Lilí Álvarez, whose full name is Elia María González-Álvarez y López-Chicheri, was a pioneering Spanish sportswoman, writer and journalist. She was the first woman to be named to a Spanish team for the Olympic Games at the 1924 Winter Games in Chamonix , and the first to represent Spain at the Olympics at the 1924 Summer Games in Paris alongside another tennis player. Following her death and discovery of personal letters, she was intimately linked with writer Carmen Laforet.
Álvarez was born on 9 May 1905 in Rome into an upper-class Spanish bourgeoisie family with aristocratic roots. Due to her mother’s poor health, the family soon moved to Switzerland where Álvarez spent most of her youth. She started ice skating when she was a 5-year-old, taking up the sport because her father was involved. Despite conflicts with the rigidity of judging versus her enjoyment of the freedom to skate how she wanted, she won a gold medal in the sport at her Davos school and in 1924 became the first Spanish woman to be named to an Olympic team. Injury ultimately prevented her from competing in the Winter Games, representing Spain later that year in Paris at the 1924 Summer Games in tennis. She and Rosa Torras became the women to be part of the Spanish team at the Olympics Games. She made her debut at Wimbledon in 1926, making the finals in 1926, 1927 and 1928. She also took up mountain climbing and skiing in the late 1920s, eventually winning an Italian championship in 1931. Álvarez started her journalism career in 1927, writing about sports for European magazines until 1937. She later branched out to general journalism in 1930, writing articles for the Argentine newspaper La Nación. The following year, she started writing for the English language newspaper Daily Mail. She married in 1934, had a child and then separated a few years later following a miscarriage. This period also saw her take a break from competitive tennis. Following the Spanish Civil War, she moved to Madrid, ending her official sports career but continuing to sporadically compete. Álvarez won the 1940 San Sebastián open, defeating friend Pepa Chávarri in the finals. In March 1941, she won three disciplines in alpine skiing at the national championships in Candanchú. She covered sports for the magazines Cuadernos para el Diálogo and El Ciervo during the 1950s, and the magazine Blanco y Negro and the newspaper ABC during the 1960s. Along with a number of other women, she co-founded the Seminario de Estudios Sociológicos de la Mujer (SESM) in 1960. The Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores invited Álvarez to Tehran in 1968 to speak about the need to eliminate discrimination against women. During the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, she produced a number of literary works. Álvarez died in Madrid on 8 July 1998.
Ángeles Álvarez Álvarez is a Spanish politician and feminist activist. She became the first woman to publicly serve in the Congreso de Diputados as a lesbian in 2011. In 2005, she married Teresa Heredero in a ceremony officiated by Pedro Zerolo; the couple were the first lesbians in Madrid to marry following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Spain.
Álvarez was born on 12 February 1961 in Molacillos, and a few months later, her family moved to Coreses. She went to Zamora for high school, attending the public school IES María de Molina. She then moved to Salamanca for a few months, where she became involved with the feminist movement. Following that, to escape the stifling and at times homophobic environment and Castilla, she moved to Madrid. For about ten years, she ran El Barberillo de Lavapiés, allowing herself to work a job that provided quiet dignity while being an out lesbian. She later ran La Atrevida. In 1995, she became involved with Federación de Mujeres Separadas y Divorciadas, which led to her interest in working in the area of gender violence after a stay at their recovery center. In 1999, she produced an important and pioneering work on gender violence. She was a founding member of Foro de Madrid contra la Violencia de Género in 2000, and was its spokesperson for four years. She continued to be active in this area, both in Madrid and in her home region of Castilla – La Mancha. In 2000, Álvarez joined PSOE, and became the coordinator of the Gender Violence Working Group ahead of the 2004 General Elections. She was included on the list for PSOE in the May 2007 municipal elections in Madrid, winning a seat in the opposition. She continued to work in the areas of government working for equality. In 2011, she was included in the national lists for PSOE as part of the Madrid constituency, winning a seat and becoming the first open lesbian elected to the Cortes. Included on the Madrid list for the December 15 general elections, her eighth place on the list was not enough to win her a seat. Out of congress, she went back to her activism through involvement with feminist groups.
Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo y Maura was born on 12 August 1936 in exile at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in Estoril, Portugal. Her family returned to Spain in 1938, moving to Sanlúcar de Barrameda and residing their until Álvarez turned nine. The future duchess became a writer and archivist after taking control of her family archive in 1956. The previous year, she had married Leoncio González de Gregorio y Martí with whom she went on to have three children in three years before separating from him. Her political views were to the left, and she became known in Spain as the Red Duchess, making her relationship with the Franco regime difficult. Expressing sympathy for Fidel Castro and other radical ideas for someone of her stature, she was imprisoned in Madrid’s women’s prison Las Ventas for one year starting on 27 March 1969 because of her involvement in an illegal demonstration in support of victims of the nuclear accident in Palomares, Almería. She served only eight months before she was transferred within weeks of her initial detention to Central Prison for Women in Alcalá de Henares. Because of her continuing expression of her political views, the Public Order Court (TOP) issued an arrest warrant for her on 10 April 1970, which Álvarez was tipped off to and successfully crossed into France over the Pyrenees via car the following day. When police arrived at her house on 14 April 1970, she was long gone. While in exile in France, she continued to campaign against the Franco regime. She did not return until October 1976, after political prisoners had been given amnesty by royal decree. At the time of her return from exile, her relationship with her children and other family members was very strained and she had not seen many in over twenty years. By the time, activists with whom she had worked with were already aware of sexual orientation though this was not widely known outside that tight knit group. In 1983, Álvarez became involved with Liliana Maria Dahlmann, her secretary, in a relationship that would last the rest of her life. In 2005, Álvarez’s divorce from González became official. Álvarez and Dahlmann would marry on 7 March 2008, eleven hours before Álvarez died. The marriage started one of Spain’s biggest tabloid inheritance stories in history with what was thought of as up to a billion euros in assets at stake as a result of Álvarez leaving almost her whole estate to Dahlmann, her new wife.
Consuelo Berges Rabago was a journalist, writer, biographer and translator in the Second Spanish Republic period. She was also a member of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid.
Berges was born in 1899 in Ucieda to a single mother, whose Jewish family was full of freethinkers and Republicans. As a child, she did not attend school but was educated in the home instead. When she was 15, Berges moved to Santander to live with her paternal family and prepare for the entrance exams for Escuela Normal de Maestras. From there, she ended up working in Cabezón de la Sal at Academia de Torre. While living and working in the town, she met Víctor de la Serna who assisted in starting her journalist career, writing for the Santander afternoon newspaper de la Serna founded, La Región, in 1924 under the pseudonym Yasnaia Poliana. From there, Berges went on to write for a number of other publicans including El Sol, La Nación of Buenos Aires, and the Revista de las Españas. Her sometimes controversial opinions brought her into a circle of notables of the period including Clara Campoamor, Ricardo Baeza, Eulalia Galvarriato, Concha Méndez, Azorín, José Ortega y Gasset, Rosa Chacel, Waldo Frank, Francisco Ayala, María Zambrano, Max Nordau, and Rafael Cansinos-Asséns. Two years later, Berges left Spain for Arequipa, Peru in December 1926 after growing tired of the political environment of Dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera. Living with her cousin Julia Gutierrez, she worked as a teacher and continued to contribute to literary magazines. Berges then visited Bolivia in November 1928 and onwards to Buenos Aires, where she started writing for Spanish embassy financed El Diario Español, with her opinions causing some problems for the Spanish ambassador. She continued to write for other publicans.
Berges finally returned to Spain via Paris in 1931 with the founding of the Second Spanish Republic, finally arriving in Madrid in December. On the question of women’s suffrage, she sided with her friend Clara Campoamor over those of fellow lesbian Victoria Kent; Burges supported universal suffrage. Despite the Second Republic liberating parts of Spanish society, Berges found her work subjected to censorship; in 1935, this forced her to clandestinely publish her book El Diario Español. Following the military uprising in July 1936 in Madrid, Berges was put in charge of an orphanage abandoned by nuns in the barrio of Guindalera. Working with a team of volunteers, Berges was successfully able to evacuate the children to Granollers in Catalonia. After arriving with the children, she proceeded to Barcelona where she started writing and working for for Mujeres Libres alongside several other women including Rosa Chacel, Soledad Estorach, Carmen Conde, Pepita Carpeña, Sara Berenguer, Suceso Portales, María Jiménez, Concha Liaño, Lola Iturbe, Antonia Fontanillas, and Mercedes Comaposada. Berges also participated in literacy campaigns for women, campaigned against forced prostitution and worked on the rights of women in a number of spheres that many of her male colleagues wanted to ignore.
As the Civil War started to draw to a close in February 1939 with victory for the fascists, Berges joined the waves of refugees in Barcelona fleeing for France on foot. She was part of a group detained in Portbou near the border for more than 24 hours without warm clothes or food. The group was then put taken over the border to France, vaccinated and then put on a train to an unknown destination. Berges managed to escape, but found herself captured and put into a concentration camp; she once again escaped and managed to make it to Paris where she had friends and contacts to aid her. Berges remained in the city for four years but was arrested in 1943 by the German occupiers. Despite her being Jewish, the Germans decided to treat her as a Spaniard and forcibly returned her to Spain. Berges managed to avoid jail in Spain but still faced persecution for her Republican affiliation; she was unable to work as a teacher, nor publish as a journalist. Fearing reprisals from the regime, Berges was also unable to submit her work abroad. She had to rely on work as a translator, and claim royalties from those works as the copyright owner of the translated materials. Berges died on 23 December 1988 in Madrid aged 89.
Isabel de Borbón-Parma was born in Palacio del Buen Retiro on 31 December 1741. Her mother was 14 years old at the time. What Isabel witnessed of her parents’ marriage growing up impacted her future views on relationships; her parents had a disastrous relationship. When she was a 7-year-old, she moved with her family to Parma after her father was appointed the Duke of Parma. Her parents separated when she was a 10-year-old. By this point, she was often melancholy and thinking about death. After marrying Joseph II of Austria when she was 17 years old around 1758, Isabel fell in love with his sister María Cristina. The pair wrote over 200 love letters to each other. Isabel died when she was a 22-year-old.
