Ruta de Orgullo: History of Lesbians at Pride

This is a three-part piece. The first is a history of lesbian involvement in Pride in Spain. It is not comprehensive, as Spain is a country of 44 million and that is a lot of territory to cover.  The best sources available discuss Pride events in Madrid, in part because the march is the most high profile nationally, gets some of the biggest attendance, and is where a lot of Spanish LGBT organizations are based to just be available to write a history.  And as someone based in Madrid doing a guide that is Madrid based, that also makes more sense.   There are at times contradictions with sources.  When were Andalusian organizations founded and what were they doing in the late 1970s and early 1980s? That appears up for debate as the sources I use have conflicting information when they go to their own primary sources.  That’s the first part.  A history of lesbian involvement in Pride in Spain.

The second part is a guide to Madrid related sites connected to pride, and some of the history attached to those places.  That way, when you walk the city, you can get a feeling for where street activism took place, where pride marches and parties took place, and where lesbian connected events related to pride festivities took place.  The third part is much the same as the second, except the focus is on the rest of Spain.



As some general background, the dictator Francisco Franco died on 20 November 1975.  This set into action a period of called the Spanish democratic transition, which lasted until around 1982 by which point Spain had a new constitution, a functional multiparty government, a military coup had been successfully put down and a faction of ETA had agreed to put down arms.

It is in the final years of Franco’s life that any sort of homosexual activism begins to take place. Before Madrid had its first pride march, militant lesbian feminists and some male homosexuals had marched a few times during the early 1970s. They did so on 28 June, with numbers ranging between 50 and 80. They took great risks to do so and homosexuality was a criminal offense. Many of these women were at the bottom of society and had nowhere else to go, a situation that gay men did not face in the same way. These were often organized at the dark and underground lesbian bar, Berliner. One such march took place on calle Preciados.  Marginalization by society gave these women the courage and the ability to speak out as they had nothing else to lose.  The Franco regime had done all it could to make these women invisible, first because of their sex and second because of their same-sex attraction. When they became visible, they received sex specific punishment, different than their gay male counterparts.  Gay men were repressed using legislative and penitentiary tools while lesbians were repressed using cultural, religious, psychiatric and medical institutions to try to domesticate them.

In the final days of the dictatorship and, the word gay rarely ever appeared, let alone the word lesbian, because homosexuality was still viewed as representing a “social danger” to society.  When there was any respectful discussion of gays and lesbians, the word homosexual was used instead. Early media discussion in the very immediate post-Franco period still saw homosexuality as a medical or psychological issue. If the media viewed homosexuals as having any rights limited in their reporting as a result of the current laws, it was the basic human rights of gays and lesbians.  Their civil, social and political rights were not considered. The Spanish media also failed to make any distinction between sexual orientation and sexual politics.  Lesbians were assimilated into reporting on feminism, and all feminists were suspected of being lesbians.  Hence, media coverage of early pride events was limited and biased.  More reliable sources are firsthand accounts, which are harder to come by.

The Franco regime had severely limited the ability of people to legally protest, or to even legally gather without state approval. Agrupación Homófila para la Igualdad Sexual (AGHOIS) was a mostly male based activist group that was founded underground in 1970 in Barcelona at a time when LGB organizations were illegal.  Most of the group was composed of gay men, with a few lesbian participants.  They were one of the earliest LGB activist groups to come out during the transition period.

While protests were still illegal, Front d’Alliberament Gai de Catalunya (FAGC) hosted the first Gay Pride march in Spain in 1977.  The group had been founded in 1975, a few months before Franco’s death. They were able to mobilize over 4,000 people. Participants included lesbians, politicians and union members. One lesbian organizer was Maria Giralt, who had founded one of the first lesbian organizations in Spain. Lesbian marchers at this inaugural pride chanted, “Behind the windows, there are lesbians!” Marching on Las Ramblas in Barcelona on 26 June 1977 in an unofficial and unauthorized march, the protest ended violently with police firing rubber bullets at protesters despite the marchers never interrupting traffic.

