Curro Peña, a 28-year-old gay man from Malaga, could not believe, but neither could he avoid, the impulse that overtook him on the afternoon of Saturday, July 3, when he left his house in the Plaza de Castilla (Madrid) heading to the LGTBIQ + Pride demonstration . “He wore a rainbow flag bandana on his head. As soon as I stepped outside the house, as soon as I crossed the threshold, I took it off and hid it ”, he describes today on the phone, almost ashamed. In the nine long years that this man of almost six feet and an activist vocation has been out of the closet, he had never imagined hiding himself as soon as he set foot in the street. “I have always carried my sexual orientation as a flag, but I was alone, away from other LGTBIQ + people, and the bandana is very visible. A voice said to me: 'Let's tone it down. At least until reaching Chueca ”.
That voice can be taken as the response to an image that Curro had been haunting over and over again, in variation after variation, in headline after headline, throughout the month. "A minor suffers a beating [in Pontevedra] after declaring himself gay to his attackers." "Multiple assault on the beach of Somorrostro [Barcelona] to two gay couples". “Homophobic assault on a young man in Basauri [Basque Country] by 13 people shouting 'you fucking fag, you're grossed out'. "A young man denounces the homophobic aggression of an agent of the Municipal Police of Madrid". They had been brutal weeks for people like him and that morning had dawned with another headline, the worst of all: "A young man is beaten to death in A Coruña in what could be a homophobic crime."
From left to right, the writers Valeria Vegas and Boris Izaguirre; Eduardo Rubiño, deputy for Madrid; and Boti Rodrigo, General Director of Sexual Diversity Pablo Zamora
It was impossible to see coming that afternoon everything that would unleash that news. It was not known that Samuel Luiz, a 24-year-old nurse, had died shouting "shit fag" without having done anything more than a video call near the wrong group of people outside the El Andén premises; it was not known that he had been kicked along 150 meters of street by what the police would describe as “a human pack”, in a many-against-one in which the one never had anything to do; It was not known that Luiz was of Brazilian origin, that he taught the Bible, that he played the flute in the evangelical church and that his father, Maxsoud, an employee of Zara, was unaware of his sexual orientation (and would ask the country to ignore it along with him) ; It was not known that his death would make him a symbol, that even Beyoncé would tweet her photo demanding justice,that would unleash a wave of unprecedented acts and demonstrations in the history of the Spanish LGTBIQ + collective, which would be a milestone whose future and transformative potential are so unfathomable today that it seems that it has only just begun. None of this was known. But you knew how Curro felt with the bandana in his pocket. He and hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians and trans, bisexual and intersex people throughout Spain. That death touched them all closely, more than any other, and had aroused the primordial fear, buried but less and less, that this country, in reality, is not a safe place for them.that it would be a milestone whose future and transformative potential are so unfathomable today that it seems to have only just begun. None of this was known. But you knew how Curro felt with the bandana in his pocket. He and hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians and trans, bisexual and intersex people throughout Spain. That death touched them all closely, more than any other, and had aroused the primordial fear, buried but less and less, that this country, in reality, is not a safe place for them.that it would be a milestone whose future and transformative potential are so unfathomable today that it seems to have only just begun. None of this was known. But you knew how Curro felt with the bandana in his pocket. He and hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians and trans, bisexual and intersex people throughout Spain. That death touched them all closely, more than any other, and had aroused the primordial fear, buried but less and less, that this country, in reality, is not a safe place for them.and it had awakened the primordial fear, buried but less and less, that this country, in reality, is not a safe place for them.and it had awakened the primordial fear, buried but less and less, that this country, in reality, is not a safe place for them.
Mapi Boix: "It is the first time in my life that I start to be afraid"
Mapi Boix (Alicante, 39 years old), stylist, remembers meeting in Madrid with an old classmate.
They hadn't seen each other for years.
His question: "Hey, how are you doing about being called the dyke?"
And that's how he discovered that that had been one of his nicknames from high school.
"They were wrong, it wasn't dyke, I'm bisexual," he corrects.
“I have always been openly bisexual. I am obviously black. I have had to grow up very outwardly and defend myself a lot. It's a bit sad, but you grow up assuming that kind of thing is going to happen if you decide to be visible and not hide, ”he explains. By "that sort of thing" he means insidious glances or whispered comments. Also to the lgtbiphobic phrases or arguments: "Those who say: 'Everyone who does what they want, but at home', or 'I don't mess with what they do in their bed, but I don't want to see it outside."