Carmen de Burgos, born on 10 December 1867 in Rodalquilar, Almeria, would become one of Spain’s most important pre-Second Republic feminists even if she despised the term, and played an important role in the Silver Age of Spanish literature. In 1901, she fled an abusive marriage that she had entered into as a 16-year-old that started with rape on her wedding night; she took her daughter with her and settled in Madrid where she eventually started writing for important newspapers of the day including ABC, El País, El Globo, Diario Universal and El Heraldo de Madrid. The only positive thing that came from her marriage was the contacts it provided her with the press, that enabled her to find a vocation and the contacts to work in the field. At the same time that she started writing, she also started working on becoming a teacher, getting her qualifications and then taking up a post at a school for teachers. While she often wrote about women’s topics in this period, she did so with a social conscience and would later fight for them. She would also be the first war correspondent in Europe, going to Melilla and Morocco to cover the Rif War in 1909. In 1927, de Burgos published La mujer moderna y sus derechos, one of the most important feminist works of the era. Among the feminist causes she supported were the right to divorce and the right for women to vote. De Burgos died on 9 October 1932, the dafter after leaving early a meeting of the Círculo Radical Socialista supporting her Republican causes of sex education. De Burgos is also noteworthy for being the first female writer banned in Francoist Spain. While later being relatively open about being a lesbian, it was tolerated as a decadent vice and she kept this part of her life relatively discrete, though de Burgos was linked romantically with fellow feminist and Portuguese suffragette Ana de Castro Osório.
Dolores Cabrera y Heredia is an Argonese Romantic poet and novelist who belonged to the Hermandad Lírica, a group of female poets who wrote about women’s issues of the time and whose work often had homoerotic and lesbian themes. While many of her poems were dedicated to family members, a pair were dedicated to composer and court singer Paulina Cabrero y Martínez. At the same time, her poetry often used imagery related to flowers, and frequently used storms as an image to convey unrequited love. Cabrera encountered the Hermandad Lírica after two of her poems were published in Los hijos de Eva. Semanario de literatura, ciencias y arte. They provided her with a support network and circle of friends to talk about the repression of women, access to culture and a place to discuss harassment writers suffered. Despite the tone of some of her poetry, she was never censored the way some of her contemporaries were and she was well received by critics and the general public, earning a number of literary honors as a result. She was also a an academic and professor at the Academia de Ciencias y Letras del Liceo Artístico y Literario de Granada in 1860, an associate professor at the Sección de Literatura del Liceo Artístico y Literario de Zaragoza in 1865, and an Auxiliary Member of the Ateneo Artístico y Literario de Señoras in Madrid in 1869.
Cabrera was born in Tamarite de Litera on 15 September 1828. Her early education was at the Monasterio de las Salesas de Calatayud, before moving around Spain following her father’s professional fortunes. She lived in Pamplona from 1844 to 1846, Madrid from 1846 to 1851 and Jaca in 1851. From a young age, Cabrera showed an aptitude in writing poetry and her mother sent them to her friend and director Pedro de la who published them immediately in 1847. She continued to publish poetry consistently after that, branching off into writing historical articles, biographies and novels. Cabrera married professional soldier Joaquín María Miranda in Madrid in 1856, and followed him from post to post around the country, living in Valencia, Granada and Zaragoza. Unlike a number of other writers in her circle, she continued to write and publish during her marriage. The couple had four children, and her husband died in Ocaña on 24 July 1884. Cabrera lived another 15 years, eventually going blind, dying in Zaragoza on 1 December 1899. Her body was reinterred in Madrid in 1911 so she could be closer to her family members.
Ana María Caro de Mallén y de Torres was a Spanish Golden Age writer and poet, and the first professional woman playwright in the world. Her exact date and place of birth are unknown, but she was probably born in Sevilla or Granada in 1590. Some research suggests she was born a Moorish slave or the child of a Moorish rebel. She was adopted into a Spanish family, and baptized when she was a 10-year-old. Caro started publishing poetry in 1628, when she participated in the a festival in Sevilla in honor of the martyrs of Japan. She also attended the Academia Literaria del Conde de la Torre in Sevilla, where she wrote and published extensively. By 1637, she had moved to Madrid where her writing was heavily lauded, and where she formed a relationship with fellow writer María de Zayas and would move in with her. Caro de Mallén found support from women patron’s in the city, and with other notable literary figures both male and female including Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Juan de Matos Fragoso and Luis Vélez de Guevara. Caro de Mallén died on 6 November 1646 in Sevilla of bubonic plague, where she was feted with one of the most expensive funerals of the period. Much of her work was destroyed in a fire set to avoid the spread of the plague in Sevilla so very little survives to this day.
Tamara Carrascosa is a lesbian from Madrid. She is a writer, a theater teacher and runs writing workshops. An average lesbian from the city, she was interviewed by Cadena Ser in 2017 as part of a serious about breaking down lesbian stereotypes.
Carrascosa began dating her girlfriend when she was a 16-year-old. They eventually married in 2011. Unlike some stereotypes about lesbians, the couple are not promiscuous, nor do one or both engage in typically masculine behavior. They tend to dress informally, in non-sexy ways. According to Carrascosa, both she and her partner were born lesbians and were lucky to have support from their family. They have been warned though to make themselves invisible in public to avoid violence against them as homophobia is still real.
María Castrejón is an important lesbian writer, poet and essayist from the 2000s and 2010s. Her research interests have made her an expert on the history of lesbian literature in the Hispanic world.
Castrejón was born in Madrid in 1974. She studied 1970s Spanish literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She then attended the Univeristat de Barcelona, earning a doctor of Romance Philology in 2011 with her thesis focused on contemporary Spanish literature. She published her first major work, … Que me estoy muriendo de agua. Guía de narrativa lésbica española with publisher Editorial Egales in 2008. Castrejón continued to publish essays, fiction and poetry about lesbians and fiction.
Elena de Céspedes lived in Madrid for a brief time, where she was part of the Corte de la Monarquía Hispánica of Felipe II. Buildings that she likely would have spent time in as part of the Corte include the Palacio Real de Madrid, Palacio Real del Pardo, Palacio del Marqués de Linares, the Gaviria o el de Cibeles, the ayuntamiento de Madrid, and the Descalzas Reales o el Real Monasterio de la Encarnación.
Rosa Clotilde Chacel Arimón is a Spanish writer, most famous in lesbian circles for writing Acrópolis which explored lesbian life in Spain during the 1920s. In her day, she was a famous but also controversial figure because of her political opinions.
Rosa Chacel was born on 3 June 1898 in Valladolid. The daughter of a teacher who home schooled her until the age of ten, Chacel was sent to Madrid in 1908 to live with her grandmother. The following year, Chacel was enrolled at Escuela de artes y oficios to study drawing. Her teacher took a new teaching position the following year and Chacel followed her to the Escuela del hogar y Profesional de la Mujer for the start of the 1911 school year. It was at this school that Chacel would begin to develop her feminist beliefs. In 1915, she enrolled at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de San Fernando to study sculpture but dropped out in 1918. She soon became a regular fixture at the tertulias taking place at Cafe Granja del Henar and at the Ateneo de Madrid, the only two that accepted women. She married painter Timoteo Perez Rubio in 1921 and followed him to Rome the following year. She returned to Madrid with him in 1927. Her first novel was published a few years later in 1930. The following year, she had a son and decided to dedicate herself to motherhood. After her mother’s death in 1933, she moved to Berlin for six months to try to recover and to rediscover her creative side. When the Civil War started, Chacel assisted Republican efforts by serving as a nurse while her husband enlisted. Chacel would move around with her son during the war to Barcelona, Valencia and finally outside Spain in Paris. Following the war, the couple reunited lived in Brazil for three decades while visiting Buenos Aires regularly. Chacel, like many of her Madrid contemporaries, fell into relative obscurity until 1959 when she on a Guggenheim Fellowship, which enabled her to return to writing. She lived and worked in New York City for a while, visited Spain a few times and then returned to Brazil to live. When her husband died in 1977, she took it as an opportunity to return to Spain and Madrid for good. While in Spain in this period, she published a number of novels. Chacel died on 7 August 1994 at the age of 96. She is interred at the Panteón de Hijos Vallisoletanos Ilustres.
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.
Laura del Río was a forward for the Spanish women’s national football team and one of the few women to coach a men’s team at the professional level, coaching fourth division team Flat Earth Fútbol Club. She is a lesbian sports icon because she was one of the first women to come out, though she only came out when she started playing overseas in 2008 when she joined the FC Indiana squad.
del Río was born on 5 February 1982 in Madrid. When she began playing in the 1990s, there were few opportunities for girls to play; she was aided in her efforts by her brother who formed a girls futsal team for her to play on. She began her club career with AD Torrejón in 1999. The following season, she moved to Levante UD, playing two seasons with them and winning the double of Superliga Femenina and the Copa de la Reina. In 2000, del Río played in the UEFA European Women’s U-18 Championships, leading the competition in scoring. For the 2002-2003 season, del Río played for CE Sabadell. After two seasons with the club, she returned to Levante UD, adding more titles to her trophy case. In 2008, del Río started playing abroad, first with FC Indiana for the 2008-2009 season, before going to Germany to play for FFC Frankfurt for the 2009-2010 season. She returned to the United States, playing for the Boston Breakers in 2010 and the Philadelphia Independence in 2011. She then played in England for Bristol Academy for two seasons. del Río returned to the United States to play for the Washington Spirit for the 2015-2016 season which ended early because of injury. del Río missed the 2016 season while her ankle recovered. When it was healed, she opted to play in Spain for Segunda División club CD Tacón for the 2016-2017 season. The 2017-2018 season saw her again in Segunda División , this time for Madrid Club de Fútbol Femenino, playing two seasons with them and then announcing she was retiring from playing. In August 2019, she became the head coach of Flat Earth Fútbol Club, the first woman to coach a team in the men’s fourth division. She was sacked a few months later. del Río then moved into the national team coaching set-up, serving as a technical assistant for the women’s u-17 team in 2021.
Paloma del Río is a sport journalist who came out of the closet in June 2015 in La Otra Crónica because she wanted to make other women and men feel safer coming out of the closet in sports by leading by example. Despite this, most sportswomen remained heavily closeted, with the major exceptions being Paralympic medalist Gema Hassen-Bey and male water polo player Víctor Gutiérrez.
del Rio was born on 4 April 1960 in Madrid. After high school, she did a course to become a clinical assistance, doing her clinical experience at the intensive care unit of the Complejo Hospitalario Ruber Juan Bravo. In her spare time, she did a Curso de Orientación Universitaria in journalism at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, eventually getting a scholarship in 1986 from the Instituto RTVE. After that and sitting for some competitive exams, del Río began her professional career at Televisión Española. She soon found herself working in the sports division, covering table tennis, and then rhythmic gymnastics. Later, she started on the broadcast team for artistic gymnastics, replacing Olga Viza. She went on to be part of the RTVE team for the the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2015, she was awarded the Medalla de Oro for the Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo, the first journalist to be given the award. In 2017, she was an ambassador for the 2017 World Pride Games held in Madrid.