While originally founded as a gay men’s association, FAGC created the first lesbian section in the history of homosexual rights activism in the country, doing so in 1977 after the first pride march in Barcelona.  At the time, there were around 100 gay men to 10 lesbians inside the organization. These efforts were spearheaded by Maria Giralt, and the group would meet for the first time at Bar Núria. Giralt recruited women from a list of thirty who had provided contact information to FAGC during the march, with ten of the women showing up for the inaugural meeting. Despite stated support from FAGC for their activities, the lesbian section often were forced to accept misogynistic behavior to remain part of the organization; the lesbian section’s programming materials and promotional materials were often covered in phallic symbols despite repeated protests from its members to leadership for this behavior to cease. For a number of lesbians that were part of the initial FAGC lesbian section, such behaviors on the part of gay men pushed many of them into becoming radical feminists.

The first “official” pride march in Madrid took place on 25 June 1978, about 18 months after Franco’s death and not long after the Barcelona march. Empar Pineda Erdozia participated, holding a banner at the during the march. Radical feminists and lesbians were part of the march. Despite a desire for visibility, many were fearful of misogyny and stayed at the middle or back of the march. Pineda was one of the cofounders of Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid. She was also the first lesbian to identify herself as such in an interview with Interviú magazine in 1980. Pineda is butch, and was teased mercilessly as a child for appearing to be so.

Movimiento Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria (MHAR) organized the first Orgullo march in Sevilla, with their march taking place on 27 June 1978. Luis Velasco had with him a homemade pride flag that he put up at La Giralda in Sevilla. The march was attended by left-wing political organizations like CCOO, members of Organización Autónoma para la Liberación de la Mujer (Prímula), and a lesbian group. They had several demands including the repeal of Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social, decriminalization of homosexuality, and amnesty for those who had been found guilty of homosexuality. Those attending included Soraya González, Blanca Mateos, la Bosi, la Esmeralda, Manolo Cortés, Antonio Morillo and Antonio Campillo. The 1978 Sevilla Orgullo route was from Calle de Calatrava where  Sindicato Comisiones Obreras had an office to a spot near Alameda de Hércules, before continuing on to Plaza del Triunfo to the Prado de San Sebastián.  Around thirty people finished the march.  The 1979 Sevilla Orgullo followed a similar route.  In both marches, attendance appears to have dropped off as the organization became more insular.  This resulted in a reduction in lesbian participation, to the point where sources seem to indicate that among the 30 or so participants, none may have been lesbians.

Madrid also had a pride march in 1978, that one held on 25 June.  Estimates put the attendance at between 7,000 and 10,000 people.  Many came out to march specifically to demand the Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social be struck from law, something that eventually happened in December of that year. Lesbians represented an important group of participants.

Valencia had its first LGB pride parade in 1979.  The march, organized by Moviment d’Alliberament Sexual del País Valenciá (MASPV) and with official approval, had around 5,000 participants.  Moviment d’Alliberament Gay del Pais Valencià (MAGPV) tried to organize a parade the following year, but were denied a permit.  Instead, they held a rally at Plaza de la Virgen.


Following the successful repeal of the Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social late in 1989, the number of pride attendees dropped in Madrid in 1979 and in 1980.  By 1980, there were only about 600 participants in the march. Starting around the time González took power, politically active lesbians who had joined forced with Spain’s feminists were one of the driving forces in keep Pride celebrations going in Madrid. Lesbians would continue to be at the forefront of organizing Pride well into the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Participation in Madrid Pride events would continue to be in the hundreds for the rest of the decade.  Despite this, lesbians pushed boundaries and organize marches in the city, moving the protest from centro to Vallecas where they thought getting a permit would be easier.  The Colective de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid (CFLM) and the Frente de Liberacion Homosexual de Castilla (FLHOC) held an authorized Orgullo march on 25 June 1981 in Portazgo. The march included lesbians chanting, “no hay liberación de la lesbiana sin liberación de la mujer”.The 1982 Madrid pride protest took place in Vallecas, running along the Puente de Vallecas-Avenida de la Albufera-Portazgo axis. The 25 June 1982 march was convened by Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid and FLHOC. About 300 people participated, including lesbians in shirts with the female symbol with a fist in the center.

