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Travelers. Visibility, and Gay Identit y

Gabriel Giorgi

Indeed, contemporary Spain is among the most progressive societies on the planet, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the flowering of gay life. — David Andrusia et al., Frommer's Gay and Lesbian Europe

n the tourist's snapshot quoted above, Spain—surrounded by superlatives — moves ahead on a global map of advances toward progressiveness. In this map, the "flowering of gay life" is perceived as evidence of historical progress; through the eyes of a gay tourist, Spain proves to be, finally, contemporary. The figure of gay and lesbian tourists "coming out" to the world combines travel and politics in an explicit way. Gays and lesbians traveling around the world as gays and lesbians reveal a map of democracies where it is increasingly con- ceivable to claim gayness as a way to move across spaces and borders. Gay tourism functions, in this sense, as an articulation between discourses of political rights and transnational displacements in a landscape where national borders are cur- rently being reformulated in both their symbolic and their practical effects. In this context, the gay tourist emerges as a cultural role, a persona that combines travel, social progress, and politics in new ways.

"The tourist is one of the best models available of modern man in general," Dean MacCannell pointed out in the opening pages of his classic text. The Tourist.* For MacCannell, the tourist represented one of the purest specimens of industrial society, a figure who allegorized the tension between the present of mod- em society and its touristic outsides. This pure representation is no longer a total- izing figure: in recent decades the tourist as the "modern man in general" has been persistently challenged by alternative narratives and gazes, one of them that


pp, 57-7 9 Copyiighl © 2002 by Duke Univereily Press


of the gay tourist. Tourism increasingly reflects different posilionalilies and sub- jectivities: ecological, educational, sexual, identitarian, and religious. Il retains, however, its force on the definition of the present, since it always needs to con- struct shared temporalities as well as distances and differences, and similarities as well as otherness between home and destination. Gay tourism thus grounds itself in a temporal imagination in which images of gay life help formulate a per- spective, perhaps a diagnosis, of the times. As the epigraph exemplifies, gay tourism evaluates the state of a gay community and its visibility across nations, thereby testing the state of democracy abroad. A moment of crisis of the "modern man in general" but allegorical in its own way, gay tourism functions as a dis- course of authority and witnessing that validates political progress, historical advances, and dimensions of the visible in foreign lands. A figure made possible by contemporary articulations between sexuality, free market, and democracy, the gay tourist becomes a carrier of gay identity in its mobility across nations.^

Spain, traditionally a hot spot for tourists, represents quite an exceptional example of the repositioning of a nation on the map of modernity. In the last three decades it has experienced radical social and political changes that transformed a country generally regarded as backward and conservative into a modern demo- cratic nation and a metropolitan power. It was also, as the guidebooks for gay and lesbian travel promise, transformed into a society highly tolerant of homosexual life. Spain is said to have made a "historical leapfrog" after the death of Franeo, in view of the unexpected extent of the country's modernizing impulse. The trope condenses the doubts it fosters in some critics, who regard Spain's bright moder- nity as illusory or weak.-^ In analyzing how Madrid is constructed as a sight for the gay touristoor, better, how the figure of the gay tourist and Madrid meet and mirror each other in the discursive scenes of the gay travelogues—I aspire to illustrate the position of the Spanish capital in a new geopolitical landscape. Less an attempt to describe contemporary gay life in aetual Madrid than an exploration of some aspects of con- temporary imaginings about mobility and visibility, my article focuses on the mir- roring between territory and travelers in Madrid as a site of transnational circula- tion in a geopolitical landscape where gayness plays a role in the demarcation of territories and circuits. How are Madrid and Spain narrated for the gay tourist, and sometimes for the loeals through the eyes of the gay tourist? And what does that narration say not only about gay tourism as such but about gayness as a medi- ation between travelers and territories, as a passage between nations and thus as transnational identity production?'* In spite of his or her meager literary prestige (writers and poets are travel-




ers, nomads, perhaps expatriates or exiles, but never tourists),^ the tourist is a fig- ure enmeshed in narratives, perpetually represented as an object by travelogues, a genre of surprising narrative efficacy in which sequences are tightly organized and time is always "now." The tourist, as constructed and addressed by travelogues, becomes a mediator between space and time, between geography and history. This is why the tourist is a crucial figure of modern and postmodern culture, an "agent of modernity," in the words of Caren Kaplan. The tourist posits the occasion for perpetual rearrangements between eras and travels across space as much as through temporalities.

My goal is not only to analyze some historical effects of the discourse of gay tourism about Madrid but to make them resonate with other discursive materials, such as a recently published gay novel about hustlers and migrants in Madrid, in order to perceive how the global expansion of gay culture reproduces equations between time and space that are usually associated with postcolonial imagination. Although gay visibility is normally associated with postmodernity—that is, with the multiplication of languages, alternative historical claims, and conflicting social/cultural positionalities—its contemporary travels can be framed within the modern tension between the metropolis and the periphery, a universe in which cer- tain transformations of global culture are reinscribed and redefined in metro- politan terms. "Who defines this present from which we speak?" asks Homi K. Bhabha in reference to the oscillation, specific to modernity, between what he calls the performative and the pedagogical.'' The splitting of temporalities opens new loci of enunciation—the performative force of newness—but is reinscribed by an authoritative present formulated from the metropolis.^ In its global travels gay cul- ture combines radical challenges to cultural traditions and normative sexualities with powerful rearticulations of cultural hierarchies on a postcolonial map. It places a visibility, of bodies, desires, and styles, that negotiates alternatives to heterosexism and conservatism in different societies but at the same time freezes tensions raised by the current landscape of global neocolonial domination and intensified mobility. As a Village Voice headline announced a couple of years ago, "Gay is global": the sign of gayness solidifies the present of homosexual cultures throughout the world. From that present, gay culture narrates local histories, breaking decades or centuries of silence, but also reinforces the complementarity between the local and the global in a transparency that creates a new set of chal- lenges and erasures.**

