LGBT web site for Iberia
January 30, 2009 – PinkNews
Court rules Spanish children cannot opt out of gay rights class
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Parents in Spain who do not want their children to attend civics classes that include lessons on gay rights do not have the right to conscientiously object, a court has ruled. The Roman Catholic church is among those objecting to the new curriculum introduced in 2007 by the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Lessons on sexuality, human rights, the equality of men and women and the structure of political systems are taught at both primary and secondary level. As well as the Church, the opppostion Partido Popular urged parents to boycott the lessons.
The party lost last year’s election on a platform of overturning gay marriage and removing the right of gay couples to adopt. Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected the decision of an Andalusian court that a pupil could miss the class as a conscientious objector. Conservative and Catholic activists have pledged to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Mercedes Cabrera, the minister of education, said after the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday: "The reality of today’s Spain is that there are all sorts of types of family and we have laws that recognise all kinds of relationships. People say that the state wants to occupy the territory that the church used to occupy. That’s absolutely untrue."
During last year’s elections the Church was accused of interfering in the political process. Spain’s ambassador to the Vatican met with Church officials to protest. Ambassador Francisco Vazquez expressed his "perplexity and surprise" at a statement issued by the Spanish Bishop’s Conference. "Catholics may support and join different parties it is also true that not all (electoral) programmes are equally compatible with the faith and Christian demands in life," the bishops said. This was widely interpreted as an instruction to the faithful not to vote for parties that support gay marriage or negotiate with Basque terrorists.
February 9, 2009 – Variety
Latido unveils first gay Basque film – Government backs ‘Ander’
by John Hopewell
Sabino Arana, the hawkish first ideologue of Basque nationalism, must be spinning in his grave. Arana exalted died-in-the-wool Catholicism and Basque racial purity. A century after his death, the Berlinale Panorama welcomes “Ander,” billed by sales company Latido as the first-ever gay Basque-language movie. What’s more, it’s set in the Arratia Valley in Biscay, an idyllic spot, where, traditionally, real men are farmers, and farmers real men. Pushing even a larger envelope, most of “Ander’s” finance comes from the Basque government, via Berdindu, its gay-lesbian service.
And the cream of Basque politicos — including Basque government president, Lehendakari Juan Jose Ibarretxe — turned out for “Ander’s” world preem on Jan. 30, when it opened the Basque Country’s Zinegoak 09 — the 6th Bilbao Gay-Lesbo-Trans Intl. Film Festival, playing to enthusiastic auds. Roberto Caston, its writer-director, bridles slightly at the gay tag. Pic follows fortysomething Ander, a Basque farmer-cum-factory worker who breaks a leg. He hires a Peruvian immigrant, Jose (Christian Esquivel, “Che”), who inspires in Ander feelings he didn’t know he had.
“The film’s about solitude, which most of the characters suffer,” said Caston. “Ander” rides a new Basque cinema wave. Energized by a 10-year-old Kimuak Basque short film movement, increased investment from regional pubcaster EITB, and a new generation of directors and producers, the Basque film industry now turns out half a dozen movies a year. But Caston’s feature debut remains an auteur film. Outside big urban centers, specialty film distribution is limited in Spain. Caston doesn’t fear much bovine red-neck reactions in the Basque Country; at least in terms of theatrical distribution, he fears his film may never be in a position to provoke any reactions at all. “We need an upbeat reaction in Berlin to get good distribution,” he said.
February 13, 2009 – PinkNews
David Beckham subjected to homophobic abuse during England match
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
An international match between Spain and England was marred by homophobic chanting, according to the Gay Football Supporters Network. In the 78th minute of Wednesday’s match in Seville the crowd started chanting "Beckham maricón" which means "Beckham faggot." England’s black players have previously been targeted by racist Spanish fans during previous internationals. The incident has been reported to FIFA and the English FA by GFSN.
The match can be found by clicking here. You can hear the chants from 95.45 to 96.30 (video timing) (78:30 match time). In England indecent or racist chanting is an offence under the Football Offences Act 1991 and carries a fine of up to £1,000 and a football banning order. GFSN took part in the first conference of the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation on tackling homophobia in football earlier this week.
"Homophobia is still rife in football and it as great to see so many different groups committed to doing something about it," said Chris Basiurski, campaigns officer for the GFSN. "It became obvious very quickly the UK has progressed further on this issue than the rest of Europe, mainly due to the cooperation of the English FA and we look forward to working with the other European gay football groups in the coming years. This week’s homophobic abuse of David Beckham at the Spain v England international highlights the need for action and in the long term we hope to show that such behaviour is not acceptable."
March 2009 – passportmagazine.com
The Balearic Islands
by Steve Arnozy
In the western Mediterranean, just 85km east of the Spanish mainland, lies a group of four islands known as The Balears: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. In addition to being the top vacation destination for Spaniards on summer holiday, these islands are home to one million residents whose sunny dispositions match the impeccable weather throughout my visit. The relaxing atmosphere of the beautiful beaches, the exciting nightlife, and, of course, the fresh, delicious seafood attract more and more travelers every year. When asked how accepting this culture is of gays and lesbians, our Mallorcan tour guide, Alex, looked a bit perplexed and simply said, “Of course, who loves who doesn’t matter—we all love each other no matter what. Is this not how it is where you’re from?”
My trip to these paradisiacal islands begins with the largest of the four: Mallorca. We arrive in the capital city of Palma and check into the wonderful Punta Negra Hotel (Ctra. De Andratx, km12 on Costa d’en Blanes. Tel: 680-762). When I get to my room and walk out onto the beachside terrace, I’m incredulous: the view is like those postcards of utopian beaches with a diamond-like shimmering sea; add to this a recently blossomed fruit tree just outside my window with white and pink flowers that smell like jasmine tea.
Dinner that night is at the King of Spain’s favorite restaurant in Mallorca, Flanigan’s (Puerto Portals, Local 16, Tel: 676-117). I order the house special, Mallorcan roasted chicken, and eat myself into bliss. Post-meal, my traveling companions aren’t exactly ready to head back home and call it a night, so we decide it’s time to see the nightlife of this island. We head to Hotel Rosamar (Avenida Joan Miro 74, Tel: 732-723), a gay hotel ten minutes west of Palma. Upon our arrival at the sexy, courtyard bar, we’re greeted by the owner of the hotel, Bill, who welcomes us with a round of drinks. The Rosamar’s location is an ideal spot for checking out the gay scene—we have only to cross the street to reach our next destination, Aries Bar, one of about a dozen bars and clubs within walking distance. Also the bar of a hotel, Aries is an intimate space with a crowd of local 20-something guys. As the night goes on and the DJ spins hits in English and in Spanish, the already cozy floor gets packed to the point where you can’t help but dance with the person standing next to you.
The next morning, I pack in a hurry and head for the ferry that will take me to the infamous island of Ibiza. A distant pulsing rhythm is calling my name…yes, the stuff of college campus legend, this pinnacle of popular techno and trance club life beckons. Somewhat like Alice after having fallen through the Technicolor rabbit-hole, I find myself standing, bewitched and bewildered, on the other side of the mirror.
“Welcome to IBIZAAA!” shouts a drag queen sporting a rhinestone-encrusted head-piece and little else, waving, dancing, and throwing flyers from an audacious float as a crowd of cheering onlookers waves back and catcalls. This is part of a parade of gay parties, a weekly spectacle during the summer season in Ibiza, where the biggest clubs on the island compete to put on the flashiest show to draw the masses to their particular dance floor.
We’re lucky to even get a hotel on the island during this, the busiest time of year. The Ibiza high season lasts from June–September. If you’re a party person, this would be the time to go, as many clubs aren’t even open the rest of the year…but book early. If you’re interested, instead, in exploring all the beaches and secret coves that this island has to offer, it is recommended that you come just before or just after tourist season.