Victorina Durán Cebrian was a Spanish playwright, musician, costume designer and painter. One of her plays was unpublished, and wasn’t discovered until well after her death in the archives of the Museo Nacional del Teatro de Almagro. Her works were purged by the Franco regime following the Spanish Civil War. Her lovers likely included Margarita Ruiz de Lihory, Irene López Heredia, María del Carmen Vernacci, Margarita Xirgu and Hélène Bouvier. She is notable because she is one of a handful of lesbians from this period that did not hide her lesbianism, which is mentioned in her memoirs, and her feminist activities.
Durán was born on 12 December 1899 in Alcoi, Alicante into a musical family with close connections to the Teatro Real de Madrid. When she was a 9-year-old, she enrolled at the Conservatorio Superior de Música y Declamación to study piano while also taking painting classes. As an 18-year-old, she enrolled at Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando along with Rosa Chacel and Matilde Calvo Rodero. While there, she also developed lifelong friendships with Salvador Dalí, Gregorio Prieto, Maruja Mallo and Timoteo Pérez Rubio. Durán was one the founders of the Lyceum Club Femenino in Madrid, alongside María de Maeztu, Zenobia Camprubí, Isabel Oyarzábal, Victoria Kent and María Martos. In 1929, she became the Cátedra of the Indumentaria del Conservatorio de Música y Declamación. She was the first woman to hold the position. She worked alongside Irene López Heredia, Lola Membrives, Margarita Xirgu and Rivas Cherif creating costumes until 1931. During this period, she also helped found the Teatro Escuela de Arte. As a consequence of the Spanish Civil War, she went into exile and settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina by September 1937 where she continued to work. Durán returned to Spain in 1963, successfully fought the government to get a pension and opened a cocktail bar in Peñíscola. She produced three autobiographical works in this period including Sucedió, Así es and El rastro de Madrid, along with unpublished plays deposited in the Archivo del Museo Nacional del Teatro de Almagro.
Durán died on 10 December 1993 in Madrid after a long battle with illness. In her later life, she focused exclusively on painting and having her work appear in exhibits.
Inés Field, the great love of children’s writer Elena Fortún near the end of her life, was an Argentine writer, intellectual and educator.
The Argentine Field was born in 1897. Field and Elena Fortún met during Fortún’s exile in Buenos Aires. Field reawakened Fortún’s spirtual side, inspiring Fortún to write Cuaderno de Celia. (Primera Comunión) which was published in 1947. The two went on walks together in Mar del Plata. Ines would be trusted with keeping Oculto sendero, Fortún’s fictionalized autobiography of her lesbian experiences during the Second Republic. Before leaving for Spain, Fortún asked Field to burn the book, but Field ignored her request. Between December 1948 and May 1950, Field and Fortún corresponded many times via letter. It was a time of turmoil for Fortún, having arrived in Madrid to learn her husband back in Argentina had committed suicide while not recognizing Madrid of the Franco era, having changed so much from the Second Republic period. Fortún died in 1952. Decades later, Field contacted the heir of Fortún’s literary rights, her daughter-in-law, living in the United States and sent her a copy of Oculto sendero in a bag. Field died in 1994.
Elena Fortún, born in Madrid on 17 November 1886 with the name María de la Encarnación Gertrudis Jacoba Aragoneses y de Urquijo, was another prominent woman in the 1920s. Known in this period for her vividly written children’s stories that were first published in 1929, her work would later play the same role for many Spanish children as Richmal Crompton, Mark Twain or Roald Dahl did for British and American kids.
Fortún had an unhappy childhood and never managed to fit in. As a young child, she knew that she never wanted to marry and never wanted to bound herself forever to a man; she wanted the ability to make her own decisions without male interference. Despite these beliefs, in 1908 she married a cousin, a playwright and member of the Generation of 1914, with whom she went on to have two children. It was her husband her encouraged her to take up writing. In this period and later in the Second Republic and Civil War periods, she remained Republican sympathetic but largely apolitical, allowing her to later avoid imprisonment by the regime. Sometime in the 1920s, Fortún became involved with Matilde Ras. In 1950s, her lesbian novel Oculto sendero would quietly begin to circulate inside Spain among the country’s lesbian and would not be officially published until after her death.
Gloria Fuertes was a poet and member of the Generación del 50, the first post-war generation of Spanish writers. She was a lesbian and feminist, and an important one in Francoist Spain at a time when the regime demanded conformity to strict ideological gender roles. She was a chain smoker, remained single her whole life and described herself as lonely in her autobiography.
Fuertes was born in Madrid on 28 July 1917. Her roots were working-class; father was a janitor, and her mother was a servant and seamstress. Fuertes enrolled at the Instituto de Educación Profesional de la Mujer at the age of 14, eventually obtaining several diplomas from the school. Fuertes wanted to be a writer and her first poem was published at the same age in 1932, with her first book of poetry published when she was a 17-year-old. Her work often dealt with issues of gender equality, presenting a new model for women under the heavily restrictive Franco regime. Fuertes went on to edit children’s magazines and poetry magazines, eventually becoming the director of one. All the time, she continued to write, perform her poems at poetry recitals, give readings of her work, visit schools, organizing a mobile library for children in rural areas, and contributing to literacy on Spanish radio and television. She died in Madrid on 27 November 1998 from lung cancer.
Lola Gallardo, born on 10 June 1993, is a member of the Spanish women’s national football team. The goalkeeper has played for Sevilla FC, Sporting de Huelva, Atlético de Madrid and Olympique de Lyon. The goalkeeper has been open about her relationships with women on social media since at least 2014, when she was playing for Atlético de Madrid.
Boti Garcia Rodrigo is an LGBT activist, and Director of the Spanish government’s Dirección General de Diversidad Sexual y Derechos LGTBI. In 2018, she was awarded the Medalla de Oro del Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Garcia also served as the President of Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELGTB).
Garcia was born in Madrid on 30 May 1945. She attended the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, getting a degree in Philosophy and Letters. She then went on to teach at the university, before leaving to become a civil servant. Garcia joined COGAM in the mid-1990s, eventually becoming the vice-president and then president of the organization. Garcia joined FELGBT as head of institutional relations in 2000. In 2004, she appeared on the list for the Comunidad de Madrid for Izquierda Unida in the General Elections. In December 2005, she married fellow activist Beatriz Gimeno in a ceremony officiated by Inés Sabanés. Garcia was sixth on the list for Izquierda Unida and did not enter the Congreso. Garcia again ran for office in 2008, seventh on the list and again not getting a seat in the Congreso. For the 2011 general elections, she ran on the list for Verdes Equo, who did not win any seats in the Congreso. In 2012, she divorced Beatriz Gimeno. Garcia served as the President of FELGTB from March 2012 to 2015. On 31 January 2020, she became the direction of Dirección General de Diversidad Sexual y Derechos LGTBI under the direction of Irene Montero’s Ministry of Equality.
Beatriz Gimeno Reinoso is an LGBT activist, politician and author. She describes herself as a lesbian feminist, and has talked about the double discrimination faced by lesbians for being both homosexuals and women. During the 2010s, she became one of the most prominent lesbian voices in Madrid because of her media visibility.
Gimeno was born on 9 May 1962 in Madrid. In the early 1980s, she married a man and had a son with him. The family moved to Sevilla in 1985, where she lived in a semi-detatched house in an urbanization on the outskirts of the city while her husband worked 12-hour days. She described that time as her “periodo de conciencia”. She realized she had had enough after attending a professional event with her husband, where the women all sat on one side with the names of their husbands on lanyards around their necks. As a result, by 1988 she was attending meetings of feminist organizations and eventually left her husband. Around 1990, Gimeno returned to Madrid and began a relationship with fellow activist Boti Garcia Rodrigo. In Madrid, she joined COGAM. In 1995, she became involved with FELGTB, eventually becoming the General Secretary in 2002 until 2007. She was heavily involved with FELGTB’s marriage equality efforts, organizing a mass demonstration and attacking the Catholic Church and Partido Popular for their opposition to same-sex marriage. In 2005, Gimeno and Garcia got married in a ceremony officiated by Inés Sabanés, with 110 guests including a large number from the government. The couple divorced in 2012. In 2015 Madrid regional elections, Gimeno appeared on the list for Podemos as their number four and becoming a deputy in the regional parliament. In the 2017 Podemos primaries, she led the anticapitalist list alongside Miguel Urbán Crespo. By the 2019 internal primaries, she had distanced herself from the anticapitalist group. On 13 January 2020, Gimeno replaced Rocío Rodríguez Prieto as the director of the Instituto de la Mujer. She resigned from the position in March 20201 to run on the Podemos list for the March 2021 regional elections, where she again won a post as a deputy.
Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda y Arteaga is a Spanish Cuban Romantic poet, novelist and playwright who belonged to the Hermandad Lírica, a group of female poets who wrote about women’s issues of the time and whose work often had homoerotic and lesbian themes. Writing under the pen name La Peregrina, she wrote scores of poems and 20 plays. Her most famous work is the anti-slavery novel, Sab, published in Madrid in 1841. Gómez de Avellaneda writing has been described by literary critics as using language to create fiery passionate emotions describing love in masculine ways. Her work often looked down on marriage and patriarchy as a form of slavery towards women. She also wrote a poem titled, “De la de Lesbos malograda musa!” which compares her own lived experiences with that of Sappho, abandoning the role in the home in order to be a creator but angry for the way she is received by society. While Gómez de Avellaneda and in her activities appears exclusively heterosexual, her writing about women, liberty for women and the author’s own ability to independently navigate a sexist and nationalistic society would be important for later generations of lesbians, especially in Cuba, as a body of work for which they drew inspiration.
Gómez de Avellaneda was born on 23 March 1814 in Puerto Principe, now called Camagüey, in Cuba. When she was a 22-year-old, she moved with her family to Spain, her Spanish naval officer father homeland. Her father had died in 1823, when Gómez de Avellaneda was a 9-year-old. Her criolla and slave-owning mother remarried another Spaniard ten months later. Betrothed when she was 13, she broke off the engagement when she was a 15-year-old and was consequently left out of her grandfather’s will. These events spurred her hatred against marriage and patriarchy that would infuse her later writing.
