History of Pride in Madrid: Conservative government of Mariano Rajoy (2011 – 2018)

Spain held general elections on 20 November 2011, called five months early by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on 29 July 2011 in response to a deteriorating economic situation. Partido Popular went into the elections leading in the polls, and eventually finishing with 44.6% of the vote, up from 40.1% in the 2008 elections. The elections saw Mariano Rajoy come to power, with the immediate fear by the broader LGTB community being that a Partido Popular led government would see the erosion of rights, including marriage and family rights.

            The 2012 march was convened by FELGTB and COGAM, and began on with a large firecracker going off at Puerta de Alcalá at 6:00 PM and ended at Plaza de España, traversing to Plaza de Cibeles and Gran Vía along the route. Banners displayed by participants at the march included ones that said “Amarse entre iguales no es tan diferente”, “Vamos de culo, por fin con orgullo”, “Estado laico igualitario”, “Homofobia es machismo”. More than a million people, up to around 1.2 million people participated in the 6-hour long march. [1]

            The motto for 2012 was “Matrimonio igualitario. Igualdad sin recortes”. The march was a revindication of same-sex marriage, with the motto and theme in response to the failure of Partido Popular’s appeal to same-sex marriage at the Constitutional Court.[2]

            Politicians who attended the march included deputy general secretary of the PSOE Elena Valenciano, UPyD leader Rosa Díez, UGT leader Cándido Méndez and CCOO leader Ignacio Fernández Toxo. Remarks of theirs reported by EFE did not include any references to lesbians. Vito Virtudes continued to attend Pride events in Madrid, including the 2012 edition. One year, her mother marched with her.  [3]

            There were nineteen floats at the 2012 Pride march in Madrid. Organizations that had floats included AEGAL, GALEHI, PSOE, Madrid Positivo, Fulanita de Tal, 100 Lesbianas Visibles, Gaygaxy, Locruagay.com, Shangay, Certamen MR. Gay Pride España, Me Da Igual and Concejalía de Igualdad del Ayuntamiento de Montesclaro.

            An act took place in the Ernest Lluch Room of the Congreso de Diputados to celebrate seven years of same-sex marriage being legal. The event was organized by FELGTB, with Partido Popular representatives opting not to participate as they still had an appeal on the issue before the constitutional court.

            Critical Pride against took place in 2012, under the name Orgullo Indignado for the second year in a row.  They had two mottos, including, “Toma el Orgullo” and, “¡No pasarán!”.

            In 2012, the Madrid City Council gave organizers of Madrid Pride a grant of €60000 to help run it.[4] The organizers of Pride installed expensive noise inhibitors to try to prevent the noise getting to a certain level. This was part of their sustainability efforts.[5] The Dirección General de Control Ambiental, Transportes y Aparcamientos del Área de Gobierno de Medio Ambiente, Seguridad y Movilidad del Ayuntamiento de Madrid fined the organizers of Pride 2012, AGEL, COGAM and FELGTB, €42000 for noise violations in Chueca. The fine was for three very serious noise infractions and one minor noise infraction.[6]

            Pride 2013 officially kicked off at Plaza de Chueca with an opening ceremony. PCOGAM President Esperanza Montero, AEGAL General Secretary Juan Carlos Alonso and FELGTB Youth Coordinator Santi Rivero spoke during this ceremony. The manifesto was read by presenter Santiago Redondo.

            The motto for Pride 2013, which took place on 6 July 2013, was “Jóvenes sin armario” meaning “Youth without closets”. The march had an estimated 1.2 million people and twenty-one floats taking part. Participants included representatives from around sixty organizations, parties, unions and social movements.  The route started at Paseo de la Infanta Isabel in front of the Atocha train station, continued along Paseo del Prado towards Plaza de Neptuno and Plaza de Cibles before ending up at Plaza de la Independencia and Puerta de Alcalá.  Unlike previous years, it avoided Gran Vía.  The city said the change in route from previous years was so it would have “the maximum guarantees of security, sustainability and respect”.[7] Regional PSOE deputy Maru Menéndez and Izquierda Unida General Coordinator Cayo Lara, and the leaders of the two union centrals, UGT’s Cándido Mendez and CCOO’s Ignacio Fernández Toxo were at the front of the march. Signs carried by participants included messages like “Mi libertad preserva la tuya”[8], “Sexo, raza, credo, el mundo es bello porque es variado”[9], “No distingue el amor, ni el sexo, ni el color”[10] and “Homofobia es machismo”.[11] It stopped in front of Ministry of Health, Social Affairs and Equality, with participants showing red underwear to condemn the health policies of Partido Popular. A lot of the imagery in the media around this Pride march again featured scantily dressed men. [12]