After settling in at the Hotel S’Argamassa Palace (Urbanizacion S’Argamassa, Tel: 330-271), we head to the very top of Ibiza and take a cultural tour where we learn that a lot of the island is protected from development as a U.N. World Heritage site, and that during the off-season, Ibiza abounds with artists who are here to enjoy the island’s pleasures without the distraction of hordes of tourists.
Almost everywhere along the highway there are drooping, sweet-smelling fig trees. Adventurous people use these fig trees, whose leaves surround the tree and touch the ground because of the weight of the fruit, as makeshift abodes. Later we visit traditional Ibizan shoe-weavers who weave footwear out of dried palm leaves, and learn about the thriving hippie culture of the 60s that lives on today in the popular “hippie markets.” These markets are run by the hippies who moved here in the 60s, and they generally take place from Wednesday through Saturday across the island in smaller cities like San Jordi and Es Cana; as times and locations are subject to change, you’d be wise to inquire of the locals for information on the markets during your visit. At a hippie market you might find beautiful clothing, jewelry, and trinkets, all handmade by the people selling them, as well as leather moccasins, silver dishes, and home furnishings.
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After our tour, we enjoy an authentic island meal where everyone from the local village comes down to the bay at lunchtime to eat the catch of the day. Whatever is caught by the fishermen in the morning is prepared in a huge pot, seasoned with saffron, and served with potatoes to the hungry patrons. Nothing could be better than enjoying this delicious meal and the breezy summer afternoon with new friends.
That night, we continue our love affair with Ibiza at a bar called La Sopa (Sta. Lucia 23 y 21, Tel: 191-315). Here we become fast friends with Nadal, the drag queen that waved to us in the parade earlier that day. Nadal lets us know that the infamous Manumission (http://www.manumission.com) party is happening at Privilege (http://www.privilegeibiza.com) that night and it cannot be missed. I’m secretly ecstatic—I’ve done my research, and I know that Privilege is the world’s biggest club! We arrive at the theme-park-sized venue and I can barely contain myself—thanks to a well-placed phone call by our guide earlier in the day, we score V.I.P. bracelets and get a private tour. The first room we enter has three floors and an enormous pool with fountains, and hundreds of dancing people. Techno, pop, and rock blast through a wall of speakers roughly the size of my apartment back home. Enclosed outdoor terraces with domed glass ceilings, from which Ibiza City in its entirety is visible, connect everything. We settle on the techno room and dance like mad until the morning sun is just visible over the city.
After a couple of hours’ rest, we make a wonderful excursion to Formentera, the smallest of the four Balearic Islands and just a 20-minute ferry ride south of Ibiza. Upon arrival we rent bicycles because most of the island is only accessible by bike or foot. We then head to Blue Adventure (Calle Almadrava, La Savina, Tel: 321-168) for our scuba baptism. We gear up and speedboat to our destination, a small lagoon, where we are taught the very basics of diving. Before I know it, I’m dropped into the ocean. Once I get used to the pattern of breathing underwater, all nerves subside, allowing me to revel in the breathtaking, pastel-colored seascape. Marine plants swaying in the current, schools of silvery-blue fish, and the sunlight on the ocean floor are overwhelmingly beautiful; my big find of the day is a bright red starfish.
After our dive we are famished, so we head to Moli de Sal (Afueras S/N, Tel: 187-491). The paella is a memorable experience unto itself: the freshest crustaceans and buttery fish served in a big pot of steaming sticky yellow rice—there is no substitute for well-made paella, even for me, not exactly a seafood aficionado. After the delicious meal, we catch the next ferry back to Ibiza, tan, satiated, and blissful, and arrive at our hotel where we pack for the flight to Madrid.
While waiting in line at the Ibiza airport, one man screams, “Corre! Bomba! Bomba!” As we arrived, there was a bomb scare at the airport, and all flights that day were cancelled. The police kept pushing the crowds of people further and further away from the airport and we weren’t sure how to get back to our hotel, as all roads leading to and from the airport had been shut down. We walked on the road for about an hour and managed to find a bus driver who was good enough to take us to the hotel. The group was anxious, tired, and dejected, especially our tour leader and guardian angel, Ana, who now has to make sure we don’t miss our flight back to the States from Madrid tomorrow. With luck and lots of Ana’s hard work, we secure a flight for the next evening from Ibiza to Madrid, which means we have one more day to relax on the beach.
We spend our spare beach day enjoying Chiringay (Playa d’es Cavallet), the all-gay section of beach on Ibiza’s south coast. This is an absolute must-see: beautiful men everywhere, relaxing ambient club music playing, drink service by attractive waiters, hot nude massages, discreet cruising grounds, and a restaurant that serves the best gazpacho I’ve ever had, await you. I lay back in a beach chair, order a sangria, and feel the stress from the previous day slip away. Before we leave, I tell myself to always remember what this feels like, especially during the winter months in Manhattan.
June 2009 – Passport Magazine
by Stuart Haggas
A picturesque coastal village just 35 kilometers south of Barcelona, Sitges is one of Europe’s gay vacation hotspots. Beneath its elegant façade, Sitges has always been a rebel at heart, which is why so many gay men and lesbians find a warm welcome here. The town’s liberal reputation can be traced back to the late 1800s, and the arrival of painter Santiago Rusiñol. During what’s often referred to as the “golden age” of Sitges, Rusiñol’s home became a bohemian bolt hole for artists, writers, and intellectuals from Spain and beyond. Among the visitors were world-renowned artists Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, and poet Federico García Lorca. Rusiñol bequeathed his home and studio to the people of Sitges, and today it’s the eclectic Museu Cau Ferrat (C. del Fonollar. www.mnac.cat)
This golden age, however, became tarnished in 1936 with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, followed by the oppressive reign of fascist dictator Francisco Franco. While Spain was under Franco’s dictatorship, law reforms were introduced that made homosexuality illegal. Many gay men and lesbians were sent to special prisons, some were even executed by Franco’s nationalist militia. It was during these dark years that liberal Sitges, along with the counterculture island of Ibiza, became a haven for those fleeing Franco’s regime, and a clandestine gay scene was able to flourish. Indeed, Sitges’ oldest surviving gay bar, Comodín (C. Tacó 4) dates back to 1966. The law criminalizing homosexuality was repealed in 1979, four years after Franco’s death. Because many gay men and lesbians had made a home in Sitges during the Franco era, discreet gay-run and gay-frequented bars and cafés already existed, and in 1980 they were joined by Sitges’ first gay disco, Trailer (C. Angel Vidal 36. www.trailerdisco.com).
Celebrating its 30th anniversary next year, Trailer remains a favorite late night haunt: its weekly foam parties are especially popular. Altogether, Sitges today boasts dozens of gay venues, plus welcoming hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. Despite the multitude of options available, first-time visitors don’t need to be overwhelmed because a Sitges night out inevitably takes the form of a bar crawl along a soon-to-be-familiar route.
Shaded by palms, vines, and mulberry trees, the garden of charming old gay favorite Hotel Romantic (C. St Isidre 33. Tel: +34-93-894-8375. www.hotelromantic.com) is the perfect place to begin with a cocktail or a jug of fruity sangria. After a late dinner accompanied by local Malvasia wine, you might try a miniscule but friendly gay bar like El Piano (C. St Bonaventura 37), Bar 7 (C. Nou 7. www.barseven.com), or Bourbons (C. St Bonaventura 13. www.bourbonsbar.com). Ladies favor café and cocktail bar Marypili (Joan Tarrida 14. www.marypili.eu). Meanwhile, temperatures soar in El Horno Pub (Joan Tarrida 6. www.sitges4men.com)—meaning “the oven,” this former bakery became Sitges’ first leather bar in 1984. El Horno’s Dutch-born owner Rom Kramer has since opened cruisy XXL (Joan Tarrida 7), and dresscode themed Man Bar (C. St Bonaventura 19).
