Lorenza - An Ordinary Love Story
This week kicks off Love Les International Interviews. Last year, Love Les reached around 90 countries. A significant number of these countries are non-affirming toward LGBTQ+ folk and many criminalize homosexuality altogether. Recognizing this, our team is working on ways to include more voices from the global LBGTQ+ community. We're excited to celebrate love stories from across the globe. This week's interview features one half of a beautiful lesbian couple from Italy who live out their love in Canada. Read and enjoy!
Hometown: I’m from Verona (Italy) but I currently live in Vancouver (Canada)
Work: Photography student
How do you identify? Lesbian
What is your favorite book? My favorite book is by one of my favorite Italian writers: Letters Against the War by Tiziano Terzani.
What are your favorite queer resources? Hello Daddy! by Claudio Rossi Marcelli. He’s an Italian writer and I loved this book because he talks about the time he became a dad with his partner and deals with same-sex families issues in a sarcastic and unique way. My favorite TV series of all time is The L World. I also really like The Fosters. I also follow the blog “LezPop,” it’s an Italian blog about the lesbian world. My favorite LGBTQ+ movies are Carol, Imagine Me & You, Pride and I Can’t Think Straight.
The Heart of it:
When did you start to recognize your identity?
I always thought I was a heterosexual. That is, up until I was 20 years old and I fell in love with a girl for the first time.
Was that your first same-gender crush?
No, that was a high school classmate of mine. I remember I always blushed in front of her and I couldn’t understand why. Three years later, when I fell in love with Ilenia, I recognized that feeling.
Talk to me about Ilenia.
We were high school classmates, but only after we finished school did we realized that ours wasn’t just a friendship but actually something more.
After we finished high school, me and four other classmates organized a trip across Europe. During that trip, I fell in love with her.
It was August 10th, 2010. We were both sitting in the same beach chair at our friend’s house. We were laughing and joking together. Suddenly she stopped joking and told me that she felt confused. At that time, we were thinking about which colleges to attend, so I asked her if she was confused because she didn’t know what to study at University. But she didn’t mean that. She was confused about me. She felt something for me. And when I realized what she was meant, I felt so happy inside me. It was harder for her though. She was involved with someone else, a man, at the time and she was struggling to understand it.
But that night, we kissed for the first time and it was a perfect kiss - so soft and gentle. When I touched her lips for the first time, I felt like I had found all that I was ever looking for.
It wasn’t at all a big deal for me at the beginning. She was just Ilenia, my Ilenia, my classmate. I didn’t even realize that I kissed a woman until I got home and thought about it. But by then, I was like, “Whatever! I like her!” She was my friend and classmate for four years, and now she was becoming my lover.
For her, it was a little slower. It took her three months to realize she was in love with me. But then on January 10th, 2011, she said to me for the first time “I love you.” And of course, I said “I love you too” right away.
We’ve been together ever since. Ours is really an ordinary love story. One of those where two people suddenly realize they are meant for each other. This year, we celebrated our seventh anniversary.
How did your family and friends respond?
We told our friends right away and they were all so supportive and happy for us. My family was much harder to deal with. My mother found out my sexuality by asking me directly if I had a girlfriend. After that, we went through a difficult period that forced me to leave my home and to move in with Ilenia. Now my mother is better, but not completely supportive. She still avoids talking openly about my homosexuality. Ultimately, it took her almost six years to accept Ilenia. My father and his family (he is remarried) stopped being a part of my life since the moment he learned about my sexuality.
Did your culture or background impact your coming out process?
A lot actually. Fortunately, we discovered our homosexuality together and at an age where you’re mature enough to be able to accept yourself relatively smoothly. We’ve both always been open-minded and progressive people. Realizing that we were lesbians was a huge discovery for us, but we coped together, and eventually, that helped us become closer as a couple.
What was your experience as a queer couple living in Italy?
LGBTQ rights aren’t fully guaranteed in Italy and public opinion is still very closed-minded. The process to a complete recognition of the LGBTQ community in our culture is pretty slow.
While our story is an ordinary love story, it has been accompanied by the intentional decision to not hide our relationship. Our visibility, sincerity, and simplicity have always been essential to us. It hasn’t always been easy to stay true to our principles in a place like Italy, but we’ve tried our best.
Have you or your partner met discrimination?
Yes. We’ve experienced discrimination. It’s every time we avoided holding hands or kissing in public. Every time we avoided saying that our partner was a woman. Every time when stupid horny guys asked us to kiss a second time in front of them. Every time other stupid guys saw us holding hands and they whispered "lesbians" as if it were an insult. And more personally, within my family when my mother called Ilenia “slut,” and when my father told me I was sick. We’ve experienced a lot of discrimination.
Eventually, Italy felt too restricting for us. We’re a young couple in love. We dream of discovering jobs we like, marrying and growing old together, and having two or even three children in a state that protects our rights. For this reason, we decide to move abroad to a place where homophobia was only a thing that once existed. Now we live in Vancouver and we’re happier than we’ve ever been. We hold hands when we walk together and kiss without worrying about who can see us.
What is your favorite thing about your relationship?
My favorite thing about our relationship is that we know each other so well that we sometimes don’t need even to talk about. We really feel connected and supported by one another.
What coming out advice would you offer readers?
Find your personal path and follow it. No matter how hard it is, just follow your heart and everything will be fine.