Kelly Sans Culotte

Gay Mundo

Act of Atonement
Spain apologizes to queers.
By Ana Simo

Freddy Mercury

Complete Coverage
Gay Mundo

AUGUST 2, 2005. They played the song, We Are the Champions in the Gay Pride March four weeks ago in Madrid as a kind of public act of atonement to the singer and gay icon Freddy Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991. A few days before, the Spanish right and their clerical instigators howled in the Madrid streets against the democratization of civil marriage. Their theme song was that very same Freddy Mercury ballad, which is practically a gay anthem. Are they stupid or just ignorant? In any case, they showed a comforting disconnection with the reality of 2005.

The opening of civil marriage in Spain to same-sex couples and the exemplary way in which the Zapatero government handled it — no holding their noses or begging forgiveness from homophobes, like almost all others who have ever thrown us a pitiful crumb of equality — is in itself a public act of atonement.

An act of atonement to Freddy Mercury, to Federico García Lorca, to all the lesbians and gay men tortured, martyred, degraded and silenced in the history of Spain. And to those in Latin America, where for centuries Spain exported the Inquisition, clericalism, intolerance and misogyny that continue to plague those societies.

Each Latin American country, from Chile to Cuba to Brazil, should offer its own, equally explicit, public act of atonement. It does not matter that the worst abuses may have occurred in the past, or under a different government or ideology, or because of an "error" or old values. They happened. And to a large extent, continue to happen. They silenced us (Chile), they sent us to work camps and psychiatric hospitals (Cuba), and they still kill us like dogs in the streets (Brazil).

An official and public act of atonement of each nation and each state, and each generation still living in each of our Latin American countries is owed to all of the gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people living, dead, and to come. It is necessary. We have to demand it.

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