Swiss-born Luis Enriquez is another prolific figure in the Sitges gay scene, with a septuplet of gay establishments including high-tech gay nightclub Organic (C. Bo-naire 15. www.theorganicdanceclub.com). Every Tuesday night from June through early September, Organic relocates to the alfresco seafront terraces of L’Atlantida Disco Beach Club for Gay Beach Party (www.gaybeachparty.com). Now in its eighth season, these themed parties are a Sitges highlight, attracting the hottest guys from across Europe. You should be aware that L’Atlantida Disco is located three kilometers south of Sitges, and the admission price includes a free bus transfer. Although dancing beside the Mediterranean is an amazing experience, try not to be enchanted as the sun starts to rise over the sea: instead, make like Cinderella and get out of there. If you miss the last bus (taxis are scarce) you’ll have one hell of a hike to endure.
Another of Enriquez’s venues is Parrots Pub & Terrace (Plaça Industria 2). Enjoying a prime location on Sitges’ main pedestrian thoroughfare, known locally as Calle del Pecado or “Sin Street,” Parrots is the perfect spot for cruising and people-watching no matter what time of day or night. The brand has recently expanded and today there’s a whole squawking flock of ‘em: including the vibrant blue Parrots Hotel with 28 simple and affordable rooms, steamy Parrots Sauna, and Parrots Restaurant, serving Swiss and Mediterranean food (Joan Tarrida 16-18. Tel: +34-93-894-1350. www.parrots-sitges.com).
Another recent addition in Sitges is upscale lounge bar Privilege (C. Bonaire 24. www.privilegesitges.com). With a stylish interior, DJs, and regular stripper shows, Privilege has become so popular with the young and cute that it’s impacting on the business of old favorites like dance bars El Candil (Carreta 9) and Mediterraneo (C. St Bonaventura 6).
Daytimes in Sitges are mostly spent on the beach. There’s one predominantly gay beach in the center of Sitges, Platja de la Bossa Rodona, located opposite the modern, four-star Hotel Calipolis (Paseo Maritimo. +34-93-894-1500. www.hotelcalipolis.com). There’s also a small, gay nude beach in a cove beside Platja dels Balmins, close to the breakwater of Sitges marina (the seafront promenade is currently being extended so this cove isn’t as isolated as it used to be). If you prefer to avoid the scrutiny of heterosexual promenaders, head on foot far south, beyond L’Atlantida Disco to the ominously named Platja del Home Mort (“Dead Man’s Beach”). This secluded and almost exclusively gay nude beach is a considerable trek, and it is comprised of uncomfortable pebbles as opposed to golden sand, but the surrounding woods provide shade and all kinds of opportunities.
If you’re a regular to Sitges and want to try something totally new, I’d simply recommend you visit at a different time of year. As well as being a major gay destination, Sitges is also a serious fiesta town and there’s usually something wild going on.
The most notable fiesta is Carnival (www.sitgestour.com). Not as big as carnival in the Canary Islands or Cádiz, or as world-renowned as Rio de Janeiro, Venice, or New Orleans, Sitges Carnival is nevertheless famous throughout Spain for one significant reason: Franco banned Carnival in 1938, and it remained banned for 40 years, yet in Sitges it continued to run defiantly every year throughout Franco’s reign, making it the only Carnival in Spain to have run consecutively for over 100 years.
The festivities begin on the Thursday before Lent with the ritual resurrection of the Carnival King. The main events are Rua de la Disbauxa (“Debauchery Parade”) on the Sunday night, and Rua de l’Extermini (“Extermination Parade”) on Jueves Ladero or Fat Tuesday. Although you’ll see cross-dressing at virtually any carnival, it’s an integral part of the proceedings in Sitges, with lavishly dressed drag performers taking center stage at Tuesday’s all-night street parties. On Wednesday, when the bodies of the Carnival King and his Queen are taken to the beach for reburial, the funeral procession includes wailing drag queens in outlandish mourning attire.
More sedate is March’s annual Vintage Car Rally along the old coastal route between Barcelona and Sitges (www.rallyesitges.com). Having celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008, it’s an opportunity to see amazing antique vehicles. Drivers often enter into the spirit of the occasion by wearing 1920s outfits. May brings the Corpus Christi Festival, when the narrow cobble streets are carpeted with thousands of fragrant flowers. In July an orchestra and renowned dance teachers from Argentina attend Festival Internacional de Tango (www.tangositges.com), with classes for every ability, and all-night dancing on the floodlit beach dancefloor. Aliens, werewolves, and Hollywood A-listers like Quentin Tarantino, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, and Cameron Diaz, visit each October for Festival Internacional de Cine de Cataluña (www.cinemasitges.com), the world’s leading fantasy film festival. Highlights in 2008 included a King Kong expo and a blood-soaked “Zombie Walk” through Sitges to commemorate the 40th anniversary of George A Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead. For 2009 there are plans to celebrate Ghostbusters and the 30th anniversary of Ridley Scott’s Alien—so perhaps we’ll see Sigourney Weaver in Sitges?
My personal favorite event is boisterous Fiesta Mayor in late August. Honoring the town’s patron saint, Sant Bartolomeu, the festival begins with a spectacular fireworks display utilizing the beautiful 17th-century parish church Sant Bartolomeu i Santa Tecla as a backdrop. During the day, locals demonstrate their acrobatic prowess by forming human towers, often six people high and perilously crowned by a small child. At night there are parades of giant Moorish figures, followed by fire-breathing beasts and hundreds of exploding firecrackers. Those attending usually wear a hat and sunglasses for protection from the sparks, and it’s a badge of honor to dance in the flames and get your clothing scorched!
Despite a hefty festival schedule, one surprising omission is a Pride Parade. As thousands of flamboyantly dressed gay men and lesbians from all over the world traverse the streets of Sitges every day and night in the summer, perhaps a formal calendar event celebrating queer diversity isn’t necessary here. The sight of people in leather harnesses, rubber, or wearing just a thong and feather boa, doesn’t cause a commotion on the streets of Sitges—and it probably never will.
July 16, 2009 – PinkNews
Travel feature: Bella Barcelona
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Close enough to hop over for a weekend break and inviting for longer visits, Barcelona has always been a favourite with gay travellers. Here are the best bits of the city and nearby Sitges. “Travel should ignite your passion,” says Hilton. That’s the hotel, not Paris or Perez. The slogan may weigh heavy on the cheese scale, but there’s no denying its sentiment. Barcelona does just this, and without breaking into a sweat. The beating Mediterannean sun is likely to have the opposite effect on you though.
Barcelona has a long history of fighting for LGBT equality. It was here that the Spanish gay, lesbian, and trans movement’s flame was ignited in defiance to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (being gay was illegal until 1973), and its tolerant approach puts most other cities to shame. That Barcelona has established itself as a favourite destination for gay and lesbian travellers should then not come as a surprise. What does surprise, on the other hand, is the Spanish party schedule which definitely take some getting used to.
Food is at the heart of Catalonians’ lives but restaurants are deserted at 8pm and really only pick up after 9pm. And with evening meals consisting of several courses it can take a few hours to eat and easily continue until midnight. Be sure to have a double espresso at the end of the meal – you will need it for when you hit the bars and move onto the clubs (which only get pumping at 3am, by the way, with the party continuing until dawn and beyond).
For the modern gay traveller the choice in hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs and other establishments may well be somewhat overwhelming. Fortunately most of them are situated in the Eixample district (better known as “Gayxample”). Here, within a nine-block square in Modernista Barcelona, you can find something to satisfy every taste – soft, hard, stylish, seedy or downright sexy. Other neigbourhoods, like Ciutat Vella or nearby Gràcia, offer several more hotspots to choose from, but be prepared to brush up on your Catalan before venturing much further than that.
Metro is the clubbing destination of choice in Eixample, and during the summer its two huge dance floors are open every day from 1-6am The atmosphere is very cruisy (you just need to take a look at the choice of programming on the flatscreen TVs above the urinals for proof of this) and the crowd is generally in their late twenties and older. DBOY is aimed at a younger crowd and is open Fridays and Saturday nights as well as on the eve of national holidays. Dejavú and La Rosa in the heart of Gràcia cater specifically for the ladies, but Barcelona clubs are very mixed in general and girls are not likely to ever feel out of place.
