THE SPANISH GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENTS IN 80s
The Spanish Gay Rights Movement in the 80s focused all its efforts on two different fronts: normalization and fightingHIV/AIDS. On the one hand, the homosexual normalization was progressing thanks to the legal victories the LGBT community obtained during the Transition. On the other hand, the AIDS pandemic became an unexpected enemy that was particularly severe with the gay community, stigmatizing them even more, just when a slow social integration was finally happening. In fact, it was very common for the media during this period to refer to HIV as “the gay sickness”, as the cases of discrimination against HIV infected people increased day by day.
As the FAGC did during the 70s, it was the Coordinadora d’Iniciatives Gays (CIG), founded by Jordi Petit in 1986, the organization that led the Spanish Gay Rights Movement during the 80s. The CIG, renamed officially as Coordinadora Gai-Lesbiana de Catalunya a few years later, became the main promoter of legislative changes in Catalonia and Spain. Furthermore, the Coordinadora showed its commitment in the fight against AIDS. In 1989, this organization created the campaign “Love as you feel like it / Love safe” and organized the first official dance to support the HIV-positive.
The Organization Gais per la Salut (GPS), which was later known as Stop Sida and originated Gais Positius, was part of the Coordinadora, and both took the lead in the fight against AIDS, creating the first campaigns to raise awareness about the sickness. In addition, Gais per la Salut organized many workshops about safe sex and they even managed to collaborate with Barcelona’s City Council and LGTB bars in the printing of the first poster supporting safe sex that was distributed in the city.
In addition to all the efforts made by the Spanish Gay Rights Movement during the 80s, some institutional actions also got involved in the fight against AIDS. As it was previously mentioned, Barcelona’s City Council collaborated with GPS, while the Catalan Government, the Generalitat, started a campaign with the motto “Don’t let AIDS suck the life out of you” in 1987. The campaign was addressed not only to the people who were at risk, but also to the whole population.
Even the Police agreed to collaborate with the Coordinadora, and, in 1988, Jordi Petit announced that the Police Chief of Barcelona had committed to include informational material on homosexuality in the training courses for police officers.
By the end of the decade, activist Keith Haring visited Barcelona, after being asked by the Council to paint a wall about AIDS. To the sound of house music, the artist painted a striking mural that perfectly symbolized the devastation caused by the disease. Nowadays, a duplicate of this mural is exhibited in the Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA) in Raval neighbourhood, at the heart of Barcelona.
The Spanish Gay Rights Movement continued its fight for LGBT normalization. In 1983, Ràdio Gramanet, a municipal radio station from Santa Coloma de Gramenet, aired a radio programme called “Gay Time” (La hora Gay), which became the first one in Spain. This radio show was run by the FAGC and it could be listened to in Santa Coloma and a big part of Barcelona as well; its content focused on debates, information about the gay schedule or participations from listeners by phone.
In 1985, the fist gay disco in Barcelona, Martin’s, opened at the end of one of the most popular streets in the city, Passeig de Gràcia. In fact, there was already a nightclub in the premises, but a decision was made to transform it into the first disco specifically addressed to the gay community in a city where, up to then, only had a few bars with a mixed clientele and some clubs that were set up in apartments.
The Spanish Gay Rights Movement in the 80s kept fighting in the politics field as well. The Coordinadora was the leader of many new actions. One of them consisted in calling Spanish citizens who had to submit their income tax declaration to prevent the Church from being sent money from taxes. Instead, the Coordinadora urged the people to select the social purposes option when filing their tax returns. In fact, the organization criticized the Catholic Church many times, due to the fact that it was always disregarding the Gay community and against the use of condoms.
Still, the main contribution the Coordinadora made to the Spanish Gay Rights Movement was a change of approach when it came to the fighting for the rights of the community. Many organizations and especially the FAGC, which was an essential one during the Transition, were losing momentum and many members as well, so the Coordinadora realized that a change of direction was needed. Inspired by the LGBT movements in the United States in the late 80s, it created the Pink Vote (Vota Rosa) campaign in 1988. The purpose was very simple: it involved the establishment of a platform for gay rights and the discussion of proposals related to the community. Then, some representatives of this platform would meet with the political candidates. Finally, they would recommend voters which party they should vote, depending on the outcome of the meetings they previously had and on the commitment shown by those parties towards the demands of the LGBT community. Since then, the Pink Vote has become gradually more relevant for all political parties.
Fundamentally, the Spanish Gay Rights Movement during the 80s focused on two main fronts: fighting AIDS and continuing the arduous road to normalization. Although the progress had been tremendous, especially if we compare the situation to the one in the 70s, there was still a lot more work to do in order to achieve full social acceptance.
Nota del editor:
En el momento histórico al que hace referencia este artículo el término gay se usaba de un modo ámplio para referise a las personas LGBTIQ+ en general.
El término gay, LGBT, LGTBI o LGBTIQ+ se usan de forma indistinta.