Spanish democratic transition (1975 – 1982)

Preface: I am in the process of trying to rewrite the preface historical material for the travel guides, and split it into a separate book. At that point, I want to then go back and do a much better job at doing the travel guide part and history of some of the specific parts of Madrid/Spain as per the original intent of the website. The history part just got overwhelming and hugely disorganized. Doing this requires combing a 189 page document with a 169 page document with a fair bit of overlapping text and information between them. The transition period required me learning more about LGBT activism and Spanish feminism than I thought necessary beforehand, and with a certain nuance I am still missing. Anyway 189 pages of text now down to 103 because I probably added about 10 pages in there of additional history as I bulked up on feminism, LGBT history and trans history as it intersected with lesbian history.

Spanish democratic transition (1975 – 1982)

The Spanish democratic transition period officially started with the death of Franco on 20 November 1975 and Juan Carlos I becoming the Rey de España two days later. When this period officially ended is still subject to debate among historians and academics. Initially, Carlos Arias Navarro was left as the Presidente de España with a purpose of transitioning to Spain to a Francoist style democracy using existing state structures. Arias Navarro gave the Cortes Españolas the task of updating Spanish law with that vision in mind. They quickly settled upon a reformist plan put forward by Manuel Fraga that put forward a more liberal, Western European style democracy instead through reforms of the Fundamental Laws of the Realm. A mixed commission of the Government and the National Council of the Movement was created to reform these laws with Torcuato Fernández-Miranda and Adolfo Suárez taking the lead. This removed Fraga and Arias from the reformist efforts, and resulted in Rey Juan Carlos I appointing Adolfo Suárez as Presidente de España in June 1976. Reformist efforts would continue and Spain would have its first national and democratic elections in 1977. By the end of this period, 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.

The Spanish democratic transition was a watershed moment for Spanish lesbians. For the first time in Spanish history, lesbians in the country could claim their own cultural, social, political and historical identity independent of men, government erasure and the Church and state being the sole arbitrators of female sexuality. This period would not be without its struggles to reclaim what the Dictatorship had so thoroughly stripped from Spanish lesbians.

This particular moment in history meant that the mid to late 1970s saw several different threads of Spanish life for women loving women take hold, each sometimes independent of each other but also deeply interconnected.  The first was political life, involving lesbians in the feminist movement, the gay rights movement and working to change or expunge laws that directly impacted their daily lives.  The second thread was around concepts of labels, names for themselves as women who loved women, and around identity. These two threads connect with the roots of Orgullo, Pride, and general protests in that period in support of homosexual and transsexual rights.  While deeply interconnected with the first issue, by the end of the transition period, Orgullo would begin to be on its way to a separate entity that would go through various changes and reforms until the celebration that exists today is arrived at independent of the political protest. Another thread was cultural, with the rise of lesbian literature and art.  Connected to that was another major thread around social and economic life, of where lesbians went to socialize, with whom they could socialize, businesses they opened and the start of what would later become known as the pink economy.  The last major thread was external acceptance of lesbians, and how society depicted lesbians in the media and in popular culture.

The end of the Franco era started off both hopeful and dispiriting. While political prisoners were eligible for pardons during the democratic transition, neither the pardon of 25 November 1975 nor the amnesty of 31 July 1976 applied to people imprisoned for moral crimes like prostitution or homosexuality.

Some legal reforms for women happened quickly. The first feminist law in Spain in that the transition period was Ley 14/1975, a reform to the Civil Code and Commercial Code on the legal situation of married women and the rights and duties of spouses. It was promoted by María Telo and other feminist jurists. Other reforms would take a few more years, and even decades.

For both feminists and homosexuals, there was a stall in potential legislative efforts after the initial bits in the first few months after Franco’s death as the left wing political parties tried to unify around a political solution that would enable them to come to power and enact their legislative goals. Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) and Partido Comunista de España (PCE) signed a pact in 1977 to demobilize and avoid demonstrations across the country in order to get the Moncloa agreement put into practice. Both parties also avoided some of the liberation politics as a way of furthering their own agendas even if it meant they did not get full democratization. For PSOE, this meant in practice that they understood ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social needed reform, but they were not willing to demand its repeal. PSOE were criticized for this, accused of playing electoral games that would undermine their long-term goals.

When female homosexuals were even considered in the very first years of the transition by the government, state apparatuses and political parties, they were often lumped together with gay men and women in general as interest groups or minority groups; this institutional approach would continue for the next two decades and impacted how they organized, self-identified and what demands these groups made.

Coordinadora de Grupos Marginados was created in 1977 by homosexual men, common prisoners, feminists, prostitutes and people with disabilities. They sent a letter in July 1977 with an attached petition containing 20,000 signatures asking that ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social be removed from the law and that the special courts charged with enforcing it be dissolved. The sheer number of people who signed the petition attracted attention from Spain’s political classes who saw the repeal of the law as an opportunity to demonstrate the functionality of Spain’s new democracy and its ability to allow equality under the law. The previous amnesty had not benefited homosexuals at all, with terrorists being freed but homosexual men and women being left in prison or still having records which classed them as criminals.

Lesbians, who had organized inside feminist groups, played a critical role in the fight to legalize contraceptives which happened in 1978, legalize divorce which happened in 1981, and decriminalize abortion which happened in 1983.

The 1970 Ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social was officially amended on 26 December 1978 with the phrase “those who perform acts of homosexuality” being removed. This ended active prosecutions of homosexuality in Spanish courts, but did not come with any official recognition from the state that such a step had been taken. At the same time, no changes were made to the criminal law against public scandal that dated back to 1944 and amended with Ley 79/1961 and again in 1973, meaning that homosexuality, and especially transsexual women and transvestites, continued to be prosecuted under this law.

Unfortunately, because the repeal of the 1970 law did not occur until 1978, the gay men and few lesbians convicted under it were not covered by the 1977 amnesty agreement covering political prisoners that came into force with the new Spanish Constitution of 1978. This would leave many in the community bitter and resentful and would make removal of homosexuality related offenses from criminal offenses and police files a focus for homosexual rights activists in the following years.

Despite a relaxing in the law of overt discrimination against homosexuals, it was still possible to legally do so in many situations. In 1978, two women were fired from their jobs as textile workers in Valencia being lesbians and violating article 191, paragraph 13, of the Labor Ordinance of the industry that referred to the commission of “Immoral acts”.

On 29 January 1981, Adolfo Suarez resigned as the Presidente del Gobierno following a vote of no confidence, and Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo replaced him 25 February 1981.  His investiture was delayed by two days as a result of the attempted coup on 23 February.  He served as Presidente only until 1 December 1982 when he was replaced by PSOE leader Felipe González.  It was in this window of time that a number of significant reforms would begin for women and homosexuals.

The passage of Ley 30/1981, de 7 julio, meant women in Spain were able to get a divorce from their husbands. It was the first-time divorce was legal in Spain since the Second Republic period in the early 1930s.

LGBT organizations legally allowed to form and operate in 1981; this happened the same year that homosexuality was fully decriminalized as a specific and unique criminal offense. These changes would be the last major legal changes that would directly impact homosexuals as a group until 2005, and changes to Spain’s marriage and adoption laws. For lesbians, this change was monumental as, for the first time, it allowed lesbian to create associations without legal or political consequence purely for existing.

There was a general increase in far-right violence coupled with institutionalized violence and homophobia in the early 1980s. Ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 1982, the government decided to “clean up” Barcelona, which led to a number of surprise raids on gay venues in the city. This impacted lesbians to the extent that some were still politically aligned with gay men’s activist groups.

Spain was not yet a member of the European Union, but the organization for which they would join in 1986 was being asked questions about homosexual rights during the same time that Spain was going through the transition period. The United States denied visas to Europeans in the late 1970s and early 1980s who were suspected of being homosexuals. The Commission of the European Communities was asked about this, but said in March and April of 1980 that they were unable to answer as the question was not within their scope of competency. This was not hugely applicable to Spanish homosexuals as Spain would not join the European Union until 1986; at the same time, Spanish gays and lesbians were involving themselves both in European and international organizations and would have been aware of the consequences of such discrimination against them as it pertained to their own ability to travel abroad.

In 1981, the Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the European Community said that the United States treatment of foreign homosexuals and the need for a special visa had never been a subject of discussion with the United States.

The European Court of Justice supported the punishment of two people of the same sex engaging in sexual acts in the early 1980s. Their position only evolved in the mid-1980s, when the Court’s opinion changed to claim that persecution of people engaged in consensual sex acts with people of the same sex were an invasion of privacy.

Female homosexuality was first addressed by Spanish politicians when Nacionalistes d’Esquerra founder and lawyer Magda Oranich mentioned lesbians in 1979, with Oranich pointing out that lesbians were doubly discriminated against for being women and lesbians, and women’s happiness was not a consideration in Spanish society. In the interview where she made this point, she explicitly claimed that the Spanish right would never consider the needs of homosexuals while also condemning Stalin and similar regimes as “not true socialisms” and not following the tolerance of Lenin’s policies.

The political party Partit Feminista de Catalunya was formally organized in 1977 by Organització Feminista Revolucionària. They were originally a Leninist Marxist party, but gradually became a feminist Marxist party. They supported the founding of Partido Feminista de España in February 1979, and that year supported the slate Moviment Comunista de Catalunya in the 1979 municipal elections. After failing to create a unified ticket of feminists for the 1980 regional elections, the party backed Bloc d’Esquerra d’Alliberament Nacional, which promoted their platform on women’s rights. They party eventually was renamed and became a state Lesbians have always been highly active in the organization. The Jornades sobre Sexualitat took place in 1979, organized by Partit Feminista.