Not into clubbing? Prefer to catch some Spanish sun? The city boasts 4km of coastline and some excellent beaches as well as a stylish reclaimed Waterfront. The gayest beach in the Barcelona area is Sant Sebastià, next to the Barceloneta athletic club, and for an optional clothing stretch of sand you can go to La Marbella (this is the city’s only official nude beach, so expect a mixed crowd).
If you prefer the culture trail consider one of the varied museums – especially worthwhile are MNAC and MACBA. The Mueseu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) is situated in the Palau Naçional, a monumental sandstone building which houses the most important Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque collections of Catalan art in the country. The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) in the El Ravel quarter also warrants a visit, particularly if conceptual art is your thing.
In all fairness, though, Barcelona is best viewed as a living museum. Especially from an architectural perspective. There is the Gothic Quarter, right in the heart of the medieval part of the city which used to be contained by the city’s wall, where the maze of streets are dominated by 13th century architecture and Plaça del Rei at its historic centre. For modernist Barcelona, head to Eixample (the area paints a very different picture during the day than its decadent night-time persona) for a selection of Gaudi’s works. These, including his most famous and still unfinished Sagrada Familia church, now form part of a UNESCO World Heritage site which protects the architect’s creations.
Be sure to allow some time in your schedule to visit Sitges. No visit to Barcelona would be complete without a 20-minute trip to this coastal town. Cultured, historic and a revered party town in equal measures, Sitges was also the first Catalan town to erect a “Never Again” monument against homophobia.
During the day the beaches are where most of the action is at, with plenty of topless tanning from the girls while the boys parade their gym-toned bodies. The main La Bassa Rodona beach is as good a place as any to claim your piece of sand, with the section to the right of the lifeguards unofficially marked as pink. For exclusive gay beach company head to the nude Playa del Muerto beach. It is 45 minutes walk from town, but you can get a taxi for most of that way.
If you can rouse yourself from the previous night’s party, and are after something more cultured, you’ll find Sitges eager to oblige. The village has been a major tourist destination for over 100 years and offers a proud historical legacy with magnificent architecture and museums. Make your way to the Maricel Museum for an extensive exhibit of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Catalan sculptures and art. A tour of the town’s historical buildings should definitely also include the Sant Bartomeu I Santa Tecla church, if only for the sweeping views of the village and coastline from the square infront of the building.
At night Sitges comes alive with bars and clubs spilling onto the sidewalks. Start with a drink at El Horno where the bartenders pour pints of gin with a hint of tonic (there is no concept of singles or doubles in Spain, you just say “when”). Otherwise go for a Mojito and plenty of people watching at Parrots Bar.
For more information on Barcelona and Sitges visit www.catalunyatourisme.com.
Where to stay: Chic gay travellers will love the “heterofriendly” Axel Hotel, in the heart of Barcelona’s gay scene. The hotel’s restaurant, bar, swimming pool and solarium, all situated on the rooftop overlooking the city, is the perfect way to spend a relaxed afternoon while watching the hunky visitors (all in the most revealing of swimwear of course).
In Sitges the lodging of choice is Hotel Romantic. The hotel is situated in the heart of Sitges and extends across three neighbouring 19th century villas. A highlight is breakfast, served in the outside courtyard in the shade of palm trees..
September 6, 2009 – The New York Times
Spanish Village of Rainbow Weddings
by Andrew Ferren
Far from the hedonistic beaches of Ibiza or the disco nights in Barcelona, the tiny town of Campillo de Ranas — the Little Field of Frogs — is nestled in the rugged hills of Castilla-La Mancha, a 90-minute drive north of Madrid in Guadalajara province. With its squat slate houses barely rising above the rolling hillsides on which they are built, the town’s pretty Romanesque bell tower is the only thing that doesn’t blend into the landscape. The place would appear to be the perfect setting of an open-air staging of “The Flintstones.” But first impressions can be deceiving. This small town, with around 60 full-time residents, most of them over 60, has in the last few years been transformed into the unofficial gay wedding capital of Spain.
In June 2005, Spain’s socialist government passed a law legalizing gay marriage and conferring the exact same rights and nomenclature — matrimonio in Spanish — to both homosexual and heterosexual unions. But soon after the law’s passage, several prominent and conservative mayors publicly declared that they would not perform gay marriages. Campillo’s nonprominent and liberal mayor, Francisco Maroto, who also happened to be openly gay, declared that he would perform them. What happened next is the subject of a documentary film, “Campillo Sí, Quiero” (“Campillo Yes, I do”), which was produced and directed by Andrés Rubio and is making the rounds at gay and independent film festivals from Dublin to Buenos Aires. Shot over the span of a year, the film tells the story of how this hardscrabble hamlet, which was virtually abandoned 20 years ago, has been revived through a willingness to serve anyone who is willing to marry there. Saying “yes” to gay couples turns out to have lured straight ones as well and has spawned a wedding and tourism industry that coexists quite peacefully with the town’s rural character.
“Campillo shows what’s possible when you have the proper measure of tolerance and respect,” Mr. Rubio said in a phone interview, explaining what inspired him to make the film. Since the summer of 2005, Mr. Maroto has married more than 140 couples. While gender is not listed on wedding records, the town archivist says that 40 percent of them have been same-sex couples. Brides and grooms — in various combinations — have come from all across Spain and as far as the United States and Russia to tie the knot in Campillo’s rustic city hall.
With its main salon painted a perky robin’s-egg blue and adorned with little more than a portrait of King Juan CarlosI the Spanish flag and a rainbow flag — the presence of the first two being required by law at official acts like marriages — city hall is hardly the Chapel of Love, but then this town is hardly Las Vegas.
Visitors go to Campillo not to gamble, but to gambol along the miles of hiking trails winding through green pastures that are carpeted with wildflowers in springtime. In the heat of summer, folks hike to the poza del Aljibe, a spectacular natural swimming hole created by a cascading waterfall. In the autumn, the hillsides and riverbanks get a good grooming by locals and visitors out gathering berries and wild mushrooms.
The region is part of the Ruta de la Architectura Negra (Black Architecture Route), named for the quirky, vernacular slate buildings. For centuries, if not millenniums, virtually everything here has been constructed of slate, much of it tinged green with lichen or stained red by the iron content of the stone.
There is a pragmatically haphazard look to the buildings, a combination of odd angles and rounded corners that is instantly appealing. Despite their lack of architectural pretense, the houses convey a sense of nobility and permanence. With their silvery and irregular slate tiles gleaming in the sunshine, the gently sagging roofs look as if they could be made of molten lead dripped by the hand of a primordial giant.
Even before Campillo’s wedding fame, a small neo-rural return to the land was under way in the region, where electricity, such as it was, only arrived in the late ’ 50s. Landline phone service was installed just last December, mostly for high-speed Internet access.
Drawn by the simplicity of life and the beauty of the surrounding countryside, José Antonio Reig and his family arrived 12 years ago, when there were just a handful of residents. In 2001, the Reig family opened a restaurant and small hotel, Aldea Tejera Negra, and two years ago, started Alternatura, a tour company specializing in the region’s diverse outdoor activities.
Thanks to such efforts, Campillo’s country charm does not require roughing it. Aldea Tejera Negra puts on an elegant spread in wedding tents overlooking the hotel’s pool and surrounding hills. Across town — about 100 yards away — is a more intimate restaurant, La Fragua, where a cozy dinner for two might start off with homemade pâté and savory spinach and prawn croquetas followed by a tender filet mignon, all accompanied by an excellent Ribera del Duero and topped off with decadent chocolate truffles.
Other accommodations are equally civilized. While the nearby four-room Casa del Sol might want to rethink the creaky brass beds in a town known for weddings, no issue could be taken with the bohemian-chic charm of the place or with the delicious breakfast, which can include rustic homemade cinnamon bread topped with quince paste and mild queso fresco. Toasted bread is the ideal vehicle for sampling the local honey, which is a deep caramel color and has none of the cloying sweetness or floral aftertaste of most honey.
