I began writing this week’s column with the intention of making it clear Florence’s LGBT culture is lacking. However, as I started to write, I realized I could say that about almost every city in the U.S. and Europe. Why criticize Florence alone?
How about I start with an understatement, instead. Not enough is done in the U.S. or Europe for young gay people. For gay people to feel true acceptance, there needs to be change in society itself, not just laws. For example, all the recent “It Gets Better” videos are good signs.
Kent State is an example of a socially accepting place. Like all universities, sometimes KSU can be frustrating, but I appreciate the diversity and acceptance there. We have Pride!, Fusion magazine (including this website) and the new LGBTQ center. The situation is not perfect, but LGBT people are doing fairly well in Kent.
Kent’s acceptance was new for me, coming from a rural part of Ohio where homophobia is the norm. I’ve lived in areas with great acceptance and little acceptance so I was curious about the European situation. From what I’ve experienced this semester, the big cities are openly accepting. To be fair, while Florence certainly isn’t painting its cobblestones rainbow, Tuscany (of which Florence is the capital) is known for generally being more accepting than the rest of Italy. In 2007, the Tuscan government created a pro-LGBT poster portraying a newborn to be gay, according to this article on stuff.co.nz.
Even such relatively small moves are important, but gay young people all over the world need more. Being in Europe is letting me see what both this place and the U.S. are doing (or not doing) to make our lives better. Even though so many good things have happened lately in the LGBT community, the recent LGBT suicides show we have a lot to do. The fact so many American and European politicians still routinely make anti-gay remarks is another sign. Yes, Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama made “It Gets Better” videos, but Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minster, said, “It’s better to be passionate about beautiful girls than gay,” on Tuesday, according to this article.
I want to see an accepting society. This is not being idealistic, it’s being concerned.