Unión de Juventudes Comunistas de España had started integrating policies around sexuality by 1981.

The transition period left many lesbians and gays politically and socially on the outside of a re-emerging Spanish cultural life as homosexuality would not begin to be decriminalized until the middle of the period, and, even then, not fully decriminalized for another decade. Police continued their earlier targeting of lesbians, gays, transsexuals and transvestites; lesbians escaped the worst of such police abuses as they continued to primarily focus on gay men. Lesbians were not considered homosexuals first, but women who also just happened to be homosexuals for whom norms around women mattered more. The Women’s Area of ​​the Fundación Triángulo de Madrid explained this, saying, “A gay man has always been able to move to another place, seeking to live his identity in freedom. While a lesbian woman stayed near her house. There are always parents, brothers or children to take care of and those who she does not disappoint”. Rocio Jimenez said of this, “And that’s how lesbians have developed since invisibility, at the expense of that scarlet letter that a man has never had to deal with.”

Labels and identity

Lesbians in the immediate post-Franco period had a public perception issue. Lesbians were condemned by the law, condemned by the public and a subject of anguish for male homosexuals who felt hampered by them. Lesbians were socially invisible and not recognized as a class of people. Lesbians had no identity as lesbians because Francoism had instilled in women themselves that they were not allowed to have sexuality. Female homosexuality was not recognized by society, let alone by most lesbians themselves; male homosexuality was repressed, and that repression was recognized because male sexuality was recognized. Gay men were loath to attach themselves to female homosexuality in this period because stigma attached to lesbians, when their existence could even be acknowledged, was worse than the stigma attached to gay men.

The word lesbiana continued to be stigmatized in the transition. A number of women in exclusive long-term relationships with other women refused to use the word as a form of identity to avoid the stigma. Feminists too often wanted to avoid the “contagion of stigma” and would try to make sure they were not associated with lesbians.   When lesbians talked about lesbianism in Bilbao in this period, it was about how they were treated as if they did exist. Lesbians did not really have a word, lesbian, in which they could describe themselves socially and without stigma.  This was a problem elsewhere too. Col.lectiu de Lesbianes de Barcelona (CLB) militants tried to vindicate the use of the word  lesbiana during the early 1980s as the term was then very loaded and had a pejorative meaning. That makes the fact that Empar Pineda becoming the first lesbian to use the word to identify herself as such in an interview with Interviú magazine in 1980 important as it related to destigmatization of the word and lesbians in general.

Some lesbians felt excluded from the gay rights movement in the transition period because lesbians were not specifically named by it.  It was called the movimiento gay, not the movimiento homosexual.  By its very name, the movement left women on the outside.  It was not about having an identity as a lesbian, but about having a name to describe who they were.  The lack of a name without stigma to label themselves was part of the reason why some lesbians ended up in the feminist movement, where they could be named as women.

Cultural assumptions around lesbians being more masculine women would be problematic in the transition period. More masculine appearing women would often be accused of being lesbians for their appearance alone in ways that caused them harm and distress; at the same time, lesbians who did not fit into a butch mold were often completely ignored or considered lesbians by outsiders because they were too feminine and appeared to comply with societal gender norms for what a woman should be.

During this period, lesbians often rejected lesbian as an identity. Rather they were women who were sexually and romantically affective towards other women who wanted to be free of persecution and to be accepted for who they were. Many activists rejected labels like lesbians, but needed to deploy those labels in order to advance their own collective causes.

When lesbians did have their own identities in the early transition period, they were sometimes tied up in the femme/butch identity in the same way that gay men’s identities were involved in the queen/bear dynamic. This identity and lesbian culture was part of a holdover from lesbian culture of the early Spanish periods and specifically the Francoist, similar to that of many other lesbian cultures that had started to emerge in the early part of the twentieth century in Western culture. This identity, in other cultures and countries, often led to some lesbians to being labeled transvestites, because they only got rid of societally imposed gender regulated clothing in women’s only spaces or their own homes. While gay Spanish men were quicker to shed the queen/bear dynamic, Spanish lesbians clung to butch/femme identities for a much longer period extending into the late 1990s.

For lesbians who came out of the closet and became political, especially towards the end of this period, the concept of personal sexual pleasure was also bound up in their activism and how they expressed themselves culturally, as being a lesbian was also about finally being able to express your sexuality and sexual needs often.

Lesbian concepts of identity also faced another challenge: Spain is made up of multiple subcultures including Catalan, Basque and Castilian. These subcultures lead to a situation where Spanish lesbian culture was not unified. This could make talking about lesbians in a broader national sense difficult as some issues and trends were very region specific. In the case of the Basques, the Basque nationalist government promoted the story of Basque lesbian soldier in the Americas Katalin Erauso during the late 1970s and 1980s but continued to negate her same-sex sexual proclivities.

During the early 1980s, lesbians often rejected lesbian as an identity. Rather they were women who were sexually and romantically affective towards other women who wanted to be free of persecution and to be accepted for who they were. Many activists rejected labels like lesbians, but needed to deploy those labels in order to advance their own collective causes.

Enrique Tierno Galván, future mayor of Madrid, said of homosexuals in 1977, “No, I do not think they should be punished. But I am not in favor of granting freedom or propaganda of homosexuality. I think we have to put limits to this type of deviations, when the instinct is so clearly defined in the Western world. The freedom of the instincts is a respectable freedom …, provided that it does not under any circumstances affect models of coexistence mostly accepted as positive moral models.”

Cultural life and depictions

Daniel’s was opened in 1975 by María del Carmen Tobar in Plaza de Cardona in the barrio of Sant Gervasi in Barcelona. It was one of the first lesbian bar in all of Spain, and originally had an English pub motif with a bar downstairs and a small room upstairs with a billiards and benches to sit on. Dimly lit with lots of mirrors and red velvet, the music of Mari Trini frequently played in these early days. Tobar had named the bar after a band she had founded with two other women named Teresa and Giselle; the band was named Daniela. This was part of the reason why music played such an important role in the bar’s history. One of its early DJs was Maria Giralt. To get around high taxes that bars had to pay, Tobar organized the bar as a non-profit which had the added benefit of making it easier to control the clientele that could go to the bar. Another patron was Mari Trini, who would later go on to pop music fame. Gretel Ammann, Spain’s most famous lesbian separatist, was also a patron. Because of its lesbian nature and being the only women’s only bar in the region, early on it attracted women of all sexualities from all walks of Spanish life. This included high school girls, straight housewives for an adventure from their everyday life, lesbian prostitutes and celebrities.

Daniel’s continued to play an important role in lesbian life in Barcelona in the late 1970s, and soon expanded to have a dancehall on the second floor. As the bar had opened when homosexuality was still illegal in Spain and continued to be so in its first few years of existence, the bar had a red light above the dance floor. When the light turned on, it was a signal to dancers that there was a police raid and patrons should sit on the floor. This was needed several times in the first few years as the police raided it for vague legal reasons, which owner María del Carmen Tobar suspected were about enforcing the 1970 Law on dangerousness and social rehabilitation.

Daniel’s also served as more than a bar and dance hall for lesbians and other women. Tobar also sponsored women’s basketball teams, football teams and a theater group named Five Stars & the Comet that performed an improv show at the bar called “Sala de espera”. The bar also distributed feminist and lesbian materials, including Spanish feminist magazine called Laberint, later renamed Red de Amazonas, one of the few places to sell the magazine in the whole of the country. Daniels’ also played an important role in bringing a degree of social cohesion to various lesbian communities in the city at the time.

Lesbian bars were often colloquially known as “bares de ambiente” during the 1980s and 1990s. There were at least two lesbian bars in Rota and the surrounding area during the 1980s. Members of the US Marines would frequently visit them.

It was very difficult in this period and well into the 1980s for young lesbians in small towns in Castilla. They had few people to turn to for support and almost no role models for which to look to for inspiration. For many, this meant they had the choice to remain heavily closeted or to try to escape to a big city like Madrid or Barcelona.

Madrid was not a place where many lesbians could be open about their sexuality either. Many were living clandestine lives. Bars that attracted lesbians tended to be real ghettos. One of the earliest lesbian friendly bars in Madrid at the time first required patrons to pass through an American bar in front of it. The interiors of these bars tend to be dark and ugly. Only in the 1980s did lesbian bars begin to change, to be more light, open, dignified spaces for lesbians to meet.

Following Franco’s death, homosexuality began to be featured in Spanish films in less problematic ways, depicting such relationships as normal. Most of these depictions though involved gay male characters written and produced by men with male directors. Basque Eloy de la Iglesia was one of the most important of these filmmakers in this period.

The Spanish S-rating for films “whose content or theme could damage the spectator’s sensibility” was created as a result of the Real Decreto of 1977 and existed until 1983 when it was replaced by the more internationally recognized X-rating; the S-rating primarily impacted erotic films featuring lesbians.

La Coquito was a 1915 erotic comedy novel by male author Joaquín Belda originally published in Madrid that features a lesbian love story. The novel was adapted to a film of the same title in a Spanish-Mexican co-production with its official release in Madrid on 26 December 1977, and in Mexico a year later. The film was directed by Pedro Masó. Both were loosely based on the life of Consuelo Portela, a singer born in 1885, though this is never acknowledged by either the author or the film makers.