This ambivalent effect is closely connected with the role of the market in the transnational expansion of gay culture. The market not only creates some of the conditions for that expansion (gay and lesbian tourism being, perhaps, the


most evident example of tbe process) but plays a crucial part in the definition of gay identity and its political and cultural visibility. "Tbe correlation of market value and political equivalence, the correlation of consumption and citizenship," argues Eric 0. Clarke, "allows commercial representations to function as i/^they were democratic arenas for self-determination."^ The gay or lesbian tourist is cer- tainly a result of that correlation between consumption and political enfranchise- ment, an equation that determines — in terms of class but also of race and gen- der—how gay culture travels around the world. As the market opens pathways across nations and challenges traditional sexual cultures, it significantly regulates conditions in which gay identity claims visibility and creates inclusion.

As gay visibility goes global, it becomes a way to codify traveling bodies , a way to perceive and recognize them in a changing urban landscape . Madrid, the new gay destination and aspiring metropolis, located between historical times and geographic poles, seems to offer an unavoidable scenario for these tensions around gay visibility as they are displayed by representations of diverse travelers and trav- els across the urban landscape.

Madrid: The Gay Destination, the New Democracy

Few cities in Europe boast the kind of frenetic fun people can experi-

ence in

the gay quarters or at work, but once they get to Chueca—well, you'll have to see it with your own eyes.

—Miguel Banon Penalba, "Madrid, City of Passion"

A few may be coy about their sexuality outside

The first issue oi Passport ("Go First Class"), a San Francisco magazine dedicated to gay and lesbian travel, features an exhaustive report, quoted here, on "gay Madrid." The attention is on Chueca, Madrid's brand-new gay quarter, mostly developed in the last five years and growing fast. Chueca is the "example of the new openness" that singularizes contemporary Spain.^^ As Pefialba says, "You'll have to see it with your own eyes." Chueca makes gay people visible and offers itself to the tourist's gaze: to experience Chueca is, in the first place, to see visi- bility. Gay visibility becomes a tourist "sight."

In making gay people visible, Chueca epitomizes the new democratic Spain. The social life and public practices of the gay community are at the same time symbols for the nation's political stance. There is, then, a double value acted out in gay visibility: on the one hand, the new openness offers conditions and sites to experience gay identity and desire; on the other, it provides a sense of contem- poraneousness, of shared historicity with other modern, liberal democracies.


6 I

In a democracy that still needs to demonstrate its strength and its resem- blance to the older, so-called advanced democracies of the United States and northern Europe, gay visibility stands out as a symbol, a token of social tolerance and achieved freedom. Tourism becomes, in this way, more than a business: it becomes an instance of historical and political validation (or, to put it more bluntly, a business that requires some historical and political conditions). Only the language of tourism can sanction Spain's transfiguration into a "European show- place."" The metaphor highlights the visibility of a "new" culture, as well as the way it is exhibited and its desir e to be seen by or to pose in front of foreign eyes — a language of tourism converted into political progress because it performs the accession to modernity. The tourist's gaze, the tourist's knowledge, validates the repositioning of Spain on the global map.'^

One example of the remapping of Spain's new and old identities for the gay tourist is provided by Rancho Mirage Travel, a Web-based travel agency:

A New Spain

The times are certainly changing in Spain. Once one of the most conserva- tive and repressive societies in Europe, since the death of Franco and after several elections, Spain has become a European showplace. One example of the new openness, the Spanish National Tourist Office publishes a guide called Madrid Night Life. One section is called The Gay Life and pro- vides a comprehensive guide to gay bars and other venues, even including subway and bus directions. Could you imagine such information being available in the USA and in the language of our visitors?

And the Old Spain

Traces of medieval Madrid can still be seen to this day in the area of Puerta del Sol, Calle Mayor and Plaza del Valle, ancient churches and Moorish buildings are still prominent in these areas.''

Madrid transforms itself into an assortment of historical eras, an urban land- scape switching between the (gay) twenty-first century and the "old Spain." This is, one can argue, what the discourse of tourism is supposed to offer: the avail- ability of time difference at walking distance, without any major risk or effort. That the modern part of the package is exclusively defined by gayness, however, makes of this a particular kind of offer. It shows how gay visibility is immedi- ately translated into the vocabulary of liberal democracy as a condition of trans-


national circulation and is temporalized in a present tense that echoes other loci of modernity.