            Pride programming was again organized by AEGAL, COGAM and FELGTB. Pride had a lot of parties once again. The Director of Mirales Magazine said the parties were a good thing, especially since the event attracted so many foreigners who could not socialize in their home countries as things like same-sex marriage were still illegal. [13]

            Lesmadrid appeared again at Orgullo 2013 in Madrid. MADO was trying to grow the participation rate of lesbians every year in Pride through this event. While this and other lesbian specific programming took place as part of the official 2013 Pride agenda, it often did not appear in programming lists that appeared in the media or in other communications put out by the organizers. [14]

            Critical Pride had a march again 2013, though it was not called by Bloque Alternativo and ESAP like it had been in previous years. Instead, it was called by a number of smaller organizations. This marked a change from 2011 and 2012, when this protest of Madrid’s corporate Pride was called Orgullo Indignado and influenced by the movimiento 15-M.  The groups read a join manifesto and had a march that started in Plaza de Lavapiés. Orgullo Crítico had banners hanging from balconies at Plaza de Chueca during 2013 MADO Pride festivities. One said, “No to pink capitalism” and another said, “Pride is protest.”

            In the lead up to Pride 2014, Boti G. Rodrigo accused Madrid’s Mayor Ana Botella of being homophobic, saying, “Pride deserves to be effectively regulated and protected, not boycotted, hindered and complicated every year by a homophobic mayor and by a City Council that has not been able to design regulations for years that allow Pride to live in peace.”[15]

            Palacio de Longoria hosted a press conference in late June 2014 about Pride Week. Maika Contreras, president of AEGAL, Juan Carlos Alonso, Secretary General of AEGAL and general coordinator of MADO, Jesús Generelo, Secretary General of FELGTB, Santiago Rivero as COGAM communication spokesman, all appeared at the press conference. Boti G. Rodrigo, president of FELGTB, was absent as she was at Palacio del Pardo, attending a meeting with the President of Spain, Partido Popular’s Mariano Rajoy, along with other activists.

            Pride kicked off with the reading of the proclamation on 2 July at Plaza de Chueca. Austrian drag queen singer Conchita Wurst and the North American LGBT association Stonewall were recognized at the opening ceremony.

            The original proposed route for Pride in 2014 by FELGTB and COGAM was again Puerta de Alcalá and its passage through the Gran Vía to the Plaza de España, which had been the historical route for around a decade, but this was rejected by the Madrid government because of the impossibility of the transit of the emergency and emergency services due to the possible ‘collapse’ of the road during the demonstration. The government also said that the use of public address systems needs to be moderated to respect the limits of sound emissions. As a result, the 2013 route was repeated, starting at Atocha and ending at Plaza de Colón.

            Taking place on 5 July 2014, more than fifty organizations took part in that year’s Pride march. Área de Salud de FELGTB and the Coordinadora Estatal del VIH / SIDA marched together at Pride in 2014, behind a banner that read: ‘Sanidad para tod@s: VIH, ITS, Hepatitis, Transexualidad, Reproducción Asistida…’. This motto was the second motto for Pride in Madrid in 2014.

            In 2014, most of the floats at Madrid’s Pride looked like travelling discos. By rule of the organizers, they were required to carry the event’s motto and other LGBT symbols such as the rainbow or pink triangle as they were supposed to be part of a protest march and not a parade.

            The traditional slate of programming took place in 2014 around Pride.  Like year’s past, most of it was generic with only two events on the program specific to a class in the LGTB collective and both were about or for about gay men. The outdoor stages for Pride in 2014 included ones at Callao, Plaza del Rey, the merger of Chueca and Calle Pelayo and the inclusion for the first time of one in Plaza de Colón.

            Critical Pride took place again in 2014, with around five hundred marchers. Their march started in Plaza Antón Martín and ended at Plaza de Alonso Martínez, where a manifesto was read. The march traversed Calle Atocha, Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, Calle Carretas, Puerta del Sol, Calle Montera, Calle Fuencarral, Calle de Infantas, Calle San Bartolomé, Calle Augusto Figueroa, Plaza de Chueca, Calle de Gravina and Calle de Hortaleza. Batukada Entiende were one of the conveners.  After the march, the group held a festive meeting at Vaciador near Metro Oporto. [16]

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

            The dates for the 2015 Pride march were announced on 26 January 2015. The date was set to be 4 July 2015, with it being the second consecutive year where the route was scheduled to end in Plaza de Colon, with a 6:00 PM start time at Carlos V roundabout in Atocha. This route allowed for the march to be wider and accommodate more people. FELGTB President Boti G. Rodrigo said of this route, “From Atocha to Colón the Pride offers us optimal security conditions, it is a wide and comfortable route, especially for people with reduced mobility and families with children, who can attend their Pride with greater peace of mind.”[17]

            The day of the march was very hot temperature wise.  FELGTB prevented Partido Popular from joining the delegation at the front of the Pride march in 2015 where the leaders PSOE, Podemos and IU with Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Iglesias, and Alberto Garzón respectively were taking part. FELGTB stopped their participation because they did not see a commitment by the party to help LGTB people through concrete measures.