Muchachas de uniforme, the 1931 German film watched by an earlier generation of Spanish lesbians, was remade in 1955.  This remake was released in Spain on 31 January 1977 in Madrid and 28 November 1977 in Barcelona.

Mi hija Hildegart is a 1977 Spanish language film that dramatizes the life and death of Hildegart Rodríguez Carballeira, a woman who played an important role in discussing, educating and promoting women’s sexuality in early 1930s Spain.

Pedro Almodóvar’s 1982 Laberinto de pasiones was a screwball comedy that featured a sex addicted pop star in Madrid who has a relationship with the gay son of a leader of a fictional Middle Eastern country. It was celebrated at the time by LGB community as a step towards liberation from the repressive Franco era censorship that saw gays and lesbians condemned and erased.

In 1981, the first program about lesbians appeared on RTVE. Gretel Ammann participated in the program.

Unlike television, film and cinema, lesbians dominated the literary scene when it came to normalizing homosexuality in the late Franco era and democratic transition period. This included writing not just about lesbians in normal contexts but also in discussing female sexuality. Despite their visibility and efforts, homosexual characters would still remain secondary characters in Spanish literary canon of the period and often were written in ways that reinforced repressive Spanish gender roles. The first women’s bookstore opened in Barcelona in 1977.

While out of the catacomb period, lesbian media remained scarce. Groupe de lesbiennes, which started publishing in 1976 in Paris, and Quand les Femmes s’aiment, published in France from 1978 to 1980, were two popular underground publications for Spanish lesbians in the post-Franco period. This was a period when French lesbians were very tied into the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes that had been gaining steam since 1968 when second-wave French feminism arrived on the scene.

During the transition and into the 1990s, most of the new lesbian literary canon came from outside Madrid and Castile; many writers were also bilingual, using Spanish and another indigenous language like Euskara, Galician or Catalan. Lucía Etxebarría was a Basque from Valencia. Marina Mayoral was from Galicia. Maria Mercè Marçal, Carme Riera, Montserrat Roig and Carmen Laforet were all Catalans.

In 1978, Editorial Lumen owner Ester Tusquets published her work The Same Sea as Every Summer,[1] the first novel in a trilogy that included Love is a Solitary Game,[2] published the following year and Stranded[3] in 1980. They were some of the most important works published in Spain’s second lesbian literary era, discussing the lesbian reality of trying to exist in a heterosexist society. It was also revolutionary for how it discussed female sexuality, doing so in an unprecedented way that was only possible because of the loosening societal constraints and increased demands by women following Franco’s death.

Tusquets’s work was also emblematic of political feminist literature in the transition period. This movement at times saw lesbianism as a natural extension of the movement, and it was sometimes reflected in literature produced by feminist writers of the era.

El homosexual ante la sociedad enferma was published in July 1978 by Tusquets. The book was edited by José Ramón Enríquez, with contributions by X. Lizarraga, Juan María Farré, M. Gómez-Beneyto, B. Swansey, A. de Fluvià, Fernando Savater, J. R. Enríquez, Carlo Frabetti, Colectivo de Lesbianas and Jaime Gil de Biedma among others. It was an another important work in Barcelona in the immediate post-Franco period.

In 1978, Carmen Conde was elected a full member of the Real Academia Española, occupying the K chair.

Carmen Riera’s A Woman’s Word[4] was published in 1980. It soon became another important work in Spanish lesbian literary canon. It had been originally published as two short stories in Catalan, Te deix, amor, la mar com a penyora in 1975 and Jos pos per testimoni les gavines in 1977. In 1981, she published A ‘Primavera’ for Domenico Guarini[5] about a woman named Clara searching for her identity; it won her the Prudenci Bertrana literary prize.

During the 1980s, three important figures appeared in North American lesbian discourse. These were Adrienne Rich, Monique Wittig and Judith Butler. Their thoughts assisted in re-imagining lesbian identity and the feminist movement inside their own countries, and later overseas in countries like Spain.

Sports opportunities also opened up. FC Barcelona Femeni, one of the oldest women’s football teams in Spain dating back to 1970, first played as Club Femení Barcelona in 1970 in a charity match on Christmas day at Camp Nou. The following year, they joined an unofficial Catalan women’s league. Starting in the early 1980s, they competed as Club Femení Barcelona and were informally integrated into the Blaugrana setup, including being allowed to use their facilities and colors.

Lesbian invisibility of the earlier period continued, especially in the gay rights and feminist movements; many people in society and some lesbians themselves did not consider women who loved women to be homosexuals or worth including in histories of homosexuality of the period, requiring researchers and historians to use sources other than gay histories of the period to learn about lesbians. No comprehensive ethnographic history of lesbians in this period would be written until 1999. Lesbian involvement in the feminist movement was also often written out in later histories of this period. One of the major consequences of this would be that broader LGBT histories from this period often lacked a gender perspective. Lesbians were retroactively made invisible in both feminist and LGBT communities.

Homosexual rights activism

For women who loved women, old habits from living in a very patriarchal society were hard to end in the transition period. This was a result of cultural programming that discouraged women from fully incorporating into public and social life. When lesbians did get into militancy in the early democratic transition period, they often took more trodden paths of feminist fronts or gay fronts depending on depending on how they labeled themselves and what they saw as their primary political goals.  The primary one was feminist, and the secondary one was the gay rights movement characterized primarily in this period by the fronts movement.

Lesbian activism in Spain in the context of the homosexual rights movement had three different waves by the late 2000s according to Gracia Trujillo in her 2008 work Deseo Y Resistencia.  The first wave, starting in the immediate post Franco period, was around the repeal of ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social.  The second wave was around the rise of feminist ideology, framing activism inside that community as we-as.  The third wave was in opposition to militant feminism, with activism defined around we-them.

The first of these waves was oriented in and around the fronts movement. The front movement in Spain itself came into existence in the 1930s in the era of the Second Republic as an electoral alliance between different groups on the left, and expressed politically through the Frente Popular as an electoral block in the Cortes.  The historiography of fronts in Spain in the period after that is subject to large number of disputes by historians and academics. Who was the movement aimed at? Who controlled it? Who were its primary components?  What is known is that in the last days of Franco and into the democratic transition period, left wing groups in Spain borrowed organizational ideas from the Popular Front on how to organize and align with each other to push forward their own specific interests, be it for regional issues or classes of people.  Among these Front groups for communists and Front groups for homosexual rights. The gay rights movements in Catalonia, the Basque Country, Valencia and the Balearic Islands were often tied into regional nationalist struggles.

The Fronts movement in the transition period was inspired by Marxist ideas, that liberation for groups came through working class struggles. At the beginning of the democratic transition, they were already open to including the fight against homosexual repression as part of broader class struggles. They also understood that homosexual rights could not be understood in isolation.

Lesbians who joined the fronts groups in Spain often did so because they collaborated with other groups that fought classism, patriarchal structures and machoism. These homosexual front organizations they joined, including Front Homosexual d´Action Révolutionnaire, were also often open to heterosexuals and homosexual identity was not the most important component to their activism. These liberation front groups were inclusive, where other homosexual rights groups and feminist groups were not.

Activists who would play critical roles in the future began to appear on the scene in the Front movement even before the death of Franco in November 1975, including Gretel Ammann, who was able to be more public with her activism in the transition period. By 1976, she had joined Moviment Comunista de Catalunya and participated in the 27 May 1976 Primeres Jornades Catalanes de la Dona.

In this early period, the most active homosexual front movement was in Barcelona. These groups would set the national agenda when it came to demands from the gay rights movement, would send out its militants to other parts of the country and shape national discourse for much of the early transition until they were finally displaced by militants in Madrid.  Front groups were active in many other parts of the country, drawing attention to issues on a regional and provincial level.  Most of this activity appears limited to Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia, the Comunidad de Madrid, Navarre, Valencia, the Canary Islands, Aragon, and Andalucía.

The most important goal in homosexual rights organizations was the repeal of the ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social. It was the thing that consistently brought gay men and lesbians to the streets to protest during the early transition period. After the repeal of ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social in January 1979, there was a split in the men’s homosexual rights community in Spain. One group consisted of gays and lesbians who were primarily activists because they wanted to be out and free from prosecution for their orientation. With the law having been repealed, they wanted to move on to dancing, flirting and going out at night. They separated themselves from liberation activists who were focused on liberation politics and who condemned entertainment venues. Lesbians represented a third split following law’s repeal, desiring to become visible, step out of the shadow of gay men’s organizations and follow their own paths. This led to the creation of a number of lesbian specific groups and lesbian specific conferences in 1979 and the early 1980s. Still, lesbians remained largely invisible.

Front d´Alliberament Gai de Catalunya (FAGC) was founded in December 1975, shortly after the death of Franco, as part of the anti-Franco struggle. It was founded at the same time that a number of other “fronts” were being founded around the country which had roots in earlier organizations founded between 1968 and 1975 with a goal of being prepared to mobilize for change when the regime fell. They emerged with origins in the clandestine Movimiento Español de Liberación Homosexual (MELH) that had been active in the Francoist period and were primarily composed of gay men.

