Málaga is a city of around 579,000 people located in the province of the same name. Founded over 2,800 years ago, it is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe.
Homes for repentant women had begun to be established by the 1300s in Spain. Intended to “free” women from prostitution, they would have a number of rules that appeared to explicitly stop lesbian or lesbian like activities including prohibitions against sleeping in the same bed, hugging each other, joining faces or falling into the sin of sensuality. These institutions were created a long period, known formally as correctional monasteries, continued to be founded until as late as 1792 in Málaga. Correctional convents were opened in the city in 1587, 1681, 1682 and 1792.
Carmen de Burgos arrived in Malaga in August 1909, ahead of her planned trip to Melilla to cover the war Spain was participating in near the city in the Rif. Her reporting was commissioned by El Heraldo de Madrid. She would leave Málaga’s port on the steamer, El Siglo.
Sección Femenina, founded by Pilar Primo de Rivera, opened a provisional training center in the post-Civil War period in the city. It hosted mandos, mandos políticos and mandos de servicio. Contemporary researchers believe that conservative lesbians, who remained heavily closeted or open while ignored by the regime, were very involved politically gravitated towards Sección Feminina with several high-ranking members suspected of being lesbians. How true some of that is subject to some conjecture as rumors of homosexuality on the part of women were used to slur them and undermine their position. Nonetheless, it was one of the few politically active pathways for gender non-conforming single women, a goup that included lesbians, in the late 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
A national women’s handball competition league was organized in 1973 by Medina section of Sección Femenina. Among the towns and teams competing were A Coruña, Castellón, Gipuzkoa, Málaga, Santander, Valencia, Zaragoza and Atlético Madrid. While it is unknown if there were lesbians participating in the competition, it is highly probable as Sección Femenina sports were one of the few gender non-conforming regime approved activities available at the time. For otherwise isolated lesbians, modern researchers believe events like this would have offered opportunities to free themselves of otherwise repressive environments that they may not have had. Unfortunately, sports were a huge financial drain for Sección Femenina and they stopped supporting almost all teams and events in 1974. This led to a collapse of almost all women’s sports in the country within a few years as teams were unable to find local government support or sponsors.
Unión Democrática Homosexual de Málaga was founded in 1977. It was a gay men’s rights organization with few lesbian members. It was one of the first LGB rights organizations founded in Spain.
Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Andalucía was founded sometime around 1978, when it was mentioned in El País in an article on 25 June 1978 about the genesis of a homosexual rights movement in Spain in the new post-Franco era. The organization largely focused on gay men and was initially active in a number of provinces in Andalucía, including Sevilla, Granada and Málaga. Some of the group’s activities were in occasionally in support of lesbians. By the time the organization folded in 1979, it was active only in Sevilla and no lesbians appear to be associated with it.
Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Andalucía (FLHA) organized the first trans-provincial pride marches in the region in 1981, with marches held in Granada, Málaga and Sevilla. The organization was mostly made up of gay men, with only a handful of lesbian members. By the time the organized the march, reports indicate they had no lesbians associated with them.
Confederación Española de Lesbianas, Gais, Bisexuales y Transexuales Málaga (COLEGA) was founded in 1995 with the parent federation founded in 1988 in Córdoba as Foro Permanente sobre Homosexualidad before changing their name to the current one in 1992.
For lesbians with AIDS in Málaga in the late 1990s, the local support organization was COLEGA, Colectivo de Lesbianas y Gays.
The associations ¿Y a ti qué? and Girasol organized the III Jornadas de diversidad sexual ‘Activando la diversidad’ in 2008 in Ceuta. It was attended by lesbians and gays from Malaga, Seville, Cádiz and Ceuta. Among the activities was a kissing party, and a session by Consejo de la Juventud de Ceuta about discrimination through the use of language.
In 2013, women without male partners, namely lesbians and single women, faced the most barriers in trying to access reproductive assistance in Madrid, Asturias and Andalucía.
Three young Moroccan men, aged 19, 19 and 20, were investigated in October 2021 for two homophobic attacks that took place in the city center near calle Mundo Nuevo on 31 August 2021 and 2 September 2021 around 3am. The first attack was against a gay male couple. The second was an attack on a lesbian couple, with one of the victims having a glass bottle broken over their head; the injury and others required stitches.
