Context: Still plowing through and writing these as I rewrite so I can move the history into one book and the travel guide and place info can be more self-contained without a huge historical background longer than the actual geography information. As I work through these, some of the earlier sections already posted get additional things added to them or moved around. But plugging away…
Labels, language and identity
Lesbian concepts of self-identity began to change. By 1982, neither lesbians nor gay men had core identities of homosexuals, believing that this word was used by outsiders to define them medically in ways they did not agree with, giving it a derogatory connotation in Spanish society. Both groups had shifted to sex specific terminology, namely lesbians and gays. The closest Spanish equivalent for queer, marika, was not used at this time and the concept of queer was not and would core to Spanish homosexual identity for some time. Lesbian internal identity continued to hold on to the past, with the use of femme and butch identities continuing. Despite some changes in internal identity, external identity continued to be shaped by the church, politicians and medical professionals, creating additional stigmatization for lesbians. They could not take their newly formed identity out and be accepted without facing challenges from these entrenched powers.
Heterosexual representations of idealized socio-cultural behaviors during this period were important in informing lesbian identities. This included concepts of monogamy, equating sex with love and sexual activity remaining private between the couple. Lesbians had these concepts particularly reinforced as homosexuality in Spanish culture was viewed as a feminine attribute.
At the same time that lesbians were still incorporating heterosexual concepts into their ideas about themselves, lesbians of this period often tried to subvert accepted sexual identities and gender roles. Lesbianism, even as some lesbians were idealizing heterosexual socio-cultural behaviors, on the whole was about challenging heterosexual assumptions of accepted female behavior. Still, as the 1980s progressed, lesbians continued to have a core part of their identities aligning with those of feminists. Despite this filiation, tensions between the two groups continued.
External organizations were also involved in defining and giving labels to or near lesbians in this period. The Diccionario de la lengua española finally included the word lesbiana for the first time in 1984. The word continued to be defined until 1989, before being removed for a few years. The World Health Organization said in 1984 that it had no intention to propose a change to the definition of homosexuality before 1990. At the time, it classified homosexuality as a mental illness without much further definition around what it meant to be a homosexual.
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