While originally founded as a gay men’s association, FAGC created the first lesbian section in the history of homosexual rights activism, doing so in 1977 after the city’s first pride parade.  In their announcement about the group, they said they were creating it because, “FAGC should not try to put everyone in the same bag and shoot for in the Front. In the Front,we are together, but not mixed up, and, so that the problematic female homosexual will be heard within our movement, we have thought about promoting a group of lesbians – we invited them and they have come, and they are in a period of discussion and debate – to come up with their own theory. Thus, male homosexuals will not do the work of lesbians, because if we did it that way it would be like taking away their own voice”. The group held its first meeting on 1 December, using the name. Col.lectiu de lesbianes de Barcelona del FAGC (CLB). 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. For FAGC militants like María Giralt in this period, being a homosexual rights activist was a liberating experience; for the first time, many felt like they were able to connect to a broader community of people like themselves and not feel alone. Prior to that, unconnected lesbians like Giralt often had no information beyond old encyclopedias that had very little information.

CLB became influential in helping lesbians who were part of other front groups in Bilbao, Galicia and Madrid in uniting and organizing. CLB’s demands in 1978 included the repeal of ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social, immediate amnesty for women charged under the law, the right for women to own their own bodies, sexual freedom and the recognition that lesbians existed. CLB had only about 15 active members in 1979. They knew many more lesbians who could have joined but preferred to remain closeted. CLB members also found that they ran into issues in that feminist groups did not want to work with men in homosexual front groups. Some CLB militants during the late 1970s and early 1980s were very clear in understanding that FAGC could not address their specific repression as female homosexuals. Consequently, they also joined feminist groups like Coordinadora Feminista.

FAGC faced its own internal and external battles over the direction of the gay rights movement, irrespective of lesbians, in Barcelona. Coordinadora de Col.lectius d´Alliberament Gai (CCAG) opposed FGAC’s attempt for legalization of homosexual rights groups in the late 1970s. They believed that legalization would mean integration. There was also a polarizing debate in the male led homosexual rights movement about who should be at the front of protest marches. CGAG wanted transvestites at the front while FAGC opposed this. CGAG’s argument was that transexuals were the most visible of other sexual minorities and could draw more attention to their demands. In response to FGAC’s opposition, CGAG organized an alternative demonstration led by transvestites in Barcelona in June 1979. Lesbians involved in these discussions tried to reject such males in their groups as it ran counter to their identities.

FAGC was greatly deflated in the early 1980s and entered into crisis as similar organizations around the country began to disappear.  It also faced its own, continued internal battled.  In the early 1980s,  the organization faced a double split as members mobilized in different and conflicting directions. Coordinadora de Col.lectius per a´Lliberament Gai (CCAG) and the lesbians of CLB both left, with the lesbians joining Coordinadora Feminista. For members of CLB, their departure was not unexpected as they had watched similar splits happen in other countries. They had an awareness of them and had thought through the potential implications of doing this within their own national context. They just did not feel that mixed spaces with men were working for them anymore as homosexual women, especially when their militancy was towards issues like legalized abortion and decriminalization of divorce. The internal governing structures of FAGC only highlighted the contradictions between gay men and lesbians, and the power struggle to address both groups within the organization.

LAMAR (Lucha Antipatriarcal de Mujeres Antiautoritaria y Revolucionaria) was founded in 1978 in Barcelona. The group’s membership was practically all lesbians. Those who had political identities as lesbians often opted out of that group and into homosexual front groups instead.

One of the earlier Spanish lesbian organization created separately from an existing gay rights group was Barcelona based Grup de Lluita per l’Alliberament de la Dona, founded in 1979, significantly later than the first gay men’s organization. It continued a pattern of lesbians maintaining a lower visibility in the LGBT community compared to their male peers. At the same time, it also represented being ignored by gay men as less important in the broader homosexual rights movement.

Front D’alliberament Homosexual Del País Valencià (FAHPV) was founded in 1976, not long after FAGC. It was a gay men’s rights organization with few lesbian members.  Col.lectiu de Lesbianas was created inside FAHPV in 1977, similar to how CLB was organized in FAGC.

Col.lectiu de Lesbianas, who were integrated into Frente de Valencia by 1981, said they did not call themselves lesbians because they wanted a lesbians but because they want the possibility to express themselves freely, without being marginalized by society. Col.lectiu de Lesbianas had many discussions about their goals in the early 1980s, with two different camps. One group wanted to advocate for broad sexual liberation inclusive of men, and the other who were wary of men, seeing them as always sexist even if they were homosexuals.

Moviment d’Alliberament Gay del Pais Valencià (MAGPV) was founded in the late 1970s in Valencia. In 1980, they sought a permit to hold a pride protest but were denied one by the civil government because of a lack of clarity in the purpose of the march and because they lacked support from political parties. The group decided to hold a rally with banners at Plaza de la Virgin in response. MAGPV was reorganized and a lesbian group was re-established inside the organization. This group worked on a number of issues including STD prevention, police harassment against transvestite sex works and on co-organizing homosexual cultural events. Both MAGPV and its lesbian group adopted their own model of identity politics focused on community but rejected Anglo-Saxon models of discourse around sexual identity.

MAGPV’s Colectivo de Lesbianas activities took place on two fronts, that of homosexuality and that of feminism. Individual members worked on each aspect per their own interest, with the understanding that the coordination between the two was interesting and fulfilling.

UHE, which stood for Unión Homosexual Española, was left as graffiti in some places in Madrid in 1976. This was intended to start encouraging gays and lesbians in the city to mobilize.

Movimiento Democrático de Homosexuales de Madrid (MDH) was founded in 1977 and had links to Partido Comunista de España. They defended the participation of lesbians in homosexual rights activities but their organization had no lesbian members in its own ranks.

Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla (FLHOC) was founded in Madrid in 1977 from three principal organizations, Movimiento Democrático de Homosexuales (MDH), Frente Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria (FHAC) and Agrupación Mercurio. FHAC was notable because unlike some other left-wing and communist aligned homosexual rights organizations of the time, it actually counted lesbians among its militants. FLHOC showed solidarity with Marxist causes, attending May 1 demonstrations in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981.

FLHOC’s 1978 mission statement acknowledged that lesbians should be integrated into both the homosexual rights movement and the feminist movement. It said, “They must fight simultaneously on two fronts: in the feminist groups – in as much as the marginalization of women reaches equal to heteros and homosexuals – and in the groups of homosexual liberation – in intimate union with homosexuals masculine – to overcome the prevailing macho scheme in our culture. Lesbians – as well as male homosexuals – of the FLHOC, we demand that women’s liberation movements assume in its entirety the problem of homosexuality”. Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla (FLHOC) had a women’s section by 1979. After Grupo de Mujeres del FLHOC was created, FLHOC encouraged women to join it instead of the main organization. Lesbianas Unidas los Viernes (LUVIS) split from FLHOC in 1979. Grupo de Lesbianas del FLHOC talked in February 1981 about the need to escape the commercialized “ghetto” of homosexuality as it offered only an illusion of freedom. Olga Camarero was a member of FLHOC in the late 1970s, eventually leaving to join CFLM.

FLHOC faced repeated internal calls to join forces with left wing organizations in Madrid. Some of this met with opposition from lesbians who said that these groups where sexist and male dominated. This was one of the tensions inside FLHOC going into 1981. FLHOC disappeared in 1983, after being inactive for a while beforehand.

Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid (CFLM) and the Grupo de Acción por la Liberación Homosexual (GALHO) were both founded in 1981 as a result of tensions between gay and lesbian activists. GALHO was created to be less radical than the Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla (FLHOC).

Euskal Herriko Gay Askapen Mugimendua (EHGAM) was created in 1977, with the group writing an article about themselves in a magazine called Gay Hotsa. One of their goals was sexual freedom. They talked about the difference between male and female homosexuals, saying, “The male homosexual by the mere fact of being a man, has certain advantages over the lesbian who faces double marginalization, as a woman and as a homosexual.” The article goes on to say,  “A clear example of this is the fact that lesbianism itself is completely unknown. Homosexual men have been prominent in history, but nothing is said about lesbians, which is a tiny role known to women in history in general, as lesbians do not even appear.”. The article concludes by requesting that feminist organizations welcome lesbians into their organizations since lesbians also suffer from oppression for being women. In 1979, they published a document titled Dossier Lesbianismo, defining what lesbian and lesbianism were, saying, “it is simply that woman who, in part of her life or in its entirety, feels a preferential erotic attraction to another woman. Lesbianism is not, in short, but a free and personal manifestation of sexuality that is translated into the love of one woman for another.” The document also explored the issue of when, why and the how of coming out to those in your life. In 1978, EHGAM organized public protests in San Sebastián, Pamplona and Vitoria-Gasteiz.

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.

EHGAM in Irun in 1981 saw lesbians and gays working together on issues that concerned them both. Lesbians involved with the organization saw a need to inject more feminism into their efforts. They actively debated a number of issues and approaches. It was from this group that the Colectivo de Lesbianas de Navarra would be founded in the late 1980s, which pushed for greater visibility of lesbians while also maintaining their position in the broader feminist community.

Juventud Gay de Euskadi (JGE) was created in Bilbao in 1977. The Coordinadora de Marginados was also founded that same year. 1977 also saw the city host the Jornadas Feministas de Euskadi in the classrooms of EHU/UPV. The coinciding of these events led to the Jornadas having actual discussions on the marginalization of lesbian voices within both the gay rights movement and the feminist movement. JGE folded not long after.

Comité de Homosexuales Navarro (CHN) was founded in 1976 by Javier Cenoz. The group’s membership soon declined but the homosexual rights movement in the region was kept alive as a result of lesbians who came into it from Coordinadora Feminista de Navarra and the Asamblea de Mujeres de Tudela.