In 1836, Gómez de Avellaneda‘s stepfather, fearing a slave rebellion, convinced her mother to sell all her property and slaves and move the family to Spain for their safety. Setting sail on 9 April 1836, Gómez de Avellaneda used the two-month voyage to compose on of her best-known poems, the sonnet “Al partir”. After spending some time in France, they family finally settled in A Coruña for two years. By this time, Gómez de Avellaneda was dedicated to her writing and it caused a rift in her relationship with the Spanish man she was involved with. After that, Gómez de Avellaneda moved with her bother to Sevilla, and her poetry was published in several Andalusian newspapers. In the fall of 1840, she moved to Madrid where she made friends with many writers there and published her first collection of poems titled Poesías. The following year, her novel Sab was published. Gómez de Avellaneda continued to publish successfully but found herself single and pregnant in 1847, a situation that left her socially isolated, pessimistic, and feeling lonely. Her daughter died at seven months old, without ever being recognized by her father. Her fame continued to grow, and she was the second most important woman in Madrid after Reina Isabel II de España. She applied for a chair at the Real Academia Española, but the men refused to grant her one on account of her sex, and no woman would be granted one until 1979 when one was granted to Carmen Conde. Gómez de Avellaneda married again on 26 April 1856 to a Spanish politician. The failure of her comedic play Los tres amores two years later would result in her husband Colonel Domingo Verdugo y Massieu clashing in the street with the man her husband blamed for the play’s failure; the clash left her husband seriously injured. Following this incident, the couple went to Cuba in 1858 and remained there; her husband died in Cuba in 1863 and the following year Gómez de Avellaneda returned to Madrid after travels around the United States and Europe. She died in the city on 1 February 1873 and was buried in Sevilla next to her husband and brother.
Teresa Heredero is a feminist and member of PSOE. On 28 October 2005, she married Ángeles Álvarez. Their wedding, officiated by Pedro Zerolo, was the first between lesbians in Madrid following same-sex marriage becoming legal in July 2005. Elena Valenciano was the couple’s maid of honor.
Marta María Higueras Garrobo is a Spanish politician, criminal mediator and geographer. She is most famous for being the First Deputy Mayor of Madrid from 13 June 2015 to 15 June 2019 in the Comunidad de Madrid when Más Madrid was in power. She sometimes served as the mayor when Manuela Carmena was away. Higueras came out of the closet to the public in 2017.
Higueras was born in in Madrid in 1964 in the district of Arganzuela. She went to Universidad Complutense Madrid where she studies geography and history, and followed up her studies by earning a Masters in Penal Mediation at Universidad Valencia. Higueras began her professional career as an officer at the Juzgados de Plaza de Castilla. While working there, she became friends with Manuela Carmena. She later went to work at the Consejo General del Poder Judicial for five years, where she led the Sección de Oficina Judicial. After that, she went to the Basque County for 12 years as a Justice advisor and later as the Justice Director in the office of Patxi López, including when he was president of the region from 2009 to January 2013. After that, Higueras returned to Madrid where she worked in the Tribunal de Cuentas in the Sección de Enjuiciamiento. She was nominated for the job by Izquierda Unida, and served in the region’s Equality Commission from 2013 to 2015. Regional elections were held in Madrid in May 2015, and Higueras was on the list for Más Madrid in seventh for the Madrid city elections. She won a spot in the city council, and became the First Deputy Mayor of Madrid. She also was the heard of the head of the Government Area of Equity, Social Rights and Employment. One of her initiatives was creating an anti-eviction mediation office; she modeled this based on her experience in the Basque Country. Following the loss of Más Madrid in the 2019 municipal elections, Higueras disengaged from the party. She continued to live in the district of Arganzuela and to ride her bicycle.
Marcela Gracias Ibeas was the daughter of Army Captain Manuel Gracia. As an 18-year-old, she enrolled school at the Escuela Normal de Maestras de La Coruña, an educational facility designed to teach future teachers. She would meet Elisa Sánchez Loriga there in 1885, already enrolled when Elisa became a student. As the friendship between the pair grew closer, her father sent her to Madrid to continue her studies in order to avoid the scandal that could be associated with their relationship as it had exceeded the bounds of socially acceptable. After four months, Gracias finished her studies and took a post in the village of Calo, and was in a senior teaching role by 1888 when Sánchez took a position in a nearby town. After some time, the pair decided to live together in Calo. In 1889, Gracias took a teaching position in Dumbría, and lived in the town while Sánchez remained in Calo. Ibea’s father had died around this time, and her mother was living alone in A Coruña. They continued their relationship for the next decade, moving to various towns around Galicia. In 1901, they decided to get married. Sánchez adopted a male persona, and cleared obstacles including getting baptized under a male name. This cleared the path to allow the couple to have a legal church marriage, which occurred on 8 June 1901. They spent their wedding night at pensión Corcubión, on calle de San Andrés. The ruse was finally discovered and made the front page of newspapers across Galicia and Madrid. Both women lost their jobs. After Sánchez failed to convince a doctor that she was male, the couple took flight and were initially pursued by the Guardia Civil in Dumbria where both women had been teaching. In their journey out of Spain, the couple passed through Vigo and Oporto, Portugal. In Oporto, Sánchez went by the name Pepe to allow the couple to pass as heterosexual and they lived together for two months before they were discovered by Spanish police on 18 August 1901. They were released 13 days later because of activism by locals in the city, which included raising funds to support the women. After a bit of time, the Spanish government was successful in getting Portugal to agree to the couple’s extradition but only after being tried and acquitted for their crimes in Portugal. In this period in Portugal, Ibeas gave birth to a baby girl on 6 January 1902, and named her María Enriqueta. Before Portugal could extradite the pair, couple escaped; it is possible that they then headed to Cádiz to take a boat and emigrate from there to Buenos Aires, Argentina, arriving in 1902 and spending the first year living together and working as maids. The salaries proved insufficient to support them both, so they separated. By this point, Ibeas was using the name Carmen and posing as the sister of Sánchez. When Sánchez married, mother and daughter went to live with her and their relationship was eventually discovered, and gained media attention. Ibeas fell out of the media eye by 1904. Her daughter would go on to marry, have ten children and then run away in 1941 to never be heard from again.
Ángela Grassi is an Italian and Spanish Romantic poet who belonged to the Hermandad Lírica, a group of female poets who wrote about women’s issues of the time and whose work often had homoerotic and lesbian themes. Despite this, her work is viewed as very conservative despite changing societal values; she encouraged women away from French ideas on the changing roles of women but also supported the dignity of women within the conservative patriarchal framework. Grassi appears to have had very close friendships with other poets including with Vicenta García Miranda and Natalia Boris de Ferrant. Depite this, Grassi’s support of traditional values while supporting a conservative form of feminism meant she was not forgotten while many of her peers who openly challenged society’s treatment of women were. She was unlikely to be a lesbian herself but operated within a circle of women who contained lesbians or closeted lesbians and women who defied authorities.
Grassi was born on 2 August 1823 in Cromá, Italy. Her family moved to Spain in 1829 after her father took a position as a musician at the Teatro de Santa Cruz in Barcelona. It was here that Grassi developed her love for and interest in music as a result of her father working there as a musician in the 1830s, learning to play the harp and piano. She later studied to become a teacher and was very educated for a woman of her time. Because of the competition between the Gran Teatro del Liceo and the Gran Teatro del Liceo, the family moved to Madrid in 1837. By this time, Grassi had some of her plays published. Writing in collaboration with her brother, they continued to produce plays and lyrical compositions in the city. Grassi then married journalist and music critic Vicente Cuenca. Soon after the marriage, Cuenca became ill and Grassi paused her career to take care of him for many years. She started working against in the 1860s, and died on 17 September 1883, about two years after her husband, in Madrid.
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.
Carmen Laforet y Díaz was an important writer, contributing to the body of lesbian literary canon during and after the Franco era. Laforet’s own sexuality is unknown, though she married Galician journalist Manuel Cerezales González in 1946, had several children with him and then separated from him in 1970 at a time when divorce was not legal and women had few rights. Laforet maintained friendships with women known to be lesbians, known to be after their death who were lesbians or who were suspected of being lesbians, including Carmen Conde, Esther Tusquets and Elena Fortún. Fortún had such confidence in the author that she believed Laforet had the possibility of winning a Nobel prize in literature. She also had a deep and personal relationship with tennis player Lilí Álvarez.
Laforet was born in Barcelona on 6 September 1921. When she was a 2-year-old, her family moved to the Canary Islands. When she was a 12-year-old, her mother died and her father soon remarried a woman she disliked. Laforet escaped as soon as she could, enrolling at the Universitat de Barcelona in 1939 to study philosophy. A years later, in 1942, she enrolled at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid to study law, withdrawing in her second year to focus on writing full time. She wrote her first novel, Nada, between January and September 1944, earning the Nadal Prize for it in 1945. She went on to write a number of other novels, with her last one being published a few months after her death. She developed Alzheimer’s disease, and died in Madrid on 28 February 2004.
María Pilar León Cebrián, who goes by Mapi León, is a Spanish women’s national football team player, representing Spain at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was born on 13 June 1995 in Zaragoza. As a professional football player, she has played for Prainsa Zaragoza, R.C.D Espanyol, Atlético de Madrid and F.C. Barcelona. . She was the first Spanish woman footballer to have a transfer fee higher than €50000.
María de la O Lejárraga García, better known by her pen name María Martínez Sierra, was a feminist, writer, dramatist, translator and politician. She was also member of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid. It is possible that her marriage was that of a lesbian married to a gay man for the sake of appearances for both, allowing both to be more private in their intimate affairs. She was the godmother of Elena Fortún.
Her work Granada. Guía emocional, originally published in France in 1911, can be viewed as one of the first guides written for homosexuals in Spain, despite being stated as being a guide for women. While her husband is credited at the author, almost the entire work is by María Martínez Sierra. The author herself was a militant feminist, member of Círculo Sáfico de Madrid and not a fervent Catholic, which possibly makes claims of being aimed at male homosexuals questionable given the assumptions about the lack of religious places associated with women being credited as reason for it to be assumed to be male homosexuals. While written in a modernist style, it does stick to the traditional travel guide format in places, offering information on where to stay, where to eat, which banks to use, how to take the tram and which monuments to visit. It describes the city using all the senses, including sight, touch, and hearing. The book used a mixed of poetry and prose. The book uses some coded language, such as the word Garzón which can refer to the love of a boy to a man as used in “Historia del cautivp” by Cervantes.
