local healthcare clinics; Poliambulatorio Lungarno Santa Rosa, 13 is located in the San Frediano area; by appointment only.
One more thing: this column is a safe place for queer people looking for answers to their very important (and sometimes worrying) questions. Spoiler alert: it gets better.
PS. Thank you to all the readers who appreciated the “Why Pride Still Matters” special released last summer. Remember: pride is a powerful thing and no one should take it away from you.