The Leopard’s Spots

Left-wing progressives have stopped well short of fully embracing gay rights.

By: Mark Campbell/The American-In Italia

Valeria has been a close friend of mine since I first came to Italy. She was raised a Catholic by a domineering mother and an irresponsible father. As an adult, she tried rejecting religion in favor of a more secular viewpoint.

Valeria and her husband lean politically to the left, more specifically toward communism. She embraces ideas like solidarity to the point where a simple invitation for a beer in two quickly morphs into a collective event. She’s also a strong supporter of community-based programs and she is always organizing cultural tours to museums and galleries. She is a font of information about community organizations and has been involved with a group that provides support to families of children with disabilities. All the same, I’ve heard friends make little quips about Valeria’s inability to distinguish between the hammer and sickle and the crucifix.

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of watching Valeria’s daughter Alba go from diapers to university. Even as a little girl it was clear that Alba was a strong and independent person with above average intelligence. I remember Valeria telling me about one of Alba’s grade school projects in which the teacher had asked the children to make a poster-size collage about their ambitions and desires for the future. The morning the assignment was due Valeria and Alba met the other mothers and their children gathered outside the school. Each child carefully held up a poster with images of what they hope for. Not surprisingly, the boys were plastered with pictures of racecars and football players while the girls’ posters were filled with fashion models and designer labels. Alba’s poster, however, was fill with images of scouting and environmentalism.

As Alba grew, she remained dedicated to scouting and rose to the level of Scout leader. Consistent with the values of social justice and collective action that her parents had instilled in her, as a teenager she attended many protests for human rights. Along with one of her best friends, Giorgio, who is gay, they started a gay student association in their high school.

Many times I’ve listened to Valeria’s concerns about typical problems, the kind that all parents face. I’ve heard about Alba’s acne crisis, I’ve listened to the right time to let Alba have her own smart phone/tablet/computer, and at what age should she be allowed to meet friends at night, and what curfew hour is reasonable. I’ve always suggested Valeria take a soft line rather than an authoritarian one.

Valeria and her father Claudio also did their best to ensure Alba received a global education. When Alba turned 16 they spent a summer in New York City. When she turned 18 they vacationed in London. One friend suggested that maybe the time had come for Alba to be more independent. “What 18-year-old wants to spend their summer vacation with their parents?” Eventually, Alba decided to study architecture at university. Alba’s entrance exam scores were very high. She’d grown up to be a very remarkable young woman and a daughter to be proud of.

Last month, Alba told her mother and father that she didn’t really have any interest in boys but she liked girls, even though she had only ever shared one kiss with another girl.

After a lifetime of preaching social equality and justice both Valeria and Giorgio responded very negatively, though I was told that Giorgio was far less severe and argumentative. Valeria reportedly refused to speak to Alba for more than a week. At work, Valeria repeatedly burst into tears and proclaimed how disgusted she was by the idea of two women kissing.

Left-wing progressives have stopped well short of fully embracing gay rights.


I didn’t see Valeria as this drama unfolded. I was updated their friends. I soon received an indirect message from Valeria that she didn’t want to talk me about the “issue.” The bearer of the message suggested Valeria believed I couldn’t possibly understand what it feels like to be a mother.

In the meantime, Valeria has talked and cried to anyone willing to listen about how she’s been made into a victim. This has included seeking out the expert advice of the closeted homosexual director of the family with disabilities group.

As time passes, fewer and fewer people are willing to listen. Some friends criticize her outright. She’s apparently seeing a therapist to help her through her self-inflicted pain and suffering. I’m concerned that any intervention on my part would only fuel the fire, though I’m tempted to call her out. “Look at the damage your bigotry and intolerance has caused,” I would tell her. “It didn’t have to be this way.”

And what about Alba? This young woman has just taken one of the bravest steps of her life only to discover that the two people she most trusted have pulled the rug out from under. She has probably been left to question the system of values and beliefs she was taught. I suspect this will have negative ramifications for Alba for the rest of her life. From a distance, I can only hope she finds people to guide and support her during this epic experience.

Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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