“They have never hit me. Luckily, ”he says. “But if you go with someone by the hand or if you kiss, you do suffer small attacks. They are daily, practically daily, for all members of the group ”. She believes that now there is more community and that the new generations have been stomping: "They live sexuality more openly and go out on the streets very proud of who they are."
Boix describes himself as brave, but acknowledges that now he is more alert: "I think it is the first time in my life that I start to be afraid." “I don't think they are going to kill me on the first corner, but I do think that I will be exposed to uncomfortable situations that I thought were overcome. It becomes more evident that you have to be careful. And that is very scary ”.
Text by Elena Vierna Carrasco
The attack on Samuel is not, tragically, by far, the only episode of violence with homophobic overtones that has occurred in Spain in recent years. Yes, it is the first to provoke such a forceful response by the entire LGTBIQ + community. What has changed? One of its creators, Marco Laborda, a 34-year-old visual artist from Barcelona, who was the first to use the hashtag # YoMaricón on the networks the week after the beating, attributes it not so much to the event itself as to the social context. "The hate message is getting through," he says. “The other day I saw from my window in the neighborhood of Ventas some children with Spanish flags who were shouting: 'Long live Spain! Death to the fags! ' They must not have been more than 11 years old and it was eight in the afternoon. This is happening in 2021. They are not saying it by their own invention, they have heard it somewhere: these children have parents.I was in shock. Reality exploded in my face ”.
The most widespread opinion among those interviewed for this report is that homophobia has taken to the streets from the institutions.
“As long as we continue to normalize homotransphobia and hate speech as if they were a legitimate opinion, when in reality they are a clear violation of human rights, homophobic attacks will continue to grow.
In the face of their hatred, we must build community and mutual support, safe places so that everyone can be who they are without fear ”, argues the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero.
Boti Rodrigo: "We have a diverse youth, but also a tremendous lgtbiphobia"
What he identified as homosexuality in college, until then was simply "weirdness." "This girl is so strange," I heard at home. It was the background echo in a childhood and youth marked by National Catholicism. A quarter of a century ago, Boti Rodrigo (Madrid, 76 years old), current general director of Sexual Diversity and LGTBI Rights in the Ministry of Equality, began her activism with the group. Remember “hostile and hateful glances, disgust. “They came from many people, but generally men. Of that patriarchy that is surprised to see free women, as we lesbians are. Women who do not depend on the male figure ”.
He believes that we live in "the best and the worst of times" for the LGTBIQ collective. “We have a diverse youth, which is assumed in sexual diversity, but at the same time a tremendous lgtbiphobia. With much hatred towards the difference ”. He believes that political parties –mainly Vox, but also the PP– and the media pay for harassment with their hateful speeches that they deliver with impunity. “Samuel's murder, so painful, is a turning point for society to realize the danger of discrimination and the contempt that LGTBI people are subjected to. They kill us, they are killing us ”. Faced with this situation, Rodrigo recommends the reporting of all hate crimes as well as a “fierce defense of rights”. “It costs a lot to get them. And minority rights, sadly, seem elastic:they can go backwards. That is why we have to make an effort to maintain them, to defend them, to take care of them and not to take a step backwards ”.
Spain, the third country in the world to approve same-sex marriage, today seems a different country than it was that summer of 2005. The extreme right entered Parliament three years ago and its old speeches now sound like new.
LGTBIQ + rights are called “debates”.
The struggles of the collective, "a tyranny."
The Ministry of the Interior counted 256 hate crimes in 2018. In 2019, the latest available report, they rose to 278. The State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans and Bisexuals and the Observatory Against Homophobia of Catalonia and that of Valencia also manage a 65% increase in assaults during the first half of 2021.
"They are trying to take away our country from us," protests Eduardo Rubiño, president of the Más Madrid parliamentary group in the Madrid Assembly and one of the most visibly active politicians for LGTBIQ + rights in Spain.
“They have qualified LGTBIQ + people as sick in need of therapy [November 2020].
They have said that the right to equal marriage must be removed because LGTBIQ + families are not natural [December 2018].
Santiago Abascal released on the program
that it is preferable for a child to have a father and a mother because it is what they need [October 2019]… Vox is the third political force in the country at this time and is breaking with that path that we had traveled with so much effort".
