Background: This is the last era of the rewrite of the background information. It includes the Pedro Sanchez period up to more or less March 2020 when the pandemic began as it needs an actual ending point. Hoping to get this period finished writing this month and then doing the Amazon self-publishing thing.
Bollero feminism and LGTB intersections with lesbianism, homophobia and abolitionist feminism
Lesbian political goals independent from the broader feminist movement and independent of the LGTB collective largely disappeared in this period, with a few exceptions focused around family rights. Feminist lesbianism had largely been replaced by queer feminism. The dominant narrative for lesbians in the LGTB community this became relationships to transwomen and how transwomen were integrated or not integrated into women specific spaces in the collective. The other narrative would involve the successes of individual lesbians coming from within the specific LGTB framework. Lesbians outside this framework often had their homosexuality erased and were treated only as women with the related discourse.
By the mid-2010s, lesbians inside Spain’s LGBT organizations largely included transwomen as part women’s groups and lesbian groups as they expanded their definition of what it meant to be a lesbian. This was in large part a result not of lesbian desires to explicitly include them and inviting them in their space, but in response to transwomen’s comments about feeling left out and excluded from these spaces.
One of the biggest issues at play in the LGTB community in both the Rajoy and Sanchez periods would be the laws around gender identity and removing the restrictions that did allow trans identifying individuals to legally change their sex or gender without undergoing medical assessment and a lot of bureaucratic processes. When lesbians raised concerns in this period, both within an LGTB framework and in a broader feminist framework, the transgender and gay male community would accuse Spanish lesbians of being TERFs, transphobes and gender fetishists. The gay male behavior demanding that transpeople be accepted for the sex they claim their gender identity was was always exclusively focused on transwomen. These same gay men, including many prominent in the movement and on social media, almost always had heavily misogynistic overtones. At the same time, these prominent gay men never discussed transmen as being men, never said that vaginas, clitorises and cervixes were inherently masculine, never demanded their fellow gay men prove their lack of transphobia by having relationships with transmen. Consequently, lesbians faced increase misogyny specifically from gay men. This caused some tensions, especially as for some lesbians it meant they had to opt out of the LGTB community and head back to a feminist community that was increasingly becoming abolitionist in its perspective but at the same time was often ignoring lesbian issues.
Boti García was the president of FELGTB from 2012 to 2015. She had participated in student movements in the 1960s, became a militant in COGAM in the 1990s, and became its president after only two years despite little practical political or organizational experience beforehand.
Federació d’Associacions Coordinadora Gai Lesbiana (CGLC) formally dissolved on 4 December 2013 because public funding was revoked, and limited private funding was available to make up the difference. Associations involved with the federation continued to work together despite the umbrella federation being dissolved.
Coordinadora Girasol LGTB del Sur and Asociación de Transexuales de Andalucía (ATA) President Mar Cambrollé said in March 2013 in El Faro de Melilla that transexuals suffered worse experiences than lesbians and gay men because the need to change their sex meant their condition was visible, while lesbians and gays could hide their sexual orientation to avoid discrimination. They also lacked legal identification based on their gender identity, something gays and lesbians did not need to have changed. Cambrollé said in Melilla that religious influences gave social weight towards the acceptability of LGBT discrimination in the city.
In July 2014, the Universidad de Extremadura announced they were withdrawing teaching materials that were homophobic that were still being used in one of the degree programs being taught. The text being withdrawn implied that the gay lifestyle was unhealthy and that some homosexuals freed themselves of it and were now ex-gays. The material had been denounced by students in July 2014, including on social media, as it was being used as part of the virtual campus. The complaints were then picked up by the student organization AssambleaUEx Badajoz, who mentioned them on Twitter and Facebook. The UNEX University Ombudsman initially said they had not received a formal complaint before backtracking after the complaints gained momentum.
Fundación 26 de Diciembre in Madrid was the first retirement facility for members of the LGTBIQ+ community, opening on 21 February 2014 initially to provide psychosocial intervention programs, expanding to include a senior residence center in 2020. It was founded by Federico Armenteros. The foundation draws its name from the 26 December 1978 repeal of the Law 16/1970 on Danger and Social Rehabilitation that outlawed homosexuality. Empar Pineda Erdozia has been a longtime supporter of the organization, assisting older lesbians.
