Justicia gets its name from being the historical seat of justic in Madrid, with the headquarters of the Tribunal Supremo and Tribunal de Cuentas both located in the barrio. For lesbian life, and specifically translesbian friendly lesbian life, the barrio is an epicenter as it is the home of the gay barrio, Chueca. In contrast, anti Patriarcado feminist lesbians and gender critical lesbians have tended to congregate more in Lavapies.
Mili Hernández García is an activist, founder of Berkana, and the first lesbian to join Coordinadora de Frentes de Liberación Homosexual del Estado Español.
Hernández was born in Madrid in 1959. She moved to London in 1980, living there and the United States during the next six years where she visited pioneering LGBT bookstores in London and New York. In 1986, she joined Coordinadora de Frentes de Liberación Homosexual del Estado Español, the first lesbian to join the organization that went on to become COGAM. She founded Berkana in 1993, becoming the first LGBT bookstore in Spain and Latin America. It was originally situated on Calle de la Palma , moving a year later to Plaza de Chueca at a time when the neighborhood was run down and drug infested. She was one of the first people to put LGBT reference materials in the window of a shop. In 1995, she founded Editorial Egales, an LGBT themed publishing house. She also designed the first gay map of Chueca, a map that featured 20 LGBT friendly places that existed in 1995. In 2019, she published her first novel, a children’s story called Federico y sus familia. These activities have made her one of the most influential contemporary lesbians in Spain.
Lyceum Club Femenino is the Madrid branch of an enlightenment period cultural circle of women first created in London in 1904. The Madrid branch opened in 1926. It was founded by several women. Its membership included a number of women who were lesbians including Victorina Durán Cebrian, María de Maeztu, Victoria Kent and Elena Fortún. The Club also hosted a number of art exhibitions, including one by Marisa Roesset Velasco who was not a member. The Lyceum officially closed in 1939 when Franco came to power in Madrid. It was officially replaced by the Club Medina, which was part of the Francoist Sección Femenina. The original Lyceum Club Femenino continued its activities in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, though they did so clandestinely to avoid government repression. Their activities continued to support women’s education and feminist ideals. A commemorative plaque is attached to the building where the Lyceum once was at the intersection of Plaza del Rey and Calle del Barquillo.
Asociación para la Enseñanza de la Mujer, originally located at Calle de San Mateo, 15, was a school of higher education for women, created by a women’s rights advocate and progressive educator Fernando de Castro in 1870. Concepción Arenal, one of the most important feminists of the era, was involved with the school. It remained open until the Civil War, and then was converted to a neighborhood school before finally closing in 1954. Among those who attended was María Martínez Sierra, a feminist, writer, dramatist, translator and politician.
Convento de Santa María Magdalena, originally located at Calle de Hortaleza, 88, was the primary filming location for Pedro Almodóvar’s 1983 film Entre tinieblas, translated as Dark Habits in English. It was once a royal convent, but has since been converted into offices for the Unión General de Trabajadores. The film featured Julieta Serrano. The plot followed a nightclub singer who hid away in a convent filled with eccentric nuns after her boyfriend died as a result of a drug overdose. The film was revolutionary on a number of fronts in Spanish cinema; first because of its criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and second because of its willingness to break the mold for the type of women shown on the screen. Dark Habits premiered at the Venice Film Festival at an unofficial section on 9 September after having been rejected by the Cannes Film Festival for sacrilegious. It was not included in the official screenings at the Venice Film Festival because organizers considered it blasphemous and anti-Catholic. A year before Dark Habits, Almodóvar released Laberinto de pasiones. Taken together, for the LGB community, both films represent an important response to the previously oppressive nature of state-censorship and homosexual erasure that took place during the Franco period.
Colectivo Hetaira, historically located at Calle de Fuencarral, 18, is a Spanish non-profit dedicated to protecting the labor rights of prostitutes, combat gender violence, protect the immigration rights of trafficked women who were forced to engage in prostitution. It was founded on 12 March 1995 by Cristina Garaizabal and Mamen Briz. The organization dissolved on 10 December 2019. Among the lesbians involved in the organization was Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid cofounder Empar Pineda Erdozia. Another lesbian involved with the organization was Montse Oliván.
fanzine bollus vivendi was a magazine published in Madrid from 1999 to 2001. It represented one of the shifts for some lesbians, moving from lesbian feminist to queer feminism. It highlighted the conflict between the prosex versus abolitionist feminism in Madrid, pitting lesbians who support BDSM, prostitution and pornography against those who wanted that to be prohibited. It also represented the shift for lesbian queer feminists away from Lavapies to Chueca.
Chueca has historically been the gay neighborhood of Madrid, and was the base for much of the LGBT activism to come out of Spain. It is what Lavapies has been for lesbians and feminists in the city. Its borders are calle de Fernando VI on the north, Gran Vía on the south, calle del Barquillo on the east and calle de Hortaleza y Fuencarral on the west. Lesbians who have been closely affiliated with Chueca include Empar Pineda Erdozia, cofounders of Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid. She lived in the neighborhood, often moving from house to house to stay with friends. Another lesbian associated with the neighborhood was Montse Oliván.
Berkana was founded in 1993 by lesbian Mili Hernández García, becoming the first LGBT bookstore in Spain and Latin America. It was originally situated on Calle de la Palma , moving a year later to Plaza de Chueca at a time when the neighborhood was run down and drug infested. It moved to its current location at Calle Hortaleza, 64 on 5 December 2000. In the store’s early years, there were very few available titles and many members of Spain’s lesbian and gay community were scared to be seen going inside because of continued stigmatization of the homosexual community. It went on to become the largest and most influential LGBT bookstore in Spain.
