Looking for books, magazines and other materials to read to better understand Spanish and Madrid lesbian history?

The 1575 Examen de ingenios para las ciencias by physician Juan Huarte de San Juan was republished in Alcala de Hernanes in 1640 and Madrid in 1668. The book, available in English, provided an examination of causes for female same-sex sexual behavior using physiology, psychological and sexuality-based approaches. Huarte’s text suggest a relationship between same-sex desire and physical appearance, suggesting that more masculine women and more feminine men were destined to be born the other sex, but, “Many times Nature has made a female, and having been in the mother’s womb for one or two months, for some reason her genitals are overcome with heat and they come out and a male is created. To whom this transmutation occurs in the mother’s womb, it is clearly recognizable later by certain movements he has that are indecent for men: woman-like, effeminate, soft and mild of voice; and such men are inclined to behave like a woman and they frequently fall prey to the sin of sodomy. On the other hand, often Nature has made a male with his genitals on the outside, and with an onset of coldness, they are transformed to the inside and a female is created. She is recognized after birth as having a masculine nature, in her speech as well as in all her movements and behavior. This may seem difficult to prove, but consider that many authentic historians affirm its truth, it is easy to believe.” The book was hugely influential in its time, with the author later becoming the patron saint of psychologists.

La sed de amar is a book published in 1903 by male Spanish writer and faux feminist Felipe Trigo. The book is based on a lesbian wedding from the point of view is that of a male aspirant who fails to recognize at all that women should have the right to freely chose their own sexuality. While anti-lesbian in this context, the book gives a good idea about patriarchal attitudes towards women in general and of gender roles in the early 1900s. The book was originally printed Madrid, and reprinted in Madrid again in 1906, 1912, 1915, 1919, 1920, 1930, and in 1912 in an English language edition. While this particular book does not appear readily available in English in print, it is available in digital format.

Oculto sendero is a book written by Elena Fortún that was never published in her life time, but was widely circulating in lesbian circles during the Francoist period following her death, and has subsequently been translated into English as Hidden Path; the book details Fortún’s lesbian experiences. It was first published in 1986 in Madrid, and subsequently published again in Sevilla in 2016. The book focuses on the author’s experiences before 1936.

Las insurrectas del Patronato de protección a la mujer is a Spanish language work that was published in 2021. Author and investigator Consuelo García del Cid Guerra had started writing the book back in 2012 to fulfill a promise to a woman friend who passed away to bring out of the catacombs the ignored history of women aged 16 to 25 during the Franco dictatorship and the Spanish democratic transition. This included the history of young lesbians and pregnant women, who defied the state when it came to their own sexuality and whom the state described as deviant.

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