            Official programming by the organizers was once again limited as it related to lesbians. There were three events on the program specific to a class in the LGTB collective. Zero were about lesbians, one about gay men and two about or for trans.  Rick Astley performed “Never gonna give you up” at Plaza de Callao in Madrid as part of the 2015 Gay Pride. At the same time, it appears LesMadrid had stopped offering large scale programming aimed at lesbians at Pride.

            Other groups continued to focus on only one member of the collective during Pride, despite in theory Pride being about all members. The trans rights organization Chrysallis published a manifesto in honor of Pride in 2015.  It mentioned only one LGTB specific class, and that was trans people one time.

            Orgullo Critico Madrid published manifestos for Pride in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.  The anti-capitalistic nature of the group did not make it more feminist or more aware of issues involving lesbians and bisexual women.  In those years, lesbians were mentioned in only one manifesto, and that was in 2018.  Gay men were also largely ignored with only one mention each in 2017 and 2018.  Bisexuals fared little better, with one mention each in 2016, 2017 and 2018.  Intersexed people, asexuals and queer people were mentioned one time each in 2016 and again one time each in 2018.  By and large, Orgullo Critico Madrid used their Pride manifestos to specifically mention the needs of trans people, with two references in 2015, three mentions in 2016, five references in 2017 and seven references in 2018.

            Local town halls in across Spain made the gesture of creating rainbow pedestrian crossings in honor of Pride in June 2015. In Madrid, this was atGran Via in Chueca during a year where such gestures by municipal governments faced large amounts of scrutiny after the Partido Popular national led government said town halls should not fly the rainbow flag for Pride as it does not apply to everyone.

            Pride in Madrid had two parts for many years prior to 2016. The first part was the protest. The second part was MADO (Madrid Orgullo), a business run by AEGAL (Association of Companies and Professionals for Gays and Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transsexuals of Madrid and its Community). COGAM and MADO together ran the Pride in the barrio events, with a change in management with those events being handed over to AEGAL in 2016.

            After the June shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, FELGTB said the Orgullo 2016 in Madrid would honor the victims. “These events cause us deep pain. They are a clear example of the extent to which discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is still very present in all types of societies”, said Jesús Generelo, president of FELGTB. “The hatred, in this case, towards homosexual or bisexual men is a dramatic example of the fear with which millions of people can feel when freely expressing their own sexuality.”[18]

            Pride 2016 took place on 2 July 2016. Bisexuality was one of the central themes of Orgullo 2016 nationally and in Madrid.[19] The motto for the event was “Leyes por la igualdad real ya. Año de la visibilidad bisexual en la diversidad”.[20] The focus was on reclaiming real equality between people, regardless of their gender identity. The route was along Paseo del Prado and included thirty floats. Many of the media depictions of the parade featured sexualized depictions of men and transwomen, while most depictions of women at Pride were without the sexualized imagery.[21]

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

            Villaverde Entiende and Usera con Orgullo both held Pride marches on 2 July 2016 with the goal of showing that gay rights and LGBT visibility should not and do not die on the periphery of Madrid. Their march started in the south and ended at Atocha, joining the bigger Pride events in the city. They were supported by neighborhood organizations including Asociación Vecinal La Unidad de Villaverde Este, Asociación de Vecinos la Unidad San Cristóbal de los Ángeles, Asociación Vecinal Independiente de Butarque, La Incolora asociación Vecinal, Asociación de Vecinos Los Rosales, Asociación de Vecinos Barrio Zofio, Asociación de Vecinos de Orcasitas, and the Delegación de la FAPA de Villaverde. Feminist and lesbian militant Coral Cano, who was born in Usera, raised the rainbow flag during its presentation at Pride week. Descriptions of the events and programming suggest little specific content aimed at or about lesbians. Pictures of the event suggest it was dominated by male attendance. The march started at the Metro Villaverde Bajo-Cruce, continued to Metro San Fermín-Orcasur in Usera, and onwards to Metro Legazpi. Orgullo Critico also took place in Madrid in 2016.[22]

