The beautiful face of Samuele Bartoletti it appeared to me one morning on Instagram while I was looking at the stories of Paolo Camilli (which if you don’t know you must absolutely recover who). His was a particular video, about thirty seconds long, it told the story of a student sitting in his desk who listened to the words of the teacher who invited the boys to respect a dress code for the school party, strictly elegant tuxedo. His eyes were veiled listening to the teasing of his companions, there are those who bet on his arrival in miniskirt and heels, who imagines him out of context and out of place, then the day of the party arrives and Samuele shines with his make-up, his wonderful wild hair. He looks around with a little fear, and is invited to dance by another boy, as in the most beautiful of fairy tales.
In those seconds you understand everything, you feel his pain, his joy, you feel the bullying immediately, but also the strength of awareness, having found the words to tell his story through images that enter inside you, you understand that that language is perfect for those who want to understand the torments of the new generations, but also the strength to affirm of themselves, even against everything and everyone. And given the views, almost a million, I realized that this was the right register to enter people’s hearts. So I didn’t stop at the first video, but I looked at them all, I scrolled through his profile and his photos, and I decided that he deserved to be told, when then I saw that even the fashion week had noticed him, giving him a princess fashion show, I realized it was time to interview him.
Samuele where does the need to communicate through social media come from?
It comes from my desire to send a message of freedom. I have always had difficulty expressing myself through words and I immediately looked for a means through which I could tell myself. It all started with photography and from there my passion for this expressive world of art, video, photos was born. I remember that a few years ago I started painting self-portraits where I was immersed in unspoiled nature, full of plants and flowers, I wore elegant, colorful clothes and looking at those paintings every time I thought: “Because in reality I can’t be as free as I am. do I see in these paintings? ” And from there I started a journey to express myself. Freedom is what makes me and makes me feel alive.
Your videos show that you have had bullying problems, can you tell us about them?
I lived an adolescence wearing a mask to be able to feel adequate in the eyes of others but despite this, part of who I was and repressed, was noticed and there were those who took every opportunity to target my every insecurity. I suffered words, gestures, threats, like sharp blades that over time made me move further and further away from the person I really was. I thought I deserved those insults because I felt wrong for this world, sometimes I thought there was a parallel universe destined for me and that I had landed in the wrong one. At school I tried in every way not to get noticed, because every time I was remembered as the “effeminate” kid and other terms that I can’t even write due to my sensitivity. The teachers said that I was often in the clouds, in fact when I think about it I remember that I often estranged myself from reality and created imaginary worlds where I could be myself, I danced happily and I perceived a feeling of freedom, which warmed me, enveloped me and made me feel light, but when I woke up I felt the heaviness of a society that crushed me with all its stereotypes, prejudices, imprisoning me in a dark cage. This is why I ran away from situations, I hid, like when, for example, in the hour of gymnastics, I went back to the locker room and saw everyone laughing at each other with jokes towards me. So to avoid receiving them every time, I ran as fast as I could as soon as the bell rang to change and go out. I remember that race, that anxiety, that fear, no one understood, no one knew why I ran so fast.
Even if you are young, you understand that you have a great awareness, where does it come from?
From my desire for freedom. When I started to express myself, I found an inner strength that gave me the courage not to give up in the face of the fear of society and its prejudices. For years I felt trapped in a prison that didn’t allow me to see beyond the reality I knew, that society wanted me to believe was normal. But when I had the courage to lean out and look beyond the horizon, I saw myself in the distance in another light. It was like being reborn a second time and the fear of judgment vanishes because your freedom is worth so much more. I felt like I was trapped in a tower, where there was a small window, from which you could see the view of a wonderful ocean and in the distance on the horizon a luminous, free, courageous figure who looked at me as if waiting for me for a long time, I had to just give me courage, let me go and throw myself into the waves of the sea to reach it. Facing that ocean I have achieved my freedom.
When did you realize that your body did not represent your feeling?