Eduardo Rubiño: "There is a social phenomenon of discrimination that requires a cultural change"
Eduardo Rubiño (Madrid, 29 years old). He was already in public office when, one night in June 2018, a group of young people saw him hugging his boyfriend in the Lavapiés metro and yelled at him: "You fucking fagots, go fuck yourself." "That case had repercussions because I was already a deputy [for Más Madrid]", reflects the current president of his parliamentary group in the Madrid Assembly. But it was not the only one. “In adolescence, on an end-of-term trip to Mallorca, my boyfriend and I were kicked out of the club for kissing. There were heterosexual couples doing the same. We went to the beach and a group of kids came to scold us. We had to run ”. Sharing aggression is important, he admits, but it shouldn't be the only thing. “We have all suffered, with more or less luck, qualifying acts of aggression.But even the most serious are the tip of the iceberg of a social phenomenon of discrimination, one that requires a cultural change that must be addressed from the educational system and the fight against hate speech ”.
It is a phenomenon that also affects women or immigrants, anyone, in short, that threatens the hegemony of the heterosexual white man as the dominant group. History has taught that any vulnerable group tends to be more vulnerable the closer a strong man is to the government. It is not necessary to legislate against a group: it is enough to put it in the spotlight.
It is not the only factor. “Homotransphobia has always been there, silenced in many cases; now it is on the table. There was a homophobic murder in Gandía in 2014 and another in Alicante in 2015. This has always been a continuum ”, says Toño Abad, director of the Valencian Observatory against LGBTIFobia. “But now there is more visibility, more complaints, more complaints and more communication than ever. A need to know and express the problem. There is more awareness of joining us. The attacks are, yes, more violent than before: more serious injuries are registered. It is too early to know if it is a question of the exhaustion of people due to the pandemic or polarization, but it shows ”.
In a world that has learned to understand itself through the screen, each homotransphobic aggression, physical or verbal, personal or institutional, is more visible.
Add to a previously non-existent whole.
Thus, it is a matter of time before, one day, a drop will fill the glass.
Boris Izaguirre: "We have not been able to create a protective wall"
Boris Izaguirre (Caracas, 55 years old). He was a pioneer in making homosexuality visible in the Spain of the nineties through Crónicas marcianas (Telecinco). Today, this writer and communicator is visibly affected by the death of Samuel Luiz. "I think about him every day," he reveals. “I have the feeling that as a group we have a bit of guilt. We have not been able to create a wall of protection. It is our responsibility that this does not happen ”. But he is hopeful: “This has to be a turning point. As was 8-M or #MeToo. The pity is that it will be because of the death of a good kid ”. He has always made the flag of his sexual identity. In addition, he was one of the first references to marry, 15 years ago, with Rubén Nogueira. It is an attitude that always brings. “In 1976, at the entrance to a movie theater in Caracas,they punched me. It was a kid who wanted to prevent me from entering the room because of my pen. I got up and decided to go in to see my movie. This pen is mine, it is my identity ”.
Text by Mábel Galaz
Homophobia is violence with a thousand faces.
It can be a comment or an unshakable silence.
To be born with a pen and live without it.
A fatal beating or the constant fear of receiving it.
Public contempt for a boss or a politician.
Feeling trapped between a hostile world and an inner life that seems inexpressible.
"It has an almost disciplining component: we internalize it and it carries weight throughout our lives," illustrates Rubiño.
There is not one LGTBIQ + person who has not suffered it on a greater or lesser scale.
Christo Casas, a 29-year-old anthropologist and journalist, received a beating for trying to use the public bathroom at a festival in Raval in 2018. “Real men piss in the tree;
If you want a bath, you are a fag ”, said one of the group that hit him.
The following months, in addition to not being comfortable in public spaces, Casas had to defend that the beating fell on him for being gay, not for a bathroom.
"Never will an aggressor say to the media or to the police: 'I hit him for a fagot.'
People are homophobic, but not stupid, ”he clarifies.
Curro Peña: "At work it is very common to be denied what you are"
Curro Peña (Málaga, 28 years old) is a researcher at ILGA, the International Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trans and Intersex, and identifies small moments that from the outside could hardly be considered aggressions, but that have that intention. “At school a boy came from behind to give me a loving hug. Only it wasn't affectionate, it was an attempt to humiliate me for being soft. At work it is very common to be denied who you are. I would go out for a drink with some colleagues with whom I get along very well, I would talk to them about my experience and they would tell me: 'We are all the same, all adolescents have to get to know each other'. I tried to explain to them that my experience is different. I called another colleague, gay too, and he understood. That is a microaggression ”.Those small daily violence that until now had not been shared are what is fueling this mobilizing explosion in the collective.
Olympia Arango, a 21-year-old Asturian, was 17 when he was making out with his girlfriend at the entrance to the Les Corts metro in Barcelona, and a man spat at them between shouts of “bolleras!”. "It always makes you feel terrible, but more so when you are 17 years old and you don't understand why an adult thinks it is wrong for you to go for a walk with the person you love," he laments over the phone.