The influx of both workers for the hospitality industry and so-called neo-rurals has meant the reopening of Campillo’s elementary school, which had been shuttered for 32 years. Though he was elected, Mr. Maroto’s post is an unpaid one, and like most residents he earns his living from the land. In 2007, he was re-elected in a landslide, and in 2008, he was married to Enrique Rodríguez, his partner of 15 years, by one of the town council members. While he acknowledges having an activist streak, he says he’s just doing his job.
“Mayors mostly have to deal with problems — sometimes we even get blamed for the weather — so it gives me a lot of satisfaction to be known for marrying people.”
Saying ‘I Do’ In Castilla-La Mancha
The United States Embassy Web site cautions that policies vary by region and that getting a marriage license can take up to 45 days (see). The embassy has prepared a short guide, “Marriage Formalities in
Spain,” for Americans; it can be obtained by visiting the embassy in Madrid and inquiring about marriage in Spain. The Web site of the Spanish Embassy in Washington, www.spainemb.org, lists consulates in America for inquiries.
Where To Stay
La Casa del Sol (Campillo de Ranas; 34-626-066-127) has doubles with breakfast from 70 euros, $101.50 at $1.45 to the euro; two-night minimum on weekends.
Aldea Tejera Negra (Camino de Robleluengo s/n; 34-628-…;) has four two-bedroom cottages from 240 euros for two weekend nights.
Where To Eat
Los Manzanos (Calle Mayor 8, Campillejo de Ranas; 34-949-823-387) is a lively tavern in a neighboring hamlet. Lunch for two with wine, 50 euros.
La Fragua (Calle Escuelas 42, Campillo de Ranas; 34-949-864-034) offers elegant fare in a cozy rustic setting. Dinner for two with wine, 80 euros.
September23, 2009 – AP
Spanish matador to advertise gay drink on cape
by Daniel Woolls (AP)
Madrid – A little-known Spanish matador is breaking with a sacred tradition, agreeing to advertise on his cape while slaying bulls and endorse a soft drink that caters to gays. Matador Joselito Ortega will be plugging a club-scene energy beverage called Gay Up and have those words embroidered into his cape in large, red cursive letters. In Spain, matadors are seen by many as the pinnacle of macho, and Ortega’s agreeing to endorse a product geared toward gay men is raising eyebrows.
But Ortega sees no incompatibility. "I am a bullfighter. That is not going to change. I am going to go out into the ring as I have done until now, to risk my life, and the seven goring wounds on my body prove that," he told The AP Wednesday. "If the gay community welcomes me as an image or a symbol, that is fine."
Topflight Spanish bullfighters are celebrities, just like football or movie stars, and it is common for them to have commercial endorsement gigs for everything from wine to cars to fancy clothes. But it is almost unprecedented for them to advertise something while in the arena. Bullfighting writers said the only case they recall is that of a matador named Luis Reina, who signed a deal in the 1980s with the Japanese electronics giant Akai and had that brand name embroidered on the sleeves and legs of the glittering ‘traje de luces,’ or suits of lights, that he wore while fighting.
No one expects Ortega to start a trend. It would border on scandalous for a top-rated bullfighter to advertise from the ring. Gay Up is a new product in Spain, developed by firm based in the southern city of Malaga that bought the European rights to it from a manufacturer in Colombia. There, it was made from strawberries. But the Spanish firm decided that to make it a hit with gays in Europe it needed to be an energy drink, said Jose Maria Terron, the company’s president. "The fact that it is oriented toward the gay community stems more than anything from its name," Terron said.
Both he and Ortega said the advertising cape is a good way to shake up bullfighting, which they described as steeped in male bravado. "It is a matter of changing what is normal, or usual, within this world that seem so untouchable," Ortega said. Ortega is hardly a superstar. He became a full-fledged matador in 2006 but has been hampered by repeated and serious gorings and has not fought often, said Juan Belmonte, a bullfighting critic for TV station Canal Sur in Seville.
Belmonte said those who criticize Ortega’s Gay Up deal will be angry not so much because the product is geared toward homosexuals but because Ortega is advertising in the arena, violating a tradition. "It is like prostituting the cape," Belmonte said.
October 14, 2009 – VisitSpain
Spain: A Gay Friendly Destination + Canary Islands: Discover Its Unique Beauty and Spring-like climate
Spain’s climate, beauty, and its progressive legislative framework are the perfect platform for gays and lesbians. Spain has become the leading European destination for gay, lesbian and transgender travel. Its people and climate, its beauty and diversity, and its progressive legislative framework are the perfect platform for gays and lesbians. The country that inspired Spain’s most famous 20th century, Federico García Lorca and internationally acclaimed director Pedro Almodóvar attracts now a 72 percent of American gays who travel on vacation.
The Canary Islands are especially receptive place of gay tourism. But in addition to gay community, the subtropical beauty, the white sand beaches and the all-the-year spring-like climate make this unique archipelago a genuine paradise for anyone who desires to escape and relax. Spain is internationally known as one of the most exciting countries in the world for the gay community. In fact, Some Spanish cities are considered gay paradises. Places such as Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Benidorm, Torremolinos, Sitges and especially Chueca, in Madrid, are top gay destinations.
The law allowing gays and lesbian to marry, adopt children and enjoy all the same freedoms and rights as heterosexuals was passed four years ago. Since them an undoubtedly tolerance has been spawned in Spain. And now the country has some of the most popular gay centers in Europe and some of the most enlightened laws regarding the rights of homosexual. Gays, lesbians and transgender people are free to cruise well-known gay quarters, parks, sand dunes and beaches of the country’s major cities and most popular coastal resorts without being bothered. In many areas with flourishing gay communities, visitors can pick up maps and booklets detailing all cruising areas and gay-friendly bars, restaurants, saunas and night places.
In some of the more cosmopolitan spots –such as Barcelona, Madrid and Ibiza- sexuality isn’t an issue when it comes to having a night out. The Spanish tourism industry offers the gay community a wide range of new and varied products. Leading travel companies such as Halcón, Barceló, Marsans, Travelplán, Viajes El Corte Inglés, Air Europa, Avis, Turismo de Madrid, and many others have incorporated special offers for gay travelers.
Madrid’s Chueca district is the largest recipient of gay tourists in Spain. It has become a fashionable area among gay community. A clear example of this neighbourhood expansion is the arrival of big brands that want to establish in this area. During the day, the visitor can walk and attend friendly local that extend across its streets. It is said that Madrid has the best gay nightlife in Europe. During the Gay Pride parade Madrid is visited by 3 million gay guests.
Another country’s top spot is the seaside town of Sitges, 35 kilometres south of Barcelona, along with an area of Barcelona known as L’Eixample. In the south of Spain, Torremolinos is one of the Costa del Sol’s favoured gay haunts, as well as the Campo de Sol nudist beach at Malaga. The Canary Islands are especially receptive place of gay tourism. The main islands for gay tourism are the Gran Canaria and Tenerife, although there is a small community in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Twin spots of Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, have become the biggest gay resort in Europe. This island has specific Gay friendly beaches, hotels and plenty of bars.
Canary Islands: Seven heavenly islands, seven worlds in Europe
Surrounded by the crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Canary Islands are a unique archipelago in the world. They are Europe’s sunshine. Its diversity, subtropical beauty, and white sand beaches, make this European destination a genuine paradise inviting anyone to escape and relax. Its spring-like climate (with a year-round temperature of 71.6 F) lasts twelve months a year.
The Canaries are seven truly spectacular worlds. These islands (El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote), also known as “Fortunate Islands”, seduce the visitor with an exceptional range of tourism options. Among them, you will find the best accommodation and top quality leisure and cultural activities. Immense white dunes, crystal-clear waters, lunar landscapes, forests, secret bays with brilliant black sand, volcanoes, golden-sandy beaches, and the flavor of little villages that hold their historical and cultural heritage, their fiestas and gastronomy… all this is as simple as it exquisite.