In 1996 the Spanish Tourism Institute, the official tourism office, published a gay guidebook titled Gay Spain: Feel the Passion, to be distributed, apparently, in Spanish information offices in the United States. After the conservative Popular Party gained control of the government, the guidebook was withdrawn. In response, Coordinadora Gai-Lesbiana, a gay and lesbian activist group, distributed it on the Web. Although the unfortunate decision of the Popular Party made less evident the official presence of gay visibility in the Spanish democracy, it is suggestive how the guidebook's discourse places Spain in a sequence of modernity played out

around gay rights: "In 1995 Spain became the first Latin country

discrimination in housing and employment"; "Spain will become the third country in the European Community with such a [partnership] law on its books"; "A new dawn of tolerance, social justice, and freedom is emerging. The doors of the closet are wide open, never to be closed again."'* The place of Spain in relationship to Europe (the Europe of the European Community) and to Latin America—the dou- ble face of Spain's new geopolitical position—is affirmed by a chronology ("first," "third") in the advancement of homosexual rights. The timing exhibits the ways in which a local modernity desires to be seen as well as the standards it has to meet to be reflected in a global framework. Tbe inscription of gayness in this scene of recognition shows the historical value assigned as a marker to help counterbalance the attendant delay in turning democratic and to fast-foi-ward historical "progress."

Madrid, aspiring metropolis, jumps forward, getting close to the global pres- ent by embracing gayness as a marker of history. Chueca becomes one of the priv- ileged scenarios of that movement toward modernity. Gay/modern, or gay-as-mod- ern, functions in this way as a historical signifier that reorganizes the temporality of homosexuality and society according to a sequence that places gay culture as a reference to the present, to the "now"—a present defined in global terms. The gay capitals (New York, London, Paris, and, later, Madrid) are, not surprisingly, the metropolises of the postcolonial world. They are the sites where the contempora- neous is perpetually reinstated as the "now" of history. Gayness, in the global era, is part of that replication. The tourist, as an "agent of modernity," engenders a sce- nario for that echo. The celebrated transparency between Spain and the "civilized" gay world, as it is repeatedly allegorized by the tourist, exhibits the borders of contemporary gay identity when it functions as a mediation between national territories and cul- tures. It mirrors geography with history—general history and gay history—from which Spain and Madrid move "ahead" and are embraced by the North.




This radical change is reflected in the way in which the travelogues con- struct historical backgrounds of contemporary Madrid. The report of Passport frames Madrid in an account of Spain, extending from the Roman Empire down to

the liberalization under democratic rule, in which Chueca appears as a natural outcome of both the healthy Spanish democracy and its expanding economy. In the first part of his report the writer, a self-identified Madrilefio, clarifies the goal of his endeavor: to correct international (American) misconceptions about contem- porary Madrid and Spain: "I think most Americans have a misconception con- cerning the look and feel of present day Madrid. For those who think of the city as old looking. Catholic, and uptight—a place where everyone does flamenco danc-

attends bullfights—oh! you are so wrong!"'^ No rhetorical stress can ade -

ing and

quately highlight how modern Madrid has become. The change is verified in the corrections to the city's images that were persistently forged and distributed by the tourist campaigns during Franco's era, when a stereotypical image of Madrid became an international icon for Spain. Modernization, on this level, appears as an effect of a debate and a transition between tourist imageries and their political agendas.

This transformation is repeatedly described as a sudden occurrence of modernity and as an event that no one could anticipate: "Former Catholic guilt changed overnight to a joyous freedom.""" The "overnight" change indicates an acceleration of history in which tradition, seemed to have been firmly established. Madrid becomes a city of duplicity and delusion, where historical eras coexist in contaminating immediacy. This duplicity affects especially the urban visibility of gay people. What becomes visible in Madrid is a matter of struggle between old and new tourist images of the city. Another travelogue, Frotntner's Gay and Lesbian Etirope, stages this conflict of imageries by nairating the writer's arrival in Madrid:

As my cab pulled into Madrid in the wee hours of a Sunday morn, I was struck by all the sexy young guys waiting for buses and taxis in the dawn light. How sweet, I thought, they're going to mass. I smiled as some beatific Church Lady, thinking I had my opening sentence nailed down:

"Despite all the advances in Spain's economy and society, the institutions of family and church are what remain at the heart of this charming land." Then I realized the truth: These cute (if slightly shopworn) guys aren't going to church. They are going home—after a night of depravity and drugs in the clubs.'^

A travel writer's task is not easy, especially in the half-light of a Sunday dawn in Madrid. There the eternal dilemma of a beginning is further complicated by a


mirage of overlapping cities. The adjustment of our traveler's vision displays his- tory as a trompe l'oeil. The same image (boys waiting) belongs to two different cities and two opposite eras. Madrid embodies a reversibility between modern excess and rigid tradition; its double face reveals less its nature than the speed of its repositioning in history. An adjustment of the visible—the visibility of an excess that includes gay life—is the enactment of Spain's recent history, which, due to its celerity, can be apprehended in the blink of an eye: an imaginal clip. An overlapping of past and present, or a sudden reversal of past into present, occurs:

Madrid's history seems to run under the effects of a "fast-forwarding" force. And then "what was once a dusty old-world capital has become a major international city of note, on a par with Paris, London, and New York."'"

The troubled writer, after adjusting his historical lens, finds the proper way to describe Madrid: "So let me rethink that lead sentence. How about: 'The only shrine most young Madrilefios worship at these days is that of the holy trinity of clothes, clubs and cash. Heady, hedonistic, and very hot, modern Madrid is every bit as dizzy and daring as an Almodovar film'?"'^

From the city of God to the city of sin: young Madrilefios embody the mockery of the Catholic tradition and the celebration of capital and hedonism. That movement between versions of Madrid is also a movement between tourist imagery, from the tourist images of Franco's era—the repertoire of flamenco danc- ing and bullfighting—to Pedro Almodovar, whose movies construct a modern Madrid for Spaniards and especially for foreigners. The mention of Almodovar in the gay travelogue is not casual. In his movies cultural production and tourist imagery exhibit some permeability, and Almodovar recognizes himself as an "exportable" product of contemporary Spain. In that gesture Almodovar provides a discursive site to recognize and describe Madrid's new times: his movies offer a locus from which to enunciate the temporal echo between Madrid and sites of modernity.20 Tourists, according to the guidebook quoted above, travel through Almodovar's movies—through their desire for modernity and through their camp parody of that desire—to find themselves, finally, in modern, present-day, Euro- pean Madrid, where the gay territory comes to light.

