Almendralejo

Almendralejo is a town where humans have occupied the area since around the 500 BCE, though a permanent settlement was not constructed until much later in the 1200s. Francoist troops entered the town on 7 August 1936, with Republican forces putting up resistance until 15 August. The strong resistance led to Francoist forces killing around 1,000 civilians in the area. The town currently has a population of around 33,800 people, with an economy based on agricultural products including wine and olive oil.

History

FanCineGay organized the showing of the lesbian themed movie, Carmen y Lola, in a number of towns in late 2018 and early 2019, including in Almendralejo, Miajadas, Jaraíz de la Vera, Cabeza del Buey, Herrera del Duque and Villanueva de la Serena.

As part of Orgullo 2019 events, Almendralejo hosted a showing of Fundación Triángulo Extremadura’s video series, “Mi Pueblito Bueno.”

Almendralejo played host to a traveling exhibition in the early 2020s titled, “Stories of Resistance” organized by Fundación Triángulo Extremadura in collaboration with the Agencia Extremeña de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AEXCID). The exhibit told the stories of LGBTI people in Extremadura and the surrounding provinces fleeing persecution of homosexuality. One of the stories featured was that of a lesbian who fled El Salvador after her sexual orientation led to persecution in her local barrio near the capital.

In early March 2022, there was one LGTB friendly room for rent in shared accommodation on Idealista. There were four women from the town listed on the website Pink Cupid.  The first was 47 years old and looking for friendship. Another was a 33-year-old.  A third was 37 years old.  The last was a transwoman aged 54.

Women

19th century poet Carolina Coronado, born on 12 December 1820 in Almendralejo, Extremadura, was one a handful of Spanish Sapphic writers in this period who would later be written out of history despite being widely read at the time unlike her contemporaries like Pilar de Sinués, Fernán Caballero, Emilia Pardo Bazán and Rosalía de Castro whose works became part of Spanish literary canon. As a group, those women with class privilege were better placed to ignore social norms that said writing was a masculine activity. Others were protected because of a network of women they surrounded themselves with. Others found validation and support of their work through support of male family members. Others could self-publish their work. In many cases, the group who remained visible in history for much longer periods were able to do so because their works did not fundamentally challenge patriarchal narratives of the state and society.

Coronado’s fate to be forgotten was partly a result of challenging patriarchal narratives and her works containing Sapphic themes. By 1840, the 20-year-old had established a literary circle of like-minded, though not necessarily lesbian, women that included Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and Cecilia Francisca Josefa Böhl, where the phrase “hermandad lírica” first gained prominence along with the concept of “las amistades”, circles of female writers who developed deep friendships with each other that didn’t involve competition with each other. Her four-poem collection of Los cantos de Safo was published in 1843 in a poetry volume, Poesías, along with the piece “El salto de Leucades” using Sapphic myth and voice. Coronado had feared that borrowing from this tradition would limit her broader appeal as it would require readers to have a classic education to understand them. She also was transgressive in writing about female desire for other women by borrowing from tradition that suggested Sappho’s writings about such desire were aimed at men. She friends with fellow Extremadura writer Vicenta García Miranda, who started writing poetry after reading Coronado’s work. The pair would correspond frequently, sharing a close but societally accepted relationship.

Coronado was born into a wealthy but progressive family, the third of nine children. Both her father and grandfather were persecuted for their progressive activities. When she was a 4-year-old, her family moved to Badajoz because of her father’s job and she began a traditional female education. Despite this, she learned to read, and would read whenever and whatever she could. She started writing poems when she was a 9-year-old, only stopping when she married at which point she started writing novels. By age nine, Coronado suffered catalepsy, a chronic condition that causes loss of voluntary limb motion causing them to remain in place, that would cause her to be confused as dead several times; this instilled in her a lifelong fear of being buried alive and lent to her Romantic temperament in her writings.