Martínez was born on 28 December 1874 in San Millán de la Cogolla, La Rioja into a wealthy family. Her father was a doctor, and, when Martínez was a 4-year-old, he moved the family to the Carabanchel Bajo of Madrid. Martínez was educated at home by her mother following French instruction methods. She later attended the Asociación para la Enseñanza de la Mujer, completing her education in commerce in 1891 and going on to teach English at Escuela de Institutrices y Comercio in Madrid. She continued her education at the Escuela Normal de Maestras de Madrid, and then worked as a teacher between 1897 and 1907. In 1900, Martínez married Gregorio Martínez Sierra. She took a short break from teaching in 1905 to travel to Belgium on a scholarship to learn more about the educational system and teaching practices in that country. At the same time she was teaching, her literary career took off under her pen name, largely because of familial pressure because they did not support the idea of women writing professionally. Martínez co-founded the literary magazine Helios with husband and Juan Ramon Jiménez. It existed from 1903 to 1904. In 1908, Martínez left the teaching profession to become a fulltime professional writer. In 1909, she tried to commit suicide by jumping into the sea. During the early 1910s, at least 20 of her plays were performed in Madrid, with some of them making tours of France, Great Britain, Latin America and the United States. By the 1910s, Martínez was active in feminist groups in Madrid and continued to be so into the 1920s and early 1930s. In 1922, her husband had a daughter with his lover and Martínez effectively ended the illusion of the marriage continuing except in a professional context. Martínez co-founded the Lyceum Club Feminino in Madrid in 1926, and she ran its literary library. In 1931, the Lyceum Club Feminino ran a conference in Martínez’s honor in El Retiro, collecting 600 pesetas that the author gave to unemployed workers in the city. The focus of the conference, named Literad, was on women’s rights. She stood as PSOE candidate in Granada for the 1933 Spanish General Elections, winning her election. She worked towards limiting the powers of the Cuerpos de Seguridad and the Guardia Civil. Working alongside Dolores Ibárruri, she co-founded the Comité Nacional de Mujeres contra la Guerra y el Fascismo in 1933 and participated in the World Congress in 1934. By 1936, she was part of the Commercial Attaché of the Spanish Legation in Bern. Martínez was appointed secretary to the Spanish delegation for the International Labour Organization’s XXIII Conference, but was dismissed from the role by Juan Negrín. Following her dismissal and with the Civil War ongoing, she decided to relocate to Nice, France. When the Civil War ended, her time in exile officially began, with Martínez moving between France, Mexico, Argentina, and the United States. Ill health made her decide to retire to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she continued writing that had never really stopped. When her husband died, the rights to her work that she had published under his name were passed on to the daughter he had in his affair with an actress; despite repeated appeals to his daughter to have the rights to her work, the daughter never capitulated, causing Martínez great financial hardship. She died in the city on 28 June 1974 at the age of 99 and is interred at Cementerio de la Chacarita in Buenos Aires.
Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, more commonly known by her penname Gabriela Mistral, was a Chilean diplomat, educator and poet. Born in Vicuña, Chile on 7 April 1889, she worked in Chilean consulates in a number of cities, including in Madrid. Mistral became involved in lesbian life in the city, and became a member of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid. She also published some of her works while in the city, including Ternura, a collection of lullabies and rondas released in 1924. Poesías completas, a complete collection of her poems, was also published in the city in 1958, a year after her death on 10 January 1957 in Hempstead, New York.
Marina Mayoral Díaz is a writer, and Spanish and Galician language columnist. She played an important in developing the new lesbian literary canon that developed in Spain outside Madrid and Castile in the post Franco period of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Her fiction work, such as 1994’s Recóndita armonía, leaves lesbianism unnamed even as lesbianism is explored.
Mayoral was born in Mondoñedo on 12 September 1942. She did her undergraduate work at Universidade de Santiago de Compostela in Romance Philology. When she was a 19-year-old, Mayoral moved to Madrid, eventually getting a doctorate from the Universidade Complutense de Madrid, completing her thesis on Galician poet Rosalia de Castro. She published her first work in 1972 at the age of 28, a book on the same topic as her thesis. She became a professor at Universidade Complutense de Madrid around the time of her graduation. Despite being in Madrid, she maintained strong connections to Galicia and its native language. Starting in 1990s, she began writing for La Voz de Galicia. She was elected a member of Real Academia Galega in 2017.
Fernanda Monasterio Cobelo was a psychologist and teacher. Described as masculine appearing, she was part of a circle of women who were lesbians, suspected of being lesbians or wrote about lesbians, including Carmen Laforet, Elena Fortún, Rosa Chacel, Inés Field and Delia Echeverry.
Monasterio was born in Madrid in 1920 in the Batalla del Salado barrack, to a military family. Soon after, her father was transferred to Ferrol. When it was time for her to attend secondary school, her father sent to a boarding school in Madrid run by nuns. The Civil War disrupted her life; her father sided with the Republicans, initially going to Teruel, then Valencia and next Barcelona. As the war drew to a close, the family fled to France. Eventually, her father went into exile in Mexico but Monasterio decided to return to Spain, enrolling at Universidad Central in Madrid in the Faculty of Medicine. Her doctoral thesis was directed by Gregorio Marañón, with the title Depressive symptoms in acromegaly. In 1941, she went to Berlin where she studied the psychophysiology of work. By 1943, she was working for the Jefatura de Sanidad de Madrid. From 1949 to 1951, she worked for a charity in the city, offering emergency surgical services. During that time, she also published a book titled Temas de Medicina y Psiquiatría. In 1952, Monasterio quit Spain for the Americas, working in Bolivia and Argentina. She returned in Spain in 1968, opening her own practice, working as a doctor and clinical psychologist. To celebrate the United Nations International Year of Women in 1975, she collaborated in the production the magazine El Urogallo. She died in 2006 in Madrid.
María Helena NG is one of only two known lesbians to be charged with violating the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, the 1933 law that defined homosexuality as criminal act in Spain. She was born sometime around 1947 in Montevideo and later lived in L’Hospitalet. As a young child, she is reported to never have had an interest in what Spanish society considered feminine pursuits like playing with dolls or playing in the kitchen. María would have her first sexual experience with another girl around the age of 12. As a 21-year-old, she was a arrested on 30 March 1968 and charged with violating the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes after going to the La Gran Cava on Carrer Nou de la Rambla while dressed in men’s clothing with the intention of picking up women. The charge against her read, “She was arrested when she was in the bar La Gran Cava, located on Calle Conde del Asalto number 25 in a suspicious attitude and dressed as a man. She has no background, stating that he does not engage in any activity, living off the charities she is given and sometimes making blood donations. She says that she dresses as a man so that he can deceive women towards whom he feels an irresistible inclination.” In sentencing her, the court said, “Her clearly, defined and manifest tendency towards homosexuality, make it particularly dangerous to coexist with the young women who have received this patronage, whom she has already tried to make her homosexual practices in the few days she has been hospitalized. Such dangerousness […] is what makes us put the aforementioned young woman at the disposal of the illustrious Special Court, especially when, to a greater extent, our rehabilitation services inform us in an absolutely negative sense as regards the possibility of reeducation of this young woman, given her age and characteristics.” She was sentenced to between 127 days and one year in prison. Following that, she was banned for two years from going to Barcelona along with two years of parole. She was sent to the Model Prison for pre-trial detention, then transferred to a prison in Segovia where she was released on bail pending sentencing. Despite this, she was arrested again on similar charges. The Board of Trustees of the Women’s Section of the Provincial Board of Madrid said of her, “She is particularly dangerous to have living with young women in this board… absolutely negative in terms of the possibilities of re-education of this young woman.”
Montse Oliván was feminist who played an important role in organizing lesbians around homosexual activism in Castilla during the 1980s. She was also one of the first lesbians to bring the concept of gender identity into lesbian and feminist circles. She was one of the strongest defenders of transexuals in feminist and lesbian spaces.
Oliván participated in anti-Franco activities during the early 1970s in San Sebastian as part of the student movement; she continued to participate in protests until Franco’s death in November 1975. She joined the Movimiento Comunista in Basque Country. During the 1970s, Oliván began learning more about feminism and its harm on Spanish society; she shared this information with her friends Cristina Garaizabal and Empar Pineda and encouraged them to incorporate these perspectives into their lesbian activism. Her feminism was a critical feminism that included homosexuals, transsexuals and men. Oliván cofounded the Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid (CFLM) with Empar Pineda and Cristina Garaizabal in January 1981, the same year that Grupo de Acción por la Liberación Homosexual (GALHO) was founded in 1981. Both were created as a result of tensions between gay and lesbian activists. At the time, she faced opposition from other lesbians who did not understand the need to self-organize around sexual orientation. The group soon faced challenges of lesbophobia from feminist groups, and opposition from feminist groups who did not want to address sexual freedom during the Spanish transition period. She created the magazine Nosotras (que nos queremos tanto…) which defended the right to women’s pleasure and the expression of it. She participated in the 1985 jornadas in Barcelona, protesting against the restrictions placed on women on the laws recently passed to allow legal abortion. When marriage equality was achieved in Spain, she married longtime partner Montse Ruiz. She later was involved with the Colectivo Hetaira, defending the rights of sex workers. She died on 21 November 2015 in Madrid at the age of 67.
Empar Pineda Erdozia was one of the cofounders of Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid. She was also the first lesbian to identify herself as such in an interview with Interviú magazine in 1980. Pineda is butch, and was teased mercilessly as a child for appearing to be so.
