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Paper One: Spanish Queer Histories during the Franco Dictatorship. Cases of Homosexuality in the Special Court of Vagrants and Thugs of Granada in the Sixties
Javier Cuevas (University of Malaga)

17 April 1966, a young woman from Granada commits suicide in a central hotel in Barcelona. The forensic investigation determined that her death was the result of drug intoxication.  While the police investigation focused on her group of friends in the Andalusian city, four “invertidos” (homosexuals), whose statements were taken, legal proceedings were opened against them, and four photographs and a total of eight letters written in the days prior to her friend’s suicide were confiscated. 

The Provincial Historical Archive of Malaga holds the judicial files of the Special Court for Vagrants and Thugs of Granada, including the documents of this case. The research focuses on the letters and personal photographs found in the court files kept in this institutional archive. The visual material will be analyzed in relation to the content of the letters which is extremely interesting as it reveals that the motive for the suicide was an unwanted pregnancy, as the friends advised her to have an abortion as soon as possible, although there are also references to possible sexually transmitted diseases. The letters include interesting cultural references such as comments on films (Last Year in Marienband or Zorba the Greek) and poems that the group read, as well as drawings made by themselves and the “queer” pseudonyms of each one. There are also references to Torremolinos, a touristic town an hour and a half far from Granada, one of the few Spanish cities where during Franco’s dictatorship it was possible to find LGBT-friendly bars, thanks to the arrival of international tourism and the circulation of counter-cultural ideas.

Paper Two: Oral Histories of Queer Barcelona in the 1970s
Ona Bantjes-Ràfols (Carleton University)

Barcelona's reputation as a queer city has largely been solidified through its culture in the 1970s. The bars and drag shows in the Raval neighbourhood, gay rights marches on the Rambles and the public presence of artists like Nazario and Ocaña around those streets were essential to the construction of this reputation. These are only one way of understanding the relationship between queerness and Barcelona spaces, however. There were friends houses with smuggled books,
lesbian bars, collective vacations to nearby islands, and hours spent in telephone booths talking to lovers and friends, which are all part of a queer history of Barcelona's spaces during this broad period of political transition.

Oral history interviews conducted by the author in 2021 with seven artists and activists involved with queer communities of Barcelona between the 1970s and 1980s articulated a nuanced queer spatialization of Barcelona. Those interviewed described the places that were crucial to their articulation of personal and political identities beyond commercial establishments and official marches. The narratives revealed some overlap but also the important divergences between gay, lesbian, and trans relationships to the spatial politics of the city. This relationship between the delineation of communities and the moral geography of the city in the 1970s is the focus of this talk. Bringing together the analyses of those interviewed allows us to not only identify spaces of queer significance, but also the process of how those spaces came to be locatable as queer which is fundamental to a nuanced understanding of LGBTQ activism in Barcelona in the 1970s.

Speaker bios

Javier Cuevas is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Malaga (Spain), and member of the University Institute for Research on Gender and Equality (IGIUMA). He has directed the research project Cruising Torremolinos during 2019-2021. He is the editor, together with Ángelo Néstore, of the book Cruising Torremolinos. Cuerpos, territorio y memoria [Cruising Torremolinos. Bodies, Territory and Memory] (Tirant lo Blanch, 2022). He has created, together with Néstore, the seminar of Queer Studies at the University of Malaga, in which international referents of queer studies such as Geoffroy Huard and Sara Torres have participated. He has conducted research stays at L’École des Hautes Études in Sciences Sociales of Paris (2022), the University of California, Berkeley (2019), and the Warburg Institute of London (2017). In June 2022, he participated in the Queer History Conference of San Francisco (U.S.A.). 

Ona Bantjes-Ràfols
is a Catalan-Canadian historian whose current focus is in oral history, mapping methodologies, and the history of queer life in Barcelona during the 1970s. She has a Master's in History with a Specialization in Digital Humanities from Carleton University and the research for her thesis "Queer Geographies of 1970s Barcelona: Mapping the City in Transition through Image and Oral History" was funded by Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. As part of her passion for making research accessible through digital tools, she created “Locating Queer Memories: A Digital Map of LGBTQ History in Barcelona, 1970-
1980” ( in 2020. She lives and works in the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but advance registration is required.