Movimiento Homosexual Aragonés was founded in 1977. Like other similar organizations being founded at that moment in Spain, it had a few lesbian participants who did not shape the organizations policies, goals or activities.

Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Andalucía was founded sometime around 1978, when it was mentioned in El País in an article on 25 June 1978 about the genesis of a homosexual rights movement in Spain in the new post-Franco era. The organization largely focused on gay men and was initially active in a number of provinces in Andalucía, including Sevilla, Granada and Málaga. Some of the group’s activities were in occasionally in support of lesbians. By the time the organization folded in 1979, it was active only in Sevilla and no lesbians appear to be associated with it.

Movimiento Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria (MHAR) was founded in the fall of 1977 in Sevilla. While most of its members were gay men, there were also a sizable lesbian representation, one of whom had connections to PCE. The group announced their existence in the December edition of the Ajoblanco magazine. They soon reached out to left wing organizations to find out their opinions about homosexuals but received few responses. They also carried out street protests, created petitions to try to overturn laws repressing homosexuals, published press releases and posted posters. The organization eventually folded in 1979.

Other homosexual rights organizations active in Andalucía in this period included Unión Democrática de Homosexuales (UDU) in Málaga, and Movimiento de Liberación Homosexual and Frente Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria (FHAR) in Granada.

Frente de Libreación Homosexual Gallego was founded in 1977. It was a gay men’s rights organization with few lesbian members. It was one of the first LGB rights organizations founded in Galicia. Likewise, Juventud Gay de Galicia (JGG) was founded in Galicia 1977 and had similar membership issues. Unión Democrática Homosexual de Málaga, also founded in 1977, was very much the same. Asociación Democrática de Homosexuales was also founded in Malaga in 1977 and also lacking in lesbians.

Colectivo Canario para la Liberación de la Mujer Lesbiana was created in 1979 after splitting from a male dominated homosexual rights organization.

On 9 December 1979, the murder of transvestite Vicente Vadillo by a police officer in civilian clothes took place in Madrid. Vadillo was shot to death. EHGAM issued a statement of complaint in response to the murder. A rally was held in Casa de Campo in Madrid in December 1979 following the murder. The demonstration was supported by FLHOC.

A reunion of homosexual fronts organizations was organized by COFLHEE in Valencia in 1979. They criticized the government, saying that after ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social was repealed, the government allowed the number of gay bars to proliferate but at the same time refused to allow the legalization of homosexual rights activist groups. These gay bars had some lesbian clienteleLesbians could not even cash in on this new found capitalism opportunity, because the ones that did open frequently closed soon after as a result of lack of clients because they were less commercial and less exposed. It mean that lesbian social life was not helped by the repeal of the ley sobre peligrosidad y rehabilitación social because lesbians still needed to socialize around a network of lesbian homes found through contacts of friends in a lesbian’s network. This created a new type of lesbian specific ghetto.

Lesbians participants in gay men’s rights organizations was not insubstantial at upwards of 10% of these Front groups total membership. The issue was that despite their membership and participation, they were largely invisible. Further, lesbian specific cultural and political needs were often different than those of gay men. Coordinadora de Frentes de Liberación Homosexual del Estado Español, FGAC and Euskal Herriko Gay Askapen Mugimendua (EHGAM) were all organizations were where this was an issue. This made continued participation difficult for lesbians in the long-term headed out of the 1970s and into the 1980s.

Lesbian front and lesbian rights organizations began to fight for social, political and legal recognition by the early 1980s. These organizations often split from gay men’s organizations. When lesbians worked in mixed LGBT organizations, where the T stood for transsexual, they were often less ideologically driven than when they were in lesbian only organizations. These patterns of self-organization and ideological differences depending on group type continued into the Felipe González period. At the same time that lesbian activism began to increase, activism around transsexuality also began to increase.  Already an issue for both gay rights groups, increased activism by transsexual activists would bring them into future conflicts with lesbian activists.

This sometime alliance with gay men in the front movement was not without its problems. Lesbians had to temper their criticism of gay men in this period and well into the 2000s in Spain and elsewhere in Europe because of their awareness that heterosexuals viewed lesbians as the inferior type of homosexual; these lesbians understood that criticizing gay men too much would make it harder to achieve political goals, especially as gay men were generally more affluent, in positions of greater political power and had more visibility in society.

By 1979s and accelerating into the early 1980s, a lot of the gay rights activist groups disbanded, believing they had accomplished most of their immediate goals going into the transition period. With no unifying purpose, the lesbian and gay activist community began to fracture and fracture depending on specific ideologies. This was particularly true among gay liberationists.

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) announced their plan to hold their meeting in Barcelona in 1980, feminist lesbians took this as a sign to improve their organization. This culminated in the first edition of the I Jornadas Estatals de Lesbianas being held in June of that same year in Madrid. Much of the critique coming out of lesbian feminist circles at that time was the prevailing heterosexism in the feminist movement and about expanding the right to one’s own body on issues like abortion. The jornada had two general goals. The first was to create space between lesbians and feminists, and the second was to clearly define lesbian discourse. Lesbians from Spain attended the December 1980 Amsterdam meeting of the lesbian group for the International Gay Association. They also attend the next meeting in Turin in April 1981.

EHGAM, the Basque gay rights group, and ESAM, Basque lesbian feminist group, jointly protested the firing and prosecution of a teacher, Eliane Morrissens, in Belgium for being a lesbian in 1981. Gays and lesbians working together from separate orgs on international issues of lesbian persecution. A campaign of solidarity was organized by Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Andalucía for teacher Belgian Elianne Morrisens in Granada in 1981.

La Plataforma reivindicativa de la COFLHEE of 1981 demanded a number of things of specific interest to lesbians, including total amnesty for homosexuals, repeal of all laws used to repress homosexuality, equality between men and women, sex education, recognition that homosexuality was not a disease, freedom of affective expression, the right to dress how you want, separation of church and state, sexual health centers, banning discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, reduction of the number of hours worked per day, binding divorce, the right to have an abortion, and the legalization of homosexual organizations. There were also things of less interest to lesbians like the legalization of prostitution, and the right to change your legal sex.

By the early 1980s, lesbians were denouncing existence of misogynistic attitudes and chauvinistic actions of some gay men within homosexual rights organizations. One of their specific complaints was the parodying of women done by male transvestites, which gay men defended as being a anti-macho provocation. Another complaint was gay male leadership support of liberal views supporting pornography.

The broader homosexual rights movement also began an identity change. A movement started in the early 1980s, accelerating into the 1990s, to change GLB to be LGB in order to better signal to women that they were wanted as part of the movement at a time when lesbians held few leadership roles in homosexual rights organizations and complained about patriarchy making it hard for them to be involved.

While they were largely unaware of it, a crisis was beginning to brew for the gay rights movement in Spain at the very end of the transition period.  That crisis was the AIDS crisis, an event that would reshape parts of the Spanish gay rights movement for over a decade.

AIDS first appeared in Spain in October 1981 at Hospital Vall d’Hebron de Barcelona in a 35-year-old-man. This was a mere four months after the first five cases had been described by doctors in Los Angeles, California. The name AIDS, SIDA in Spanish, would first be applied to the disease in 1982. At that time, almost nothing was known about it. The case was discovered after the man had arrived at the hospital with Kaposi sarcoma, headaches, weight loss, appetite loss, hemiplegia and recovering from gonorrhea. Doctors performed a CT scan on the patient, discovered a 3-centimeter mass in his head and performed surgery to remove it. The patient died four days later. Dr. Carmen Navarro, a tissue analyst at the hospital, wanted to examine a sample from the surgery as she had detected granulomatous toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, that she had never seen present with someone with Kaposi sarcoma before. This opportunistic infection was what caused them to link their case with those in Los Angeles. When doctors looked more closely at the case and compared it to those in the United States, they found the man had had several sexual encounters with men in New York City in 1974 and Turkey in 1980. At the time of his death, he had been in a steady relationship.

AIDS immediately became associated with homosexuality, and specifically male homosexuality and the perceived way of life that came with being a gay man, because the first discovered case was in a gay man and because the first cases discovered in the United States were found in a cluster of gay men.

Feminism, lesbian feminism and lesbian political feminism

Despite the left triumphing in the municipal elections of 1978 and the national elections in 1979, the percentage of female legislators remained very low and progress for feminist goals inside political institutions remained very slow.

The late transition period and early González PSOE period politically active lesbians more unified than their gay male counterparts; while there some internal dissent, the shared experience of living through the Franco period as both a woman and a homosexual served as a very strong unifying force both socially and politically. The fragmentation of gay men because of their own political internal divisions and misogyny within the community often meant these feminists found themselves politically aligned with radical feminists. This separation of gays and lesbian activists that started in 1981 and all but finalized by 1985 would remain until the early 1990s, when lesbian and gay men’s mutual desire for marriage equality and adoption rights would re-unite them as part of a broader gay and lesbian rights movement.

Feminist issues of the immediate post transition period were wide ranging, and adapted as political goals were accomplished.  Beyond the important issues of decriminalization of adultery, divorce, contraceptive access and abortion, they also included the educational system, demanding an end to single-sex education that reinforced patriachial gender roles for women.  They denounced discrimination in the workplace, the image of women in the media, and the amount of domestic work women were expected to do. The Spanish feminist community characterized as plurinational from its origins in the immediate post-Franco period, including Catalan, Basque and Galician feminist movements as their own national identities within broader Spanish framework and looking externally to see how Spain fit into the broader international movement. What they did not do, especially in the late 1970s in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, was openly welcome lesbians into their activism.