Bob Pop, writer and creator of the autobiographical series
(TNT), reveals today that he lost his first job because of his sexual identity.
“He was an intern at an advertising agency.
They fired me from an unpaid position, ”he recalls.
“I went to a Prince concert made a lady full of lace and pendants.
On Monday it was all laughter in the office because one of the colleagues had seen me.
On Wednesday, my boss called me and fired me.
"This is not caviar and champagne, this is chickpeas."
From left to right, Mapi Boix, Alfredo Santamaría, Paula Usero, Curro Peña and Alfredo Vivas Pablo Zamora
Marco Laborda noticed that they treated him differently before understanding why. “The typical thing: I liked to play with the girls, not football. Hence they called me a fag. He was five. So you don't know what that is about, you discover what you are through an insult. Between the ages of five and eight, school was my nightmare. One day, in elementary school, down the hall, on the way to gym class, the teacher was the first in line, we were the last; five or six of them caught me, cornered me and began to drown me. They laughed. They stuffed balls of paper, crumpled sheets of paper, down my throat. That the teacher saw and did nothing, continued on his way. That same afternoon, when leaving school, they tried to put me in a garbage bag to dump it in a container. I was able to escape, but I remember that the mother of a colleague saw me and asked me: 'What's wrong with you?'I was not able to tell him, not there or at home, out of dignity. We victims are ashamed to have been treated in this way. You shut it up. And there comes a day when you believe it, you think you are shit, because, if so many people mistreat you, point at you, call you a fag, you have to have something bad. He was basically alone. I was ashamed to go down to the patio so they wouldn't realize I was. I would hide or stand near groups of people so that from the outside it would appear that I was with them. Recess was panic, drawing attention, a ball, being insulted. Let them talk about me as if I were not there. 'But do you want this fagot to be here?' When I was 9 or 10 years old, when I had already changed centers and everything was better, my neighbor and I got used to going to play with Marc, a boy who had come on vacation with his mother.a modern, beautiful woman, very nice to me and my parents. One day I went to my neighbor's house to pick him up as usual. She told me that I couldn't go. 'I have to tell you something, but I don't know how. Marc's mother told me that she doesn't want you to play with her son because you're a fag. ' I felt so ashamed, so naked, so unworthy, so dirty… I went home. When I was alone I started crying. I never saw Marc again ”.
Paula Usero: "That today there are beatings to death for being homosexual seems terrible to me"
Paula Usero (Valencia, 29 years old) has spent almost three years entering homes around the world every afternoon –through the screen– under the name of Luisita, the character of 'Amar es para siempre' (Antena 3) that she had a relationship with Amelia in the Spain of the 70s. That is why she knows what it was like to be a lesbian then.
"I have received many messages of hatred, especially through social networks, towards the character."
Luisita has been locked up in the basement of the General Directorate of Security (DGS) for her sexual orientation and has seen her fictitious girlfriend receive electroshock therapy to "turn her heterosexual."
“All of that happened a few years ago.
That today there are beatings to death for being homosexual seems terrible to me ”.
His relationship and commitment to the group was born before Luisita. "A sensible and intelligent person supports and is part of the collective." Because of her character, many people assume that Usero is a lesbian. “Sometimes they ask me: 'Are you such or are you which?' Well, I don't know, now I'm happy sharing my life with a man. But that doesn't mean that I only like men. I don't like labels ”.
Now, these two characters live today to see what their free love would be like with the series 'Luimelia' (Atresplayer). But there are things that his characters continue to suffer. “There are behaviors and comments that I keep hearing on the street. It is unfortunate. They are like micro-attacks, like a drop that seeps through and in the end makes a giant puddle ”.
Máximo Huerta, presenter and writer, confesses for the first time that three men in a car yelled "fag!" when he was coming home from a disco one Christmas. “I remember the pain and fear and violence that was coming when the car stopped, when they got out and started spitting. And there was no way to cover. I picked up my pace, which is the only thing you can do when you're scared. I remember the coat full of spit ”.
The sum of these stories has galvanized a good part of the LGTBIQ + community. Together they are more than exposed trauma, they are a common problem. Laborda realized this a few days after Samuel's death, when he posted his memories of school online under his # YoMaricón. Almost overnight, hundreds of LGTBIQ + people shared and imitated him. The label began to host more stories, and more, and more, personal and universal stories at the same time. The first cry of "fag", the feeling of being "second" at recess ... They came from celebrities and complete strangers. It was a desperate cry, but also an explosion of boredom. The community felt vulnerable, but also cohesive, and for the first time faced hostility. “We have gotten used to being looked at badly, with a disgusted face,” Laborda claims.“Fear has to pass to the other side. They have to be afraid to express it ”, summarizes another of the popes of the cause in networks, the Cantabrian artist David Macho, 26 years old.