Victoria Kent, born on 6 March 1898 in Malaga, was one of a number of highly visible women in this 1920s and early 1930s. In 1924, she became the first woman in Spain to join the Colegio de Abogados de Madrid and second woman in Spain to become a lawyer. Two years later Kent was appointed vice president of the Lyceum Club Femenino de Madrid. Kent also became the first woman in the world to represent someone, Alvaro de Albornoz, before a military tribunal after he was charged in 1930 with treason by the Supreme Court of War and Navy. In 1931, she became one of three women elected to the first Congreso de Diputados in the Second Republic. Kent gained fame in the drafting of the constitution for her opposition to women’s suffrage through her public battled in the Congreso with Clara Campoamor who supported universal suffrage. Kent’s status as a lesbian would not become well known until well after the Spanish Civil War. In the 1950s, Kent became involved with multimillionaire American woman named Louise Crane. The couple worked together on the Spanish intellectual exile magazine Ibérica: por La Libertad between 1954 and 1974. The magazine was one of the most important publications among Spanish moderates living in exile. It served to pressure the US Government to end its ties to Franco, even as the United States sought to strengthen to combat the perceived communist threat. The couple only moved in together in 1974 following the death of Crane’s mother and the closure of Ibérica. Kent died in New York on 25 September 1987.
Puerto de Málaga is the oldest continuously operated port in Spain. It is from this port that Carmen de Burgos left on the steamer El Siglo or Cabo Nao, reports conflict as to which ship exactly she used, for Melilla in order to cover the Spanish war efforts in the Rif in August 1909.
Calle de Carmen de Burgos is a street located in the city. It is named after Carmen de Burgos, who was born in the province of Almería on 10 December 1867. The author would go on to write one of the most important feminist works of her era, La mujer moderna y sus derechos, supporting women’s right to vote and divorce, as well as being an out lesbian later in her life. In addition to these things, she would become the first war correspondent for a newspaper.
Victoria Kent was born on Calle Lagunillas, 17 on 6 March 1891. The area continues to be residential, and there is no plaque to mark the location. Kent resided at Calle de la Concepción, 1, in 1906. The following year, Kent moved and lived at Calle Nueva, 18 y 20. By 1910, Ken was living at Calle Alarcón Luján, but was back to living at Calle Nueva, 18 y 20 in 1911. The last place she lived in her youth in the city was at Calle de San Francisco, 8.
Calle Victoria Kent is a street in the town named after Victoria Kent, a lesbian and one of the first of three women elected to the Congreso de Diputados in the Second Spanish Republic. She was also the first women in the world to represent someone before a military tribunal. Unlike some of her contemporaries, she gained fame for opposing universal suffrage because she believed women’s votes would be too easily swayed by men in their lives.
Calle Elena Fortún is a street in the city named after Elena Fortún, the creator of popular children’s book character Celia. Elena Fortún was born in Madrid in 1886, and started publishing the series as short stories in magazines in 1929. Despite her lesbian relationships while married, she did not suffer the same blacklisting as other feminist and lesbian women affiliated with the Second Spanish Republic because she remained largely apolitical during that period.
Plaza Escritora Rosa Chacel is a plaza located in La Goleta. 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 Margarita Xirgu is a street in the city named after the early 20th century actress Margarita Xirgu. She was born on 18 June 1888 in Molins de Rei, Catalonia, went on to play an important role in the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid and served as a muse for Federico García Lorca before being forced into exile because of the events of the Civil War.
Calle Carmen Conde is a street in Torre Atalaya named after Carmen Conde, a poet, dramatist, essayist, Spanish teacher and a member of the generación poética del 27. Born on 15 August 1907 in Cartagena, she was also a member of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid, and met her partner Amanda Junquera during the Civil War and was with her until Junquera’s death in 1987.
Caserón de la Goleta, originally located at Av. Rosaleda, 19, was one of the main women’s prisons in the Franco period. It opened in February 1937, after Franco’s troops gained control of the city, and would house more than 4,000 female Republican prisoners. Before the war, it was a men’s prison inaugurated by Victoria Kent on 2 February 1934. Over 60% came from the province of Malaga, with the rest coming from other parts of the country. At its height, 740 inmates were held there, vastly exceeding the capacity of 100. This caused outbreaks of disease like typhus. To survive, given little food, clothing and medical treatment from authorities, some women turned to prostitution, selling their bodies to guards to get money to improve their situation. It closed around 1954, with women imprisoned there transferred to a provincial prison located on carretera de Cártama. Most of the women imprisoned there were labeled degenerates by the state. This included women who were lesbians or whose sexuality was suspect and threat to the regime. The site is now a local police station, with a plaque outside recognizing it as once being the site of the prison.
Calle de Carmen Laforet is a street located in the city. It is named after the writer Carmen Laforet, an important writer contributing to the body of lesbian literary canon during and after the Franco era. While her sexuality is unknown, she had a deep and personal relationship with tennis player Lilí Álvarez and maintained a social circle that included many known and suspected lesbians. Her 1945 Nadal prize winning novel Nada is considered a piece of class Spanish writing.
Calle María Martínez Sierra is a street in the city named after María de la O Lejárraga García, better known by her pen name María Martínez Sierra. María was a feminist, writer, dramatist, translator and politician. She was also member of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid. She was also the godmother of Elena Fortún.