It's a special day for most couples, but Diego Angemi, 36, and his partner Francesco Ceccarini, 33, in particular are two people unlikely ever to forget their wedding day. The two Italian expats got married in front of hundreds of thousands of people at the Stockholm Pride Parade on Saturday.
But for the pair, who met in Italy but live in Sweden, the ceremony was not just a celebration of love in front of their family, friends and some 450,000-strong Pride audience. It was also a political statement.
IN PICTURES: Look back at last year's Stockholm Pride Parade
While same-sex marriage has been legal in Sweden since 2009, several attempts to introduce similar legislation in Italy have repeatedly been blocked in parliament. Angemi told The Local's reporter Elin Jönsson ahead of the wedding that they hoped it would send a strong message back to their home country in favour of LGBTQ rights (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer).
Watch Angemi and Ceccarini explain their wedding from six minutes in.
How did you come up with the idea to get married at Pride?
Well, we’ve been together for ten years so there’s not much left to do but to get married – it’s definitely about time.
The usual ceremony only takes about three minutes, so we wanted to do something more fun, especially now when we’re inviting our friends and family from Italy. So we thought of doing something different, which makes Pride the best option – a parade with three hours of music and people having fun.
Pride is the best time in Stockholm with so many people celebrating and now our loved ones from Italy get to experience it – and attend the wedding as a bonus.
How does it feel to get married before all these people?
It feels amazing, Francesco and I will start the parade as unmarried, then when we get to the Sergels Torg square in central Stockholm the ceremony will start. We’ll say ‘I do’ in front of Kulturhuset ('Culture House', a centre for cultural events in the Swedish capital), a place I love, and then continue the parade as a married couple.
It feels good to have our relatives with us both on the truck while we’re in the parade and at Sergels Torg when we get to the ceremony.
What kind of reaction have you received?
Everyone’s really interested. Some think it’s perhaps a bit different to do it during a truck parade. Some have asked if I don’t want to get married in Italy, but that’s not even a possibility.
The Stockholm Pride Parade is the biggest in Scandinavia. Photo: Annika af Klercker/TT
What’s it like for LGBTQ-people in Italy?
They're not accepted, Francesco and I pretend to be best friends and not partners when we’re there.
Not every European country has come as far as Sweden, and Italy and Greece are probably the ones who are furthest behind. When our family and friends return to Italy after Stockholm Pride, they’ll tell others how joyful and festive it was, which is exactly what Italians need to hear.
What can be improved in Sweden?
If we can get married at Stockholm Pride, I feel as if there’s no limit to how good this can get. Personally, I have no complaints about gay rights in Sweden but I’m not sure what it’s like for trans-people. It could be different.
How long will it take before Italy gets where Sweden is now?
I don’t have a good answer to that. I attended a Pride festival in Rome in 2000 and it hasn’t progressed since. The situation has almost gotten worse while the rest of the world is developing in these matters.
The event on Saturday could be the perfect storm and we want to make a political statement to pressure Italy into legalizing same-sex marriage. We’ll also stream our marriage on YouTube to stoke the debate in Italy and we’ll show that it needs culture and education about where the world is headed.
Finally, have you booked your honeymoon yet?
Yes, we’re going travelling around America!
By Elin Jönsson