Pineda was born in 1944 in Hernani. Along with her six siblings, she grew up in a rural farmhouse. Her grandfather was very politically aware, and instilled this awareness in his granddaughter with whom he had a close relationship. As a child, she attended a school run by German nuns who required that she learn English. She graduated from high school in 1964, and moved to Madrid to attend Universidad Complutense because the Basque Country did not have any public universities at that time and her sister was already living in the city. Because of her political activities in Madrid against the regime, she was soon prohibited by the state from enrolling in any public university in Madrid or Barcelona. She then decided to attend the Universidad de Salamanca, and then transferred to the Universidad de Oviedo where she earned a degree in Romance philology. After completing her degree, she returned to Madrid and got involved again in underground Spanish politics with the Communist party and was introduced to feminist concepts by her Communist peers. During the 1970s in the democratic transition period, Pineda moved to Barcelona and ran in regional elections in 1977 and for municipal office in Barcelona in 1977. That same year, Madrid held its first Pride Parade. Pineda was at the front of the march, holding a sign. She also became involved in abortion rights in the early 1980s, participating in the “Yo también he abortado” campaign. She began working at the Clínica Isadora, a women’s reproductive health clinic that provides abortion services, in 1993, and continued to be affiliated with the clinic even after her retirement. She also continued to support lesbians with her work at Fundación 26 de Diciembre, a foundation and senior residence home to support older members of the LGBT community.
Irene Polo was a journalist and publicist. While based in Catalonia, she had extensive contacts with the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid, and was involved in at least one love triangle involving other influential lesbians in Spain in the 1930s.
Polo was born on 27 November 1909 in Barcelona. She became a journalist, one of the few female working journalist in Catalonia at the time. Early in her career, she also worked as a publicist for the film production company Gaumont before leaving it to work as a journalist full time. Her first full time job was for the magazine Mirador, which she started in 1930 and worked for until 1936. At the same time, she wrote for several other publications including Imatges, La Humanitat, La Rambla, L’Opinió, L’Instant and Ultima Hora. In 1935, at the age of 25, she wrote a series of six articles titled Postals d’Eivissa from Ibiza in the Canary Islands for the Catalan language newspaper L’Instant that earned her national acclaim. Ahead of her time, Polo learned to fly planes, wore pants and supported nudism and sexual freedom. In 1936, she would meet Margarita Xirgu and fall hard for the actress made famous by Federico García Lorca’s plays. Polo abandoned her career to become a publicist for Xirgu on her theater group’s tour of Latin America. She replaced Federico García Lorca, who wanted to stay in Spain despite the risks in order to deal with some matters. The start of the Spanish Civil War prevented her from returning to Spain, so she was left in exile in the Argentine capital where she worked as a translator and advertising director. The couple separated after the tour at Xirgu’s instigation with Xirgu moving to Chile. Polo, unable to return to Spain because of the Civil War, went to Argentina to join her family. She was never able to get over Xirgu, and committed suicide at the age of 33 in Buenos Aires by jumping out a window on 3 April 1942.
Jennifer Quiles was a journalist, activist and writer. She is widely credited with writing the first Catalan language self-help book for lesbian and bisexual women.
Quiles was born in London in 1968. When she was a 2-year-old, her family moved to Barcelona where she spent the remainder of her childhood. Quiles went on to earn a degree in Information Science from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. This was followed by a degree in Hispanic Philology from Universitat de Barcelona. From there, she began her professional journalism career, working for the newspapers Avui and La Vanguardia, and for a local Barcelona based television station. She joined El Mundo Deportivo in 1992, working for the sports newspaper for more than a decade. Quiles began contributing to Nosotras and dos.dos around 2001. Both magazines were focused on lesbian and bisexual women. In 2002, she published Más que amigas, which is widely considered to be the first Catalan language self-help book for lesbians and bi-sexual women. Soon after, she became more publicly involved with Coordinadora Gai-Lesbiana de Catalunya, and participated in the 2003 Primeras Jornadas Lésbicas de la FELGT edition held in Madrid by giving a presentation reflecting on the negative values society attributed to lesbians for being both women and homosexuals, and how this equation needed to be changed. At the age of 37, on 21 March 2006, Quiles died from cancer. Her unpublished work was published posthumously by her family.
Matilde Ras was a Spanish and Catalan writer, columnist, essayinst, translator and graphologist. She was romantically linked with Elena Fortún, with whom she started a relationship sometime probably during the 1920s.
Ras was born on 1 September 1881 in Tarragona into a family of intellects. When she was a 2-year-old, her family moved to Cuba. Following her father’s death in Cuba, the family returned to Tarragona, then moving around, living in Barcelona next, followed by Zaragoza and Soria. By the time she was in high school, her family had permanently settled in Madrid. By that point, she was fluent in Spanish, Catalan and French. By the end of high school, Ras was teaching art and doing translation work. Ras was also interested in graphology, self-teaching herself the subject and eventually writing books on the subject that are still in use today. Ras also became involved in feminist circles in Madrid, though she defined herself as a conservative feminist, believing that women should receive an education and could find fulfillment outside the home but that women should also maintain the maternal and domestic role inside the home. Her social group was Círculo Sáfico de Madrid that included Victorina Durán. She also started publishing in Blanco y Negro in the 1920s, which is likely how she met Elena Fortún, with whom she would become romantically involved. The pair only separated when Fortún went into exile following the end of the Civil War. Ras spent two years in Portugal, from 1941 to 1943. Her last novel, Heroísmos oscuros, was published in 1968. Ras died the following year on 15 April 1969 in Madrid.
Patricia Yurena Rodríguez Alonso is a model and the winner of Miss Spain 2008 and 2013, along with being Spain’s representative at the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. Yurena is also an out lesbian, but as of February 2021 was in a relationship with a man.
Rodríguez was born on 6 March 1990 in Granadilla de Abona. As a teenager, she started modelling professionally. Representing Tenerife at the 2008 Miss Spain competition, she advanced out of the initial group of 52 to the second round of twenty, and then through to the next stage with twelve contestants. She made it into the top six, and then was announced the winner. As she was only 17 at the time, she was not eligible to compete in the Miss Universe competition so the runner up Claudia Moro competed instead. Still, she competed Miss World instead and finished in the top 15 from a pool of 109 contestants. Rodríguez became eligible to compete again in the Miss Universe Spain competition in 2013, where she won the inaugural competition held in Madrid. This time she was eligible to compete in the Miss Universe competition representing Spain. In Moscow, Russia, she advanced out of the initial competitor pool of 86 delegates to the top sixteen, then the top ten and finally the top five. Rodríguez ultimately finished second, behind Gabriela Isler of Venezuela. Her finish equaled Spain’s best ever finish in the competition of Teresa Sánchez López in 1985. Rodríguez came out of the closet on an Instagram post in August 2014, talking about her relationship with Spanish DJ Vanesa Klein in her post. She was only the second ever known Miss Universe finalist to come out of the closet, with the other being Miss Universe 1991 Soviet Union delegate Julia Lemigova. That year, she also appeared in the short film Tal como eres directed by Román Reyes. Rodríguez said in an interview in February 2021 that she was currently involved in a relationship with a man, because love does not understand gender.
Lola Rodríguez Aragón was a Spanish soprano singer and music business woman and educator., She was also the partner of portrait painter Marisa Roesset Velasco. The couple are interred together at Cementerio de San Isidro in the family location for Rodríguez Aragón. They were together from 1938 to Roesset Velasco’s death in 1976.
Rodríguez was born on 29 September 1910 in Logroño, the oldest of eight children. The family moved to Cádiz in 1918, a move that started Rodríguez’s singing career as it is where she first began to study music theory and the piano at Academia Santa Cecilia de Cádiz. She had her first solo as a member of academy’s choir. Near the end of 1921, she moved with her family to Zaragoza, where she faced the loss of her brother Pepe in June 1922 and her cousin Juan a few months later. The family moved again in autumn 1925 to A Coruña and Rodríguez started training with Bibiana Pérez and soon had her first public concert at Teatro Rosalía de Castro. The family made its final move to Madrid in September 1928 where Rodríguez continued her singing studies. She met a number of people who assisted her singing career including Joaquín Turina. Rodríguez spent a few winters in Paris, studying singing, in 1934 and 1935. She also spent time in Bavaria. In the summer 1938, the singer met Marisa Roësset Velasco in A Coruña at the home of painter Álvarez de Sotomayor. The two would soon move in together in Madrid. In October 1939, with the Civil War all but formally over, Rodríguez took a teaching position at the Real Conservatorio de Música. She worked in Lisbon in the 1940s, and in Madrid at the Teatro María Guerrero where she created its first official opera season. She would repeat the opera season feat a second time at the Teatro Albéniz in the following year, in 1946. She would organize more opera seasons at theaters in Madrid. On 28 June 1953, Lola Rodríguez Aragón returned to the stage for the first time following the death of her father on 2 May 1953 as part of the Second International Music Festival of Granada that took place at the Palacio de Carlos V. It was her last public performance in Spain. In the fall of 1958, Lola Rodríguez Aragón began two seasons in charge of Teatro de La Zarzuela’s theater company, the first woman to run the theater. Despite initial financial losses, she had a hugely successful run as its leader. She continued to organize festivals, opera seasons and win awards in the ensuing decades inside and outside Spain. The singer went on to found the Escuela Super de Canto de Madrid. Rodríguez Aragón died in the early morning Clínica Universidad de Navarra on 30 April 1984. Her body was taken to the Escuela Superior de Canto de Madrid where the teachers’ room was made into a makeshift chapel for visitation by the public, which included prominent politicians of the day as well as condolences from the King of Spain being telegrammed to her family.
Hildegart Rodríguez Carballeira was born on 9 December 1914 and died on 9 June 1933. Her mother chose an anonymous man to father a child she hoped would bring messianic change to the world, and her mother would murder her daughter in her bed when their paths diverged, angering her mother for chosing a path different from the one she wanted. In her short 18 years of life, Rodríguez was a prodigy who produced a number of works important for women and women’s sexuality going in the first years of the Second Republic. Rodríguez was an Avant Garde in Spain in regards to this topic, and one of the people most active in the early 1930s in regards to sexual reform; she was in contact with some of the leading European thinkers of the era on this topic including Havelock Ellis, Magnus Hirschfeld, Norman Haire and Jonathan Leunbach. Rodriguez would co-found Liga Española para la Reforma Sexual in 1932 with Gregorio Marañón, serving as the organization’s first secretary. She published sixteen monographs on the topic of women’s sexuality, women’s health and women’s freedom. Her monograph Profilaxis anticoncepcional on contraceptive practices sold over 8,000 copies in Madrid alone. She also published a monograph on sex education, and another on the history of prostitution. Her own sexuality and sexual orientation are unclear, even if some of her works were very important for lesbians of the period.
Marisa Roësset Velasco was an important figurative and religious painter in the first half the 20th century. Unlike a number of her contemporaries, she remained in Spain following the Civil War and was an active participant in the Franco regime’s Seccion Feminina. She and her partner would be interred together in death.
