The second Gozo Pride march will be one to remember for Oriana Farrugia who proposed to her girlfriend Stephanie Hili during Saturday evening's concert. Hili said Yes.
“An experience I will remember all my life,” Hili told Times of Malta on Sunday, hours after the proposal.
“It was a very special occasion for both of us,” Farrugia added.
Hundreds of people attended Gozo's second Pride march on Saturday. The parade started in Victoria, attendees wearing colourful clothes and flying flags. It was one of the many activities taking place as part of EuroPride 2023. It was followed by a concert featuring a number of singers.
But the main highlight was the moment Farrugia got down on one knee on stage and publicly proposed to her girlfriend.
Moments before, the couple were part of the crowd listening to singer Glen Vella. He was going to sing Ħarsa Biss, a song the couple love, when he pointed to them and asked them to join him on stage.
Right on cue, Farrugia went down on one knee and proposed as the crowd cheered on.
"You have been telling me that you want to marry me, so that’s why I’m standing in front of you on one knee right now. I have never believed in anything more than I believe in the two of us.
“Will you marry me,” she asked, to which Hili replied, “Of course I want to marry you!”
The couple - Farrugia, 33, a social policy graduate and activist, and Hili, 31, a childcare educator and fitness instructor - have known each other for a number of years.
"In reality, it's not about the time, but the experience you have together and your commitment to one another," Farrugia said.
She said she was planning to propose later this year during a holiday but as one of the volunteers for EuroPride, she began to get other ideas.
“Pride is all about celebrating love between the different spectrum of couples," she said.
"Taking the stage was also about reaching out to more people within the community, and showing solidarity with them."
Pride is about visibility
Unfortunately, after videos of the proposal went viral, Farrugia noticed some rude and hateful comments towards the couple and the LGBTIQ+ community.
"I have been through many different circumstances in my life, my skin is thick and I can take it," she said.
"I chose to focus on the positive comments, but I know there are young people who are attracted to the same sex, are still growing up, and are not part of the community, and they see those hateful comments. This is why we need Pride, it is important for visibility."
She said Pride is about celebrating love and there is no space for hateful comments.
"We need to address the need for people to focus on the positive, especially since social media can be full of hateful comments," she stressed.