Lesbian organizations started acknowledging that despite being homosexuals, the discrimination they share with other women means mixed sex platforms of the homosexual rights movement are not conducive to addressing their realities. This pushed them more towards the feminist movement by the middle of the transition period. There were four types of radical feminism that lesbians belonged to in Spain. They were feminist lesbianism, lesbian feminism, radical lesbianism and separatist lesbianism. These lesbians played an important role fighting to legalize contraceptives which happened in 1978, legalize divorce which happened in 1981, and decriminalize abortion which happened in 1983. After that, lesbian radical feminists turned to the issue of addressing sexist violence.

With political lesbianism only truly emerging following Franco’s death, one of the consequences that the late arrival of lesbian political movement was that, unlike their American, French and British peers, Spanish lesbians were able to define themselves independently from a broad homosexual rights movement and from the feminist movement. While this gave lesbians a degree of activist freedom, it also often meant they had a lower profile and a more limited seat at the table. Consequently, their rights were often only given visibility through their more vocal and visible male counterparts, a result of gay men always being more historically visible and because of patriarchy which had always prioritized male voices over female ones.

Early in the transition, radical feminists were attracted to the lesbian community, seeing lesbianism as a natural extension of their desire to reclaim ownership of women’s bodies and sexuality from Spain’s patriarchal systems.  Lesbians were also attracted to feminist spaces, and they made a number of important contributions to the movement; these would later get written out of history as feminists sought to distance themselves from lesbians whom they saw as sex obsessed.

The intersections with feminism that emerged from the start of Spanish political lesbianism would lead to tensions and questions within the lesbian community. The question was often how to be both a lesbian and a feminist, and how to manage these identities which at times could feel in conflict for prioritization. For political lesbianism, the answer the community found was their lesbianism “did not have to be soft or aggressive, nor follow any feminist or feminine pattern.”

Primeres Jornades Catalanes de la Dona took place for four days starting on 27 May 1976 in an auditorium at Universitat de Barcelona.  Over 4,000 women attended. The event was one of the biggest and most important in the immediate post-Franco period for Spanish feminists and signaled that Catalonia was the home of Spanish feminist thought. The meeting was also important because it was one of the first open feminist meetings in Barcelona allowing women to voice their demands for rights denied them as a result of the dictatorship. It marked an important moment for women in the city. It brought together a diverse collection of women from across the region. Discussions, workshops and papers written for the conference were then disseminated around the city afterwards at neighborhood clubs, cultural centers, professional organizations and churches. Women’s sexuality was addressed at the conference, along with overturning laws that made homosexuality a criminal offense. Lola Majoral and Gretel Ammann, who both went on to become influential lesbian separatists, were among those who participated alongside Montse Oliván and Empar Pineda Erdozia, with the latter helping to organize the event.

The feminist group Associació Catalana de la Dona was founded in 1976 following the first Jornades Catalanes de la Dona. Their goal was to work towards achieving full legal equality between the sexes, the right to divorce, access to family planning services including access to abortion and contraceptives, while at the same time respecting men. By 1977, they were engaging in dialogue with a number of Catalan political parties including Esquerra de Catalunya, ERC, PTE and Estat Català. They were led by Anna Mercadé from 1976 to 1979, and then Núria Solé i Fournier. They organized a lesbian music group in September 1978. They also organized the first Cicle de Cinema de Dones that year.

Coordinadora de Grupos de Mujeres de Barcelona issued a statement in 1976 asking for the “amnesty for all detained inmates for political reasons or for crimes classified in the Penal Code (abortion, adultery, contraceptives), as well as for people tried for Dangerous conduct within the framework of the Social Danger laws, which discriminated against women (homosexuality and prostitution)”.

Colectivo de Lesbianas de Valencia were active in the post Franco period. They tried to become involved with both gay men’s rights groups and feminist groups during that period, but neither were particularly receptive to them. Feminist identification at the time was around being a wife and a mother, which denied women’s sexuality. Feminists were not interested in addressing women’s sexuality at all, nor about challenging the idea that women were wives and mothers.

Vindicacion Feminista was a magazine founded in July 1976 by Carmen Alcalde and Lidia Falcón, and initially printed and sold in Madrid. Over the course of three years, they would produce 29 editions. The feminist publication was one of the more frequent one to address the existence and needs of lesbians. Issue number 22 published on 1 April 1978 and sold for 100 pesetas featured lesbians on the cover, with an article by Regina Bay Falcon.

The Asamblea de Mujeres de Granada (AMG) was the main group around which lesbians in the city organized in the transition period. AMG came into existence in 1976 following the general resurgence of feminist activities in the at the Universidad de Granada  following Franco’s death.  The city was primed for such an organization as issues surrounding women had begun to become quite heated around Universidad de Granada as women found the situation quite conservative and repressive, and responded to that by vocalizing their opposition to the environment. They were formally constituted by members of the Partido Comunista, Movimiento Comunista and other leftist organizations.  AMG joined COFEE by 1977, and worked with other feminist activists in regional Andalucía through Coordinadora Andaluza de Organizaciones Feministas.  Members attended the I Jornadas sobre Sexualidad in 1983 in Madrid along with the Encuentro Estatal sobre el derecho al Aborto in Madrid in 1981.  Members also attended the  II Jornadas sobre Lesbianismo in Madrid in 1988.  The group was actively engaged in the debate around women’s sexuality and women’s bodies as it related to issues like abortion and male violence.

  Some members of AMG had close ties Frente de Liberación Gay de Granada (FLGG) and Movimiento Comunida de Andalucía; a number of its members actually belonged to the women’s group of the latter. Theorists they drew inspiration from at the time included Simone de Beauvoir and Kate Millet, Gayle Rubin and Angela Davis, alongside works such as The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing or The Diaries of Anais Nin. The group was divided in their opinion as to what road feminism should take, with some advocating for feminism of equality and taking a more independent approach.   AMG would go on to organize with COFEE the 1979 Jornadas Feministas Estatales in their city.

The group’s sexuality commission was created around 1980 at a time when members of the group were beginning to question heterosexuality as a political regime, and subjects attendant to that like reproduction and motherhood, the right to sexual pleasure, masturbation, and clitoral stimulation versus vaginal penetration. For lesbians in the group, they prioritized their militancy as feminists over their militancy as homosexuals because they felt the oppression they suffered as women was worse.

Coordinadora de Organizaciones Feministas del Estado Español (COFEE) was created in 1977. They immediately staked out their political positions, with COFEE issuing a statement that same year saying that the legalization of contraceptives and abortion did not question the dominance of men in sexual relationships since these things were for the benefits of male sexuality. The pressure to utilize contraception and have abortions would be a new type of colonization of female sexuality and female bodies, imposed on them by men for their own desires and needs.[6]  On 22 October 1978, they announced their opposition to the proposed constitutional project as being “anti-democratic and sexist, both in its way of elaboration and in its content.”[7]  They would go on to play an important role in organizing feminist groups in support of and in opposition to various laws throughout the transition period. COFEE would also organize state feminist jornadas, including the 1979 one in Granada.

Institutionally, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Feministas del Estado Español was all about supporting organized feminism in the early transition period. By the 1980s, it had shifted to represent more diverse feminist currents, supporting more independent and pro-feminist militants.

Grup en Lluita per l’Alliberament de la Lesbiana (GLAL) was formed in February 1978, parallel to CLB, advocating for lesbianism from a social perspective instead of a political one. They held a press conference in November 1978 at the offices of Asociación de Prensa de Barcelona to announce their new organization. The Barcelona based group was one of the lesbian activist groups in Spain in that time period. The group engaged in a number of activities including neighborhood talks, participating in conferences, appearing on the radio and giving interviews to the media, all with the goal of increasing lesbian visibility. In May 1979, they joined the Coordinadora Feminista de Barcelona. GLAL organized International Lesbian Week events in February 1982. The RTVE program Cara a cara had an episode in 1983 in which GLAL participated. GLAL had political divisions regarding their focus and would dissolve a few years after its founding.

Other organizations were founded in 1978, included Asamblea de Mujeres de Tudela (AMT) and Coordinadora Feminista de Navarra (CFN).

Coordinadora de Grupos Feministas de Barcelona was dissolved in September 1978. CLB had been part of the group until the organization dissolved. They were criticized locally for not stepping in to address male violence directed at women attending jornadas specific to women’s issues, specifically a conference that took place in mid-1977.

Primula was a radical feminist organization in Sevilla in the late 1970s.  They had a sexuality commission.  The group marched in Sevilla’s pride march in 1978.

Radicals within the feminist movement, also known as autonomous feminists, departed institutional feminist organizations following the 1979 Granada conference; they began to organize their own events.

While gay rights organizations were being founded in the major cities in the Basque country in the late 1970s, women’s rights organizations were also being founded in parallel. These women’s rights organizations initially attracted some lesbians as lesbians first viewed their issues as ones related to women, and prioritizing the liberation of women first. The lesbians in these groups co-existed alongside gay rights groups, but had ideological differences over the importance of issues like women’s rights, lesbian visibility and the need of lesbians to self-organize. It was why some lesbians split from feminist groups in 1979 to form Emakumearen Sexual Askatasunerako Mugimendua (ESAM) in 1979.

