gay writing


gay writing
   Gay and lesbian writing in Spain has many histories and displays a complex variety of identifications and non-identifications with the notions of homosexual culture, community, politics and sensibilities.
   As elsewhere in Europe, pre-1960s Spain had its more or less veiled homosexual voices; in this case mostly male and poets. A quiet, aestheticizing homoerotic strain is taken up by Pablo García Baena and Ricardo Molina. Luis Cernuda's austere but sensual and explicit explorations of homosexual desire in Poemas para un cuerpo (Poems for a Body) serve in the 1950s to link an older gay generation of writers to the new: there are echoes of Cernuda in poems of the 1960s onwards by Francisco Brines; and Luis Antonio de Villena in the 1970s and early 1980s mingles outrageousness and decadentism with Cernuda's ethics and aesthetics of desire.
   In prose narrative, Villena's parallel vocation as a narrator-chronicler of Madrid gay life is matched by Terenci Moix's treatments of Barcelona as a scenario for a postmodern sentimental education, and the archetypal story of growing up lesbian or gay, used by Moix, also provides the framework for Andalusian Eduardo Mendicutti's highly successful 1991 novel El palomo cojo (The Lame Dove)—now a screenplay directed by Jaime de Armiñán. The title story of Carme Riera's still popular collection of 1975, Te deix amor la mar com a penyora (I Leave You, My Love, The Sea as a Token), in its depiction of an intense relationship between a younger and an older woman, shares common thematic if not stylistic ground with the difficult and selfconscious narratives of unpoliticized lesbianism and bisexuality of Esther Tusquets to which the feminist writings of Maria Mercè Marçal provide an enlivening contrast.
   Mendicutti, like Villena and novelist Álvaro Pombo, is interested in the dynamics of age and power inequalities in non-gay identified relationships: his Los novios búlgaros (Bulgarian Boyfriends) (1993) explores issues of exploitation, empower-ment, and national identity while the hilarious and astute Una mala noche la time cualquiera (Anyone Can Have Bad Night) (1982) looks at sexual and gender politics through the eyes of a communist-sympathizing transvestite narrating the events of the night of Colonel Antonio Tejero's coup attempt of February 1981.
   Resonances of the gay liberation movement in the early 1970s, Spain's emergence from Francoism, and later the impact of HIV and AIDS have led, not unexpectedly, to the formation of a distinctively resistant tradition of gay writing, especially in those from Catalan-speaking territories. Juan Goytisolo's literary career is as exemplary in its refusal to conform to type as is his polyfaceted life. Some of the anti-establishment directness and radical sexual politics of Valencian Lluis Fernández's novel of 1978, L'anarquista nu (The Naked Anarchist), is to be traced in his parodic melodrama of 1993, Espejo de amor y lujo (A Mirror of Love and Luxury), and Catalonia has until the mid-1990s been the principal site for the production of alternative lesbian and gay discourses through small-circulation magazines, with the Madrid lesbian and gay collective's magazine ¿Entiendes? (Are you in the Know?) now beginning to take centrestage.
   See also: gay culture
   Further reading
   - Fernández, J.A. (1995) " Death and the Angel in Lluis Fernández's L'anarchista nu", Neophilologus 79: 263–71.
   - Perriam, C.G. (1995) Desire and Dissent: An Introduction to Luis Antonio de Villena, Oxford: Berg (a well-received monograph by a leading researcher in this field).
   - Smith, P.J. (1992) Laws of Desire: Questions of Homosexuality in Spanish Writing and Film, 196090, Oxford: Oxford University Press (an important study by a distinguished scholar).
   CHRIS PERRIAM

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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