Amlega organized 17 May 2014 Day against Homophobia events in Melilla, including an activity where they made a rainbow mosaic. Among their complaints was that transexuality was still institutionalized discriminated against by being listed as a medical condition. They had no specific events or statements addressing lesbophobia.
Diversitat’s Grupo Les’s coordinator in 2014 was Diana Murcia. Issues they were focusing on that year included equality between gays and lesbians, so that both their realities were manifested inside LGTB spaces. They were also focused on the exclusion of lesbian and single women from public health offerings for assisted reproduction techniques. The group participated in the 8 March International Women’s Day events in the city. On the social front, the lesbian group had their own 7-a-side football team.
From 2015 to 2016, the total volume of donations given by corporate donors to LGBT organizations in Spain declined from €61.68 million to €53.88 million. At the same time, the total volume of donations that corporate donors gave to transgender specific organizations increased from €13.25 million in 2015 to €16.98 million in 2016. The LGBT community, which lesbians have always been on the fringe of, declined by 12.5% in a single year while donations to trans organizations in Spain increased by 20%.
The Los Palomos de Badajoz fiesta against discrimination based on sexual orientation was in its fifth edition in 2015 and attended by 20,000 people. It was the first edition held after the region based anti-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation or gender identification. The event was organized by Fundación Triángulo. A manifesto was read out for the event condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and praising the process of finally getting the regional law passed. Because the event coincided with International Lesbian Visibility Day, additional references to lesbians were made, including highlighting the double discrimination faced by lesbians and calling on the national government to reverse the decision not to support reproductive assistance to lesbians in public health because lesbians should have the ability to go anywhere in the country they want to become mothers.
LesBiCat participated in the 2015 edition of the city’s International Women’s Labor Day. Their focus in participating was to draw attention to the October 2014 law by Parliament of Catalonia against LGBT-phobia. The law had not yet come into force, and they felt that failure to bring it into force immediately put their lives at risk.
The general assembly of Extremadura Entiende was held in the town of Aliseda on 24 October 2015, and Sisi Cáceres Rojo was selected as the new president of the organization. At the same meeting, Marisa González Galán was elected as vice president, María del Carmen Martínez Viloria was elected secretary, and Ana Carmen Fraile Tejedor was elected treasurer. The positions were for two years.
An article titled “Gais en el Ejército español: una oportunidad para liberar Ceuta y Melilla” written by Abdalá Damoun was published in 2015 in El Mundo. The article, by a Moroccan journalist for a Moroccan audience, argued that homosexuality inside the armed forces in Ceuta and Melilla was weakening the armed forces, providing an opportunity for Morocco to invade the autonomous cities.
The bisexual movement became visible in Spain in 2016 s its own independent movement, with FELGBT defining the year as Año de la Visibilidad Bisexual en la Diversidad.
The 2016 Radical-mente feministas in Barcelona had two camps, a lesbian feminist camp and a trans feminist camp. It caused endless debates as to who was a woman, who should be included and how feminism could be included to encompass other realities of real problems for women using a more broadly defined term. Lesbian feminism was criticized for being too white European.
WADO had a flyer they posted with a rainbow flag, a trans flag and a lesbian flag in 2016 that provided contact numbers to denounce LGTBIphobia if people were victims or witnesses to it, along with providing their contact details to assist people. The flyer was created for Feria Guada 2016 and Feria Albacete 2016. WADO celebrated International Day to fight breast cancer on 19 October 2016. WADO joined the 8 March 2017 International Women’s Labor Day protests in Guadalajara, and the Jornada held in the weekend before the event. It took place at the Palacio del Infantado from 3 to 5 March 2017, and WADA presented one of the panels, “Indentidad de género y orientación sexual”. Of the seven activities taking place in the jornada, it was the only one to reference women’s sexuality.
Fundación Triángulo organized a conference in 2017 to coincide with International Women’s Labor Day in Badajoz titled Las mujeres y la igualdad LGTBI that ran from 8 to 11 March. It was held on the campus of the Universidad de Extremadura in the building of the Facultad de Educación. Among the attendees were Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela deputy Tamara Adrián and Peruvian activist and Articulación de Lesbianas Feministas member Marivel Saldaña. The conference had no lesbian specific discussion. Lesbians were always included alongside transsexuals and bisexual women.