Visihie Bodies in the Urhan Map

in these little capitals of people watching. -—Dean MacCannell, The Tourist

To look at the map of gay Madrid is to notice immediately the contrast between the high concentration of gay services in Chueca, the gay quarter, and the lack of a



visible gay presence in the rest of the city. That is why Chueca quickly became famous for having the "highes t concentration of gay life in Europe," according to a tourist brochure on tbe Web. "Everything is gay in this neighborhood now," adds a Passport report. Chueca is turning into an example of high density in matters of gay visibility, an aggregate of the urban concentration of gay life and the visual impact of a landscape suddenly occupied by gays: "Take a peek at the gay after- dark center, Chueca, any day of the week and you'll see what I mean."^' A promise to the eyes: wonders push the limits of language in the tourist's discourse; they work, as MacCannell puts it, at the limit between signifying and showing.22 Tourist discourse is, in this sense, a realm of the visible in language; it praises the power of the eye by testing the limits of words. Gay tourism, however, twists positions: it offers visibility itself as a sight, interchanging the place of the subject and the object by making both of them "sights" and returning the gaze to the tourist, thus rendering gayness as much a social spectacle as the domain of a subjective expe- rience. In Chueca "you'll see" and you'll "be seen"—that is the tacit promise and the contract between the gay guidebooks and their readers. That reciprocal gaze is the enactment of gay identity in a public staging that expects and somehow induces visibility as a result of the encounter between the tourist and the site. Vis- ibility is thus the theme of gay tourism, the discursive axis from which it portrays sites, designs subjectivities, and tells bistories.

In Chueca visibility is mainly associated with the night scene. The leg- endary lateness of Madrid's nightlife is reinforced here by tbe sight of crowds in the gay area: "The crowds are so throbbing at night"; "at 3 am you still see a crowd."2-' "The area is basically queer so eighty percent of the people having a beer or ice cold sangria will be one of us." A sense of communitarian visibility is accompanied by this hyperbolic apparition of otherwise hidden multitudes once the border is crossed : "A few may be coy about thei r sexuality outsid e the gay quarters or at work, but once they get to Chueca—well, you'll have to see it with your own eyes."^* Any urban gay quarter functions, in many ways, as a "shifter" of visibility: once inside the territory, the bodies in circulation tend to be codified and perceived by reference to gay identity. In the case of Chueca, as it is depicted in these discourses, the hyperbolic density of gayness—the crowds, the percent- age, the "wholeness"—makes it an experience of gay identity as much as a tourist sighl. As a site of national and transnational circulation, Chueca makes these two positions reflect into each other.^s

Once translated into the imagination and discourse of gay travel, "sight- seeing" tends to resonate with cruising, particularly if the trip opens actual or imagined occasions for sexual pursuit (as it frequently does). But sight-seeing


becomes richer and more ambivalent if we associate it witb the experience of visi- bility and identity as tbese turn into tourist attractions. Gay tourism, in this sense, can be seen as another, perhaps newer genre of the coming-out narrative, offering access to visibility in foreign lands. A trip to tbe gay destination, where visibility is dense and, in a way, unavoidable (as it might be in Chueca, if we believe the guidebooks), is thus a means of engaging the coming-out narrative of invisibil- ity/visibility in terms of transnational mobility. Strongly attached to the interna- tionalization of Madrid, the gay territory is deeply shaped by the gaze of the tourists, and the degree of visibility so praised by the travelogues reflects that moment of transnational encounter.26

So Chueca, like other sites of highly concentrated gay visibility, reworks some of the articulations between the local, the national, and the transnational. Its borders are territorial as much as identitarian, such that identity projects itself onto the urban territory and defines a code of visibility through which people cir- culate. Visibility becomes an experience connected to a circulation across maps of changing scales, and the pilgrimage to visibility can be taken from remote coun- tries, from the next neighborhood or the nearest Spanish province. From this point of view, Chueca reinscribes national or regional differences by organizing gay identity in terms of a passage zone that attracts locals and visitors, somehow defin- ing almost all of them as tourists, in the sense that they experience visibility as an effect of the territory. This does not mean, of course, that national or regional iden- tities are instantly meaningless once people enter the reign of gay visibility; on the contrary, in transnational scenarios, nationality is constantly alluded to and some- times reinforced. Rather, the sign of gayness becomes privileged ground for recog- nition and identification, ground that attaches national signifiers to gayness as the privileged identification. The boundaries of the gay area define identity as territo- riality: inside an area more or less defined and recognizable, gayness becomes a privileged mediator of identity, the signifier that articulates perceptions and nego- tiations of meaning. In this landscape the tourist, to a certain extent, epitomizes this experience of identity as it is produced in terms of territoriality and circula-


Of course, circulation never goes unmarked. Various trajectories, experi- ences, and passages through visibility can be counted and imagined, each expos- ing a different arrangement of location, travel, and sexual secrecy or openness. A major contrast would be found between the trajectories of any of the gay destina- tions, as well as between them and areas with no or less visible gay life. Also, dif- ferent gay travel experiences can be framed within the tension between metropolis and periphery and reveals that the tourist, as a metaphor for access to visibility, is



grounded on diverse restrictions that determine the journeys to and through gay identity. Nevertheless, Chueca, as a tourist site and a gay destination mediated and somehow (re)invented by gay travelogues, becomes a scene in which visibility is connected to travel and to a touristic circuit of other gay centers, a circuit in which identity and visibility depend on, and are imagined through, access to mobility and travel.