Visiting the Canary Islands takes less than a four-hour flight from the European capitals and two from mainland Spain. From the United States, daily flights to Tenerife make the Canary Islands more accessible. The Spanish-owned Air-Europa airline started a weekly service from Miami to Tenerife in June 2008. Air-Europa offers a flight on Saturday from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Tenerife’s North Airport (TFN), aboard a 299-passenger Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Deeply marked by their volcanic origins, and with a population of 1,7 million inhabitants, the Canary Island are considered the southernmost part of Europe. They are located at a distance of 160 miles from the West African coast between the subtropical and temperature zones. Their 932 miles of coastline are extremely diverse. Fuerteventura has the largest beaches, being the majority untouched and deserted. Lanzarote’s coves, set between cliffs, with its black sand, are truly unique. The south of Tenerife offers suitable beaches for the whole family.
Don’t forget enjoying the beautiful spots as the Maspalomas Dunes, the fishing port of Mogán and the Andén Verde Cliffs, as well as the sheer cliffs and dark beaches of El Hierro, La Palma, and La Gomera. The Canaries are also the perfect place to get close to nature in a more active way: trekking, para-gliding, golf, sailing, and water sports like skiing, kayaking and surfing.
Due to their exceptional conditions, the Canary Islands are the setting for world windsurfing championships. In addition, scuba diving enthusiasts can have the experience of exploring the volcanic seascapes of the ocean floor.
We shouldn’t forget that the Canary Islands possess an incredible historical and cultural heritage. Its cities are deeply rooted in the guanche civilization (the ancient inhabitants of the island), but also include Andalusian, Portuguese, and American influences. Their historic quarters contain any number of colonial structures. An excellent example is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife), which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The artistic legacy left by César Manrique on the island of Lanzarote is also of great interest to visitors. Jameos del Agua, Mirador del Río, and Jardín del Cactus are all must-sees.
For nature lovers, numerous paths cover the main protected areas, including the Cañadas del Teide (Tenerife), Timanfaya (Lanzarote), Caldera de Taburiente (La Palma), and Garajonay (La Gomera) national parks. Festivals of all kinds fill the calendar with such important events as the Canary Islands Womad Festival or the Festivalito – the La Palma International Digital Cinema Festival.
Another pleasure is the islands’ high quality traditions: stewed, fried or grilled, Atlantic fish take on added nuances with the addition of "wrinkled" potatoes and green dipping sauce. The traditional recipe book also includes tasty dishes such as gofio, rabbit al salmorejo, sea urchin, and watercress soup.
Last, it is worth to note that many tourists stop in the Canary Islands in their Atlantic cruises. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife ports offer a large variety of activities to make their travel an unforgettable experience.
December 7, 2009 – PinkNews
Spain apologises for 1970s jailing of gay man
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A Spanish gay man who was sentenced to three months in jail in the 1970s has received an official apology from the government. Antoni Ruiz, 50, was jailed in 1976 at the age of 17 after coming out to his parents. They confided in a Catholic monk, who told authorities. According to the Daily Telegraph, he received a formal letter of apology last week from Spain’s justice minister and compensation of 4,000 euros (£3,600).
He is the first to receive such recognition. The apology came under 2007’s Law of Historical Memory, which was designed to recognise victims who suffered under the dictatorship of General Franco. Franco made homosexuality illegal and 5,000 men were thought to be imprisoned for related offences during his rule. Ruiz was one of the few who was jailed in the year after the dictator’s death.
The law banning homosexuality was overturned in 1979 and Spain now offers gay couples the right to marry, making it one of the most gay-friendly countries in Europe. In September, UK prime minister Gordon Brown made a formal posthumous apology to gay mathematician Alan Turing, who committed suicide after being forced to undergo brutal medical treatment when he was convicted of homosexuality.
Some critics welcomed the apology but said the estimated 100,000 other British men who were convicted of homosexuality offences should also receive similar recognition.
9 June 2010 – The Guardian
Madrid gay pride march bans Israelis over Gaza flotilla raids – Organisers say it would be ‘barbaric’ to allow group to take part, but Israelis say Islamists would try and ‘cure’ them all
by Giles Tremlett
A delegation of gay residents of Tel Aviv has been banned from joining a gay pride march in Madrid because authorities in the Israeli city have not condemned the recent attack on the Gaza flotilla. "After what has happened, and as human rights campaigners, it seemed barbaric to us to have them taking part," explained Antonio Poveda, of Spain’s Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transexuals and Bisexuals. "We don’t just defend out own little patch."
The Tel Aviv group have reacted angrily to the decision, claiming that the Madrid activists were getting their priorities wrong by mixing the nine flotilla deaths with gay pride. "I cannot recall anyone asking the Tel Aviv city hall to either support or condemn in this case. That is not their job. I also don’t recall Madrid’s gay organisations condemning any of the Palestinian terrorist attacks on cafes or buses," Eytan Schwartz, a spokesman for the city told Spain’s El Mundo newspaper. "Don’t they know that Islamist fundamentalists don’t just want to finish off Israel, but that they also believe homosexuals should ‘cure themselves’ or die? It is shameful that they should join with pro-Palestinian and fundamentalist groups which are not exactly tolerant with homosexuality," he said.
"Why do they mix politics with a gay pride procession? We were invited as an apolitical association and we do not represent the government," Mike Hamel, one of the Israeli invitees, said.
Schwartz said that Tel Aviv had also extended an invitation to Madrid to send a gay delegation to the city. Among other things, Tel Aviv had planned to take the Spanish organisers of the march to Gaza so they could witness a place "that is controlled by the fundamentalists of Hamas, who do not respect any human rights and believe that homosexuals should be killed," Schwartz said. "We invited the organisers of the gay pride event in Madrid to join a march this Friday in Tel Aviv, the only place in the Middle East where you can be gay in public," he said. "They would be able to talk to Arab gays who travel here secretly because they would be murdered at home if they revealed their sexuality."
17 June 2010 – The Time of Malta
Spanish clinic probed for treating gays – health officials
AFP – The government in Spain’s Catalonia region said it was investigating a clinic in Barcelona that is allegedly offering treatments to "cure" homosexuality. The Policlinica Tibidabo in the Catalan capital is offering pills and psychiatric treatment to "convert" homosexuals, Spain’s leading daily El Pais reported. Many of those coming for treatment are followers of a particular religion who believe homosexuality is incompatible with their beliefs, it said. "An investigation has been opened into this clinic," said an official for the regional government’s health department. "We do not consider homosexuality as an illness, far from it."
She said the clinic could face fines if the month-long probe concludes that such treatments are being carried out. A gays and lesbian rights association in Catalonia, the CGL, hailed the decision of the regional authorities. "It is totally unacceptable, in the 21st century, that health professionals are trying to treat homosexuality," CGL secretary general Antonio Guirado said in a statement. "You cannot treat something that is not an illness."
Homosexuality was only legalised in Spain in 1979, shortly after the death of dictator Francisco Franco whose regime shipped off gays to institutions that some activists have likened to concentration camps. The Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has sought to promote gay rights as part of a strongly liberal social agenda. In 2005 it passed a law to allow same-sex marriages, making Spain only the third member of the European Union, after Belgium and The Netherlands, to do so.
July 11, 2010 – Zap2It
World Cup’s Netherlands, Spain to ‘Today Show’: We’re Team Gay. Why weren’t you?
by Elizabeth Snead
Last year was a bummer for gay rights with the defeat of Prop 8 in California. But what a difference 12 months makes. Now gay marriage rights are getting a big international boost from the 2010 World Cup soccer games. The final fierce game between the Netherlands and Spain is already in progress Sunday (June 11). And ironically, both countries provide full marriage rights to their gay and lesbian citizens. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriages in 2001. Spain, a predominantly Catholic country, legalized gay unions in 2005. And the World Cup host country South Africa also provides marriage equality for its citizens.
