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How Pride and Community Empowered Me While Abroad in Rome

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Being a part of minoritized communities while abroad may seem intimidating and scary, but my experiences with identity helped me through my first time in a foreign country. I am intersectional – there is not one identity that solely describes who I am. I am a First-Generation college student, I am queer, I am Asian American, and so much more.  

My goal for this summer was to intern at an LGBTQ+ nonprofit organization abroad. IFSA provided me with the perfect opportunity through their Summer Internships in Rome Program. Rome is a large city that welcomed me with open minds and warm hearts.  

I have only ever experienced Pride Month celebrations within the United States, so I didn’t know what to expect in Rome. I can tell you now that it exceeded not only my expectation but my imagination. Here is my recap of 2022’s Roma Pride:  

This year, Mario Mieli – Rome’s LGBTQ+ nonprofit organization – hosted its largest series of Pride Month events to date. It started with 10 consecutive nights of Pride celebrations in a local park. Each night included unique performances, panels, and shows from queer Italian authors, celebrities, actresses, and more. The Pride finale was a massive Pride parade through the cobblestone streets of Rome. Masses of people came out to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. It was a truly beautiful experience.  

My experience as a queer individual abroad was unique as I was specifically placed as an intern at an LGBTQ+ organization, however, here are some tips on how to find community abroad.  

First, find out if your destination has a local LGBTQ+ organization. In my experience, they’re always welcoming with open arms and a safe place to meet others. They may even be able to connect you with LGBTQ+ groups or programs to join such as Mario Mieli’s Gruppo Giovani for LGBTQ+ 18–30-year-olds and Gruppo Migranti for LGBTQ+ immigrants. 

If you’re planning on traveling during June, do some research and see if there are any Pride Month events going on while you’ll be there.  

Find LGBTQ+ friendly spaces such as nightclubs, bookstores, or coffee shops. A quick Google search can go a long way. I also found myself stumbling across some of these venues just by roaming around the city. Keep your eye out for pride flags, stickers, or another décor around public places. These are often indicative of inclusive spaces.  

Make friends with locals (if you’re worried about a language barrier, most of the youth in Rome know English very well)! It can be hard to step out of your comfort zone and seek out friends other than the fellow IFSA students, however, locals are key to finding what you need! They’re from that area and know it well. My Italian friends have shown me the best sights to see and hang out spots that aren’t tourist traps.  

No matter where you go, finding your community can make your trip so much more enjoyable and fulfilling. Don’t be afraid to meet new people and seek out spaces where you feel comfortable. 

Savannah Quach is a Psychology and Intersectional Health Studies major at the University of Louisville and traveled abroad with IFSA’s Summer Internship in Rome, Italy 2022.