Chueca, like other metropolitan gay territories—fragments of the dis- course of global mobility—projects a sense of cosmopolitanism and erasure of dif- ferences that is soon revealed as highly problematic. If the imagination of tourism somehow shapes the connection between visibility and circulation, the limits and the rules of that visibility become more obvious when the lesbian body traverses the scenario.

For instance, "Everything is gay in this neighborhood now" applies only when gayness is reflected in male tourists. Gay visibility in the travelogues, as in many other aspects of gay culture, seems haunted by lesbian invisibility or by tbe intermittent visibility of the lesbian body in travel. In the material I reviewed, the lesbian tourist appears as a supplement, a formally corrective addendum to dis- courses and information produced by and for gay male tourists. As such, lesbian (in)visibility represents the deconstructive return of gender to the all-inclusive imagination of travel and global mobility. "And the sisters of Sappho will go ga-ga over las chicas," adds Frotnmer's in an introduction in which boys, saunas, and muscles are the main focus; lesbians appear only as footnotes.2" In this sense, gay and lesbian travel seems very much to reproduce the gendered restrictions of travel in general terms. The crowds of Chueca are genderless, so the lesbian apparition, more than referring to a visible presence in the gay territory, seems to fill a gap in the representation.

Africa Borders Chueca: Maps and Landscapes of Glohal Geography

In the rhetoric of tourism, through its explicit and implicit gaps, transnational vis- ibility emerges as a contested arena where bodies and maps intersect in conflict- ing ways. If the lesbian traveler articulates a tension inside the imagination of tourism, other travelers bring to it an outside, or a limit, that is also a silence. The inscription of illegal immigrants in the urhan landscape demarcates an outside limit of the celebrated mirroring between gay territory and global mobility. The strengthening of Spain's democracy has been accompanied by an astonishing economic growth {Frotntner's observes that "Spain has now one of the 10 largest GNP's in the world"), which makes Madrid not only a gay destination


but a metropolis where immigrants represent a crucial economic and cultural force.29 The new Spain enters the landscape of an era in which transnational tourism and immigration epitomize displacement, one being the reverse of the other (although multiple contaminations and identifications between the two can be imagined).•''0 What histories are told when Chueca not only reflects the enlight- ening—and wealthy—face of the tourist but registers the figure of the immi- grant?

Gay tourism discourse does not seem to answer this question, perhaps because, as noted above, the immigrant is an economic and social counterfigure to the tourist; also, social and racial tensions cannot fit easily into the imaginary of tourism, which tends to keep unsaid the privileges of the leisure class. Or, last but not least, perbaps the contiguity between tourists and immigrants immediately evokes sex trade and sex tourism, information frequently absent from the gay guidebooks. Whatever the reasons, the immigrant seldom makes it onto the post- cards of gay tourism—and when he or she does, it is under specific conditions. A relationship to capital seems to be a determinant of differential relationships to visibility.

In this sense, visibility does not simply oppose invisibility, as in the oppo- sition between the apparent and the hidden. It involves less an actual perception than a code of what is perceptible, in what terms, under what light, and for whom. The invisible is not merely absent; rather, it is marked as invisible and registered as a difference or a limit. Invisibility is then a contour, an edge, a distance. It con- tinues visibility in another texture, in the same way that the "closet, " as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick explains, refers not necessarily to a secret buried in the sub- ject's fortified privacy but to a never fully definite knowledge, a labile pact of silence. John Berger, in an examination of aesthetic perception, points out this continuity: "It is very possible that visibility is the truth, and what lies outside visibility are only the 'traces' of what has been or will become visible."" Visibil- ity is here a focus demarcated by traces whose invisibility measures time—the future or the past of the visible. Invisibility makes explicit a temporal limit, a con- tour, so that the visible body can be recognized. The visible, tben, is a matter of time, of politics, of history. Transposing this dynamic of visibility and "traces" to the metropolitan staging of gayness, the tourist's visibility and the immigrant's invisibility become figures of time. Describing Madrid as a city of immigrants, the Passport report praises the sense that "our bonds with Latin America are stronger than ever, making the city even more colorful. You'll see Cubans, Argentineans, Peruvians, and Colombians here; and don't forget the North African contingent."''2 The "colors" that immi-



grants bring to Madrid occasion a celebration of diversity in cultural terms, as if the Third World were staging itself in a sort of urban spectacle. The dividing line between labor migrants and tourists projects a map in which Latin America and Africa provide workers and the United States (and, very likely, Europe) provides tourists. Such a neat division of labor in transnational displacements exhibits the extent to which the imagination of tourism structures itself on geographic, eco- nomic, and racial terms. In this case, the "colors" of Third World countries allude not only to the diversity of cultures in metropolitan Madrid but to the racialized bodies traversing the routes of neocolonial domination. As such, they present Madrid as a crossroads of clearly differentiated travel circuits.