So no matter which team you’re rooting for, and no matter which team gets the World Cup crown, the winner will be a country that supports gay rights for everyone. Woot, woot! And guess what? NBC‘s "Today Show" is also following suit. NBC execs announced last week that the show is changing the rules and same sex couples can now apply for a wedding ceremony on the morning show. NBC extended the deadline for applications on "Modern Wedding Contest" until Monday (July 12). And thousands of gay couples have already sent in their apps for an on-air wedding.
"We’re thrilled that ‘Today Show’s Modern Wedding Contest’ now recognizes what most fair-minded Americans have already concluded – a wedding celebrates love and commitment, whether the spouses are straight or gay," said Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Same-sex couples were previously excluded because New York state prohibits same sex wedding licenses. But GLAAD pointed out to NBC that a same-sex couple would be able to get a license from another state and still have a ceremony in New York.
"Moving forward, we ensure that our future wedding contests will be inclusive to all couples," NBC said. It’s really happening. Slowly, but it’s happening. Are you as glaad (no pun intended) as we are?
July 15, 2010 – PinkNews
Travel: Ibiza – time for a return by gay travellers?
by Sam Feller
Sam Feller travels to Ibiza to discover whether it really lives up to the stereotypes and if it is time for gay travellers to rediscover the island. Like any good Jewish gay boy, his journey around the island and visits to some of the world’s largest nightclubs with PinkNews.co.uk founder Benjamin Cohen is punctuated with good meals rather than Class A drugs. House music. Ecstasy. Concrete monstrosities. Hedonism. Cocaine. Parties. Booze. Essex slags. Bars. Manumission. Ketamine. Sex.
Although never one to admit to endorsing stereotypes, I did ask some friends before my trip to Ibiza, and ultimately the above is a mere selection of their one-word responses. I, too, had heard of the endless dancing, parties until well after the sun comes up, booze and, well, yes, the drugs. But to what extent is Ibiza just one sumptuous, tantalising all-night drug-infused rave and what more does it have to offer?
Ibiza has a long relationship with gay travellers since its re-birth as a tourist destination in the late 1950s. A tolerant a vibrant community has grown up there, with no one batting an eye-lid to see a gay couple arrive (even though we aren’t actually one!). It has been overtaken by Gran Canaria as the holiday island of choice for gay travellers, but Ibiza offers so much more; beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, excellent and tolerant clubs and a spiritual side. The gay scene is pretty small, but it doesn’t really matter as gays seem to be welcomed everywhere.
Myself and my travelling companion, PinkNews.co.uk‘s Ben Cohen, arrived in Ibiza three days before Space’s opening weekend, a renowned milestone in Ibiza’s tourism calendar signalling the beginning of the summer party season. We stayed at Hotel Es Vivé for our first three nights, a hotel on the western outskirts of Ibiza Town which boasted small but economical rooms (all with en suite, TV and minibar), a friendly and airy breakfast bar/restaurant and an outdoor pool surrounded with cushioned sun loungers – perfect for nursing that post-party hangover. The ten-year old hotel (formerly a run-down hostel) is well-known amongst its European clientèle (mainly English and German) but has lost some of its reputation as a party hotspot after the police closed down its after-hours nightclub last year due to strict Spanish licensing laws. There was a real mix of clientèle with a couple of gay couples there while we were staying.
Our first evening meal was at La Olivia in the lower stretches of D’Alt Vila, Elvissa’s old town which dates back to 654BC. The restaurant itself has been open 25 years and French-owned and run. I began with tuna tartar with sesame seeds, ginger and soy sauce, whilst my fussy octovegan travelling companion had a goat’s cheese, avocado and tomato salad (but without the goat’s cheese). I opted for sea bream a la plancha as a main, which came perfectly cooked and expertly seasoned, whilst Ben had penne pasta with grilled vegetables and rocket, both washed down with a glass of house Chardonnay. This was followed swiftly by fresh ripe pineapple with a light golden syrup dressing and a strawberry tart with mascarpone ice cream, which was refreshing, utterly delicious and cleansing to the palette.
Our Thursday night out was spent at Pacha. A mainstay in the global house music scene, Pacha’s empire now extends to 20 clubs across 14 countries, although its Ibiza flagship is by fair the most renowned and prestigious of all. We attended F**k Me I’m Famous, David Guetta’s resident house night which happened to be the opening party for the summer season and featured Calvin Harris as special guest. The clientèle was mixed and far-reaching: I overheard some North American college students who had travelled over especially for the occasion, clinking glasses alongside a group of Madrileños. The DJ set got better and better as the night went on, and when Guetta blasted out his well-known hits, the crowd really got grooving. Although the dance floor was packed and the atmosphere buzzing, the crowd remained surprisingly sober and mild-mannered: no one passed out, vomited or made a fool of themselves, and everyone seemed to be having as much fun as me. As for the Essex slags, well, yes, they were present, but they certainly weren’t as numerous or troublesome as I had feared. Although we left at 5.30, we certainly weren’t the last, as the dance floor was rocking well into the early hours of the morning.
The following day, we spent the day on the gay beach. Like the rest of Europe, unsurprisingly Ibiza’s gay beach Es Cavallet was almost entirely nudist and family-unfriendly. Although the beach was relatively quiet, peaceful and the water clean, it did suffer from a notable lack of young gay men, mostly consisting of older heterosexual couples or single older men. A little too early in the season? Perhaps. Or perhaps gay beaches are fast becoming a thing of the past…
Our lunch was spent at Sands, a relatively new beach bar which has played a large part in reinvigorating the stretch of beach opposite Space on the western outskirts of Ibiza town. Ben ate artichoke and cantaloupe melon salad with pesto, lemongrass, rocket and basil whilst I savoured a burger and chips. We finished with a fresh fruit platter and herbal tea infusions before soaking up the few last rays of sun before the evening settled in.
The second part of our trip was spent at hotel Can Pere, a former farmhouse set in a stunning rural hillside location around 20 minutes drive from Elvissa. Although the access road left a lot to be desired, the hotel itself was the perfect romantic hideaway. Think old stone walls, a beautiful outdoor pool surrounded by four-poster beds with satin white sheets and a restaurant with views to die for. With only nine rooms, the hotel was quiet and secluded and at times it felt as though we had the place to ourselves. It was a fantastic place to stay, but we both imagined if we were a couple we would have enjoyed it even more. It would probably make a brilliant location for a civil partnership honeymoon.
11 October 2010 – MSM Global Forum
Colegas launches a sensitization campaign for elderly gay people
La Confederación Española LGBT COLEGAS lanza una campaña de sensibilización sobre las personas mayores gays y lesbianas coincidiendo con el 1 de Octubre, DÍA INTERNACIONAL DE LA TERCERA EDAD, denominada MÁS RESPETO HACIA NUESTROS GAYS Y LESBIANAS MAYORES.
Según la ONU en 2050, el número de mayores de 60 años superará por primera vez al número de personas menores de 15 años, llegando a los 2.000 millones de personas mayores. España está a la cabeza de los países europeos con mayor esperanza de vida, con 84 años de media para las mujeres y de 78 años para los varones.Los mayores de 65 años en España según las últimas encuestas de la EPA son 7.782.904 personas, lo que representa el 16,7% del total de la población española. Por ello, teniendo en cuenta una proporción de un 8% de gays y lesbianas, tenemos que en España habría 622.632 gays y lesbianas mayores de 65 años, aunque son extremadamente pocos los que viven normalizada y visiblemente su sexualidad.
Es obvio que los homosexuales mayores en España vivieron una época muy represiva, y la inmensa mayoría optó por reprimir sus inclinaciones sexuales o vivir su sexualidad clandestinamente con el peligro de que primero la Ley de Vagos y Maleantes y posteriormente la Ley de Peligrosidad Social les fuera aplicada, además de una sociedad muy conservadora que no admitía desviaciones a sus normas y comportamientos éticos. No obstante tras más de 30 años de democracia la sociedad española ha avanzado mucho en aceptación y en leyes, siendo actualmente uno de los países más avanzados en el mundo en la legislación para LGBT y la tolerancia social es cada vez mayor, por lo que aunque la discriminación no ha desaparecido ha disminuido notablemente. Por ello actualmente cada vez hay más gays y lesbianas de la tercera edad que han asumido su condición sexual y la viven públicamente. Se trata de una generación que sólo ha podido salir del armario en su madurez. Nos han robado la juventud pero queremos vivir una vejez felices sin problemas, afirman muchos ancianos LGBT.
