My LOVE Letter to San Francisco 💌

My LOVE Letter to San Francisco  💌

5 years in San Francisco today!!! ❤️ This is my love letter to you, beautiful city by the Bay...

In San Francisco I felt alive, accepted and FREE for the first time in my life! It was (and still is) the adolescence that was stolen from me!

On June 23 2018, we left London on a one way flight and landed in my dream place... For nearly 8 years it had been my mission (obsession?) to get back. Like today, it was a Friday and the beginning of Pride weekend in the city (I timed it perfectly, that's no coincidence 😉).

Obviously, the first thing we did after dropping our suitcase was heading to Dolores Park, the beating heart of this gorgeous city. We immediately felt right at home, in the right place for the first time ever.

I had fallen in love with SF on my first visit in 2009, when I came to Castro with Giulia 🌈 Who knew such a bubble of joy and freedom existed on Earth?!

My first time in the Castro in 2009 (San Francisco's LGBTQ+ neighborhood)

Then, I finally moved here from Berkeley in 2010. I was so broke all I could afford at the beginning in a closet 😆 That's no gay joke, I was literally renting a room that was a...walk-in closet with no window! Makes me laugh thinking about it now, but it also makes me cry a little. The landlord was so insane and greedy he had built partition walls around the house so he could rent more beds to more people. But I loved it, I had made it to the city...that's all it mattered, and I had nice roommates from all over the world. I learned how to iron shirts from one of them.

A roomies night out in 2010

And it had a view! I remember walking to Corona Heights, climbing to the top, staring at the city from above and day-dreaming. "This will all be mine one day, and nobody will take it away from me!"

Corona Heights in 2010 (my thinking spot in SF)

A few months later, I was making enough money to afford an actual room in an actual home, and I moved in with Kristy & Jada, literally my soulmates. In that nourishing place is where my spiritual growth began and I'll forever be grateful to have met such a guide. Jada unlocked everything for age 23 I was still fighting an ongoing inward battle of self-acceptance...and it's only in that house that I finally embraced and accepted myself for being gay.

Jada and I (I miss you my friend ❤️)

It was a rainy winter, but that never stopped me from partying and having a good time. Wednesday nights were Juanita More's epic "Booty Call Wednesday" at QBar in Castro (gosh, I miss that place!) It was such great fun ($2 drinks are no longer a thing these days!) Every week, there would be a different themed photo shoot, great music and fun people. Things were cheaper, happier and less political back then. Life was simpler.

Booty Call Wednesday 2010

Lady Tatas' "Wet & Wild" parties were also an unforgettable hit (thank you Preston and Phillip) and so were Matt's "Shenanigans" home parties 😀 (remember, Alex and Eric?)

I learned about mashups (and my love for them) at Bootie SF; wore incredible costumes for halloween (and had my first time in drag) with Marc — my boyfriend at the time; danced the night away at the "Pink Saturday" block party (thank you Sister Roma); discovered Russian River; had unforgettable flirtatious fun on the dance floor of Badlands (I miss you too, you hot mess); went to a "Little Mermaid" sing-along at Castro Theater; had incredible fun with my buddy Marco (go check our pictures on the walls of Hot Cookie, they're still there); delicious dinner parties with the wonderful Karla; and unforgettable road trip adventures with Diletta, Alessandra, and Bryan!

9 months living in the city feels like years when you're in your early 20s. In San Francisco I felt alive, accepted and FREE for the first time in my life! It was (and still is) the adolescence that was stolen from me!

In San Francisco, I had my first post-grad internship turned into a full-time job downtown. Special thanks to my colleagues at the time for treating this kiddo with such kindness and affection: Chelsea, Sasha and David. I owe you all!

My first full time job in San Francisco in 2010

I only owned two sets of trousers and a few shirts at the time, and although they were not required in the office, I was motivated to make a good impression. And I did. My boss Richard was a kind generous man. He saw something in me and sponsored my very expensive US visa application. I could not believe it, I was so close to my "American Dream" and yet so anxious I couldn't sleep. You can imagine how shuttered I was when my visa was denied... I had to quit my job, leave everything behind and move back in with my parents in Italy. I was left with a broken dream and a broken heart 💔

Leaving San Francisco in 2011

I felt I lost it all...

And yet, it was just the beginning of my life. You know the story from 2011 to now. Boy graduates, gets a cool job, moves to Ireland...boy meets boy of his dreams...and here we are, back and together 🥰❤️ The two loves of my life — Alan and SF — reunited in the same place.

Because as much as Americans love to talk about "privilege", it shouldn't be about where you come should be about: how much do you want it? How strongly do you believe in your own dream? How hard are you working to make it happen?

Never lose faith!

Still today, San Francisco fills me with joy in every corner. We live surrounded by beauty: amazing wild nature; dramatic weather phenomena; hummingbirds and squirrels; beautiful flowers; exotic trees; colorful architecture full of individuality and history; kind smiley people; diverse backgrounds; entrepreneurial minds; resilient folks; crazy and colorful festivities... You're so rich SF, so interesting, so full of beauty and love. Own it!

Parrot on a San Francisco tree in 2010

Your gorgeous (and crazy steep) hills enable us to be self-aware: you always think of San Francisco because you're always looking right AT it, from every possible angle. You're a city of perspective and self-reflection. A "viewtiful" city.

View from Twin Peaks (2010)

San Francisco touches every single one of our visitors...they always leave renergized, happier and more optimistic. And every time I travel (and I travel a lot!) I miss you San Francisco, there's no place like you in the world (and I'm from Italy!!) You know I left my heart here and I always can't wait to come back when I'm gone. When I see you from the sky, I feel like I can breathe again because I know I'm home. You're good for me San Francisco.

Everywhere I look, I see joy. And yet all this joy is darkened by poverty, inequity, criminality, failed businesses, and awful drugs. So I'll conclude my love letter to you by saying: GIRL, PULL IT TOGETHER! Stand up and get better, I know you can! Look what you did for many lost boys and girls! Look at what you did for me! Pulling me out of the closet...literally!!!

I wish you well San Francisco, I'll always be your stronger supporter, promoter, and fighter. But you also need to love yourself more, get back on your feet, react, and become better too. Enough nonsense, enough lawlessness, enough weakness. We want you to be safe for everyone, clean, fair, and equitable. We want you to hold the torch of light for the rest of US cities to follow. Be kind and compassionate, but also be orderly and bolder in your stands. It's not about left vs right, them vs us...the only fight that matters is the one for self-improvement, for growth, for the wealth (and health) of the city and its people. We are all in this together, and it's coloreless, genderless, apolitical. It's a civic duty, and it's about love.

Downtown SF skyline in 2010

I'll always pour all the love you gave me back into you, because you — like me, like all of us — can only grow stronger and become better. Be better San Francisco, I know you can ❤️

Thank you for everything you gifted me with and for the happiness you still give me every single day (fog and chill winds included).

I love you always,

Dreams do come true after all...