Coronado supported the revolutionary activities of the 1838 Spanish War of Independence. By 1848, she was living in Cadiz when doctors recommended that she move to the area near Madrid so she could drink the special water of the city; she moved to the city and six years later she married Horatio Perry, secretary to the United States Ambassador. She had one son and two daughters with him. Soon after her move to the city, her home became an important literary gathering place for progressive, revolutionary and persecuted writers. Her willingness to host these writers would lead to her work being censored. Coronado and Concepción Arenal would become leaders in Spain’s anti-abolitionist movement. Following the Revolution of 1868, Coronado and her husband moved to Pozo do Pispo, near Lisbon; she continued to live there until her death on 15 January 1911.

See

I.E.S. Carolina Coronado is a a high school located at Calle Alfonso X, 5, that is named in honor of the poet Carolina Coronado who was born in the town.

A monument to Carolina Coronado can be found in Plaza Espronceda. It contains quotes from her poetry, a fountain and a bust of the poet.

Calle Rosa Chacel is a street located in the town. It is named after the writer Rosa Chacel, who was born in Valladolid on 3 June 1898. A member of the Generación del 27, she would write her autobiography Acrópolis which discussed being a lesbian in Spain in the 1920s.

Calle Carolina Coronado is a street in the town named after Carolina Coronado, one a handful of Spanish Sapphic writers from the 19th Century. She was part of the hermandad lírica. Coronado was widely read at the time but later written out of history because she challenged patriarchal norms of the era.

Teatro-cine Carolina Coronado, located on Calle Carolina Coronado, 10, is theater constructed in 1916, at a time when the town grew rich and started building cultural and recreational facilities. It was named after one of the town’s most famous residents, Romantic era Sapphic poet Carolina Coronado, and is listed as an Asset of Cultural Interest.

Ayuntamiento de Almendralejo, located at Calle de Mérida, 2, is the local town hall. In June 2021 and timed to coincide with regional Orgullo celebrations, Councilor for Equality, Macarena Domínguez signed up to be part of the scheme rune by Red extremeña de Pueblos contra la homofobia y la transfobia.

Orgullo 2021 celebrations in the town included inaugurating a space designed to symbolically be free of LGTBIfobia inside Parque de Santa Clara. Inauguration of the space was attended by Councilor for Equality Macarena Domínguez and Fundación Triángulo President Hugo Alonso. Parque de Santa Clara, located at Calle Prim, 4, is open 24 hours a day. It has been in the town for over 100 years.

Centro Cívico, located at Calle de Mérida, 12, is a cultural event space in the town. For Orgullo 2021, it hosted the exhibition “Historias de Resistencia” from 29 June to 6 July. The exhibit told the studies of LGTB men and women asylum who had moved to Spain to escape persecution in their home countries.

Events

Every May, the city holds a Ruta Literaria in honor of José de Espronceda and Carolina Coronado and the towns place in the Romantic period. Shops display and locals also wear period clothing. Guided tours are also given of important places in the town in the lives of both writers.

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Aceuchal, Alange, Alburquerque, Almendralejo, Arroya de San Sérvan, Azuaga, Badajoz, Barcarrota, Bótoa, Cabeza del Buey, Campanario, Don Benito, Fuente de Cantos, Gévora, Guareña, Helechosa de los Montes, Herrera del Duque, Hornachos, Jerez de los Caballeros, Llera, Llerena, Medellín, Medina de las Torres, Mérida, Mirandilla, Monesterio, Nogales, Olivenza, Oliva de la Frontera, Puebla de Sancho Pérez, Quintana de la Sierra, Ribera del Fresno, La Roca de la Sierra, Salvatierra de los Barros, Los Santos de Maimona, Valencia de las Torres, Valencia del Ventoso, Valverde de Leganés, Villafranca de los Barros, Villanueva de la Serena, Villanueva del Fresno, Vivares, Zafra, Zalamea de la Serena, La Zarza

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