The Collective of Canary Homosexuals and the Canary Collective of Liberation of the Lesbian Woman organized a 27 June 1980 pride event, one of two held that year in the Canary Islands. The Canary Collective of Homosexual Men and Women organized a rally on 25 June 1980 in Tenerife at the Palais Royal. About 300 people attended the event, including union members who supported the event.

After having done a round of consolidation in 1979 in the Basque Country, EHGAM had gone mostly dormant by the early 1980s.  In Álava, the gay rights movement only remained active in large part because of lesbian feminists involved with Asamblea de Mujeres de Álava.  These lesbians were the ones who were organizing pride events during the early 1980s.

The 1982 pride protest took place in Vallecas, running along the Puente de Vallecas-Avenida de la Albufera-Portazgo axis. The 25 June 1982 march was convened by Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid and FLHOC. About 300 people participated, including lesbians in shirts with the female symbol with a fist in the center. Avenida de la Albufera, 46, is where the first authorized pride march took place in Vallecas. The 300 or so protesters were confronted by the police in front of the building after the police wanted marchers to change their route on 25 June 1982.

Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Andalucía (FLHA) organized the first trans-provincial pride marches in Andalucía in 1981, with marches held in Granada, Málaga and Sevilla.  The organization was mostly made up of gay men, with only a handful of lesbian members.  By the time the organized the march, reports indicate they had no lesbians associated with them.  It was around this time that the organization, already on its last legs, folded or had folded already and those affiliated with it in the past were still continuing to use its name.

Grupo de Acción por la Liberación Homosexual (GALHO) and Asamblea Gai de Madrid (AGAMA) organized pride in Madrid in 1983. They were gay rights movements, and both organizations disappeared within two years as that movement dealt with ideological rivalries and also personalities that tore it apart. Lesbians took part in the march.

During the mid-1980s, as the AIDS/HIV crisis began to accelerate in the country, the fractured alliances between gays and lesbians began to heal in many places across Spain.  This was felt in some places in how Orgullo events began to be organized and was reflected by increased participation by gay men.

The 1988 Madrid Pride event took place on 28 June. Around 100 people participated in the march, organized by lesbian groups, with a route taking place from Plaza de Callao to Puerta del Sol and then on to Calle de Preciados. It was in this period that Pride continued primarily because of lesbian activists. At Madrid Pride in 1988, gays and lesbians continued their political demands, asking that the law discriminating against same-sex sexual behavior in the Spanish Penal Code be amended. Transactivist have criticized pride in this period for excluding transwomen, engaging in transmisogyny and being largely focused on lesbian feminism. Lesbians disagreed, saying their need for visibility and the need to combat sexism in the homosexual rights movement was why they were being so militant.

COGAM is the major LGBTQI+ organization in Madrid, and represents institutional LGBT activism in the city. The group came out of Coordinadora de Frentes de Liberación Homosexual del Estado Español. It was formally established in 1988. The idea for the organization came out of a seminar in 1986 in Chueca. Mili Hernandez Garcia was the first lesbian to join the preceding organization, doing so in 1986. COGAM and CLFM organized a joint celebration of pride in Madrid in 1988. It was intended as a one-off collaboration that would actually continue for a couple more years. COGAM soon took over management of Orgullo Madrid, the city’s pride event. While lesbians were members, they were largely relegated to the background. Liberation politics began to be rejected by COGAM in 1990, and then split from COFLHEE in 1991.

In 1989, Murcia Pride took place for the first time.


At pride in 1991 in Madrid, protesters wore masks to send a message that they needed to hide their homosexuality in order to avoid homophobic reactions in their daily lives.  Despite gains improving legal status for homosexuals in Spain during the 1980s, homophobia was still an issue for both gay men and lesbians.