ESAM defined themselves as homosexuals who were also women from the beginning, and that the framework of lesbian liberation was homosexual liberation and feminism, that they needed to fight for sexual liberation generally, while surrounding themselves by women and issues related to women. Members of ESAM would later go on to found Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas de Vizcaya. Maite Irazabal was a member of ESAM in the early 1980s.

Lesbianismoa was a 1979 publication by ESAM, defining lesbian women and lesbiansism as, “She is a lesbian when she simply feels an erotic attraction to women most of her life or at some point in her life. Lesbianism is basically just a free expression of one’s sexuality, which is carried out by a woman in love with another.”

ESAM dealt with questions in the early 1980s about motherhood. Other feminists would sometimes tell them that since they are lesbians, they will never have children. This was often internalized and left lesbians out of feminist conversations because fertility techniques were not available to lesbian couples, and the only real way lesbians could have children is if they married men.

The Colectivos de Lesbianas Feministas started growing in the Basque Country in 1978 in response to the struggle between lesbians and heterosexual women within the feminist movement. Lesbians no longer wanted to continually fight a battle over a default heterosexual perspective and wanted their own feminist organizations. They would form their own collectives in Bilbao, San Sebastián and Irun and have a Basque Country coordinator.

Grup de Dones d´Alacant gave a presentation on the topic of lesbian issues of dual militancy at the II Jornadas Feministas Estatales in Granada in 1979.

The first lesbian organization, Barcelona based Grup de Lluita per l’Alliberament de la Dona, was founded in Spain in 1979, significantly later than the first gay men’s organization. It continued a pattern of lesbians maintaining a lower visibility in the LGBT community compared to their male peers. At the same time, it also represented being ignored by gay men as less important in the broader homosexual rights movement.

Lesbians participated in the 8 March International Women’s Labor Day events in the 1980s. They do so though without any visible, independent identity. The public had no awareness that lesbians were participating or aiding the feminist cause. Lesbian participation in these events just furthered their invisibility in society because they did not make themselves visible and didn’t assert their identity as lesbians first and feminists second. Lesbians participated in the 8 March in support of women’s rights in 1981 in Barcelona.

In May 1982, the second edition of the Jornades Catalanes de la Dona took place in Barcelona.

II Jornadas Estatales de la Mujer was held in Granada in 1979. Over 1,200 women from across Spain participated over the three-day event. Among these women were a number of lesbians. Topics addressed included womanhood, motherhood, youth, marriage and family, women’s education, media, the class struggle and its connection to the feminist movement, abortion, reforms to the penal code, pornography and women’s sexuality. Different types of feminism were also addressed including feminism of the difference. At the 1979 II Jornadas Estatales sobre la Mujer in Granada, lesbian separatist Gretel Ammann presented her work Feminismo de la diferencia along with “Como lesbiana contra la nueva moral feminista”. The work went on to become important in radical feminist circles in Spain. The Grup de Dones d’Alacant gave a presentation that dealt with lesbianism. The event took place in December. Other lesbians who participated in the event included Montse Oliván, who began to introduce the concept of gender identity in her support of transexuals participating in women’s spaces. The event was important because it showed that lesbians were aligning with the feminist liberation movement. Feminist political activist Victoria Sau discussed the topic of political lesbianism at the 1979 Granada conference. At the 1979 II Jornadas Estatales sobre la Mujer in Granada, Gretel Ammann presented her work Feminismo de la diferencia. The work went on to become important in radical feminist circles in Spain.

The Jornades Feministes Independents took place in Barcelona in 1979.  They came out of the group of radicals and autonomous feminists who were leaving statist feminist movements.

The Asamblea de Mujeres de Salamanca was created in 1979. The group met every Monday evening at 8:30 PM initially at the headquarters of the Comisiones Obreras at the end of Gran Via, likely at Calle Abogados de Atocha, 2. They then moved their meeting place to Calle Conde Don Ramón, 2. The Asamblera brought together many women with an interest in mobilizing to achieve women’s rights in the city. Abortion rights was one of their big initial goals, wanting to stand in solidarity with 11 women who had been prosecuted for having abortions in Bilbao around that same period. They went on to organize an abortion rights march that took place along Gran Vía in which several thousand people ended up participating. Lesbianism was defined by members of the group, with some members being political lesbians and rejecting the patriarchal structures of heterosexuality. Among the lesbians who participated in the group was Ángeles Álvarez, who had moved to the city for a few months; it was in the city that her life as a feminist activist would really begin.

By 1980, Spanish feminism, already fractured, had split into two very clear camps.  One was the camp of feminismo de la diferencia.  The other was feminismo de la igualdad.  This split would remain present into the 2020s. It would be one of several types of splits inside the feminist movement.

Donostiako Emakumeen Batzarra/Asamblea de Mujeres de Donostia created a lesbian feminist group in 1980 in San Sebastian. The group held regular meetings where they held discussions and planned events and campaigns to support their goals.

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) announced their plan to hold their meeting in Barcelona in 1980, feminist lesbians took this as a sign to improve their organization. This culminated in the first edition of the Jornadas Estatals de Lesbianas being held in June of that same year. Much of the critique coming out of lesbian feminist circles at that time was the prevailing heterosexism in the feminist movement and about expanding the right to one’s own body on issues like abortion.

Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid (CFLM) and the Grupo de Acción por la Liberación Homosexual (GALHO) were both formally organized in 1981 as a result of tensions between gay and lesbian activists. GALHO was created to be less radical than the Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla (FLHOC).  CLFM came about as a result of lesbian members of FLHOC leaving the organization’s women’s group in 1980.  It was at this point that these originally FLHOC aligned lesbians more formally joined the feminist movement and created a more organized lesbian movement in Madrid.

Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid was created as an idea in late 1980 at a time when lesbians were beginning to shift away from feminist groups as feminist groups were not considering their needs. Its origins actually date back to 1977 when they were organized more informally. It was cofounded by Empar Pineda Erdozia, Cristina Garaizabal and Montse Oliván almost immediately after Pineda and other lesbian feminists participated in a march down Gran Vía in 1980 in defense of abortion rights following Civil Guard going after women at the Los Naranjos family planning center in Sevilla. The marching women did not have permission, and cut traffic in protest. The event also resulted in the creation of the Comisión Pro Derecho al Aborto. CFLM was greatly concerned with increasing the visibility of lesbians in western culture and Spanish culture in particular. At the time, Montse Oliván and the others faced opposition from other lesbians who did not understand the need to self-organize around sexual orientation. The group soon faced challenges of lesbophobia from feminist groups, and opposition from feminist groups who did not want to address sexual freedom during the Spanish transition period.

CFLM sought registration with the government on 26 July 1982 under the name Grupo de Mujeres para la Liberación Sexual. This was a year before homosexual rights organizations were allowed to legally register. Their goal was to get a legal name so they could apply for grants and participate in political activity. They were unsuccessful.

During the early 1980s, CFLM had at its core membership around 30 to 40 women. At the time, the women faced opposition from other lesbians who did not understand the need to self-organize around sexual orientation. The group soon faced challenges of lesbophobia from feminist groups, and opposition from feminist groups who did not want to address sexual freedom during the Spanish transition period.

CFLM took a position in the early and mid-1980s that lesbianism was just one more issue that women needed to address, on par with dealing with issues like abortion, divorce, and equal rights in the workplace and in education. CFLM would focus almost exclusively on feminist goals until the end of the 1980s. Most members identified first as females and then as lesbians.

The lesbian feminist group Nafarroako Koordinakundeko Lesbiana Feministen Kolektiboa was founded in 1982.

Lesbian collectives became organized more autonomously separate from Asambleas de Mujeres in Bizkaia, doing so in 1982 as Grupo de Lesbianas Feministas de Bizkaia. In Gipuzkoa, lesbian feminists believed that continued involvement with Asambleas de Mujeres should end in “order not to cut off their access to independent lesbian women and women of the ghetto”.

Colectivo de Lesbianas de Valencia del Moviment d’Alliberament Gay del País Valenciá organized the second Jornadas Estatals de Lesbianas in Valencia in 1982. This would inspire the creation Coordinadora de Organizaciones Feministas del Estado Español.

Lesbian collectives became organized more autonomously separate from Asambleas de Mujeres in Bizkaia, doing so in 1982 as Grupo de Lesbianas Feministas de Bizkaia. This lesbian group would later create the highly influential magazine Sorginak. A lesbian collective at a Bizkaia assembly on 17 May 1986 explained this disconnect as, “We are a currently thinking globalist feminists contesting heteropatriarchy, insofar as we consider as an unquestionable premise the abolition of the heterosexual norm, and we can not be encompassed as a collective in the A.M.B. since it does not assume in its struggle for the transformation of patriarchy the heterosexual norm as a basic point in the oppression of women.”

In November 1982, there was a feminist demonstration in Plaça de Sant Jaume in denunciation of the heteronormativity imposed by the Church. The protest was in response to the visit of the Holy Father John Paul II to Barcelona. There were lots of signs in support of lesbians and bisexual women, along with condemning sex for only reproductive purposes.

There was a lot of internal discussion among lesbians about whether they should call themselves lesbian feminists or feminist lesbians during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It could create long debates in groups. The order was important as it reflected both an identity and priorities. The majority eventually went with lesbian feminist. One group involved in such a name debate was Grup de Dones d´Alacant. They gave a presentation on the topic at the II Jornadas Feministas Estatales in Granada in 1979.