Federación Estatal de Gays y Lesbianas (FEGL), located at Calle de las Infantas, 40, was founded by Colectivo de gai de Madrid (COGAM) and state level association for Comité Reivindicativo y Cultural de Lesbianas (CRECUL) in April 1992. CRECUL put forth a proposal at the time of its founding that contemplated two presidencies for the new organization, one for each of the sexes with CRECUL President María Elena de León Criadoand COGAM spokesperson Miguel Angel Sanchez Rodriguez to serve as the first two joint constituent presidents. The following year, Casal Lambda de Barcelona joined FELGTB, and the statues to the new organizations were amended with a third president being added, Armand de Fluvià. Miguel Ángel Sánchez and Elena de León became Secretarias Generales. Mid-1994, de León left FELGTB because of her feminist beliefs and was soon replaced by Mili Hernández. Hernández came from outside CRECUL, getting her position after founding grupo de mujeres de COGAM. She would later go on to become provisional president of FELGTB from 1997 until 2000 when she was replaced by Pedro González Zerolo. In the mid-1990s, the group was dominated by gay men, who took an institutionalist approach to homosexual liberation, seeking to use political processes to achieve their goals. They were also about denouncing homophobia, but social and legally enshrined forms of this type of discrimination. The Federación Estatal de Gays y Lesbianas (FEGL) changed their name in 2002 and put lesbians first to increase their visibility. At the same time, they also added the T for transexuals in their name. The name would change again in 2007, when they added the B for bisexuals.
Plastics were one of the mediums used by some lesbians in this the Felipe González period, with Cabello/Carceller being among the most prominent lesbian artists using this material. Cabello/Carceller used plastics to create art featuring the shape of female genitalia as part of their attempts to normalize women’s sexuality, and specifically lesbian women’s sexuality. Among their most important works in plastics were 1994’s “Ya no me importa tu mirada” and 1996’s “acércate, deséame, ámame, sí….pero cállate”. Cabello/Carceller are at Galería Elba Benítez on Calle de San Lorenzo, 11 in Madrid, and Galeria Joan Prats at Carrer de Balmes, 54 in Barcelona.
Asociación Feminista de Autodefensa Walkirias are a feminist self-defense group. They took their name from the Norse female mythological warriors, Valkyries. During the 1990s, they were located in an apartment on Calle del Barquillo. They were founded with the goal of teaching women how to protect themselves after a series of sexual assaults and rapes that had brought women to the streets to demand better protection. Lesbians were a majority of participants in the association. In 1992, the organization received a grant of 700,000 pesetas from the Instituto de Mujeres located inside the Ministerio de Asuntos Sociales. They worked with similar groups in France and Germany. During the late 1990s, a group of transwomen asked for a session for transwomen. The association said no, because their focus was on assisting women who had been born girls. This created a conflict with transgender groups that they were not prepared for. The Insituto de Mujeres though stood with them, and they learned to grow both as lesbians and feminists.
Colectivo de Feministas Lesbianas de Madrid (CFLM) were one of the major lesbian groups in Madrid in the 1990s. They were based on Calle Barquillo for a while in the early 1990s. The building they were based in was used by a number of local feminist groups. The moved to a new building in a different location in 1996.
The Contencioso-Administrativo del TSJ de Madrid, located at Calle del General Castaños, 1, ruled that Mutualidad General de Funcionarios Civiles del Estado (MUFACE), located at Calle de Modesto Lafuente, needed to pay a single woman from Madrid €597 to cover the costs of medications that had been rejected from public funding because she was single. The judicial ruling implied similar findings should be possible based on sexual orientation.
Griffin’s, originally located at C. del Marqués de Valdeiglesias, 6, 28013, was a gay and lesbian discoteca that first opened on 27 May 1982, and was the most important LGB club outside Chueca. During the 1980s and 1990s, it was the discotecta for gay men and some lesbians, when being gay was still at times taboo. It hosted transvestite shows, one of the first and most important clubs in the city having drag queen shows. It closed around March 2018.
calle de Barquillo, 44 has been the home of militant feminism in Madrid since the late 1970s. It has housed a number of militant organizations over the years and continued to do so up until the late 2000s. Among the militant feminists to meet there were lesbian feminists. In the late 1970s, militant feminists in Madrid at calle de Barquillo, 44, opposed the creation of specific groups of lesbians since they did not feel that sexual orientation was a legitimate element to base an organization on. Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Mujeres para la Participación y la Igualdad still had their offices in the building in 2021.
CRECUL (Comite de Culturas Lesbianas), located at Calle del Barquillo, 44 planta 2 Izda, is a historical association for lesbian and bisexual women focused on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and for lesbian visibility. They are both a national organization, along with a having regional branches like one in Madrid. The organization was founded in 1991 after a meeting of the European Lesbian Meeting as part of the ILIS meeting. The following year, they made a public presentation in support of a proposed law on de facto couples. They went on to produce a magazine called Informales, which had a national audience during the mid-1990s. A previous office was located at Calle Bravo Murillo, 4. CRECUL president Elena de León said in 2018 that lesbians were forgotten in official campaigns by the local government in Madrid during the AIDS epidemic as the only tool the Comunidad de Madrid subsidized to fight AIDS transmission was a condom and women having sex with women were never featured in any awareness campaigns.
Tal Fulanita, located at Regueros, Calle de Regueros, is an LGBTQI+ bar located in Chueca. It regularly hosts live music, and works with the regional and local government to promote these events. The bar is an international reference point for the LGBTQI+ community in the city, opening in 2004. It has some lesbian friendly shows, and can be a good place to take a date.