Roësset was born in Madrid on 6 March 1904 into a family of artists and literary women, including her aunt, painter Maria Roesset Mosquera, and her cousins, sculptor Marga Gil Roesset, editor Consuelo Gil Roesset and painter Rosario de Velasco. By the age of 14, she had begun painting and would soon go on to attend Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Her classmates included Salvador Dalí , Victorina Durán and Lucía Sánchez Saornil. By 1924, her work was being exhibited with one piece, Autorretrato, eventually being acquired by the Museo de Arte Moderno in Madrid. Her first solo exhibit was soon after at the Lyceum Club Femenino, despite the fact that she was not a member. In 1929, her work was exhibited at the Palacio de Bibliotecas y Museos Nacionales. She continued to show art, take classes and teach others throughout the Second Republic Period. She also started to socialize with members of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid. It was also around this time that Roësset opened her studio on calle Goya, where she would work and teach art classes for foorty years. In 1938, she began a relationship with soprano singer Lola Rodríguez Aragón with whom she would live until her death from cancer in Madrid on 18 November 1976. The women are interred together at Sacramental de San Isidro de Madrid. Roësset left Rodríguez all her art in her will, and Rodríguez subsequently planned to open a museum with her works in one of the apartments they shared. Rodríguez died suddenly in 1984, and her family dismantled the collection. Roësset’s work is part of the collection of Museo de Arte Moderno de Barcelona, Escuela de Canto de Madrid and Museo del Prado.
Margarita Ruiz de Lihory y Resino was a member of the Spanish nobility and member of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid. She likely had a brief relationship with Victorina Durán.
Likely born in 1893, her father was an important figure in Valencia, serving as a councilor in the the city government, mayor, and representative in the Cortes. In Valencia, Ruiz herself was known to the people as Regina dels Jocs Florals de Lo Rat Penat de 1907. When she was 17, she married another member of Valencian nobility, Ricardo Shelly Correa, whom she would have four children with. Ruiz went to university, originally studying medicine before switching to law. When her father died in 1920, Ruiz took her older sister to court over the issue of who inherited his titles; the legal battles would last more than 30 years. Around the same time as her father’s death, she became interested in feminist causes, abandoned her husband and moved to Madrid where she worked as a journalist. Ruiz was well trusted by the Dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, who sent her on espionage missions to the Rif in present day Morocco in August 1922 using her status as a reporter as a cover; Ruiz eventually became a double agent for Rif resistance leader Abd el-Krim. There she would meet Francisco Franco. Following these events, she then traveled the Americas for five years, visiting places like New York, the District of Columbia, Chicago, Boston, Mexico City and Havana, meeting many of the notable figures of the day. Her international travels were cut short by the death of her grandmother, forcing her to return to Spain in 1929 to deal with the will. Once taken care of, Ruiz moved to Paris where she would be based for the next five years. She continued to be involved in Spanish feminist activities despite being based elsewhere. She married again in a civil wedding during the Civil War to a man who divorced his wife to be with her; following the end of the Civil War, the law changed, and the marriage was declared null and void. Ruiz finally settled with her family in Albacete following World War II.
In late January 1954, Ruiz was alleged by her son to have been involved in mutilating her daughter Margarita’s corpse following her death earlier in the month. The police searched her house, found her daughter’s hand in a jar of alcohol, along with two skinless dog heads, animal entrails, and locks of hair. The case attracted large amounts of media attention. Ruiz was found guilty of desecrating a corpse and sentenced to a mental hospital in Carabanchel. She spent only a short time there, released early because of her personal connections but finding herself in destitution as she was forced to sell little by little properties she owned. Ruiz eventually died on 15 May 1968 in Albacete, and is interred in Cementerio Nuestra Señora de los Llanos in Albacete.
Lucía Sánchez Saornil was a poet, a militant anarchist, a humanist, a union organizer and member of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid. She was also the co-founder of Mujeres Libres. As a writer, she sometimes used the name Luciano de San-Saor to make her homosexuality more ambiguous.
Sánchez was born in 13 December 1895 in Madrid into a working class family, and lived on calle del Labrador in what was then the working class barrio of Peñuelas as a child. Her mother and brother died in 1908, when she was 12. She attended the Centro Hijos de Madrid where she developed an interest in the arts, finishing her primary and secondary education at the school. As a result of these experiences, she enrolled at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Pintura de San Fernando and was introduced to some of the people involved with the avant-garde movement of the day. By 1913, she was a published poet, with her first poem Nieve being published in Avante, a weekly newspaper based in Ciudad Rodrigo. By 1918, she was involved with the Ultraism avant-garde movement, which was based at Café Colonial on Calle Alcalá, 3. While Sánchez did not attend meetings, she was the only woman involved in the group. Sánchez took a job in 1916 for the company that is now Telefónica, working for them and going on to organize workers to unionize with Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. This initially led to her transfer to Valencia in 1927, before returning to Madrid in 1929. She was fired from her job in 1931 for her union activities, and was only able to work for them again in 1936. During the interim period, she focused on her anarcho-syndicalist activities and wrote for newspapers and magazines that supported her political ideologies. In 1933, Sánchez was appointed the Secretary of Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), and worked on integrating women and women’s needs into the organization; she was prevented from doing so though because of the patriarchy baked into the system and sexist men working to protect their own entrenched interests. As a result, Sánchez, Mercedes Comaposada and Amparo Poch Gascón co-founded a splinter organization in April 1936 called Mujeres Libres. At its peak, the organization had 20,000 affiliates. When the Civil War broke out in Madrid, Sánchez actively took part as a militiawoman, participating in the assault on the Cuartel de la Montaña. In 1937, her only collection of poems published as a book, Romancero de mujeres libres, during her lifetime was release. The collection was a revindication of the role of women during the Civil War. It wouldn’t be reprinted again until 1996. Later that year, Sánchez moved to Valencia where she began a lifelong relationship with América Barroso. Her open relationship, not viewing her lesbianism as political because love shouldn’t be, a philosophy of you should love whoever you want to freely made her one of the first lesbians in Spain with this affirmative attitude. Two years later, in 1939, she went into exile in France via Barcelona. Sánchez tried to clandestinely return to Madrid in 1942 via La Junquera to restart Mujeres Libres; however, Sánchez was soon recognized and forced to flee to Valencia where she lived in hiding until 1954 when she regularized her situation as she lacked a ration card. During that whole time, she continued to write, up until her death from breast cancer in 1990.
Inés de Santa Cruz and Catalina Ledesma were lesbians living in Valladolid at the beginning of the 1600s. Popularly, they are known in Spanish history as “Las Cañitas”. The pair came from very different social classes, with Inés upper class and having connections to the Chancillería de Valladolid. She also served as prioress at a convent, though did not appear to be a nun herself. A native of Valladolid, at the time she faced charges before the Inquisition, she was probably 30 to 35 years old. In contrast, Catalina, who was roughly the same age, was born in Ciudad Rodrigo, came from a working class background and lived with her husband and parents for about nine months in León. After those nine months, she moved to Salamanca with her parents while her husband moved to his native Oviedo. Catalina was illiterate and worked as a servant.
The couple met at Iglesia de Santa María La Antigua, where Inés was living. To hide their relationship, Inés claimed to be Catalina’s aunt. A civil case was registered in June 1603 in Salamanca against the couple, at a time when Inés had been living in the house of Catalina as a domestic partner. The civil case saw the pair arrested and accused of female sodomy and prostitution. Part of the document containing the allegations said, “they treated each other with a reed device in the shape of a man’s nature.” Court papers went into detail with the accusations, saying of Inés, “With her hands, nature opened her to said Catalina until she spilled the seeds of her body into the nature of the other, which is why they called them Las Cañitas and this is public and notorious among those who know them.” The civil case rested largely on the testimony of neighbors who claimed to have heard sounds like sex and floorboards creaking like from a night of passion through a shared wall. It was the second time the couple had been before the civil courts of the Inquisition. They had faced similar accusations in Valladolid in 1601. Following the trial, the couple returned to Valladolid and were before the Inquisition there again in 1606. The court document about these three cases is 142 pages and is one of the largest documents about lesbianism in this period in Europe. As a result of these trials, Catalina and Inés were flogged and sentences to exile. Years later, in 1625, the women received a royal pardon. It did not happen soon enough as the couple were forced apart following the third trial. The courts again said Catalina should return to her husband, but it is unclear if she did so. The available documents say she was living in her hometown in 1611. Inés, who had been protected some by family in 1606 trial, fled the city with the assistance of a cousin who worked for the Inquisition and another cousin who was a Franciscan following her sentencing. She first went to Barcelona, and then went to Madrid. In 1609, the Inquisition discovered her in Madrid, and returned her to Valladolid for trial. She was given 400 lashes, 6 years in prison and banished from Castile forever. By 1625, she was living in Miranda da Douro in Portugal.
Mari Trini, whose full name was María Trinidad Pérez de Miravete-Mille y Pascual del Riquelme, was a Spanish singer and lesbian icon in the Spanish transition period. Mari Trini was the first Spanish woman to appear on television wearing blue jeans. She died in 2009, survived by her longtime partner, Claudette Loetitia Lanza. Loetitia Lanza was French and left her husband to be with Mari Trini in a relationship that lasted 40 years. The couple met in Madrid, and Loetitia Lanza was 13 years older than Mari Trini. As Mari Trini was very private and came from a very conservative Roman Catholic family, her lesbianism was not well known; Loetitia Lanza was in her life officially as her personal secretary. Such was the privacy of the relationship that the French woman was not even mentioned in her obituary. Had the artist been out with her sexuality, she who was often condemned for confronting the patriarchy would likely have been publicly vilified.