During the 1990s, gay men and lesbians like Mili Hernández at COGAM, who by 1992 had become institutional organs of the state, wanted to change the face of pride. They wanted to move away from activism and feminism, and make it the type of event where non-militant lesbians and gays could participate and have fun and so organizers could also increase sponsorship opportunities. The. In 1995, the decision was also made to move the event away from the Stonewall date to a weekend late in June or early in July. Sound speakers and commercial sponsors were also introduced as part of the goal to expand their appeal beyond militants. The 1996 pride march, called Día del Orgullo de Gays, Lesbianas y Transexuales, had a route from Puerta de Alcalá to Puerta del Sol. That year was also the second year that Pride was a weekend affair.  More than 2,000 people participated. The march included the first float. Several lesbian organizations participated including LSD, Feminista de Lesbianas, and Coletivos de Gays y Lesbianas. Mili Hernández was involved with the march. The march took place in 30 degree weather, and started with a lesbian orchestra leading the way. They were followed by a float full of transvestites dressed in carnival type costumes, and followed later by more male nudity. There was little female nudity in the event. Since then, the political aspects of Madrid Pride have been overshadowed by continued commercialization of the event as it attracted ever more media attention.

One group that would play an active an important role in the 1990s in terms or providing art for Pride in Madrid and elsewhere was Lesbianas Sin Dudas (LSD), a lesbian activist organization, but not in the institutionalized sense. Instead of working from the inside, they worked in challenging political ideas in society. The group sometimes said their acronym said for different things like Lesbianas Sin Dinero. Lesbianas Sin Duda was an artist collective founded in 1993 in the barrio of Lavapies in Madrid. Members included Estíbaliz Sadaba, Virginia Villaplana, Itziar Okariz, Azucena Vietes, Fefa Vila, Beatriz Preciado, Carmela García, María José Belbel, Marisa Maza, Liliana Couso Domínguez, Floy Krouchi, Katuxa Guede, Pilar Vázquez and Arantza Gaztañaga. They were identified as more explicitly queer than many of their contemporaries in their conceptual and theoretical approaches to art and activism. The work of LSD artists often showcased the power of friendship as a motif. The body of work produced by LSD artists also included photographic depictions of lesbians, acknowledging their existence and challenging a status quo that often denies them visibility. Menstruosidades y Es-cultura lesbiana in 1995 was one of the most important exhibitions for LSD photographers. Some of the photos were then used at the 1996 EuroGayPride in Copenhagen, where they were enlarged. The piece “Desnudar el desnudo” was published in the Barcelona based magazine El Viejo Topo in December 1995.

One group that was less supportive of Orgullo was Fundación Triángulo.  They were founded in as a mixed gay and lesbian group in 1996 after splitting from COGAM. A moderate group, they were initially critical of gay and lesbian identity politics, and of events like Pride. Despite being mixed, lesbian participation was at its start and continued to be well into the 2000s a minority participation.

The issue of marriage equality started to appear in Pride during this decade, let by lesbians and gays in Asturias. Colectivu de Feministes Llesbianes dAsturies and XEGA had designed posters in 1995 for Orgullo in support of same-sex marriage but decided that this was potentially to inflammatory and instead went with a more neutral one seeking equal rights for gays and lesbians. Still, an unofficial poster circulated making this demand and was one of the first of its kind to appear at a Pride event in Spain. Colectivu de Feministes Llesbianes dAsturies and XEGA’s theme for the 1996 Orgullo march in Gijon was lesbian visibility. A secondary focus was also on the legal recognition of homosexual couples in public institutions like the justice system, healthcare, education along with recognition in private institutions like banking and insurance.

Pride started becoming commercialized across the country during the 1990s, and accelerated on into the 2000s. The commercialization brought criticism from a number of circles, including from lesbians and feminists. They argued that the nature of commercialization meant that certain segments were excluded because pink capitalism mostly focused on gay men.

The result of this commercialization of the major LGBT event of the year nation wide was that lesbians began to become even more autonomous as a political group in the 1990s; lesbian departure from pride was accelerated as feminists left lesbians behind, wanting to explicitly focus on the needs and concerns of heterosexual women without the need to challenge problematic gender norms that lesbians found repressive. In response to the Spanish feminists, some lesbians decided to align themselves more closely with gay men instead, leaving some of their lesbian sisters in the cold politically and socially and setting the scene for queer feminism which would cause ruptures in lesbian circles starting in the 2000s.

The commercialization of Orgullo and the shift towards queer feminism by some lesbians, along with adopting a pro-sex, anti-prohibitionist viewpoint meant the late 1990s and early 2000s were a difficult period for lesbian bolerra militants. These challenges were made even more difficult by the fact that state feminism also started to make the shift from traditional feminism to queer feminism, leaving lesbians without state support and institutional feminism to address their specific needs as women and homosexuals.