Los ancianos gays o lesbianas tienen más probabilidades de vivir solas que el resto de las personas mayores. Los estudios realizados muestran que muchos ancianos LGBT tienen un menor apoyo de sus familias que las personas mayores en general, ya que pocos tienen hijos que se hagan cargos de ellos, y muchos han roto sus vínculos con sus familias debido a las tensiones provocadas debido a los prejuicios y discriminaciones por la orientación sexual. Por otro lado estas personas mantienen una red de apoyo social basada en sus parejas y amigos cercanos, que normalmente también son mayores o han fallecido. Es sin duda probable que necesiten mayor atención porque las personas solas tienen más probabilidad de vivir en la pobreza, tener mala nutrición, sentirse deprimidos y eventualmente trasladarse a una residencia de ancianos. Un reciente informe habla de que la posibilidad de disponer de un cuidador cercano en caso de caer enfermo era 10 veces menor para un anciano homosexual que para un heterosexual, lo que se acrecienta cuando la persona ha tenido dificultades para conformar a lo largo de su vida una red de relaciones personales sólida.
Las personas mayores LGBT a menudo se encuentran con actitudes homófobas en las residencias de ancianos, los centros de día y otras instalaciones tanto por parte de otros residentes como por parte de algunos cuidadores. Los ancianos LGBT están muy poco dispuestos a revelar su orientación sexual a sus cuidadores y el resto de residentes por temor a ser discriminados o vejados o a que difundan a otras personas su condición.
Desde COLEGAS estamos en contra de potenciar servicios exclusivos de residencias para gays y lesbianas, porque con ello no se cambia la realidad cotidiana sino que hace islas de guetificación sin afrontar y solucionar el verdadero problema que mantiene aún los prejuicios y las discriminaciones. Además la orientación sexual no nos hace diferentes al resto de ciudadanos, puesto que nuestros problemas son iguales: afrontar una vejez digna desde el respeto a la pluralidad de nuestra sociedad.
Por tanto es especialmente importante sensibilizar al personal de cuidado tanto como a los otros residentes, para evitar las discriminaciones, los prejuicios y los insultos por motivo de la orientación sexual. Es necesario también que las normativas de los centros contemplen la posibilidad de que parejas de gays y lesbianas puedan compartir una habitación como lo hacen las parejas heterosexuales.
COLEGAS distribuirá carteles en los centros de dia y las residencias de ancianos, para concienciar y aumentar el respeto y la sensibilización hacia los gays y lesbianas mayores. También se ofrecerán la posibilidad de que voluntarios de COLEGAS ofrezcan talleres de sensibilización en los centros de día y residencias de ancianos que lo soliciten.
January 3, 2011 – The Huffington Post
Barcelona Gay And Lesbian Monument Plans Outlined
Taking a page from Amsterdam’s famed Homomonument, the city of Barcelona will erect a monument in honor of the city’s gays, lesbians and transgendered people who have "suffered persecution and repression throughout history," the AFP is reporting.
Scheduled to be unveiled in February, the new monument will be pink and triangular in shape, much like its Dutch counterpart. Though the monument’s location has yet to be announced, a spokesman for Barcelona’s city hall confirmed the square directly in front of Gaudi’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica "is one location that has been proposed." The square was also the site of a mass "kiss-in" demonstration staged in protest of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the city in Barcelona and the Roman Catholic Church’s conservative stance on homosexuality.
According to the Advocate, the pope was included as part of a Sunday telecast in Spain, having conveyed his blessing at a "family values" mass conducted in Madrid by Archbishop Antonio Rouco Varela, outlining Catholic opposition to liberal policies enacted by Spain’s current government, including marriage equality. "Whenever the true worth of matrimony and family values is questioned, negative consequences come forward rapidly," Rouco Varela is quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
May 16, 2011 – On Top Magazine
Nearly 80 Percent Of Spanish Youth Support Gay Marriage
by On Top Magazine Staff
A super majority (77%) of Spanish teens support gay marriage. Spain legalized marriage between members of the same sex in 2005 over the loud objections of the Catholic Church. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is running for a third consecutive term in early 2012, has said he’s proud of the legislation. At a recent public mass, the church urged Spaniards to embrace conservative candidate Mariano Rajoy, who has pledged to “change” the law.
A recent survey released by the Institute for Youth (Instituto de Juventud) found widespread support for gay rights among teens, El Mundo reported. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed between the ages of 15 and 19 said they believe it’s OK to talk about sexual minorities, and a large majority accept gay relationships, although with slightly greater acceptance of lesbian couples (84%) over male gay couples (81%). A large majority (74%) also accept transgender adults and 54% say they have gay friends.
But most still believe it would be difficult for a gay teen to come out to his or her parents (father, 67%, mother, 52%). “Youth has normalized sexual diversity and rejected sexual discrimination, but for gay teens is not easy being out in school,” warned Antonio Poveda, president of the gay rights group Federacion Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGTB), citing an increase in anti-gay bullying.
August 19, 2011 – New Zealand Herald
Plans foiled for ‘kiss-off’ in front of Pope
Spanish police have foiled plans by 100 gays and lesbians to stage a kiss-in on the route the visiting Pope Benedict XVI took through Madrid, blocking the protesters before they could meet up. The activists had planned to join up on the major artery Calle Serrano along which the pope later travelled in his white, bullet-proof popemobile for a welcoming cermony in Plaza Cibeles square. But a few hundred metres from their planned meeting point and an hour before the pope passed by, a cordon of police block the demonstrators’ way and forced them to disperse.
About 50 of the protesters kissed each other in front of the police, who outnumbered them, in the central Plaza Colon square less than a kilometre from the papal ceremony. Nearby, a group of young Roman Catholics chanting "Here are the youth of the pope" were kept apart from the protesters by police.
The protest had been organised on Facebook by a group defending homosexual and transexual rights said their spokesman, Jaime del Val. When the pope last visited Spain in November last year, he was confronted by a kiss-in in the northeastern city of Barcelona in protest at the Church’s opposition to homosexuality. About 200 gay men and women couples locked lips to demand the Church recognise their right to be gay as he paraded through Barcelona’s streets November 7 in the popemobile.
3 October 2011 – PinkNews
Spain to open first gay retirement home
by Jessica Geen
Work will begin on Spain’s first gay and lesbian retirement home in the coming weeks. The December 26th Foundation in Madrid is named after the 1979 date when General Franco’s anti-gay law was repealed. Gay rights activists say that negative attitudes towards homosexuality are still common in the elderly, especially in care homes. According to the BBC, the luxury centre will have 115 apartments, a gym and a swimming pool. Residents will enjoy Yoga, Tai Chi and a restaurant.
Its owners say it will be openly to anyone, regardless of sexuality, but will be gay-friendly. “We want to make sure old people who are gay can live out their lives freely with dignity and among equals,” said Federico Armenteros, a representative for the foundation. Gay man Jose Maria Herreras, 65, has already made plans to move in as soon as work is completed. He said that in his current accommodation, he is insulted and ignored by other residents because he is gay.
“I have to make myself as invisible as possible – go back in the closet – so they don’t notice me. And I spend as much time outside the home as possible,” he told the BBC. “This is somewhere where everyone will be equal. It’s a totally different home where we won’t have to hide who we are. We will be people. I will be free again.”
Work on Australia’s first gay, lesbian and bisexual retirement village is to begin next year. A 120-unit complex is being built in Ballan in Victoria with a croquet lawn, indoor spa and bar.