Felipe González: 1982 and 1986: AIDS / HIV and STIs, Orgullo

Background: Still rewriting this section which is currently 57 pages long. Yikes. I thought Franco was bad at 30, and the transition at 36. These two sections are grouped together because they are short. In terms of the book draft, the section on lesbian feminism actually sits between them. I’m pretty sure at some point the Orgullo section will be added to just because the history is just so damned short considering everything.

AIDS / HIV and STIs

The Felipe González period contains the first of four waves of activism as it relates or does not actually relate to lesbians and their intersections with HIV / AIDS and STIs more generally. This initial wave, ending around 1992, is characterized by general state neglect of women’s sexual health, denial that women in general can contract AIDS and a lack of research into the potential implications of HIV / AIDS on the safety of lesbian sexual practices. Lesbians themselves were generally unconcerned, and unlike their sisters in other countries like the United States, did not immediately become involved in activism to try to combat an epidemic that impacted their homosexual brethren. Instead, lesbians continued to focus on issues of importance inside feminist communities for which they were often deeply embedded.

AIDS had first appeared in Spain in October 1981 in Barcelona, in a case that turned out to involve a gay man. The association between gay men and AIDS stuck even as AIDS cases were discovered a wider population, including in pediatric cases in late 1982 and early 1983, along with the discovery that AIDS could be transmitted from mother to fetus. It would be from these other types of cases that the first AIDS activists in Spain would emerge. One of the earliest would be an organization supporting children who contracted AIDS, offering them activities and supporting them in the face of social exclusion. By 1983, HIV was discovered to be a virus, along with the knowledge that it was transmitted through sexual penetration and sharing of needles during illicit drug use.

AIDS was finally given the name HIV in 1986. Early patients had short life expectancies, most not living more than a few years after contracting the virus. Within a few years of the virus being discovered, Spanish health authorities realized that the biggest cause of its transmission was not, like the United States and other places, unprotected sex but shared needles from intravenous drug use. Despite this, the AIDS crisis in Spain led to heavy stigmatization against homosexuals, more so than other nearby countries like France or the United Kingdom.

The epidemic had begun to hit the rest of Spain all at once in 1986. In Madrid, one of the hospitals at ground zero was Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre. It soon filled up hospital beds across the country. It was at this point, almost five years after AIDS was first confirmed as arriving in the country that activism around AIDS slowly began to build. This activism though was not from within the homosexual rights community that had achieved a number of successes in the past few years, including decriminalizing of homosexuality. The homosexual rights community of the 1980s wanted to avoid the stigma of being attached to AIDS and the discrimination faced by people with AIDS despite the homophobia AIDS was generating inside the country. The detachment also continued even as many gay men in Spain died from the disease, especially in cities like Sevilla. This pattern of detachment continued into the early 1990s.

By 1986, gay rights groups, seeing their members starting to die from the infection and perceiving the government as doing little about it, started getting involved in campaigns to combat it. Their campaigns though tended to be limited to prevention ones, aimed at reducing the spread of HIV / AIDS in their communities.

During the mid-1980s, as the AIDS/HIV crisis began to accelerate in the country, the fractured alliances between gays and lesbians began to heal in many places across Spain. This was felt in some places in how Orgullo events began to be organized and was reflected by increased participation by gay men. At the same time, the homosexual rights community of the 1980s wanted to avoid the stigma of being attached to AIDS and the discrimination faced by people with AIDS despite the homophobia AIDS was generating inside the country. The detachment also continued even as many gay men in Spain died from the disease, especially in cities like Sevilla. This pattern of detachment continued into the early 1990s.

During the late 1980s, as the homosexual rights movement began to start mobilizing more towards fighting for AIDS, lesbian feminists made a collective decision to more or less sit out that battle as they did not consider AIDS to be an issue that impacted women, and they did not work on efforts to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including AIDS, between women.

Amnesty International Human Rights Concert took place in Barcelona in 1988. It was heavily criticized by the gay and lesbian community inside Spain for failing to address the fact that homosexuals around the world could be arbitrarily jailed and sentenced to death for being homosexuals or sent to re-education camps. They had rejected a proposal before them earlier that year on that exact issue. At the time, re-education camps for homosexuals existed in Cuba and the People’s Republic of China. Homosexuals were also being imprisoned in Cyprus, Turkey, Chile and Romania. In Iran, they were executed. For Spaniards who only saw homosexuality decriminalized a decade earlier, this was an important issue internationally.

Orgullo

With the transition period having ended, Orgullo entered into a new period that was largely quiet as a result of demobilization of many activists. Pride marches continued in some places but barely, with numbers dropping a lot compared to the immediate post-transition era. The history of the period appears mostly forgotten, with few historical references to marches.

Orgullo events in some cities in the 1980s continued in large part because lesbian feminists were the primary organizers.  As feminists, they had not demobilized following the transition as there were still a few more goals that needed to be accomplished like abortion rights.  While they rarely worked with homosexual front groups, they did so on a limited basis around Orgullo protests.  Depending on which group was more active in a city, lesbian feminist or homosexual front groups, the composition of marches could vary greatly from being genuinely mixed groups sometimes with more visible female participants to being completely male dominated protests with a few token lesbians involved.

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

CFLM, along with other groups, was involved with organizing Pride events in Madrid during the 1980s. Grupo de Acción por la Liberación Homosexual (GALHO) and Asamblea Gai de Madrid (AGAMA) organized pride in Madrid in 1983. They were gay rights movements, and both organizations disappeared within two years as that movement dealt with ideological rivalries and also personalities that tore it apart. Lesbians took part in the march.

Día Internacional del Orgullo LGBT was officially inaugurated for the first time in Spain in 1985.

Frente de Liberación Gay de Granada was last present at Orgullo Granada in 1986, being mentioned on a poster alongside AMG, JAR, LCR, MCA, MOC and the Secretariat of the CCOO Woman.

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

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

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