EHGAM in Irun in 1981 saw lesbians and gays working together on issues that concerned them both. Lesbians involved with the organization saw a need to inject more feminism into their efforts. They actively debated a number of issues and approaches. It was from this group that the Colectivo de Lesbianas de Navarra would be founded in the late 1980s, which pushed for greater visibility of lesbians while also maintaining their position in the broader feminist community.

During the early 1980s, Basque lesbians aligned with the Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas organized jornadas lesbianas, Jornadas de Sexualidad and to strengthen their ties with the very heterosexual aligned feminist movement in the region.

Lesbians in the Basque Country during the early 1980s had doubts about the fight for civil rights when those rights were mirroring those of heterosexuals. Most of the discussion about those rights came from external sources, from countries in Europe like Denmark where the fight for marriage rights wasn’t viewed as a fight for lesbian rights but a fight for universal rights not framed from the dominant heterosexual narrative. Still, Basque lesbians aligned with the Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas organized jornadas lesbianas, Jornadas de Sexualidad and tried to strengthen their ties with the very heterosexual aligned feminist movement in the region.

Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian and Dutch feminism have all evolved during previous generations to become something of an outsider driven campaign for recognition and rights to a more institutionalized form over time and was recognized as a movement called State feminism. This incarnation had largely been in place by the time Spain reached the democratic transition period in 1976. Spanish feminism, freed from the constraints of the dictatorship, immediately began a process of trying to convert to state feminism through the use of leftist political parties like PSOE and forging alliances with trade unions. Some of these institutional feminists, supported by men in power, took their lead from feminist political ideologies coming out of other Western European countries; they were often removed from the feminism being embraced by a younger generation of Spanish feminist who were responding to specific needs they saw in Spanish society. These problems in the broader feminist movement carried over into the early part of the PSOE led González government. Lesbianism and specifically radical lesbianism would play an important role in the feminist movement at this time. Importantly though, these radical lesbians and feminist movements were cognizant of the context in which they existed, serving to inform them about patriarchal Spanish systems during the dictatorship and how various elements of society would respond to their needs. These lesbian and feminist communities though were not always united, would frequently leak information to try to damage each other and would have fissures leading to groups of women splitting off to form new groups.

Lesbian feminism by the early 1980s in Spain began to speak of specific repression that they faced because their orientation made them sexual minorities; other women did not suffer such specific double repression.

The feminist movement had several major accomplishments in 1978. They included the regulation of the use of contraceptives and the repeal of Article 416 of the Civil Code that condemned the adultery of women.

During 1975 and 1976, most of the militant feminist events in Spain took on an explicitly heterosexual perspective. A count of them a few years later revealed over 30 of them had done that.

One of the issues for lesbians inside the feminist movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the feminist were not seeking free sexual expression but heterosexual free expression.

The late transition period saw politically active lesbians focusing their activism around female sexuality more broadly, with a narrow focus lesbian sexuality and their ability to express their sexuality more freely. Sex, sexual desire and personal sexual pleasure was hugely important because lesbian sex was often erased from the broader homosexual rights movement as most people at the time felt that the only real sex was sex that involved penial penetration; lesbians knew there was more to sex, and pleasurable sex, than this. Political lesbianism would talk about the need for ongoing negotiations around the ability of women to be pleasured during sex.

Members of Coordinadora Feminists created a branch of Euskal Herriko Gay Askapen Mugimendua (EHGAM) in Irun in 1982, with the idea of the organization being run by men and women. Despite the organization being founded by and run by women, they soon turned their focus to the problems of gay men to the exclusion of women.

The early 1980s begins to see lesbians engaging more in identity politics around themselves as a political class of female homosexuals who exist in a political space occupied by women. It was necessary to integrate into feminist spaces instead of homosexual spaces because of their sex being a defining characteristic of their political needs and issues.

Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas was expanding across Spain in the period between 1980 to 1985 after having its first branch founded in Madrid in 1980.

By the end of this period, Spanish lesbian activists would be markedly different from their American sisters. Spanish lesbians maintained their own sex-based identification, while American lesbians had subsumed their identity as part of the greater LGBT movement to assist in giving it greater collective economic power through collective action that saw their sex and gender specific needs ignored for a perceived greater good.


It is in the final years of Franco’s life, some limited homosexual rights activism had started to take place in what would be a forerunner to the transition period pride marches. Before Madrid had its first legal pride march, militant lesbian feminists and some male homosexuals had marched a few times during the early 1970s on 28 June, with numbers ranging between 50 and 80. These women, at the very bottom of society, took great risks to do so and homosexuality was a criminal offense. Marginalization by society gave these women the courage and the ability to speak out as they had nothing else to lose.   The marches were often organized at the dark and underground lesbian bar, Berliner. One such march took place on calle Preciados.

In the immediate years after Franco’s death, homosexuality remained illegal, protests required government permitting and were not given to homosexuals, and both gay rights and feminist groups remained illegal. The center of gay rights activism had shifted from during the Franco period to Barcelona, and it was from that city where Orgullo marches that we know today would begin to originate as protest marches demanded the repeal of the Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación.

d’Alliberament Gai de Catalunya organized what is counted as the first Gay Pride march in Spain in June 1977 along La Rambla; over 4,000 people marched, including 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!”[8]  Tensions existed over the presence of transvestites and transsexuals at the march, with a desire to keep transsexuals and transvestites in the center, flanked by more respectable appearing gay men.  Done at the behest of feminists, lesbians and gay men, the goal was to avoid the nascent homosexual rights movement being characterized perverted and dirty. Feminists in particular involved in the march were concerned about women being portrayed by transvestites and transsexuals as caricature of women and as objectifying women.

Coordinadora de Frentes de Liberación Homosexual del Estado Español (COFLHEE) played a critical role the following year in trying to coordinate various gay right front groups and independent activist groups in organizing pride marches on 25 June 1978 in honor of the International Day of Homosexual Liberation.  They would succeed with Orgullo marches take place in cities like Madrid, Sevilla, Bilbao and Valencia.

Madrid 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.

In the spring of 1978, MHAR a meeting was held in Sevilla in preparation for hold a pride march on 28 June of that year to coincide with other planned marches in the country. Despite FHAR being dominated by gay men, the organization’s Orgullo announcement featured naked women frolicking in the woods.

At the Sevilla march, Luis Velasco had with him a homemade pride flag that he put up at La Giralda. 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 route for the march took it 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.  An estimated 1,000 total people participated in Orgullo actions but only around thirty people finished the march route.

Bilbao and Valencia joined Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona in having gay rights demonstrations on 24 June 1979 in honor of the Stonewall riots. These marches were often done with the support of one or two major feminist groups in each city.

Following the successful repeal of the Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social late in 1978, the number of pride attendees dropped in Madrid in 1979 and in 1980.

Pride marches expanded in 1979 in Andalucía, with one taking place in Granada. One of the proclamations of Orgullo in Granada in 1979 was that being gay was not a disease.   They wanted to disassociate from this homophobic idea supported by the Franco dictatorship.

MHAR again organized a pride march in 1979 in Sevilla. It had fewer people in attendance than their original march, though it followed a similar route. The organization collapsed shortly afterwards.

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.

Orgullo marches continued to expand with more local gay and feminist groups becoming involved in organizing marches in 1980. 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.

Marches continued elsewhere, though in some cases with fewer numbers. Participation in Madrid’s march had dropped off greatly.  In 1980, there were only about 600 protesters.  

Other cities saw their marches grow in size. FLHA organized pride in Sevilla in 1980.Activists put up a large number of posters in Sevilla in June 1980 ahead of that year’s Orgullo march in one of their largest ever attempts to mobilize local gays and to a lesser degree lesbians. The 1980 edition of Orgullo in Granada saw participation from LCR, PCA, MCA, PSOE, PTA, JAR, CNT, UGT, CCOO, STEG and the Asamblea de Mujeres de Granada (AMG).

Starting in 1981, COFLHEE started to shift from calling Orgullo, “International Day of Homosexual Liberation” to “International Gay Pride Day”. This was done in line with international practice that was going on at the same time.

Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Andalucía (FLHA) organized the first trans-provincial pride marches in the region in 1981, with marches held in Granada, Málaga and Sevilla. The organization was mostly made up of gay men, with only a handful of active lesbian members. By the time the organized the march, reports indicate they had no lesbians associated with them.  The organization would fold not to long after.

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 in 1981 included lesbian 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 protesters were confronted by police in front of a building at Avenida de la Albufera, 46, with the police wanting marchers to change their route.  This effectively put an end to the march.

The pride marches of the end transition period were marked either by being mostly organized by lesbians in some cities, or being almost exclusively organized by gay men in other cities. They were becoming less about specific political goals and more about visibility in general, and they were running into new conflicts with authorities.

[1] Spanish: El mismo mar de todos los veranos.

[2] Spanish: El amor es un juego solitario.

[3] Spanish: Varada tas el último naufragio.

[4] Spanish: Palabra de mujer.

[5] Spanish: Una primavera per a Domenico Guarini.

[6] Spanish quote: “en cuestión el papel dominante del hombre en las relaciones sexuales, ya que es ella quien tiene que asumir la anticoncepción en beneficio de la sexualidad masculina. Lo que las mujeres feministas queremos es el cuestionamiento de la sexualidad impuesta que coloniza nuestro cuerpo, para llegar a una sexualidad de la mujer libre, en función de ella misma, de sus necesidades y deseos”

[7] Spanish: “antidemocrático y machista, tanto en su forma de elaboración como en su contenido”

[8] Spanish: “¡Detrás de las ventanas hay lesbianas!”

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