In mid-June 2017, the monument Los colores de Mérida was inaugurated in the city in Parque de las VII Sillas. A few days later, the monument was defaced in a homophobic attack that involved hammers and a radial saw. The attack was condemned by Extremadura Entiende and Fundación Triángulo Extremadura. Mérida Mayor Antonio R. Osuna called for a demonstration at the Plaza de la Diversidad to stop homophobia on 21 June 2017 in response to the attack.
A pair of murals featuring the LGBT colors in Pizarro were defaced with white paint on 7 September 2017. The murals had been put up on 28 June 2017 in celebration of Orgullo. The murals were created as part of a project titled “Administración Local, compromiso global” run by Fundación Triángulo Extremadura and Red de Pueblos Extremeños. Fundación Triángulo Extremadura considered the defacement a hate crime and asked for the case to be treated as such. The Ayuntamiento de Pizarro worked to immediately restore them.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, was investigated by the Valencia Provincial Prosecutor in 2016 following allegations that he had violated the penal code by committing a hate crime when he made a statement against homosexuals saying “the good of the Christian family” was being pitted against “the gay empire and feminist ideologies” in a mass on 16 May 2016. Lambda Valencia was involved in filing the complaint and the appeal process. The Cardinal Archbishop denied he was a homophobe and xenophobe in a public letter on 2 June 2016.
In 2017, Palacio de Comunicaciones hosted a FELGTB organized historical exhibition titled “Subversivas. 40 años de activismo LGTB en España”. The exhibit took a more queer theory approach to the historiography of LGBT people in the country.
The first edition of the European Lesbian* Conference was held in from 5 to 8 October 2017 in Vienna, Austria. The conference came about after a lesbian working group met at the 2016 ILGA conference in Cyprus, with over 70 lesbians participating. They wanted a specific event to network, to increase lesbian visibility and to foster research specific to the needs of lesbian and address lesbian specific repression. Spain’s representatives at the event included Kika Fumero, a representative from ONG Observatorio Coeducativo-Lgbti, and Martha Fernándes Herráiz, a representative from the NGO LesWorking, a translesbian friendly networking group. Because funding issues have largely required it, the conference is open to transwomen who identify as lesbians. Without such a concession, the conferences would be unlikely to happen. For lesbians in some countries, the conference is important enough to developing broader lesbian rights and visibility in eastern Europe and western Asia that they are willing to accept this concession to make sure the conference happens.
Asociación Mosuak Colectivo de Lesbianas was constituted in Bilbao on 1 May 2017 and inscribed on 30 October 2017. It was intended as a social, cultural and sports clubs for lesbians in the Basque country, with the intention of making lesbians more visible in the region.
The women who went on to found Encuentros Bolleros participated in the 2018 8 de Marzo feminist march with a banner reminding women that lesbians exist and are part of the feminist struggle. Encuentros Bolleros was founded in Madrid in October 2018, informally, after its founders saw a gap in the LGTBIQ where translesbian feminists were not being represented politically or socially.
Ley 122/000191 del 2 de marzo de 2018 was still in the proposal stage in mid-2019. It said, “1. 3. The self-determination of sexual identity may not be put under questioning so that at no time, process or procedure will be required the provision of evidence. At all times it will be considered and interpreted according to the manifestation of personal will.” This proposed law would allow any man to declare himself a woman under Spanish law, be required to be legally be treated as female and able to denounce anyone who questions this identity as transphobic. It was criticized by lesbians and feminists as erasing homosexuality as was already occurring in Anglo-Saxon countries, where lesbians were banned from International Women’s Labor Day marches if they carried signs saying “lesbian = female homosexual” or “We like pussy”. Some prominent feminist organizations and publications supported these actions, with Pikara Magazine saying, “A Euroblanca cis woman will hardly experience the fear of clitoral ablation, a cis woman from Egypt will never live with the institutional and social asphyxiating pressure of mutilating the penis that trans women suffer.” They also said, “The problem is not that there are few trans women publishing in Pikara Magazine, the problem is that there is a whole system giving space to women like Towanda Rebels, Barbijaputa, Lidia Falcón , and others. Women who directly threaten, through their speeches, the lives of trans women, sex workers, racialized women, …” The feminist magazine prioritized the desire of Spanish males to undergo voluntary sex re-assignment surgery over the many Egyptian women who had their clitorises mutilated because of patriarchy.
