Celebrate Gay Pride for a Week in Rome

In the shadow of the Vatican, pride fills the air

Rome Italy Gay Pride
by Filippo Monteforte, Getty Images

Rome, sitting in the shadow of Vatican City, hosts one of the largest LGBT pride celebrations in the world. Every June, the month that commemorates the famous 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City that paved the way for more openness for gay people, Rome Gay Pride hosts nearly 1 million people.

LGBT Rights Awareness

The Rome Gay Pride Parade is a mixture of fun and gay parties together with a more serious agenda.

Within Rome, the city-within-a-city—the Vatican, is a stone's throw from the pride festivities. Since Pope Francis took the papal throne in 2013, the Catholic Church has taken a stance to be more accepting of gays and lesbians, although same-sex public displays of affection are frowned upon in Vatican City.

No matter, nearly 1 million people come together to celebrate gay pride in June still intent on chipping away at the Roman Catholic stance on same-sex marriage and LBGT equality.

Festivities and Events

A series of concerts, dance events, drag competitions, sporting, and cultural events take place across the city for an entire week. There is a giant parage that traditionally kicks off in Piazza della Repubblica, heads past the Colosseum, and ends at Piazza Venezia. Pride Park, usually at Città dell’Altra Economia in Testaccio, hosts lectures, films, and cultural events.

Nightlife

There are no gay neighborhoods in Rome, but a popular hotspot of the gay and lesbian community at night is the street in front of the two cafe-bars Coming Out and My Bar, Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, informally dubbed Rome's Gay Street or “La Movida." The area is hopping especially during hot summer nights.

Like everywhere in Italy, a membership card is required for all gay cruise bars and saunas, usually the Anddos card. ANDDOS, in Italian, is an acronym that means "the National Association against Sexual Orientation Discrimination." The organization is a non-profit organization that helps keep Italy safe and supportive for the LGBT community.

In Rome, that card is also required for some of the gay parties. You can usually acquire an Anddos card at the entrance of the venues that require the card. It costs about $15 and is valid for 1 year. When you acquire the card you need to show your photo ID. After that, you only need the membership card.

History

You would think that Rome, a city dating more than 2,700 years has seen it all. In 2000, Rome had Italy's first gay mega-gathering (that historians know of): World Pride Roma 2000, a weeklong festival that drew gay activists from about 40 countries. Police estimated that there were 70,000 marchers, mostly Italians. They strolled peacefully from the Cestio pyramid past the Colosseum and assembling in Circus Maximus for an evening rally.

In 2011, Europride hosted Rome's annual pride festivities, achieving record numbers of attendance, including a speech and performance by American megastar Lady Gaga. Europride selects a different European spot to be the host city each year. 

Rome has been steadily achieving more rights for the LGBT community. In 2016, a civil unions law passed, providing same-sex couples with many of the rights of marriage.