Subversives, 40 years of LGBT activism
For centuries, anybody who’d display a non-normative sexuality or gender expression would be persecuted, burnt at the stake, jailed, stigmatized or vilified. In the 19th century, science coined the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” and included that form of dissent in the field of medical deviations.
An Historical Exhibition
From June 15th to October 1st
CENTROCENTRO. Palacio de Cibeles. Plaza de Cibeles, 1
During the first decades of the 20th century, the sexual liberation movement started to somewhat flourish, particularly in Germany. In Spain, poets and writers like García Lorca, Cernuda or Sánchez Saornil dared to write, with certain caution, about “the love that dare not speak its name”. Fascism put in an end to this shy visibility and the Franco regime persecuted these acts under the laws of Vagrancy and Social Danger.
In 1969, at New York's Stonewall Inn, a group of transsexuals, transvestites, gays, bisexuals and lesbians revolted against the constant police repression. This marked the beginning of what is known as the current LGBT movement. In Spain, the movement started in 1970 in hiding. However, it wouldn’t officially and visibly take off until the 1977 protest along Barcelona’s famous La Rambla street. Though the demonstration was brutally repressed, the movement had proven itself unstoppable.
In the 1980s a number of gay, lesbian and transsexual liberation groups flourished. The AIDS pandemic greatly affected them, decimating the LGBT community and unleashing horrific waves of homophobia.
Gradually, different reforms in favor of equality for LGBT individuals were achieved. Notably, Spain’s Equal Marriage Act in 2005 and its Gender Identity Act in 2007. Nevertheless, transsexuality is still considered a pathology and sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination on all fronts is still a reality. True equality for the LGBT community is yet to be achieved.
The exhibition project will be located on the 4th floor of CentroCentro where, together with various interactive exhibits, historic pride parade banners with their respective tag lines will be shown. The exhibition will make a historic journey through nine themes with more than 200 pieces, both originals and reproductions.
Lesbians, gays, transsexuals, transgender people and bisexuals have been subjected to discrimination for centuries.Throughout history they have been jailed, tortured and murdered, first justified under religion and then through medical and legal prisms. As victims of the Inquisition, incarceration and psychiatric institutions, the community would not be able to raise its voice until well into the 19th century, when the first wave of activism would spark a struggle towards gaining dignity and rights; a struggle that is still alive today.
The decades-long burden of the Franco regime is crucial in understanding the past and present of LGBT activism in Spain, due to the continued persistence of its discourse and the strength and effectiveness with which the repression was conducted. This was mainly translated into specific laws such as the 1954 Vagrancy Act or the 1970 Social Danger Act.
LGBT Pride has been the most relevant and visible event for LGBT activism since the 1970s. Every year it commemorates the 1969 events in New York’s Greenwich Village, when a police raid in Stonewall Inn, a gay venue, triggered a series of protests and confrontations that would be remembered as the first uprising of LGBT people in the United States against a repressive system.
After harsh years of hiding and repression, the group’s demands started to materialize publicly as it shyly began to occupy more space within the social agenda. Towards the end of the 1970s, a number of organized groups of homosexuals emerged across the country.