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Matera Pride was held on 30 July 2022 in Matera. It is the main pride event of our neighbouring region Basilicata; Matera is only a 50 minute drive from Bari.
Matera is one of the highlights our Pride calendar. The parade took us into the heart of Matera and we took Matera to our hearts.
Matera Pride | The Meeting Point, Waiting
We went with high hopes having taken part in Matera’s first even Pride in 2019. The 2019 event was exciting. Matera was buzzing enjoying its year as one of two European capitals of culture. The city was in festive mood, and Matera’s residents came out to support their LGBTQ+ community like we had never experienced in Italy. Even in Rome, parading down many of the streets the parade route took us, residents didn’t seem to be too interested. Until we came to the Coliseum, where the crowd and the experience wonderful, most onlookers seemed incidental.
But along the full route, Matera came out to show its Pride, caught up in the excitement of 2019.
The glamour and the glitz…
Pronti, partenza, pride!
There were fewer participants in Matera’s 2022 Pride than in 2019, but size doesn’t always matter. Residents were on the streets and balconies once again to show their support. There are always bemused onlookers, but to Matera’s credit so many more people came out to support the parade than we have seen on the streets of any of this year’s Puglia prides.
The other highlight of Matera’s Pride - and once again it came up with the goods - is the party parade float. Matera had chosen the charismatic Enrico Palazzo as official DJ and creative consultant.
Enrico, and the team of Matera ‘icons’, dancers and artists, gave great energy. Something else Matera manages better.
As usual a colourful display of people and banners were evident. Generation Z make up a significant part of Pride participants. Bold, young, unafraid and LGBTQ+ friendly. Unlike the three Puglia Prides we attended this year, Matera’s parade did seem to have a better generational balance, with more Gen Y on display.
The Prides we attend in Puglia and Matera Pride are very different from those you might experience in other countries, and certainly from the major European Prides of London, Berlin and Madrid.
But unlike the UK, Germany and Spain Italy lags behind EU neighbours accepting diversity. Although progress has been made - we have civil partnerships but are a long way off from #equalmarriage - a patriarchal society, the Catholic Church and support for far-right parties make it difficult for many Italians to lead open and authentic lives.
Italy’s macho culture may be stronger in the less metropolitan south, but other factors mean that it is harder for people to be their authentic selves. It is not unusual for young people to live at the family home with their parents and grandparents well into their 30s.
Our experience of Pride parades in southern Italy is that they have a different flavour. More queer than LGB or T. Brought up on a Netflix diet of Heartstopper, Sex Education and Elite, Generation Z are much more open, accepting and supportive. Best of all they are unafraid to be visible, whether as members of the LGBTQ+ community or as allies.
They are not commercial events. They are part protest and a big celebration. They are a chance, one of the few that many who live here have, to be authentic. To hold hands with a partner. To kiss openly…
It helps to understand the society we live in. Fascism put Italy well and truly in the closet, with internment camps for openly gay men. Homosexuality in Italy “didn’t exist”. In Italy, there are only men, was the boast of Mussolini.
And frighteningly we find ourselves on the verge of a far-right led coalition government being elected in snap elections this coming September, with Georgia Meloni as Prime Minister. She would become Italy’s first far-right leader since Mussolini.
Meloni, who has described abortion as a “defeat”, opposes same-sex marriage and parenting. “Yes to the natural family! No to LGBT lobbies!” she yelled at a rally.
“Uncontrolled immigration must be regulated” is another Meloni favourite with equally tough views on foreigners. She is against granting citizenship to children born in Italy to foreign parents, and blamed the country’s failure to make it to 2018’s Fifa World Cup finals on there being “too many” foreign players in the Italian football league.
It’s another of Italy’s great contradictions. Many Italians are, and some of its institutions can be, progressive. Yet the country’s politics lag far behind.
(You gotta) fight for your right (to party)
The after party was held at gay friendly Ocio Sandwich Room. We loved the city centre venue, friendly service and fun vibe that carried on after the parade. Intimate, but busy, and inclusive.
Matera Pride 2022 photo copyright © The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia, city guides to gay Puglia, gay Italy
More Pride | Pronti, Partenza, Pride! Our Bari Pride 2022 experience | Sherocco Festival e sarà bellezza | Siamo Tutt3 Pride at Masseria Palesi | Speaking Our Language - diversity wins at Salento Pride (in English) | Salento Pride, Masseria Wave | LGBT+ History Month Italia and podcast episode (in English) | the return of Matera Pride 30 July 2022 | a postcard from Matera Pride 2019.
More Matera | we speak to Antonio Nicoletti the Direttore Generale of Basilicata's tourist board, the Agenzia di Promozione Territoriale Basilicata, ahead of the release of the latest Bond film, No Time To Die.
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More | if you are visiting Puglia for this summer here’s how to choose the perfect base for your stay in Puglia | read our definitive guide to gay Puglia for LGBTQ+ travelers | check out our city guide to Ostuni.