Alfredo Vivas and Alfredo Santamaría: "They laugh at your gestures, your expressions, your pen ... in a constant way"
Alfredo Vivas (Cádiz, 24 years old) remembers the first attack with perfect clarity. It was at school. "They hit me in the face with a mop." Others followed, but those today he prefers not even to remember. For members of the LGTBIQ + community, adolescence is "a hard period". "They laugh at your gestures, your expressions, your pen ... in a constant way." Vivas' partner is Alfredo Santamaría (Badajoz, 32 years old). Responds to another type of gay profile: "I have never suffered violent attacks or direct insults, but I have lived those around me," he says. A hateful assault is, after all, a message to the entire community. He moves in small circles: “Spaces where we are safe. In a bubble where it seems that nothing happens ”.
Recently, Vivas suffered a verbal attack at work. “It is hard to assimilate that it continues to happen. That a partner feel with the right to judge you disparagingly for being homosexual ”. That is why it demands more references: “Professors, footballers, journalists openly LGTBIQ + without this having negative connotations or repercussions. I don't understand where homophobia comes from, that hatred, that disgust, that ugly thing. Homosexuality for me is love; It hurts me that it looks different ”.
The psychotherapist specializing in gay men Walt Odets, acclaimed author of
The Psychology of Gay Men's Lives
(Penguin), compares the reaction to Samuel's death with that of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man murdered in Wyoming in 1998. That news it gripped the American collective conversation for months. "That visibility played an important, albeit slow, role in shifting views towards gay rights," Odets recalls. Rubiño analyzes it in a more concise way: "It is a before and after for the community."
And not only the LGTBIQ +.
Christo Casas launched another massive thread, # YoSíTeCreo, the same label that had been used in the La Manada sentence and other feminist causes.
I wanted both groups to be together.
"In the end, homotransphobia has a macho root," he reasons.
"It tries to deny women typically masculine forms of desire and punish men for typically feminine ones," he explains.
In fact, the great LGTBIQ + advances have always come after great feminist waves.
Valeria Vegas: "Speeches of violence precede acts of violence"
“These days have marked a good part of the group. I perceive it. We have exorcised our pain, violence and fear. We have come out to say: 'It's fine now.' Valeria Vegas (Valencia, 35 years old) is the best known trans writer in the country; Between the memoirs of La Veneno that she wrote and Liberate (Two Whiskers), she has been responding for days to those who relativize Samuel's death. “Someone always comes to tell you: 'Don't politicize this matter'… Let's see, I was already politicized. Speeches of violence precede acts of violence. It is an exact question. "There are more good straight guys than bad ones." Yes, darling, but evil advances because good does nothing ”. He recalls with anger the accusations that the group locked itself in a ghetto when it did not leave Chueca. “It has been confirmed again that if we go out through another neighborhood, they will attack us.What we need is for those pink neighborhoods to expand, for Chueca to eat Malasaña. Get out of your comfort zone. Sorry, mine occupies 10% of the globe, come out you have 90% ”.
“The collective is built on the experience of many individualities. People who have been working on their attacks for less benefit from the former. There is a transfer of knowledge: 'It is true, I am afraid to go out on the street ”, explains Gabriel J. Martín, psychologist and author of the reference book
Quiérete mucho, maricón
(Stone). "Telling our fears, our anguish, is a search for social support and has to do with the climate of helplessness: 'He understands me and can help me." It is also a healthier way of channeling anger over Samuel's death: “Raising awareness that this violence is there, affects us and has increased is important, as well as trying to eradicate it, but becoming Samuel's avengers would destroy and distort the collective . We have to get rid of the feeling of revenge and resentment ”, alerts Elizabeth Duval, author of
After the trans
(La Caja Books).
In the week following Samuel's death, two homophobic attacks were recorded in Valencia, one in Bilbao, another in Madrid and several in Barcelona, one kicked and the other stoned.
In Mallorca, a young man denounced his family for assaulting him, physically and verbally, after seeing a news story on television about Samuel.
"All fags are like that," his little brother told him.
"I'd shoot you all."
Alfredo Vivas and Alfredo Santamaría Pablo Zamora
Makeup and hairdressing: Lucas Margarit.
Photography assistant: Brian J. Páez.
Production: Adriana Suárez (This is Sample).
Production assistant: Elena Vierna Carrasco.