THE GAY MOVEMENT DURING THE SPANISH TRANSITION (FIRST PART)
The late sixties and the seventies were a time of change and generational replacement in the Western world, which led to a shift from the old social values. In Spain, there was another major change that took place in this period as well: the Transition. After a dictatorship that had lasted almost 4 decades, the country gave way to a new democratic system. The Spanish Gay Movement during the Transition benefited from this situation, thanks to a growth in terms of new Gay Organizations and Magazines.
While the pressure from Franco’s regime led to the inactivity of the Spanish Movement for Gay Liberation in Spain (MELH), the death of the dictator was a wake-up call that brought hope to the activists. In 1975, those who remained in MELH founded the FAGC (Catalan Front for the Gay Liberation). The FAGC share the same target as that of its predecessor: putting an end to the harassment and repression the gay community were suffering in this period. It should be noted that the Social Danger Act was still in force and that there were frequent police raids into gay bars. In fact, between 1976 and 1977, it is estimated that 600 hundred people from the gay community were sent to jail without being able to take advantage of the amnesty provisions that were valid during the Transition.
The FAGC was the actual leader of the Gay Movement during the Spanish Transition. The same year it was founded, the FAGC published a manifest that quickly became a benchmark for the creation of new organisations belonging to the Gay movement in Spain during the Transition period. It was also the driving force for the establishment of the Coordination Group for Gay Liberation in Spain (Coordinadora de Liberación Homosexual del Estado Español, or COFLHEE), which had supporting groups not only in Catalonia but also in the Basque country, Galicia, Andalusia or Castile and Leon, among others.
Additionally, Armand de Fluvià, who helped found both AGHOIS and the FAGC, created the LAMBDA Institute in 1976. While the aforementioned organisations fought for the Gay Rights, the purpose of the LAMBDA Institute was, and still is, the normalisation of homosexuality in the society. In order to achieve such goal, LAMBDA organised plenty of cultural activities, which raised public and institutional awareness.
Even the religious sphere saw the creation of a new organization: Dignitat. In 1973, a Jesuit named Salvador Guasch revealed that he was homosexual and the Jesuits, without any hesitation, decided that he needed to be sent to a mental institution. Fortunately, he got out after a few days and created Dignitat, an organisation which focused on providing help to catholic homosexuals and condemning and criticising the attitude of the Catholic Church towards the gay community.
As many organisations in support of the Gay Movement during the Transition were created, new magazines addressed to the Gay community were also starting to appear, continuing the project started by AGHOIS. The FAGC published Infogai, while CCAG (a division from FACG) published La Pluma, two publications that had many points in common. Furthermore, the Lambda Institute published a magazine with the same name: LAMBDA.
he most relevant action led by the FAGC was, without any doubt, the calling and holding of the first Gay Pride Demonstration in Spain, which took place in Barcelona in 1977. On June the 26th, 1977, las Ramblas, on of the busiest places in Barcelona, turned into Stonewall, and more than 4.000 people demonstrated in this popular place. Not only homosexual and transsexual people participated in the demonstration, but also libertarians, trade unionists and supportive citizens who joined the cause.
Unfortunately, the police violently ended the demonstration. However, they did not succeed in suppressing its effect and significance. In fact, only a year after the Spanish government decided to forbid the gay pride demonstration in Barcelona, the FAGC organised a sit-in up in Sant Miquel’s Church as an act of protest. This action had the opposite effect to that desired by the Government, since, instead of stifling the voices of the Gay community, it only served as a way of empowering them.
The most important piece of news for the Gay Movement during the Spanish Transition arrived in January 1979, when some articles from the Social Danger Act were removed, including those related to “homosexual behaviours”. From that moment on, the Spanish Gay activists turned their focus to the removal of another governmental repression tool against the gay and transsexual communities: the Public Scandal Act.
In the historical moment to which this article refers, the term gay was used in a broad way to refer to LGBTIQ + people in general.
The term gay, LGBT, LGTBI or LGBTIQ + are used interchangeably.