Mari Trini was born on 12 July 1947 in Singla, in the municipality of Caravaca de la Cruz in Murcia. As a young child, she moved to Madrid with her mother, possibly as a result of her parents separating. She learned to play the guitar at the age of 7 after composing her first song at the age of 6. She attended a religious school, but left school from the age of 9 to 14 because of an illness in her kidneys that left her confined to a bed. Following disagreements with her mother over her choices, she left home shortly after. When she was a 15-year-old, she met Nicholas Ray in Madrid. Ray soon became her manager, and she moved to London and then Paris where she recorded her first songs in French. She spent five years in France before returning to Madrid to record her first Spanish album with RCA. Her most famous album, the 1970 Amores, was produced not much later. Her third Spanish album Escúchame had songs like “Yo no soy esa” that conveyed a message that women’s sexuality was their own, not that of men. It also strongly suggested she was a lesbian. Mari Trini lived in Barcelona for a while, and frequented Daniel’s, Spain’s first lesbian bar. Her 1982 song “Una estrella en mi jardín” featured a love triangle and was censored in Argentina. Other songs of this era also reference her lesbianism. In 1984, Mari Trini published nude photos of herself in Interviú, and subsequently started to wear more revealing clothing and her musical style underwent a similar transformation. During this period, she also was an amateur Formula 1 driver. She continued to write, produce and sing through out the 1980s, the 1990s and into the 2000s. Her last album was released in 2001. There were copyright issues and fraud issues tied into the record that forced Mari Trini to go to court where she successfully won and recovered partial damages; the experience left her unhappy and she retired from music as a result. On 8 March 2008 in honor of International Women’s Day of Labor, Mari Trini was given the “Fight for Equality” award by the Autonomous Community of Murcia. The ceremony marked her last public appearance. Trini had lung cancer and was living on the outskirts of Murcia, preparing a farewell concert when she died at Hospital Universitario Morales Meseguer on 6 April 2009.
Phyllis Burrows Turnbull, more commonly known in Spain as Miss Fillis, was a professor in Department of Spanish at Bryn Mawr College, and the creator of the “Center for Hispanic Studies” of Bryn Mawr College. Turnbull was romantically linked to Spanish writer Gloria Fuertes, with their relationship lasting 15 years.
Turnbull was born in 1924. She graduated from Wheaton College in 1947 with a degree in Spanish literature. Two years later, she earned a Masters in Spanish literature from Columbia University. In this period, she moved to Madrid, where she became an English teacher. She returned to the United States in 1949, teaching Spanish at Smith College until 1955 when she took a position as the director of the International Institute in Madrid. She stayed there until 1958. In 1961, she became a Spanish teacher at Bryn Mawr College. In 1961, she earned a doctorate in philosophy and letters from the Universidad de Madrid. While in Madrid, she assisted students in Soto del Real in getting scholarships so they could study in Spain and the United States. She died in 1971.
Ángeles Vicente García was the author of the first published novel that focused on lesbians, Zezé published in 1909. The author was born in Murcia on 28 January 1878. When she was a 10-year-old, she moved to Argentina, moving to Milan in 1906 and returning to Argentina the following year. In her period in Argentina, she became involved with freemasonry. In 1906, as a 28-year-old, she returned home to Spain, first living in Cartagena before moving to Madrid. She soon married, and collaborated with her husband on newspaper and magazine articles. The publication of Zezé forced her to separate from her husband, and rely on herself and her writing for income. She was able to do so, supporting herself, her father and a servant. She was widowed some time after. Vicente was an active member of intellectual circles in Madrid, whose members included Rubén Darío, Rafael López de Haro, Álvaro Retana, Luis Linares Becerra, Unamuno, Luis de Terán and Emilio Fernández Vaamonde. On 28 October 1916, Vicente returned to Argentina via Cadíz aboard the ship Catalina. At that point, her trail is lost and it is unclear where she lived and when she died.
Azucena Vieites is contemporary Spanish artist, whose work present a feminist perspective as it analyzes contemporary Spanish culture. Identifying as a lesbian, her work is considered as part of the queer feminist movement instead of a lesbian feminist perspective.
Vieites was born in 1967 in Hernani in the Basque country. From 1981 to 1985, she attended theHernani Institutua She attended the Universidad del País Vasco from 1985 to 1991. She then moved to Madrid, becoming an associate professor in the faculty of Fine Arts at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Universidad de Salamanca. Vieites has had a number of scholarships and exhibitions across Spain. In 2013, Vieites had an exhibit at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. She finished her doctorate in 2019.
Fefa Vila was the cofounder of important lesbian group, Lesbianas Sin Dudas. She is a writer and sociologist in queer studies.
Vila was born in 1968 in Laza. She attended Universidad Complutense de Madrid, getting a degree in poltical science and sociology. She then went overseas to study at Universidad de Utrecht, the University of Manchester and the University of California, Santa Cruz. She then returned to Spain where she became a professor of sociology at the Universidad Complutense. During the 1990s, co-founded the lesbian artist group, Lesbianas Sin Dudas. During that same period, she also worked with the grupo de trabajo Queer GTQ-MAD. In 1995, she participated in the United Nations Women Conference in Beijing.
Victoria Virtudes Fernández, known more commonly as Vito Virtudes, is a lesbian activist, militant feminist and abortion rights activist. She is an expert in sexual and reproductive health. She considers herself a radical lesbian feminist.
Virtudes was born on 1 January 1957 in Talavera de la Reina. Her family life was difficult, with her father abusing her mother and others in her family. As a result, she joined JGRE when she was a 14-year-old. When she was a 15-year-old, she was arrested. She soon became involved with union activities, feminist and lesbian groups. She helped co-found Pro-Derecho al Aborto, the Comisión de Agresiones and the Comisión de Lesbianas. She then became more involved with left wing Spanish politics, with the belief it was important to do so in order to transform society. Virtudes lived in Madrid in the 1970s, and was part of the early homosexual rights marches organized by lesbians on 28 June before the first “official” Madrid pride march in 1978, including marches in 1976 and 1977. One of the early marches she took part in was at Plaza de Callao, where people threw eggs at her and other lesbians while calling them marimachos. The first march in 1978, she was surprised at how many people turned out, thinking only 4 or 5 people would turn but and was surprised when 4,000 did. For her, it was a date when she declared her freedom. Virtudes was at the front with the Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla banner. She continued to attend Pride events in Madrid, including the 2012 edition. One year, her mother marched with her. Virtudes later became involved with Fundación Entredos and Fundación Isonomía. In 1999, as she was leaving work at an abortion clinic, a group of fascists threw her to the ground, breaking three of her ribs. In 2007, she was stabbed by two ultras, along with regular verbal and physical abuse and threats made against her life near her home as a result of her activism in demanding abortion rights for Spanish women. At the time, she was working for Clínica CB Medical de Madrid. The regional government closed the clinic temporarily after her stabbing for what they said were precautionary reasons. She gave a presentation before the Consejo de las Mujeres del Municipio de Madrid. In 2013, she was the director of Clínica el Bosque.
Margarita Xirgu Subirá was a popular Spanish stage actress, friend of poet Federico García Lorca and central figure in some of the affairs of Círculo Sáfico de Madrid. The Catalan stage actress was well known within the theater community for being an out lesbian in the Second Republic period, and was connected to Spain’s most famous gay man Federico García Lorca, appearing in several of his plays including Yerma, Blood Wedding, and Doña Rosita. She was a cultural representative of the Second Republic period, which along with her homosexuality ultimately forced her into permanent exile following the end of the Civil War.
Xirgu was born on 18 June 1888 in Molins de Rei, Catalonia. Her family moved to Girona two years later, and moved for a final time to Barcelona in 1896. In 1900, she began to work as an amateur actress, making her amateur debut at the Salón Asiático in Barcelona in Josep Feliu i Codina’s Lo nuvi. Her performance as Zola in Teresa Raquin in 1906 was a big success, allowing her the opportunity to work as a professional actor. She went on to make her professional stage debut at Barcelona’s Teatre Romea in a December 1906 performance as Blanca in Mar i Cel. Xirgu’s 1908 performance in Joventut de príncep at the Teatre Principal de Maótheater was her first major success. Her November 1909 performance in Joventut de príncep by Wilhelm Meyer Forster at Teatre Principal de Barcelona brought her more success. Xirgu’s relationship with the theater came to an end the following year after her performance in Oscar Wilde’s Salome. In 1911, she created her own theater company. That same year, Àngel Guimerà wrote La reina jove for her. The following year, Xirgu went international after signing a contract for an overseas tour that saw her perform in Buenos Aires, Uruguay and Chile. When Xirgu returned to Spain in 1914 following the tour, she settled in Madrid with her first performances at the theater in Santiago Rusiñol’s play El patio azul, and then followed it up with more roles at the same and other theaters in Madrid. The following years would see her performance in other cities in Spain, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Between 1926 and 1933, she played a critical role in bringing Merida’s Teatro Romano back to life after almost 1500 years without use by creating a theater festival there that continues to this day. Following a successful performance by Margarita Xirgu in Saint Joan at Teatro Eslava in 1926, a tribute was paid to the actress at the Hotel Ritz. It was here that she would hear about a promising poet, Federico García Lorca, for the first time. This event initiated a lifelong friendship between the two, and saw her act in a debut of one of his plays in Barcelona the following year. Xirgu left for a tour of the Americas in January 1936 via the Santander. She would never return to Spain, as shortly thereafter the Spanish Civil War started. Initially, she planned to travel with poet and playwright Federico García Lorca but he decided to stay in Spain and accompany her later. Instead, she was accompanied by fellow Catalan lesbian and journalist Irene Polo. Personal tragedy befell her over the course of the next decade, but she continued to act in performances around South America. In 1959, she became a citizen or Uruguay. She died on 25 April 1969 in Montevideo, and was given a Catalan nationalist themed funeral.
17th century Spanish novelist María de Zayas Sotomayor was one of a few female writers in this period writing wrote highly suggestive pieces about female-female intimacy, exploring Sapphic love in works such as her 1637 story “La burlada Aminta y venganza del honor” and her 1647 story “Amar sólo por vencer”. These works approach the topic of female desire from a patriarchal perspective, not one a transgressive proto-feminist perspective where women get to define their own sexual desires.
María de Zayas Sotomayor’s close and personal relationship with the playwright and essayist Ana Caro de Mallén, including sharing a residence together in Madrid and neither being financially dependent on men, led to much speculation at the time about Zaya and Caro’s sexuality and that both were lesbians. Letters and diaries written by both women further appear to suggest they shared a spiritual and sexual union. This played a small part in their erasure from history that was only recovered in the 2000s, where both finally began to be recognized as Spain’s first feminists.
María de Zayas Sotomayor was born on 12 September 1590 in Madrid. She was the daughter of infantry captain Fernando de Zayas y Sotomayor and María Catalina de Barrasa. Very little is known about her actual life. It is speculated that she may have lived in Zaragoza for a time. It is also possible she lived in Sevilla, Granada and or Barcelona. If she lived in Barcelona, it was likely around 1643. Even her exact date of death is not known, only that she died sometime after 1647 as that is when her publishing history ended.