Every summer, I visit my grandparents in Northern Italy. Those summers have been an important part of my childhood. Their house is located in a small village called Alesso. For me, a perfect day in Alesso would be to start with a fresh watermelon for breakfast, and then head for the mountains. That place makes you want to be outside, riding a bike, swimming in the mountain river, or eating delicious ice-cream…. “La dolce vita” as the Italians would call it.
Because I went there every year since I was a child, there was a group of local friends with whom I used to hang out and play with every summer. It was always fun to see them again after another year and to see how much they would change. When I hit adolescence and started to discover my sexual orientation, one guy in the group caught my attention. He was the first guy I had a crush on. I found there was something intriguing about him: the way he jumped off the rocks into the mountain river and his Italian accent.
Of course I never mentioned my feelings to him. Alesso is a small and Catholic village, where everyone knows everyone. I always thought that if I had come out as gay, it would have ‘damaged’ the reputation of our family in this village. This was actually a big mistake. Years later, when I came out to my grandparents, they were the most accepting people on earth.