With these tensions around visibility in mind, I want to look briefly at a novel in which visibility, immigration, and gay history are decisively articulated. El gladiador de Ghaeca [The gladiator of Chueca], by Carlos Sanrune, is the fic- tional autobiography of a hustler in Madrid, a mix between/}tcare.sca and soft porn in which Chueca is the scenario of a historical transition between homosexualities in Spain. The reference to Chueca in the title is crucial, for it provides a locus for storytelling, a site where homosexual stories are desired, told, and repeated. In that landscape the protagonist aspires to become a legend by telling of the prowess of a sexual warrior—"gladiator"—within the circuits of the gay territory.

The Chueca mentioned in the title, however, is not the Chueca featured in the gay guidebooks. Since the plot takes place in the mid- or late 1980s, it por- trays a neighborhood not yet gentrified by the gay community. If it was already a gay area, it was also an area of drug dealing and immigrants. (Gay gentrification sent drug dealing and immigrants, frequently together, to other areas of Madrid.) That Chueca appears in the novel's title, however, indicates to what extent Chueca epitomizes gay life in Madrid (and in Spain).-'-^ The text circulates and is read in reference to present-day Chueca, although it portrays the immediate past of the area. It thus performs the historical transition of Chueca and of the homosexual cultures that Chueca made visible.

The fictional production of the text represents this transition: the narrative results from an interview with the hustler that becomes a "face to face" between gay culture and its past. We know, from a few of the hustler's remarks, that his interviewer, who writes the novel and initially asks for the hustler's story, is a gay man who frequents the ambiente where homosexuals are open about their desires. On the opposite side, the hustler appears as a closeted homosexual who, to have sex, needs prostitution as a screen and a camouflage. Even when he frequents gay bars, he needs to pretend to be straight both to get clients and because he is a closeted gay man (he is coming out in the interview). His "true" identity, his


actual belonging to the gay community, is his deepest secret; he explores the gay areas from a subjective and historical distance. The story of the hustler is a discourse of the past of the type that Michel de Certeau says furnishes society with a present. He represents the immediately pre- vious stage of homosexual life, the universe of secrecy and hidden desires that gay visibility transforms into openness.''* The hustler's story is no longer a case for doctors or criminologists or priests; he is not a pervert or a criminal but is mate- rial for a gay readership that extracts from his invisibility and fears an affirmation and a legitimization of its own emancipation. The openly gay reader of the novel can construct himself as a historical "progression" from the sexual culture embod- ied by the novel's protagonist.

As it develops, the narrative traces national and racial borders of gay visi- bility. Although closeted and old-fashioned, the hustler identifies himself with his clients—and readers—^since he is secretly homosexual. He represents a progres- sion from secrecy to openness, a past phase from the point of view of contemporary visibility, but he still belongs to the same narrative toward openness that culmi- nates in present-day Chueca. This character is, in this sense, entirely different from another hustler in the novel, Omar, an immigrant from North Africa. Omar makes hustling into the scene not of homosexuality but of homophobia: be robs, beats, and threatens clients, perhaps to punish them for luring him into unforgiv- able pleasures or to defend himself against what he may perceive as a colonial trade (the novel does not inquire into his reasons, since the point of view is focused on the protagonist). Omar initiates the protagonist into the secrets of hus- tling in Madrid. They get along and work together until one night, at Omar's apart- ment in Chueca, after trying to repress his desire for his friend, the protagonist makes a pass at the moro [Moor]. The result is disproportionate violence: the moro calls his other roommates ("y el Omar no se que hostias les diria en su idioma" [I don't know what the hell Omar told them in their language]), and the four of them beat and rape the hustler, thus "outed" as a maricon?^ Although in the Spain where El gladiador de Ghueca takes place the latent peril of homophobic violence is always present, the fact that the only scene of gay basbing and rape portrays moros as central figures shows to what extent cultural difference and race embody a threat both in social and in sexual terms. The enigma of the immigrant's sexual orientation (is a Moorish hustler gay? straight?) is not solved but reinscribed as homophobia. Raping a man does not precisely make it clear that the rapist is "straight"; on the contrary, it means that for him any homoerotic desire has to be enacted as violence. The subject position in which homoeroticism mixes with violence is the place occupied by the moro in this see-


7 /

nario projected from contemporary gay visibility. Violence is not related only to social difference and poverty, or to the illegal immigrant as one of the typical faces of social tension; it is also directly associated with cultural distance, a radical het- erogeneity of gay identity that returns as a menace of homophobia and social vio- lence.

The liminality of the immigrant in the gay territory is continued by his expulsion from the national territory; eventually, Omar is deported because of his illegal status. The illegal immigrant thus emerges as a limit or a border of both gay visibility and transnational circulation. Interestingly, from the point of view of that border, gay visibility and legal status exhibit an epistemological and political con- tinuity, showing a new articulation between identity and mobility. After hearing the news of Omar's deportation, the protagonist's good-bye to his ex-friend com- bines revenge, melancholy, and a strange geographic perception: "Y me alegro mogollon, que se pudra en el desierto el muy hijoputa. Lo malo era lo buenazo que estaba, y lo que a mi me molaba" [And I am very happy about it; I bope the son of a bitch dies in the desert. The bad thing is how hot he was, and how much I liked him] (131). The desert where Omar "belongs" becomes one of the borders of Cbueca. Such a geographic sequence, as perceived from the spatial and juridical limit embodied by the immigrant, articulates the gay territory in continuity not only with the nation-state but with the megastate, the European Community.

"The present, the postulate of discourse," says Certeau, "becomes the profit of the scriptural operation: the place of the production of the text is trans- formed into a place produced by the text."-^'' From "place of production" to "place produced," Chueca is transformed into a scenario of stories and locus for story- telling: it claims the present tense in which gay narratives—gay histories and his- tory from the point of view of gayness—are enunciated. If gay travelogues find in Chueca the occasion for a continuous reference to the history of the Spanish democracy, in El gladiador Chueca becomes the instance of an invention of its own past and a selection of its antecedents. History demarcates the limits of gay- ness: while a naive, closeted hustler from the provinces enters as an antecedent of gay identity (as an example of what the present times have overcome but what can still be defined as past), the violently homophobic tnoro is literally kept at the bor- der of gayness as a threat."

In this sense. El gladiador de Ghueca maps out the gay territory in its tran- sition to the new times and demarcates a geopolitics in which Chueca deepens the border and widens the distance regarding the routes of immigration at the same time that gay travelogues open the territory for free circulation across national boundaries in the figure of the tourist. Without attempting to conflate two hetero-


geneous and partial discourses merely to produce effects of causality that reduce the complexity of the new landscape, I would insist on the "time effect," the ges- tation of a "present" in which a transition between conflicting visibilities and trav- eling bodies takes place. In the same moment that the travelogues start mirroring Chueca in the eyes of the tourist to find the radiance of democracy and capital, in El gladiador the body of the immigrant traces the route of a geographic and cul- tural distance. That route, traced on illegality, projects an interruption of cos- mopolitan mobility, a gap in which the fantasies and realities of a sexual and social threat simply, and inevitably, emerge.

Itnpossible Encounters

A hypothetical encounter between an illegal immigrant and a gay tourist might

show less a "face to face" between two economic and cultural worlds than the impossibility of a reflection between the two, a sort of reciprocal opacity. The inscriptions of Chueca I looked at in the gay travelogues and in El gladiador

exhibit this tension around gay identity in terms of a redefinition of who circulates


and is recognized by tbe gay territory. In my reading Chueca appears as a field


narratives and representations, an imaginary site made of travel narratives, for-

eign faces, and mobile figures whose combination produces effects that may reflect actual regulations on bodies, desires, and displacements. On tbe one hand, tbe discourse of gay visibility that founds and defines Chueca as a tourist attraction,

as a "sight" that is, most likely, representative of tourist discourse on transnational

visibility, unfolds the impulse to tighten the distance between Madrid and tbe modern capitals. It binds travelers through a strategy of proximity and identifica- tion in time and space, as if tbat "continent" called the European Community were literally shrinking in a geological metamorphosis. Precisely because Madrid has so radically changed its position on the global map of modernity, it is a privi- leged scenario for the new inscriptions of gay identity in time and space, where gay identity shows a deep resonance with discourses of modernity, of free market, and of metropolitan identification.

On tbe other hand, in the moment in which gay identity officially defines

territories across nations, homophobia appears as a limit or a border. From the point of view of gay identity as an equation between time and space ("condensed"

in gay territories like Chueca), homophobia does not only refer to local or national

reactions against gay life but is reframed in global terms, becoming available for ambivalent uses. It designates, for example, a past that always threatens a return, and/or an outside that always haunts the borders of those territories where gay life



"flowers," thus intensifying political and historical hierarchies. The availability of an immediate overlapping between cultural difference (marked in terms of race and nation) and homophobia—as in El gladiador., where the moros represent a continuum of social, sexual, and physical violence against gay people—may become an undesired consequence of tbe increasing power of gay identity to cod- ify people, territories, and mobility. Homophobia thus emerges as a dividing line that echoes sexuality with cultural, racial, and social borders and deepens the gap between modern, democratic, and cosmopolitan capitals and the backwardness that haunts them.'^s

Gayness—the culture, identity, and its relationship with visibility—not only narrates the aesthetics and the (micro)politics of the sexual secret; it also, after becoming a sign of global circulation, sets in motion a narrative tbat locates bodies in a geopolitical order, making them visible in some ways and determining tbeir visibility under different conditions. Tbe gay identity that emerges in such a landscape not only articulates tensions focused around the public and the private; it also places diverse subjectivities in scenarios of transnational encounter, in articulations between the global and the local, and in narratives about modernity and its others. The transformations of old and new metropolises, and their power to codify bodies and their circulation across nations, shape the new inscriptions and perceptions of gay identity. The universe ofthe closet turns into a cartography where desire and the world, subjectivity and transnational displacements, mirror one another in strange, amplified ways. Tourists and immigrants, these bodies sig- naled by the borders of visibility as much as by their visas (or the absence thereof), are the sites where the stories of gay travels and the travels of "gay" are being written in a production that takes place, necessarily, in more than one (sex- ual) language.


I want lo thank Carla Marcantonio, Juan Marco Vaggione, and Jashir Kaur Puar for their intelligent and useful comments on earlier versions of this text.

1. Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (New York:

Schocken, 1976), 17.

