Without the striking floats or stage, with a safety distance and a mask, the LGTBI Pride marches again through the center of Madrid after more than a year of pandemic and in the midst of the farewell to the most stringent anticovid restrictions. With more desire for the streets than ever, the most official demonstration culminates a week that was kicked off marches in cities throughout Spain, and that has been marked by the approval of the ‘trans law’ after a very tough struggle in the Government.
REPORT | Less and less straight
Shortly before the demonstration began, the organizing entities explained that this year “the claim is for trans people,” in the words of the president of COGAM, Carmen García de Merlo. The main demand is that the norm be expanded in the parliamentary process. ” “It is not the draft we want, it must cover all our human rights. I am not included in this law, ” said Uge Sangil, a non-binary trans person and president of the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Trans and Bisexuals (FELGTB). Sangil has still pointed out that “today is a historic day” after having achieved that the text endorses the depathologization of trans identities and gender self-determination from the age of 14, a historical demand of the group. “We are taking to the streets again, we are again shouting with pride that we want a dignified life,” concluded the president of the FELGTB.
The march started after 8:00 p.m. from Atocha, a little later than usual to try to avoid crowds and also avoid the suffocating heat at 5:00 in the afternoon of other editions. The flood of groups that tend to put the most vindictive tone to the event have not been followed this year by the floats of companies and organizations that turn the end of the march into an open-air party and there are no stages at the end of the route as a precaution sanitary. This will allow focusing “on the message”, says a protester next to the Reina Sofía Museum, who expects “a festive atmosphere, but not as much as other years.”
Organized in different blocks, thousands of people walk one of the main arteries of the capital, the Paseo del Prado, behind dozens of banners that mostly point to the same place: trans rights. “My identity is not decided by anyone”, “Trans Childhood and Adolescence. We are not a theory” or ‘Trans Law Ya. Right to be “, say those of groups such as No Te Prives, Chrysallis or Diversidad Vicálvaro. The influx is far from the editions prior to the pandemic, in which Pride has summoned hundreds of thousands of people, but still they are perceived the desire to return to the streets after the stoppage of the health crisis. The festive tone that usually characterizes the demonstration is still present and that with music, batucadas, colors and glitter represents an explosion of diversity. Dozens of volunteers control that in the different blocks respect the safety measures and from time to time the organizers remember the obligation to use the mask and to respect interpersonal distance.
At the tail of the demonstration are the political parties, including the PSOE, whose role in the negotiation of the ‘trans law’ has caused discomfort in a large part of the LGTBI movement, and with which the Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska participates . With United We Can, the ministers Irene Montero, Yolanda Díaz and Ione Belarra have attended, while Ciudadanos, who in 2019 had to abandon the march due to the opposition of the protesters, has the Deputy Mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís, among its ranks. José Manuel, 29, is clear that this is the year to claim trans rights: “A first step has been taken, but you have to work hard.” For her part, Esther, 24, believes that this year “diversity will be defended against neglect and attacks by political parties such as the Madrid City Council”, referring to the refusal of José Luis Martínez-Almeida, mayor of Madrid , to hang the Pride flag in Cibeles.
“Trans rights, human rights” or “it is not gay pride, it is LGTBI” are some of the slogans that protesters claim as they pass through the Plaza de Cibeles. They shout “That flag is missing colors” and “Almeida, fascist, the flag in sight” pointing to the dozen flags of Spain that surround the central fountain and in front of the façade of the Madrid City Council headquarters. There are many attendees who launch proclamations against the Popular Party and Citizens, who govern in the capital, and those who reproach their pacts with Vox: “In front of the extreme right, in front of those who deny our rights, not a step back”, The organizations at the head of the demonstration have clamored, looking straight ahead at the building that houses the mayor’s office.
“Not one step back” reads the second banner on the header, a slogan that was born three years ago against the rise of Vox. Stopping the anti-rights offensive is another of the keys with which this Pride takes to the streets, which also reproaches the Popular Party and Citizens for their pacts with those of Santiago Abascal. The protest, in fact, will culminate the tour in Colón to show a “symbolic occupation” of the space “of the extreme right.”
Victor, who flies a trans flag, stresses that “you have to come, even with masks, online or remotely.” He talks about the rights achieved, but also about everything that remains: “As a gay and cis person, I think we have to work for other acronyms, such as intersex people, totally invisible despite being 1.7% of the population” . Most conversations focus on the draft of the ‘trans law’, but also on other people in the group. As María and Laura emphasize, on this day “we are not talking about globally”, but about more concrete struggles. Young women indicate that “bisexuality is still a taboo”, even for some LGTBIQ + people: “They tell you that you have to choose, be lesbian or straight. And many straight people hypersexualize us.”
Behind the header banners (one in favor of the trans law, another against the extreme right and a third against the stigma towards people who have HIV), dozens of trans boys and girls and their families carry a huge flag that has passed in the last weeks by several cities of Spain. This is what many of these families have also done: traveling from their places of origin to be here. This is the case of Francisco Herrero, who at 67 is the first time he comes to the capital, but is also new to LGTBI Pride. He has come to accompany Alex, his 13-year-old trans grandson: “You don’t expect it, but above all he is my grandson, and the most important thing is that he is happy,” he explains. Both have traveled by bus from Barcelona and as soon as the demonstration is over they will return. “His parents worked and could not come, he told me if I would accompany him and I told him I would go where necessary.” Alex holds the banner of his first Pride in Madrid with satisfaction. “We are very happy to be here, we have come from all the cities of Spain,” he exclaims, looking at his colleagues from the Chrysallis organization, to which he belongs. He assures that the joy he felt when he received the DNI with his name “is difficult to tell”, but “when I had it in my hands I burst into tears.” He is still waiting to modify his legal sex, for which he will await the final approval of the ‘trans law’, which allows those over 14 years of age to do so with the consent of their parents.
Marco, an Italian boy, dances to the drums in heels and a sequined miniskirt while claiming that in Spanish pride he feels more “freedom” than in his country of origin. Her boyfriend remembers Stonewall and all the historical events that mark the Pride fight: “We want them to stop looking at us like monsters.” Likewise, a group of nudists march naked with ‘naked pride’ and ‘Madrid, nudist pride’ banners in front of people from the ‘Puppy play’ collective dressed in animal masks.