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"Franco's Spain, Queer Nation?"
University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform (2000)
  • Gema Pérez-Sánchez, University of Miami

This Article discusses how, through its juridical apparatus, the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco sought to define and to contain homosexuality, followed by examples of how underground queer activism contested homophobic laws. ... Part III illustrates the social and cultural legacy of queer activism against Francoist laws on homosexuality through an analysis of Eduardo Mendicutti's novel Una mala noche la tiene cualquiera Anyone Can Have A Bad Night and the young, urban culture, post-Franco context of supposed historical amnesia in which it was produced. ... As the power of Francoism and its institutions waned during the last years of the dictatorship, a proliferation of sites of resistance - such as the leftist opposition, underground and in exile (which never disappeared in the hard forty years of dictatorship but which experienced periods of increasingly severe weakness); the timid yet effective feminist challenges of the 1960s and 1970s; and the clandestine gay, lesbian, and transgendered movement of the 1970s and 1980s - attempted to subvert the dominant gendered identities and sexual practices. ... In a dictatorship so concerned with rigidly fixing "proper" gender roles and heterosexual practices, men who did not seem acceptably masculine, who allowed themselves to be sodomized, who, in the eyes of the dictatorship, willingly embraced what was considered the passive, "feminine" position in sexual intercourse, dangerously literalized both Francoism's feminization of the population and the regime's "position" vis-a-vis the rest of Europe. ... After a ten year lull, the victory of the socialist party in 1982 increased gay activists' hopes of further liberalizing society's attitudes toward homosexuality, and it triggered a new wave of publications discussing homosexuality from a progressive point of view. ... As a direct consequence of Sabater's and other judges' requests for stricter measures against homosexuals, Franco issued the Law of Social Danger and Rehabilitation of August 4, 1970, which was much dreaded by lesbians and gays but celebrated by reactionary jurists. ... Moreover, despite Hernandez's and other critics' characterization of the queer world as marginal, Mendicutti's depiction of a transvestite as the most reliable witness of crucial historical events allows him to fulfill other subversive tasks: 1) he brings the supposed "sotanos de un periodo historico" netherworld of a historical period to the center of History (i.e. he privileges the margins over the center); 2) he effectively intervenes in the retelling of History; and 3) he makes a creative critique of heterosexism and dualistic gender mores. ... Despite Mainer's perception that the artists of la movida were "almost deliberately cynical when they talked about their historical innocence," Mendicutti's intervention in history through La Madelon's retelling of the moment that threatened to end democracy, to rob Spaniards of their newly acquired freedom, and to throw queers back to the judicial persecution of the last years of the dictatorship demonstrates a clear engagement with the political world and an awareness of the dangers of repeating past history. ... In a critical editorial, a cultural and political publication called Ajoblanco, which traditionally serves as an intellectual forum for marxist, queer and feminist intellectuals, characterized the new democracy as a "dictadura que se trasviste de democracia" dictatorship that cross-dresses as a democracy . ... Having confronted the real, life-threatening implications of the potential success of the coup, which would mean a reversal to a fascist dictatorship, Madelon explains how it helped them realize "como somos todas.

  • Francoism,
  • sexuality and the law,
  • homosexuality,
  • Eduardo Mendicutti,
  • Spain,
  • dictatorship
Publication Date
Winter 2000
Publisher Statement
Full text available in Lexis-Nexis Academic
Citation Information
Gema Pérez-Sánchez. ""Franco's Spain, Queer Nation?"" University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform Vol. 33 Iss. 3 (2000)
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