Waldlaw Blog

Friday, July 01, 2005

Memories of Spain

For some reason, I was thinking about Spain this morning.... I spent a month in Spain with my mother, my brother and my then-boyfriend during the spring of 1979, when I was in my late teens. This was shortly after Franco had died, when Spain was still getting used to being out from under the constricts of a fascist dictatorship. We spent most of our time in Sevilla, which I remember as being very beautiful, but ... I have never been harassed so much in my entire life. Not in Italy, which was famous for its harassment of young women -- not in any Latin American country I've ever been to -- Spain definitely took the prize. I couldn't walk anywhere without guys approaching me, trying to touch me in passing, making obscene remarks. And if I tried to sit down on a public bench, I was immediately surrounded. Pornography was everywhere and unavoidable. Lots to love, but also lots to hate. I returned to Spain in 1981 with my partner, but only to Barcelona. We wandered the streets, taking in the sights, and weren't harassed at all. Barcelona is definitely far more cosmopolitan than Sevilla, but one also had the sense that times were changing. But when we tried to find a women's bar where we could go dancing, it was darn near impossible. We checked guidebooks, asked cab drivers -- no luck. Finally, a couple of women sitting in a cafe made my "gaydar" go off, and I made a deal with my partner (who's fluent in Spanish) that I would approach them and ask about bars if she would lurk in the background to understand their answer. (I've always been better at speaking foreign languages than at understanding what is said to me. I asked a guy in a cheese shop in Paris the difference between Brie and Camembert once, nodded sagely while he gave me a long and detailed explanation, and then had to admit that I hadn't understood a word. But that's another story....) Anyway, the women directed us to a women's nightclub where we could dance into the wee hours. The club was on a poorly lit back street somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and when we got there the door was locked and we had to ring a bell, pass inspection and be buzzed in. Once in it was lots of fun, but talk about security!! Last summer, we spent several days in the Tortuguero region of Costa Rica. The resort we stayed at catered to Spanish newlyweds -- young, heterosexual "just-married's" on honeymoon in Costa Rica, taking in the sights. It was very sweet in an oh-so-traditional kind of way. We hiked and boated everywhere we could for two days, saw an amazing array of wildlife (including the biggest crocodile I've ever seen and countless monkeys -- if you haven't been to Costa Rica, you really must go there!) then got the heck out of there. So back to this morning. Reading the newspaper, I discovered that Spain just voted to legalize gay marriage. Spain. Gay marriage. If you had asked me to use those three words together in a sentence a few years ago, I wouldn't have been able to. (Well, maybe: "Spain is a country where there will never be gay marriage," or something like that....) I am honestly amazed, and find myself wondering: when did the United States get to be more socially conservative than overwhelmingly Catholic Spain, which limped along under the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco from 1939 to 1975, while we were enjoying our secular democracy?? And next time my family goes to Tortuguero, will it be filled with gay Spanish not-so-traditional newleyweds on honeymoon?? All I can say is, how times do change....


  • Yes, Debbie, it used to be Gay Paree, and now it's Gay Madrid.

    Love, Ruth

    By Blogger Dendrita, at 4:24 PM  

  • As an afterthought . . . . maybe that means anything is possible. Might as well be optimistic!

    By Blogger Dendrita, at 4:26 PM  

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