In 2019, the World Health Organization said that transgenderism was not a mental health condition, and that transgender health issues would not be classified as mental and behavioral disorders going forward. WHO reproductive health expert Dr. Lale Say said of the decision, “It was taken out from mental health disorders because we had a better understanding that this was not actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma”.
Les Galicia established a presence the site Meetup in February 2019 and continued to be active into the 2021 with events both in person and virtual during the pandemic, mostly based in A Coruña. Their first get together was on 26 February 2019 at the Torre de Hercules in preparation for a race taking place on 23 March. Les Galicia met in front of the Obelisco before going on to go together as a group to participate in the #8M International Women’s Day of Labor protest events in 2019. The group held a number of events at Berbiriana featuring presentations of works by lesbian authors.
As part of the 8 March 2019 International Women’s Day Protests in Madrid, a group of lesbians protested outside “Madrid de los fachas”, Vox’s headquarters. They stuck heart shaped LGBTI flag stickers on nearby Vox posters, and engaged in chanting in support of women’s rights and against homophobia. During their protest, Hazte Oír’s bus showed up with its giant sign condemning feminazis. The lesbians blocked the bus from passing down the street and chanted in protest of the message. Lesbians also made a symbolic visit to the offices of Partido Popular, chanting outside of it, España mañana será lesbiana” while waving rainbow flags and women’s power flags.
The annual caravana de mujeres, a movement started around 1990 intended to bring women to more rural parts of Spain to find male partners to help keep rural parts of Spain populated, was being criticized by the 2010s across Spain. In 2015, one such Caravan was scheduled to leave from Madrid on 18 April, taking 55 single women for the the price of €50 including transport, lunch, dinner and a trip to a discoteca and at Hotel Romero de Mérida. The trip was criticized by a number of groups in Extremadura, including Instituto de la Mujer de Extremadura (IMEX), Asociación Malvaluna and Fundación Triángulo.
The first Jornadas Bollofeministas took place on 14 and 15 June 2019 in Madrid. The bollero feminist movement was transfeminist in nature. It was organized by Encuentros Bolleros, who had a goal of making bolleras visible in Madrid as a whole and inside queer spaces and political spaces. The Jornada was held at the Museo La Neomudéjar.
Silvia Tostado became the president of Fundación Triángulo Extremadura in 2019. This was a significant moment because of the first time in the region’s history, the two main LGBT organizations in it are led by lesbian women.
Colectivo Hetaira dissolved on 10 December 2019. Among the lesbians involved in the organization was Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid cofounder Empar Pineda Erdozia. Another lesbian involved with the organization was Montse Oliván.
Mujeres Abolicionistas de Rivas were active on Twitter in 2020 calling attention to a number of issues facing biological women in Spain. One issue they drew attention to several times was how lesbians were being made invisible inside the LGBT movement in Spain as a whole specifically because of their sex. They repeated their view that trans activism is lesbophobic. They were one of the few feminist organizations that would specifically address lesbian issues.
AIDS / HIV and STIs
The first full year of the Mariano Rajoy era saw the start of the fourth and final wave of lesbian interactions with HIV / AIDS and STIs more generally. This wave is characterized by a marked decline in institutional investment by both the state and LGBT organizations in women’s sexual health. Instead, priorities and resources were shifted to addressing the sexual health of male prostitutes and transgender women who were viewed as having a greater need for those services. This was despite the fact that at the end of the José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero several regional and state level organizations had identified lesbian sexual health as a priority given the documented neglect in earlier periods. At the same time, lesbian groups in mixed spaces were being renamed women’s groups and were given the job of supporting women’s sexual health from within without much institutional support. As these groups were always minority groups inside the mixed spaces and attracted women who were traditionally less activist oriented, that rarely occurred. Adding to this complicated situation, lesbian groups that continued to exist in feminist spaces who had never really engaged on the HIV / AIDS issue, continued to be inactive on the issue of lesbian sexual health.