Orgullo events had become a gathering for many lesbians who live not just in cities in Galicia but also in rural parts of region by the early 2000s.  With the Santiago march getting bigger, traveling to the Galician city meant that they did not need to travel to Madrid or Barcelona to find other lesbians.  The need for a central event in Santiago de Compostela began to fade starting around 2016 with the growth of Agrocuir and other initiatives intentionally aimed at members of the LGBT community in rural parts of the region; many of these events which were being co-organized by lesbians.

Meanwhile in Madrid, the area around and in Chueca in Madrid had become pedestrianized during Orgullo as a result of the influx of visitors to the neighborhood looking to celebrate pride by the early 2000s.  By that time, COGAM had been working with the townhall of Madrid to issue permits for parties in the area during Pride Week.  The organization was also getting subsidies from the government for their work related to assisting with permitting.  This activity was criticized by some protesters as they felt it contributed to the commercialization of Orgullo at the expense of political goals of the LGBT movement.

cyclobollos was a Madrid based blog created in July 2007. The blog focused on the intersection between bolleras and bikers. The blog later became an organization of the same name, and then transformed again as part of the State Coordinator Con Bici. The group would go on to participate in Orgullo Critico. These sorts of intersections were one of the important ways that lesbians continued to organize in the late 2000. Similar groups were formed in Valencia with cyclobollers, in Vitoria with kataliñak bizikletan, with a second group in Madrid called Cicliátric and in Barcelona with bicitetas.

Lesbian visibility or the lack of it had become an issue that Orgullo organizers in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain still had not quite figured out how to address by the late 2000s. The 2008 Madrid Orgullo festivities, organized by COGAM, had a slogan of “Por la Visibilidad Lésbica”.  This was decided on by a state meeting of FELTGTB a year before. The 2007 Madrid Orgullo march had the slogan of “Trans”. For both transpeople and lesbians, the slogans were ambiguous and while still being political.  The nature of the event was at times muddled, because organizers would use the term manifestación to describe it when talking about the vindication of rights and the creation of political awareness around those rights.  At the same time, when dealing with participants and other stakeholders, they would describe it as desfile, meaning parade, or cabalgata, meaning trip. The extent to which there was overt political activity was with a reading of a manifesto at the end of the march.  All other political acts have to be read into it as participating, having a slogan, or marching with a politically affiliated group maybe behind or carrying their own political slogans.  The playful nature, commercialization of the event and welcoming of many people across the political spectrum had largely removed the political nature of the march itself.

Despite the 2008 march being about lesbian visibility, there did not appear to be any dedicated effort by COGAM and FELTGB to try to increase lesbian participation in the event.  The float section of the parade, the part that often has the greatest value for both spectators and participations, was heavily dominated by men.  Members of COGAM wore shirts with the slogan, “Yo también soy lesbiana”.  They did not wear them in the same color, but in all the colors of the rainbow in order to give people a visual reminder that lesbians were part of the broader LGBT community and to prevent a unified face for the movement.

Barcelona had a similarly themed flag in line with the agreed upon FELTGB slogan.  Unlike Madrid where lesbian symbols could not co-exist with generic LGBT ones, the 2008 pride parade there had pink flags and pink triangles alongside the rainbow flags.

The 2008 Orgullo march in Gijón had a theme of lesbian visibility. Posters for the event were designed by Nerea Sánchez, Susi and José Mañas and chosen as part of a contest by XEGA. XEGA chose lesbian visibility because they believed that lesbians were often the most invisible group at Pride, and they wanted to make LGBT women, their relationships and their sexual orientation visible.

Another issue facing Orgullo organizers was that lesbians, like gay men, were not a monolithic political force in the mid and late 2000s.  In Catalonia, they were members of a number of different political parties including Convergencia, Partido Socialista de Catalunya (PSC) and Partido Popular. This was often challenging as it related to lesbian visibility at Orgullo, because some of these women in this period wanted visibility but without the left-wing political associations that could come with participating in pride events.