More than my body, the mask I wore to feel adequate, I felt I had to take it off. I had to find the strength to overcome obstacles and it was important to meet people who had the courage to express themselves freely without labels. The first person who gave me strength was Frida Kahlo. When I started reading her story I was fascinated by her paintings, her strength and her courage to be herself, not giving a damn about how society wanted her to be. She was free. Even social networks like “tiktok” have helped me not to feel alone. Seeing people who have the courage to express themselves freely has given me even more strength to try to be the spokesperson for a message of freedom, telling my story to open the eyes of those who cannot look further. To make it clear that in respect and education towards others and towards oneself, you can be what you want. Without necessarily having to respect canons and stereotypes or pigeonhole into categories.
What relationship do you have with your family? Do they support you?
With my parents it was difficult at first, especially for my mother. I understood her contrary attitude, I knew that she came from a very traditional family and was not used to certain dynamics and realities different from those she knew. When she began to understand that I was taking a different path that she saw full of obstacles, she was afraid that someone might hurt me, so many times she tried to stop me, but what I did was show him, over time with small gestures and demonstrations, that what I wanted to be made me happy and was nothing wrong. I just had to give him the right time to understand me since he had never gone beyond certain views. I always told him and I still tell him “You have to be free to express yourself because life is a precious gift and I don’t want to waste it to be someone else, you taught me respect and education and that’s what counts. People will always judge but you have to live this life intensely ”and over time she understood.
You recently showed during fashion week what effect did it have on you?
It was a wonderful experience, seeing that dress chosen for me filled me with joy, a profound happiness that moved me. Wearing it and walking proud and proud to show through my body the beauty of that dress thrilled me, seeing people looking at me with admiration and happiness was a victory. Years ago it would have seemed impossible, but in that moment that imaginary world of freedom that I dreamed of as a child had come true and I felt really lucky. I hope to experience many more of these occasions.
What are your dreams?
My dream is to continue to express myself and to be the spokesperson of a positive message of freedom. I would like to be able to work as a content creator, tell stories through an artistic, expressive medium and show myself for what I am, to help and instill strength in those who are afraid to express themselves and be a warning for those who have a closed mind and cannot look beyond . My message can become an important contribution, especially in some societies in the world where wrong thinking prevails, where unfortunately still today many expressions of freedom are condemned even with the worst penalties.
What advice do you feel you can give to those who are being bullied?
For years I wondered who I really wanted to be, I never found the answer, maybe because I didn’t want to be or belong to something, I just wanted to be what I felt. The company told me how it wanted me to be, I followed it for a while, but it’s hard to live a life that isn’t yours. When I look at my past I see another person, another life and I am sorry not to recognize what I was anymore, because what I experienced was a pleasing society, the fear was greater than any will, the fear of to be “different”. I looked in the mirror and I wanted to be happy, I wanted to look at myself and recognize myself, sometimes I was happy because I felt normal, I felt accepted. If I look back on it, I get terrible anguish because it was a constructed, false happiness and I realize that I have made the worst shortcomings to myself, when I have allowed them to make me feel wrong just because I was not “right” for them. They often ask me: “Are you a man?” “Are you a woman?” “What is your identity?”. I don’t want to be someone, I just want to be myself, I don’t want identification, I don’t want to force myself, I don’t want prisons, I want to be free. What I feel like recommending to those who are afraid to express themselves is to transform what everyone considers your weakness into your greatest strength, so that they will no longer have a way to offend or at least the offenses will no longer have the weight they had before. When I was little I was sick because every time they recognized me or remembered me as “the effeminate boy”And this made me feel terrible because I would have liked not to be noticed, to be the same as the others. Now I walk with my head held high without shame, proud of my uniqueness, I look forward, I smile and I get excited to be what I have always wanted, after a long time I finally look in the mirror and recognize myself. Now this “femininity” I show it with pride because it is part of me and represents me. I am like that, beyond the “male” and “female” genders, I am a person with my personality, my characteristics and I have no intention of changing or putting myself in a category to be accepted. I imagine how difficult it can be to show yourself for what you are when in front of you a society that oppresses you and tells you how you must be, blocking you in front of a wall of stereotypes and prejudices, but you have to find the strength within us to overcome that wall. Never give up because the climb will certainly be steep and full of pitfalls but I’m sure the view will be unique and great.