How complicated is being a gay guy in Italy? And how difficult is it to be able to be accepted by your family? Questions that at first may seem absurd but which, to hear the stories of the young people of Home + – reception and temporary protection center of the Italian Red Cross for LGBT youth – are very real and worrying.
photo source: Italian Red Cross
We from Skuola.net we met some of them and were struck by the story of a young boy who we will identify with the name of J. for privacy reasons. She is only 20 years old but behind a long experience consumed between violence and abuse, caused by his closest family: his father and brothers.
For J. – who for about a year has lived in the structure used by the Red Cross – suffering has been a constant and today he would just like to be able to find a job that allows him to live peacefully. At the age of 17, the first major trauma: “I always knew I was gay, but when I decided to come out to my family it was the worst nightmare of my life.” A life that has since been a heap of insults, acts of homophobia and sexual harassment which is hard to tell. To help him along this path was only her sister, to whom he would like to return soon to be able to rebuild his family.
“When I came out to my father he wanted to take me to treatment”
J. has never had doubts about his sexual orientation: he has always been a guy who liked men and he never thought that this could be a problem for himself. After spending his adolescence in apparent silence, at the age of 17 he decides, under the advice of his older sister, to face the other members of his family and to come out to them too. “My father said to me when I declared myself “Ok perfect, I have to take you to cure”. The only one who was in my favor and who understood me the most was my sister, who explained to my father that this was not a disease and that I would still be his son ”. No awareness, however, on the part of the parent, on the contrary: from that moment on for J. life began to become a real nightmare.
“I was beaten by my brothers, they didn’t want me to leave the house anymore”
Even before facing his own coming out, J. imagined the possible reaction of his family, but never would have thought that shortly afterwards the family, to which he was very attached, would turn into a hell made of psychological and physical violence. “On the one hand, I hoped that my brothers and my father could understand me, but they didn’t. My brothers started insulting and beating me“. Acts of homophobia that until then he had never experienced on his own skin and that left unimaginable wounds precisely because they came from his family. “When I started to be more myself, my brothers and my father complicated my life: they didn’t want me out, they wanted me to stay at home, to dress a certain way, they spit on me, they beat me, they even raised their hands to my sister because she was defending me. They told her “It’s your fault he’s like this, because he’s always with you, he’s always with the girls, he does feminine things like dancing and singing.” And I was forced to move away from her too. “ For his part, J. has always tried to push reason forward, even in the face of the most animated discussions: “I wanted to make them understand that they were wrong, but when it turned to violence and they started to hurt me physically, unfortunately I couldn’t do anything there. Being bigger than me, stronger, logically I couldn’t do anything “.
Harassment at school: “When I told them the teachers didn’t believe me”
Difficulties in the family and continuous struggle against prejudices even outside the home. For J. even the school years were not easy: “at school when I was a kid I didn’t declare myself, but some already knew it, they went away and insulted me“. Others, however, aware of his sexual orientation, they tried to sexually harass him: “Once it happened at school. A companion always came to the bathroom with me, he touched me. Honestly, being smaller and more sensitive, I kept silent and didn’t tell anyone. And then, I managed to talk to the teacher who, however, did not believe me and did not take any measures“.
Today he lives at Casa + and dreams of being able to return to live with his sister
For about a year J. lives within the Casa + structure and shares life with other * boys * who have experienced acts of homophobia. While he is intent on telling the story of him, the suffering that he carries with him all his life comes out. First he hid himself so as not to be pointed out and judged; then the removal from home as the only solution to be able to save himself and live more peacefully. The separation from his family causes him so much sadness and for this, he confesses to us, in his future he sees himself together with his sister, the only one who understood and respected him. “I wish I could work and fly with my wings and get my life backright from the point where it was interrupted “.
Casa +, the Red Cross home for LGBT youth
Home + and the a place where young people who are part of the LGBT community, aged between 18 and 30, are able to find refuge and support following negative experiences that led them to move away from their family. The Red Cross project was born in 2016, together with another partner, to meet the needs of protection for victims of homotransphobia and discriminated personsand evolves, in April 2021, into Home +a safe haven that offers free hospitalityand where it is possible to play educational and work inclusion paths.
Here, the welcomed boys * are helped through individual and concrete interventions that are substantiated in the resource recovery and social reintegrationundertaking paths of personal and professional growthwith the aim of making them completely autonomous and capable of returning to fly alone.
How can I access Casa +? It is possible to get in touch with Casa + CRI operators through the toll-free number 800 065510or through messages WhatsApp at the phone number 370 1288375active from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 to 20:00.
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