My grandma used to say to my cousin that looking out the window is not something ladies should do. At age 10 living in Morocco, I thought on the other side of that window there was some embarrassing scene not suitable for my cousin. Something similar to when my mom and dad changed TV channel when showing a kiss or sexual scene.
Looking out the window I could only see the wind raising dust, and a few kids playing. I used to get angry and fight with myself: “Was I not fast enough? What was it? Maybe, it will soon go by again. I will wait a bit longer, it will go by again, whatever it is… it will go by again!”
Pointless! Nothing unusual, just panhandlers and old ladies. Every time, my grandma came downstairs, I took my cousin upstairs: bouncing on my parents’ bed to reach the window. We’d hold ourselves up thanks to the floral designed windows bars, squeezing our mugs among the iron pieces. I was hoping, my cousin willingly whispered the secret of that street, secret shared only with my grandma, as I was afraid to ask her directly.
My cousin never told me anything, because there was nothing to tell or see. The filth was inside my grandmother (I am not being fair to my Nana who has never been cruel. She is rather a 5.9″ sweet and kind woman).
Back to the story: moving from Morocco to Italy. For years, my eyes lay on a glowing window, made of images and sounds. My eyes were looking at a window reproducing the world: the television. My dreamy and probing eyes staring at the Pride Parade during the evening news, when it was already all over; a swarm of colorful people invading the street of Rome. I can clearly remember the flood of emotions and jealousy.
I wanted to dive out that window, into the crowd, into what it represented.
For many years, I was afraid my face could be detected from the cameras and showed on TV. My grandma, and my parents who were allowed to look outside that window, would have seen me, jubilant and colorful while marching those streets. There is no filth in being our true self. There is no illegitimacy in pride. But what I can say to them? In the past few years, the Pride Parade and the Ramadan share the same dates, which had been complicating my participation: going to Rome or Bologna generates too many questions, and I had too little answers.
I wrote these words from one of the study rooms at Palazzo Paleotti in Bologna. Easy to guess, that tomorrow, I will be attending my first Pride!
My grandmother and my parents will not be here, nor will my cousin. But I will be here, my very first Pride in flesh and bone. This time, I will be both the window and the street, but I will also be my cousin.
You! Looking out that window. You who are looking at me from up there! I Want to let you know, you must learn how to show your pride, just like you learn how to walk. Windows do not stay closed forever. We need air, especially in summer.
Happy Pride to everyone! Especially to whom, just like me, were able to climb through the window.
translation by Barbara Burgio
©2017 Il Grande Colibrì