St. Lawrence University
Skylar Bergeron, St. Lawrence University Class of 2022
July 12, 2022


The Spanish capital Madrid, like many metropolitan cities, is made up of a patchwork of neighborhoods, each with its own unique history and charm. The three artifacts in this collection were found in either Chueca (located inside the larger neighborhood of Justicia) or Malasaña; two neighborhoods which border each other in the heart of Madrid. Chueca is Madrid’s historic and famous gay neighborhood, which blossomed at the end of the 1980s following the fall of the Franco regime and the beginning of the Transition period. Chueca plays an important role in the celebration of Madrid Pride, known as Orgullo Gay de Madrid, or simply Orgullo, since many of the week’s events take place there. Madrid’s Pride event is the largest in Europe, and was the host city for WorldPride in 2017. Orgullo Madrid 2018 generated between 150 to 200 million euros and, according to the Madrid Business Forum, each LGBTQ+ identifying tourist spent on average 30 to 40% more than the typical tourist. Despite its cheerful and celebratory reputation, Chueca has recently been subjected to homophobic violence. A violent far-right march took place there in September 2021. The participants of the march, or rather, attack, carried flags and gear marked with far-right political symbols, denounced migrants, announced their support of Francoist nationalism, and made the Nazi “Heil Hitler” gesture in addition to chanting homophobic slurs and threats. Nearby Malasaña is known as Madrid’s trendy “hipster” neighborhood, as it contains an array of vintage clothing stores, hip cafes, and bars that young people often flock to. Malasaña is also considered the hub of la Movida Madrileña, a rich counter-cultural movement which was born out of the Transition in the 1980s. La Movida was characterized by youthful hedonism, underground punk culture including music and dress, bold experimentation in the art scene, and non-political radicalism. Many of Malasaña’s most famous bars were once icons of the Movida. In this collection I imagine the words “queer” and “queerness” as umbrella terms with deliberately ambiguous definitions. Once a homophobic slur, the word queer has been reclaimed by many as an all-encompassing term for claiming a gender or sexual identity that defies heteronormative standards. So, while queer often means “gay,” it can also be creatively expanded to simply mean different, radical, subversive, or critical. The three artifacts in this collection illustrate queerness in their own ways. Centerbeach Sauna’s flier for their “Circus” event, for example, represents an image of queerness often found in Chueca. It features two muscled gay male performers and frames gayness an exotic spectacle to be enjoyed and participated in. On the other hand, it doesn’t shy away from the sexual aspect of being gay, which often ocurrs in touristy, commercialized areas like Chueca. LGBTQ+ publishing company Editorial Egales’s catalog page featuring books about Sir Oscar Wilde and being queer under the Franco dictatorship reminds us of the long, often painful history of queer activism. Perhaps the subversive nature of analyzing and learning about LGBTQ+ history through books is just as important in celebrating queer pride as physical spaces like Centerbeach Sauna. Or, take the zine MONOGRAFICO, which, though not explicitly defined as a queer publication, draws on multiple elements of anti-establishment sentiments, radicalism, cultural critique, and counter-cultural products to make creative statements. This radical and critical mindset cannot be separated from the proud sense of difference that the word queer implies.