By the late 2000s, there were some cracks in the LGBT community inside Spain that resulted in a number of people leaving Orgullo permanently as it no longer served a political or social purpose for them as gay men or lesbians.  The overly commercial Madrid event had lost its authenticity as a place for making political demands and building gay and lesbian identities, and had instead become about queer consumerism, where identities were obtained through buying clothing, food and drink, through listening to music, and through travel.  The queer identity had become aspirational phrases, mounted on keychains and other knickknacks.  The consumerism meant for some gays and lesbians, their only perceived value inside this ecosystem was as a class of consumers. These cracks would not disappear, and would re-emerge in the late 2010s and early 2020s as an LGB separatist movement, or in more simply in lesbians and homosexuals more broadly failing to politically engage in relevant issues to their communities.


Around 2010, the Ayuntamiento de Madrid and local organizers began a dispute over the route for the pride march as a result of neighborhood complaints.  Some neighbors did not like the week of loud partying, and litter strewn streets that had accompanied the 2009 edition.  Images of Orgullo in the media by this point were fixated on gay men dressed in sexual costumes and partying, with no political element involved in the march.  Lesbians were absent from the reporting.

Izquierda Unida participated in the 2014 Pride Day celebration in Melilla.  Among the issues they talked about was Partido Popular’s discrimination against lesbians, bisexuals and single women by not allowing them access to assisted reproduction in public health.  For lesbians in the region, that and the occasional forays into the specific need of lesbian asylum seekers, were the only time their needs as women and homosexuals were addressed in the autonomous city.

By 2015, media references to lesbians and bisexuals in connection to Pride had all but completely disappeared in Spanish newspapers.  The only time the words lesbian and bisexual would generally appear were in the context of using the full name of an LGBT association.  Otherwise, gay men were mentioned the most.  They were followed by transexuals.

Madrid Orgullo organizers continued to include some lesbian programming in their weeklong schedule. The lesbian play La Cena by Eli Navarro was performed at Nueve Norte as part of the 2016 Madrid Pride festivities. It had previously appeared at pride in 2013. That year, festivities also included a 1 July showing of the French lesbian film, La belle saison, atCines Golem Madrid.

Villaverde Entiende y Usera con Orgullo both held Pride marches on 2 July 2016 with the goal of showing that gay rights and LGBT visibility should not and do not die on the periphery of Madrid. Their march started in the south and ended at Atocha, joining the bigger Orgullo events in the city. They were supported by neighborhood organizations including La Unidad de Villaverde Este, La Unidad de San Cristóbal, AVIB, AV La Incolora, AV Los Rosales, AV Zofío y AV Orcasitas, and the Delegación de la FAPA de Villaverde.  Feminist and lesbian militant Coral Cano, who was born in Usera, raised the rainbow flag during its presentation at Pride week. Descriptions of the events and programming suggest little specific content aimed at or about lesbians.  Pictures of the event suggest it was dominated by male attendance.

Madrid Pride in 2017 was once against dominated by highly visible men, the popularity of floats featuring muscular men, and women generally relegated to marchers in the front section. There was some lesbian programming, more than usual as the city was hosting World Pride 2017. Sedef Çakmak was among the lesbians to attend World Pride 2017 Madrid. She was the first publicly out lesbian politician in Turkey. She also participated in the International Conference on Human Rights, held from June 26 to 28 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid that occurred in conjunction with Madrid World Pride. By 2017, a Orgullo Critico counter event was being staged in Madrid. This version though was still exclusionary to lesbians in the sense that it focused on countering the cisheteronormative model, for which radical feminist lesbians were excluded.

Since around 2018, Monterroso in Galicia has had a small Orgullo event organized by lesbian farmer Marta Álvarez.  They charge a small admission fee to defray the costs of running the event.  There are food stalls, and the event is often held in the morning with the intention of being more family friendly.  It has meant that members of the community do not need to venture to Santiago de Compestela or Madrid to meet other members of the LGBT community.  Because of the nature of the event, it has allowed people to bring their families to it and finally come out of the closet to them as gay men and lesbians without as much fear of being stigmatized and rejected.

The advertisement for Orgullo 2018 in Madrid featured a pair of lesbian grandmothers. It was produced by the Ayuntamiento de Madrid to celebrate 40 years of Pride. MiraLes team member Marta Márquez was featured in the advertisement. The 2018 Pride March followed the same route as previous years, starting at the Glorieta de Carlos V and ending at Plaza de Colón.