By 2012, COGAM’s website no longer offered AIDS / HIV and STI workshops for lesbians and bisexual women, instead offering a number of workshops aimed at transwomen and male sex workers. These services were also not offered by the lesbian group inside COGAM on their website. The situation from 2012 was repeated in 2014, with the only image of a woman appearing on the page being a single generic form as one of many in the rainbow. There was however imagery of nearly nude men. 2016 was the same as 2014 but with an image high heels encouraging transwomen and male sex workers to get tested. Sexual health was mentioned only once on the lesbian page and that was as an interest for which they provided no additional information. Their NEXUS group on HIV and AIDS also made no mention of lesbian or bisexual women sexual health needs. 2018 had no improvement on COGAM’s website when it came to information about and services offered to lesbians and bisexual women on their sexual health.
A world first happened in 2014 related to lesbians and AIDS risks. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, documented one its first likely confirmed cases of women-to-woman transmission of AIDS in 2014. The publication was important because back in 1981, it was the first to document the existence of AIDS. In the case discussed, one partner had contacted the virus from a previous heterosexual relationship, and likely given it to her partner after they both stopped taking antivirals, stopped being tracked by a sexual health program and then had unprotected sex while the partner who had AIDS was menstruating. The virus was 98% genetically similar between the two women.
Slightly more data and casual observation about Spanish lesbian AIDS risks became available in 2014. That year, Jorge del Romero, Director of the Centro Sandoval de Madrid, said that 95% of the AIDS cases the clinic had treated in lesbian women were ones where the lesbian or bisexual woman had acquired the virus after sexual context with male. Because of the low rate of sexual transmission of HIV / AIDS between women having sex with women, there was still no official guidance on what sort of prophylaxis usage safe sex practices were most effective in preventing the transmission of the virus between women in 2014. Because of this and a lack of general education, pre-exposure prophylaxis as a means of safe sex practice between lesbians had not really taken hold in Madrid by 2014. At the time, despite its efficacy in other countries at being a greater preventer of AIDS than a condom, it still had not received approval in Spain for medical use either.
Only about 25% of the people seeking HIV / AIDS testing in Murcia through public health in the late 2010s. The breakdown of women seeking testing because of their sexual contact based on the sex of their partner was not collected. The investigators attributed the lesser percentage to lesser prevalence amongst women along with views of feeling less vulnerable to HIV and not having sexual health materials available to them to better understand the risks. The authors noted that the number of transwomen seeking HIV testing was also low, largely a result of the fact that there is a specific specialist organization for that vulnerable population to seek testing and support from.
Discrimination against lesbians continued by state organs when it came to the production of sexual health materials for the prevention of HIV and AIDS. A 2018 booklet by stop sida, coordinadora gai-lesbiana done in collaboration with the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo only mentioned lesbians in organization names. All the pictures used were of men. The descriptions used the masculine gender. Condoms are mentioned. The word hombres is used eight times while mujer is never used. The booklet was published in Barcelona but intended for national distribution.
CRECUL president Elena de León said in 2018 that lesbians were forgotten in official campaigns by the local government in Madrid during the AIDS epidemic as the only tool the Comunidad de Madrid subsidized to fight AIDS transmission was a condom and women having sex with women were never featured in any awareness campaigns.
The pandemic period brought little change to the status quo when it came to lesbians and HIV / AIDS. Almost all activism around the issue had died a number of years back. Lesbians, bisexual women and women who had sex with women were largely ignored by general efforts to reduce HIV / AIDS. LGBT organizations were more miss in a hit or miss situation of if they provided information for women’s sexual health, instead extending almost all their resources on sexual health to gay men, transwomen and male sex workers.
Triángulo Castilla y León y la Diputación de Valladolid published a guide in 2021 about sexuality among older people. This guide did reference lesbians and provide explicit written information about female biology, and how it could be used for sexual pleasure. The guide was shared nationally by Fundación Triángulo.
Nationally, lesbian and bisexual women continued to be ignored by the biggest LGTB organizations in the country. In 2021, FELGTB had a section on their website dedicated to sexual health, with a section related to the sexual health needs of transwomen and male sex workers. There was no section dedicated to cis women, and their sexual health needs.