Guillem Clua | Photograph: Courtesy of Guillem Clua
Barcelona, 1989. Image a 16-year-old Spanish boy on his strategy to catechesis. He’s preparing for affirmation, one of many seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, to be celebrated in his Catholic college amongst his Catholic mates and his Catholic household.
The boy left house too early and now has a while to kill, so he heads to a highly regarded division retailer in central Barcelona.
He is aware of precisely the place he’s going – the bogs on the fifth flooring.
He’s heard some tales about them. Tales about males hanging round far too lengthy. Exchanging glances, disappearing into the cubicles.
He’s been there earlier than, however just for a couple of minutes. Sufficient time for a fast pee earlier than working away, fearful of the previous males lurking within the corners. (They seemed so previous on the time, however they most likely have been of their late 30s).
However this time it’s totally different. There’s a youthful man there. Black curly hair, gentle stubble, black leather-based jacket, large smile on his face, and large cock in his hand. And this time the boy doesn’t run away.
This was the primary time I kissed a person. It wasn’t a romantic kiss, it smelled of urine and disgrace. It was soiled and forbidden and sinful. On my approach again to catechesis, I simply wished to clean my mouth and was scared to dying I’ll now be HIV constructive.
I keep in mind considering that my life could be like that without end. Furtive encounters in public bogs, darkish bars, public parks, and no hint of affection or pleasure in anyway.
Solely 10 years earlier than, homosexuality was unlawful. Now, within the peak of the AIDS epidemic, it was seen as one thing disgusting. LGBT teams have been seen as one thing ridiculous and flamboyant, and we didn’t have any legitimate public referent. What a strategy to begin your sexual life as a homosexual man.
‘Spain is the nation that the majority accepts homosexuality on the planet’
Flash ahead to 2004. Solely 15 years later, Spain turned the third nation on the planet to legalize homosexual marriage with full rights.
In keeping with the Centre of Sociological Analysis, 66% of the Spanish inhabitants thought the regulation was needed.
At this time, Spain is the nation that the majority accepts homosexuality on the planet. (Some 88% of the inhabitants, in line with the most recent polls).
Wanting again I really feel lucky to having been given the chance to develop as a homosexual man on the similar tempo that LGBT rights have been rising in my nation.
Regardless of my Catholic upbringing, I felt robust sufficient to get out of the closet to my household in 1994 and by no means needed to cover my homosexuality. Ever.
That allowed me to discover homosexual characters in my performs from totally different factors of view, shyly at first. With a clichéd closeted homosexual character in love together with his straight co-worker in my very first play Invisibles. And extra bravely later with a younger teenage boy wanting ahead to being contaminated of HIV by his older lover in Marburg, a love story between two Spanish troopers throughout the Afghanistan battle in Invasion. Or the unabashed celebration of romantic homosexual love that’s Smiley.
I confess, I felt complacent. I truthfully thought the work was carried out. Increasingly more international locations have been passing legal guidelines granting full rights to the LGBT group. Every Pleasure was larger, brighter, louder. We couldn’t go anyplace however ahead. You possibly can’t cease progress, proper?
However then, the unthinkable occurred. In June 2016 terrorist Omar Marteen burst into the Pulse Bar in Orlando and killed 49 individuals.
It wasn’t the primary assault in a homosexual bar. I remembered the bomb on the Admiral Duncan on Previous Compton Avenue in London. However that was again in 1999.
‘In 2017, 287 hate crimes towards LGBT individuals have been reported solely in Madrid’
I truthfully thought this couldn’t occur once more. I used to be aghast. After which I began listening to increasingly more voices that stated this wasn’t a homophobic assault. The FBI claimed that there wasn’t any proof that the Orlando shooter focused Pulse as a result of it was a homosexual membership. I felt outraged. And that is how The Swallow was born.
Just some months earlier than, I assumed I’d by no means have to put in writing a play like this. I assumed we have been over it, that the occasions once you needed to remind the viewers of the significance of affection, range, acceptance, and forgiveness had handed. However I noticed that wasn’t true.
I began noticing our society was taking steps backwards. The reactions to the Pulse bloodbath have been solely the tip of a homophobic iceberg that also lurks in Spanish society.
It has been silent for a very long time, however it’s waking up. In 2017, 287 hate crimes towards LGBT individuals have been reported solely in Madrid. That’s a staggering 1000% greater than in earlier years. And that’s fucking scary.
In solely 15 years my nation made a really troublesome journey from darkness to freedom. We shouldn’t take it with no consideration. It’s nonetheless fragile, and it positively received’t final without end if we don’t treasure it. Worry and hate are again, and it’s our responsibility to struggle them with all our power. And now, greater than ever, the weapon of my alternative is theatre.
Phrases: Guillem Clua