Among the participants in the 2018 Sevilla Orgullo march were a lesbian couple from El Salvador.  They had fled their country together in 2016 because of fear of persecution because of their homosexuality.  It was the second time the couple had attended the pride march in the city.  Despite the difficulties getting their credentials recognized in Spain and getting the right to legally work in the country, they felt very supported by the local LGBT community, both as lesbians and as refugees.

In June 2018, the 14th edition of North Africa Pride was held in Melilla. The rain flag was delivered to the Palacio de la Asamblea by representatives from Amlega, and was formally received by Deputy Minister for Women, Isabel Moreno at a press conference. One of the themes of past North Africa Pride events was the double discrimination faced by lesbians for being both women and homosexuals. Outside Pride though, Amlega was busy actively trying to recruit more transgender members, as they felt their representation was too low and they appeared to make little progress on lesbian reproductive needs or addressing the needs of lesbian asylum seekers who were often needing to be moved to mainland Spain because of the discrimination they faced by other asylum seekers in the city.

Lesbians and single women were finally able to access reproductive assistance in public health in Ceuta in the first quarter of 2019.  This left Melilla, Asturias and Murcia as the only regions without reproductive services for lesbians and single women.  The measure was approved in Ceuta during Pride week.

Vox leadership in Madrid tried to get Orgullo moved for 2019 from Centro to Casa de Campo, as part of their efforts to try to decrease the visibility of the LGBT community in Madrid.

Pride Barcelona 2019 was organized by Asociación Catalana de Empresas para Gays y Lesbianas (ACEGAL).  The most high-profile lesbian on their organizing committee was Maria Giralt, director at  Aware of a number of volatile discussions going on in the community, organizers held a number of activities to address these issues like lesbian invisibility inside the rainbow, the issue of racism by LGBT activists and the gentrification of barrios where working class LGBT people congregated. The talk on lesbian visibility promised to bring the feminist perspective to the lesbian perspective as the two are viewed as being intrinsically connected. Despite organizer efforts by holding the panel to make lesbians feel included, lesbians in Barcelona faced invisibility when it came to Pride events.  One example of this was the event was called Orgullo Gay, and not Orgullo LGTBIQ+ or some other term that explicitly includes lesbians.  A second example is that the iconic floats in Barcelona’s parade all feature muscular gay men.

CRECUL and Elena de León issued a statement in June 2019 ahead of the Madrid Orgullo festivities saying that LGBT organizations have hidden lesbians and lesbian identity. CRECUL argued that the inability of LGBT organizations to make lesbians visible and lack of willingness to address the concerns of lesbians means lesbians should consider leaving the alphabet soup and returning to lesbian feminism. León and CRECUL also noted that 50 years after Stonewall, lesbian needs were still not being addressed inside Spain. Among these concerns were,

  • Guarantee of access to any assisted human reproduction technique (HRT) in public health, for single women and partners of unmarried women, in particular the ROPA technique for receiving oocytes from the couple,
  • Gynecological and STD prevention protocols adapted to the reality of lesbian relationships,
  • Lesbian and bisexual senior residence centers, and education in sexual diversity for all which included lesbians,
  • Recognition of the non-pregnant mother and shared affiliation of the children of the female couple, without being married,
  • Recognition of the custody of children in de facto relationships after the breakup of lesbian couples,
  • Parental and family leave for the care of minors and relatives,
  • Leave for the purposes of pursuing adoption, seeking custody for the purposes of adoption or foster care,
  • Aid for both working mothers of homomarental families, both married and in de facto relationships,
  • The same rights including civil, social, labor and tax rights, for common-law couples that are granted to marriage,
  • The same measures for the prevention and attention to intra-gender violence inside lesbian couples afforded to opposite sex couples,
  • That lesbophobic crimes, including “reparative rape”, be treated as gender-based violence under the law, and
  • A receptive feminist movement that voices and echoes the demands of all feminists, including lesbian feminists.