            Madrid hosted World Pride in 2017. It was the fifth edition of the event, with organizers claiming that some two million tourists, double the previous year, attended the celebrations and brought in between €200 and €300 million in revenue to the city during the ten-day celebration.[23] President of the Organizing Committee of the World Pride 2017 Juan Carlos Alonso said that gays, more than lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals, were a significant marketing segment for companies and they wanted to use Pride to reach that market. Pride offered these companies a business opportunity to reach that market. The event had the motto, “Por los derechos LGTBI en todo el mundo”[24].  “A quién le importa” by Alaska was chosen as the theme song for World Pride 2017.[25] Paloma del Ría was an ambassador for the 2017 World Pride Games that were hosted concurrently in the city.

            The 2017 Pride march repeated the previous route, starting around Atocha and ending at Plaza de Colon.  It was once against dominated by highly visible men, the popularity of floats featuring muscular men, and women generally relegated to marchers in the front section. There was some lesbian programming, more than usual as the city was hosting World Pride 2017. Sedef Çakmak was among the lesbians to attend World Pride 2017 Madrid. She was the first publicly out lesbian politician in Turkey.

            The King and Queen of Spain congratulated the participants at Pride 2017 Madrid, as well as the institutions and services that facilitated in supporting the event. This was done via Twitter, with no specific mention of lesbians.

            The International Conference on Human Rights, held from June 26 to 28 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid took place in conjunction with Madrid World Pride. The attendees included Sedef Çakmak.

            Villaverde again hosted its own Price events in 2017, this time with activities organized by the Junta de Distrio de Villaverde. Activities included the reading of the Orgullo Critico manifesto. This alternative version of Pride though was still exclusionary to lesbians in the sense that it focused on countering the cisheteronormative model, for which radical and abolitionist feminist lesbians were intentionally excluded. The rainbow flag was raised that year at the Junta de Distrito de Villaverde with aemarch taking place on 1 July 2017, starting at Metro San Cristóbal de los Ángeles, continued to Metro Villaverde Bajo-Cruce, went to Metro San Fermín-Orcasur and ended at Atocha.

            The best day of my life is a documentary film made during World Pride Madrid, and followed the story of six people who attended the march from countries where homosexuality is illegal. A March 2018 preview of the film was held at Cines Callao that was attended by Manuela Carmena and the film’s director Fernando González Molina. One of the stories told was that of Ugandan lesbian activist Ruth Muganzi. In her country, being a lesbian can result in up to seven years in prison and where others can murder lesbians with impunity.

[1] (EFE, 2012)

[2] (EFE, 2012)

[3] (EFE, 2012)

[4] (Europa Press, 2012)

[5] (Europa Press, 2012)

[6] (Europa Press, 2012)

[7] Spanish: “cuente con las máximas garantías de seguridad, sostenibilidad y respeto”.

[8] English: My freedom preserves yours.

[9] English: Sex, race, creed, the world is beautiful because it is varied.

[10] English: It does not distinguish love, nor sex, nor color.

[11] English: Homophobia is machismo.

[12] (Agencias & ElMundo.Es, 2013; García & Treceño, 2013)

[13] (Agencias & ElMundo.Es, 2013)

[14] (Agencias & ElMundo.Es, 2013)

[15] Spanish: El Orgullo merece ser regulado y protegido de forma efectiva, no boicoteado, obstaculizado y complicado cada año por una alcaldesa homófoba y por un Consistorio que lleva años sin ser capaz de diseñar una reglamentación que permita vivir en paz al Orgullo.”

[16] (Enguix Grau, “Nos defilamos, nos manifestamos”: Activismis y manifestaciones LGTB en España, 2017)

[17] Spanish: De Atocha a Colón el Orgullo nos ofrece condiciones óptimas de seguridad, es un recorrido amplio y cómodo, especialmente para las personas con movilidad reducida y familias con niños y niñas, que pueden asistir a su Orgullo con mayor tranquilidad.’

[18] (Mudejarillo, 2016)

[19] (Gonzalez, 2017)

[20] English: Laws for real equality now. Year of bisexual visibility in diversity.

[21] (Enguix Grau, “Nos defilamos, nos manifestamos”: Activismis y manifestaciones LGTB en España, 2017)

[22] (Vila Núñez & Sáez del Álamo, 2019)

[23] (Samitie, 2019; Cores, 2017)

[24] English: For LGTBI rights around the world.

[25] (del Pozo, 2017)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: