Home Institution

Kenyon College

Publication Date

Fall 2005

Program Name

Spain: Cultural Landscapes and the Arts


When I first arrived in Spain, I wanted to conduct my Independent Study Project on the relationship between machismo and homosexuality, and how these lifestyles were represented in the arts throughout Spanish history. Ideally, I would have liked to study the foundation of machismo, and how it was realized and enforced upon the Spanish people and culture, especially during the regime of Francisco Franco. Then, I would have liked to contrast that movement with the portrayal and the image of the homosexuality community, exhibiting how that broke such a traditionalist belief system. The reason why this subject fascinated me was that I was allured by the films of Pedro Almodóvar, who I believed played a major role in subverting the repressive constructs of Francoism and machismo by instigating a major change that eventually proved to be beneficial for the GLBT community. Also, I would have like to included some analysis of the poetry from the Generation ’27, especially Federico Garcia Lorca, to explain how these poets subtly materialized their (homo)sexual desires, despite the rise of the impending dictatorship and the religious mentality of the Spanish people. However, such a project would require more than a mere month, and above all, appeared to be too broad-based for any proper in-depth investigation. Therefore, I decided that I would focus on the period of Transition, the period of time after Franco’s death and the arrival of the Constitution (and above all, the legalization of homosexuality in 1977. This is where Pedro Almodóvar enters the scene. At the start of his career, Almodóvar directed films that provoked and challenged the conservative and outright ignorant mentality from the past forty years of fascist and ultra-catholic dictatorship. In short, his films were irreverent, exploitative, pornographic, and outright shocking. Nevertheless, he was able to give light to the GLBT community, by including an assortment of outlandish characters, both gay and straight. Moreover, Almodóvar constructed these characters with such complexity and complication that the question, or controversy, of their sexuality/identity immediately became secondary and almost normalized. In other words, in the eyes of Almodóvar, no one fits the homogenous, traditional values of family, proper sex roles, respect and devotion towards one’s country and religion (values that the Roman Catholic Church and Franco had attempted to impose upon the people for forty years). Furthermore, Almodovar was an active participant in the underground nightlife scene of Madrid during the late 1970s and through most of the 80s, which is known as la Movida. This scene celebrated the newfound freedom by indulging in alcohol, drugs and sex, and by attending discothèques, parties, and music venues until dawn. The movement materialized itself predominately in the films of Almodovar (Pepi, Luci, Bom, y otras chicas del montón, among others) and the punk/new wave music that had been derived from the UK and the United States (Alaska, Mecano, Kaka de Lux, Fabio McNamara/Almodóvar, and much more.) In addition to music and film, there was a proliferation of comic books, television shows, and radio programs. Therefore, I will argue that along with democracy, the Movida brought Pop Culture to Spain, and within the realm of Pop Culture, the GLBT community could exist and be represented without the repression of the extreme religious right. Because the Movida promoted liberty and indulging in any pleasure one may find fit for them, the community could gain momentum in establishing their rights as citizens, just like their heterosexual counterparts.


Gender and Sexuality


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