A global pandemic hit in early 2020, shutting down Spain with the country going into hard lockdown shortly after 8 March and the International Day of Women’s Labor events, along with the Vox party conference.  It created a political mess and a health crisis, which had an effect on Orgullo celebrations nationwide in that almost every single march was cancelled and most things went online.

Media references to lesbians and bisexuals in connection to Pride had all but erased lesbians and bisexuals by 2015 in Spanish newspapers, and this erasure continued in 2020.  The only major shift in language by the media was the term homosexual surpassed that of gay men.  Otherwise, the only time the words lesbian and bisexual would appear in the media were in the context of using the full name of an LGBT association. Intersex was also absent from usage in the media.  Gay men still received the most media coverage.  They were followed by transgendered people, with the term transexuals, popular in 2015, having been replaced by the term transgender.

Telediaro ran a short piece about Orgullo being cancelled because of the pandemic in 2020.  They interviewed hoteliers in the city as part of the piece, and talked about how 2020 Orgullo was dedicated to lesbians, transgender women and bisexuals.  The accompanying imagery though featured no visible lesbians, and only rainbow themed materials.  There were no lesbian flags or symbols, nor bisexual ones despite the shout out to these two groups.

LesWorking ran a virtual pride event on 27 June 2020. Among those participating were Librería Berkana, Federación Andaluza LGBT coordinators Isabel Rodriguez Guzmán and Sara Antler Ortiz , Colorful Families cofounder Marta Barrio, mis dos mamis Facebook group founder and moderator Daniela Más, IVI reproductive specialist Diana Santa Cruz, IMF reproductive specialist Laura Ciria, Eugin reproductive specialist Dr. Alicia Pérez Calvo, Rede Educativa de Apoio LGBTIQ+ de Galicia representative and professor Ana Ojea, and LesWorking founder and CEO Marta Fernández Herraiz.

Historically, Melilla’s LGBT population did not have their own major pride event. Instead, delegations of supporters of LGBT rights would travel to other events like Madrid Pride and march in it. In 2020, CCOO Melilla did not travel to participate in Orgullo like past years because the event was canceled because of covid-19 restrictions in Madrid.

The covid-19 situation had improved by June 2021 and most of the restrictions had been lifted that prevent any sort of protest from taking place.  Nationwide, the national, regional and local governments approved events so long as organizers promised that social distancing could be maintained and other health safety measures were put into place.

A pride parade was held in 2021 in Salamanca, organized by Iguales de Salamanca y de la Usual.  Around 200 people participated.  Among the slogans chanted were, “Soy lesbiana y castellana”.  While there were some visible lesbians, there were also transactivists present who advocated the believe that transwomen could be lesbians and condemned Carmen Calvo for not supporting the proposed self-ID law.  Much of the march focused specifically on transrights and advocating for self-ID, with homosexual rights and sex-based rights being marginalized.  Most lesbians present at Pride supported these positions.

The Mayor of Madrid Martínez Almeida, a member of Partido Popular, decided that the rainbow flag would not fly from the Ayuntamiento de Madrid during 2021 Orgullo festivities. The TQI+ community, with support of traditional LGBT organizations, had been very active during 2021 in demanding the passage of a self-ID law on a national level, increasing their national visibility compared to past years. At the same time, they had met resistance from feminist groups and aligned lesbian groups who opposed the erosion of Spain’s constitutionally protested sex-based rights. Those activities were intensified, and polarizing, as the TQI+ lobby intensified efforts to have a win they could take into Orgullo festivities in Madrid. The previous year, the flag was banned from flying on the building as a result of a Supreme Court ruling, with a compromise being reached of the flag being hung on the side of the street. The Ayuntamiento did agree to illuminate the building in the colors of the rainbow during pride. No big parade was held in 2021, with other face-to-face meetings and events taking place at smaller venues.

A much smaller scaled down Orgullo march took place on 3 July 2021 starting at Glorieta de Carlos V and ending at Plaza de Colón. The focus of the march was on trans rights, vindicating LGBT organization efforts to get self-ID efforts put into law. Most of the lesbian specific activity around Orgullo was organized by trans-friendly lesbians. It was organized by Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELGTB), COGAM, Colectivo LGTB+ de Madrid and AEGAL among others. Organizers asked all attendees to practice social distancing and to wear masks.

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