That the phrase that the character of Belén Cuesta says after a long monologue about her sexuality in Kiki, love is made: “Madrid seems very modern, but Madrid is not modern” is one of the most remembered things from the film and has flirted with virality on TikTok is not strange. It is enough to have lived here for a while to know that Madrid is a city of contrasts, of ups and downs and that, just as it has been a refuge for the LGTBIQ+ community for decades, it is also the place where 1 in 4 people have suffered harassment, verbal threats or insults in public spaces due to their sexual orientation in the last 5 years according to this study carried out by the Madrid City Council in 2021 on the LGTBIQ+ collective. The data shows that, although in general the majority find Madrid a friendly city, 55.9% of those surveyed believe that intolerance towards people in the group has remained the same or has increased in recent years.
In this meeting between the LGTBI collective and Madrid, those who have really come out on top have been the citizens. A clear and obvious example is the transformation that the Chueca neighborhood has undergone since the 1980s until now, becoming a place from which to escape to one of the most attractive and reference neighborhoods for the collective in the city.
Certain parts of the city are now important enclaves of the change that society and Madrid have experienced to the point of being in the top 10 of the cities where there is the greatest acceptance in the world.
The Bobia Bar
La Bobia was a meeting point for artists in the 80s. Fabio McNamara and Pedro Almodóvar met here, and soon after they started their music group in which the now renowned film director would cross-dress for concerts —in fact, another great The meeting point was the Rock-Ola room where it was usual for them to play. La Bobia is one of the scenes of maze of passions (1982), Pedro Almodóvar’s second film, and in which the protagonist’s homosexuality is openly discussed.
Berkana is an icon of Chueca, and a pilgrimage bookstore for anyone interested in the LGTBI collective. In Berkana the first gay flag of Chueca waved and its owner, Mili Hernández, is one of the pioneers in LGTBIQ+ activism in Spain. She opened the bookstore after years living in London and New York, where there were already well-known bookstores with this theme, and when she returned to Madrid she was missing a space like this, so she opened it herself. She also participated in the first Pride demonstrations in Madrid.
The plaque of La Venom
“In memory of Cristina Ortiz La Veneno, brave transsexual woman visible in the 90s” reads the plaque that was placed in the Parque del Oeste in 2019, shortly before a series based on her life was made. The second plaque in honor of a trans person it is on a pillar next to the park’s Juan de Villanueva Fountain. Starting with the series premiere, the column began to be wrapped in flowers and props, until it disappeared for a year. It has also been vandalized on different occasions, one of them in protest of the Trans Law.
La Veneno became an icon of the collective for her appearances on television, making the reality of a trans person in Spain visible to the mass public for the first time.
Trans Memory Square
Somewhat less well known is the first plaque dedicated to the memory of transgender people which is between the streets San Gregorio with San Lucas. In principle, it was approved in 2017 to name it after Alan Montoliu Albert, a trans teenager who committed suicide in 2015 because of the bullying received. Finally, this small square in Chueca, which previously had no name, went on to “become a place to demand LGTBI rights in our city. A group that still, to this day, suffers attacks and is a victim of hatred and intolerance” as the City Council statement said in 2018.
Pedro Zerolo square
Pedro Zerolo square was named after the politician and LGTBIQ+ rights activist in 2015. Zerolo chaired the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals between the years 1998-2003to later become a councilor for the Municipal Socialist Group in Madrid and one of the great promoters of the same-sex marriage law, which was finally approved on July 3, 2005. Later he went on to hold other positions within the PSOE as a member of the Executive Commission of the Socialist Party of Madrid.
Born in Venezuela, his fight for the rights of the collective crossed borders and was also very influential in Latin America.
The streets of the first Madrid Pride
Almost 10 years after the Stonewall incidents in New York —considered the first protest in favor of LGTBI rights— some 7,000 people —according to MADO data— participated in what would be the first demonstration of Pride which was held in Madrid, which was from the Plaza de Santo Domingo to Sol. A year later the demonstration was not authorized and was reduced to a rally in Casa de Campo. In 1979 it was held on Paseo de Pintor Rosales and it was not until 1986 when it was established in Chueca, with the creation of the Collective of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals of Madrid (COGAM).
In principle, they were very demanding and political demonstrations that moved away from the festive idea that is today, in fact, The first float to ride through Pride was the one from Shanghai magazine in 1996. Now, Critical Pride has been recovering the spirit of the first demonstrations since 2018.
Gloria Fuertes’ Lavapiés
Gloria Fuertes is the author with whom the children of this country are introduced to poetry —the commission of her work is not small— but, in her crudest poems, she speaks of her neighborhood, Lavapiés. As well she picks up one of the phrases that she is attributed to her when she lived in the US: «I am so cool that when I say forkseveryone notices that I am from Lavapiés ».
Now a plaque remembers her on the street where she was born the feminist and lesbian poetwhich did not become an icon, despite its exceptionality, until the 80s.