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social sciences

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Madrid  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  

Liberation in the Post-Franco Era

Under the transition to democracy following Franco's death, numerous gay groups were formed in Madrid, including Mercurio, which established links with mainstream political organizations, and several radical groups, such as Frente Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria (FHAR), which allied with the Communist Party. By 1978, most of the radical groups had been dissolved; their members came together in a single organization, Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla (FLHOC), which sponsored the Gay Pride Manifestation on June 28, 1978 in Madrid, attended by 10,000 persons.

FHLOC was the first homosexual political group to admit women as well as men. Male activists tried to justify the exclusion of women from homosexual groups by pointing out that the law codes, against which they were fighting, targeted only men. However, the gender policies provide eloquent testimony of the pervasiveness of misogyny in post-Franco Spain. By 1981, disputes between men and women in FHLOC led to the formation of a separate group, Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid (CFLM), which sought to work closely with other feminist organizations. However, most of the "mainstream" women's organizations had little interest in same-sex issues.

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Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing throughout the 1980s, many bars, cafés, saunas, shops, and other commercial establishments catering to gay men--and also, but to a lesser extent, lesbians--opened in Madrid. For the most part, the patrons of these establishments and the political activists remained distinct groups. Those who went to the new gay/lesbian establishments tended to be younger than the activists, and they often felt alienated by the rigorously leftist agenda promoted by many homosexual political organizations. Many of the younger madrileño(a)s adopted the terms "gais" and "lesbianas" to distinguish themselves from the older "homosexuales." These newer names reflected the impact of North American and British constructions of sexual orientation.

The development of gay businesses encouraged the creation of gay neighborhoods, including Chueca in Madrid, the largest "gay village" in Spain. Throughout the twentieth century, Chueca had been a working-class neighborhood, which welcomed dissidents and bohemians. Perhaps for this reason, long-term residents and "newly out" gays and lesbians were able to merge into the neighborhood without destroying its original character. Although Chueca now is widely recognized as an enclave of glbtq life, it remains a more diverse and inclusive neighborhood than the Castro (San Francisco) and other gay ghettos in Europe and North America.

One of the leading participants in the movida, Pedro Almodóvar captured in his early feature films the mood of exuberance in Madrid in the years following Franco's death. For example, in Laberinto de Pasiones (Labyrinth of Passions, 1982), he depicted an ensemble of homosexual, bisexual, and individuals intent on breaking all boundaries in their pursuit of pleasure. Only in Ley del deseo (Law of Desire, 1986) did Almodóvar focus primarily on homosexual issues.

Another prominent figure who emerged from the Madrid movida, Lucía Extebarría is often classified as a lesbian novelist, but she shares with Almodóvar the conviction that all categories of gender and sexuality are fluid. In such books as La letra future (Future Writing, 2000), she explores the interaction of sexual desire with diverse social structures. Although her writing does not address the situation of the activist groups, her emphasis upon the lack of a fixed category for feminine identity parallels the situation of politically involved lesbians in Madrid, whose concerns often have not fit neatly into either homosexual or feminist associations.

Popular Madrid-based filmmaker Eloy de la Iglesia (b. 1944) focused directly and explicitly on homosexual themes in such films as El diputado (The Deputy, 1978), which concerns a Spanish government minister whose political career is determined by his homosexuality. Without detracting from the compelling story line, De la Iglesia managed to incorporate a great deal of polemical information about the history of homosexuality in Spain. El diputado attracted large audiences, eager for previously forbidden themes, and it remains one of the highest grossing Spanish films of all times. El diputado is credited for helping to secure mass support for the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1979.

During the 1980s, glbtq activist groups underwent many changes of name, membership, and platforms as they sought to involve more "ordinary" gay men and lesbians in social activism. Throughout the decade, frequent disputes over political, social, sexual, and gender issues considerably reduced the effectiveness of many of the gay male and mixed gender political organizations. However, one positive development was the emergence of energetic groups devoted to lesbian rights. Established in Madrid in 1981, the Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas (Collective of Lesbian Feminists) sponsored in 1983 the first national conference on lesbian sexuality.

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