2. In a recent compilation focused on the globalization of gay politics, the editors present this "journey" in political terms: "While full-fledged participation in the rights and freedoms of liberal democracy has been increasingly realized, especially in northern Europe, the struggle continues elsewhere against forces that continue to marshal pre- inodern rhetoric." The editors describe the geopolitics of gay and leshian movements


as an equation between democracy and modernity pitted against premodern forces, in which gay and lesbian identities become (together with Jews and socialists) "symbols of the modern." This viewpoint is crucial, hecause it places gayness in time as a sign

of time, of "new times," and thus able to ground narratives that claim the authority of the present tense. Following this sequence, gayness emanates from the advanced

[have] been increasingly real-

ized," and travels from there to more recent democracies. The necessity of travel is neither accidental nor merely related to any superficial notion of pleasure. Precisely

hecause gayness is a "symbol of the modern," and precisely because it works as a sign

of temporality, it also functions, in geographic terms, as a territorial mark that travels from some areas to others—not surprisingly, from the metropolis to the periphery— carrying with itself the spirit ofthe new times. "Within this general historical context," the editors conclude, "local conflicts play out within the 'game plan' bequeathed hy

Western tradition" (Barry

democracies of northern Europe, where "freedoms

D. Adam, Jan Willem Duyvendak, and Andr6 Krouwel, eds

The Global Emergence of Gay and Lesbian Politics: National Imprints of a Worldwide Movement [Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999], 7, 6). For the connections between tourism and modernity, a more recent elaboration can be found in Chris

Rojek and John Urry, eds (London: Routledge, 1997).

Touring Cultures: Transformations of Travel and Theory

3. Spain has led perhaps the most successful transition to democracy in contemporary times, accompanied by impressive economic growth decisively supported by incorpo- ration in the European Union. Franco's death signaled the beginning of the "Euro- peanization" (or re-Europeanization) of Spain in a process involving both a cultural identification with northern European nations and the United States, on the one hand, and, on the other, a strong redefinition of relations with the Third World, especially Latin America, as Spain has turned into a political, economic, and cultural center.

Such dramatic changes have taken place in a surprisingly short time: Franco died in 1975 (Carlos Alonso Zaldivar and Manuel Castells, Espana, fin de siglo [Madrid:

Alianza, 1992]). For interesting perspectives on cultural and economic transformations undergone by Spain in recent decades see Paul Julian Smith, The Moderns: Time, Space, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Spanish Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); and Eduardo Subirats, Despues de la lluvia: Sobre la ambigua mod- ernidad espahola (Madrid: Temas de Hoy, 1993). For a history of gay and lesbian movement in Spain see Ricardo Llamas and Fefa Vila, "Passion for Life: A History of

Global Emergence of Gay

and Lesbian Politics, 214—42. For an analysis of Spain's "exemplary" transition to democracy see Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and

Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-ComrnunLu Europe (Balti- more: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996).

the Lesbian and Gay Movement in Spain," in Adam et al



4. Without attempting to draw a neat line hetween the two notions, I use the designation gay and lesbiati, instead o[ queer, for reasons that have to do with the transnational circulation and (niis)encounters between sexual cultures. Gay {or gay and lesbian) is clearly the category most widely used and appropriated by international travelers and locals. In this sense, it is more properly official than queer, since it evokes the politi- cal, cultural, and social recognition of homosexuality in diverse areas of the world. That recognition is, of course, increasingly mediated by and articulated through the market as a globalizing force. Queer, if applied to transnational scenarios, connotes a more fluid and negotiated arena of encounters and transactions between different sex- ual cultures in ways perhaps not so strongly or so decisively regulated through the market. This transnational dimension of queer was highlighted almost ten years ago by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick: "At the same time, a lot of the most exciting recent work around 'queer' spins the term outward along dimensions that can't he subsumed under gender and sexuality at all: the ways that race, ethnicity, postcolonial nationality criss- cross with these and other identity-constituting, identity-fracturing discourses, for example" ("Queer and Now," in Tendencies [Durham: Duke University Press, 199.3], 8-9). On the distance and continuity between homosexual, gay and lesbian, and queer see Michael Warner, introduction to Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory, ed. Michael Warner (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), vii—xxxi; and David M. Halperin, Saint Foucault: Totvards a Gay Hagiography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

5. Caren Kaplan offers insightful comments on this differentiation in Questions of Travel:

Postmodern Discourses of Displacement (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996).

6. llomi K. Bhahha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), 244. Regard- ing modernity, space, and colonialism, see Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992).

7. The definition of the contemporaneous and the anachronistic is regarded as one of the founding gestures of modemity, a discoui-se that authorizes itself by claiming contitil of the present tense. Such a gesture measures space through time and ties metropolis and periphery in a tension between the present and diverse pasts. Contemporaneousness is not, however, homogeneously distributed in space: "hackwaixjness" is a common specta- cle in the metropolis, just as the periphery exhibits the signs and the vocation of moder- nity. In any case, this revereal only reaffinns how deeply the notion of being contempora- neous, of sharing a temporality, can be based on imperial maps and calendars. See Bhahha, Location of Culture; and Walter D. Mignolo, The Darker Side ofthe Renaissance:

Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization (Ann Arbor: Univereity of Michigan Press, 1995).

8. For the debate ahout the beginnings and the nature of globalization and transnational- ity see Paul Jay, "Beyond Discipline? Globalization and the Future of English," PMLA 116 (2001): 32-45 .


9. Eric 0. Clarke, Virtuous Vice: Homoeroticism and the Public Sphere (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 51.

10. Miguel Banon Penalba, "Madrid, City of Passion," Passport, winter 2001 , 32 ; Rancho Mirage Travel, www.ranchomiragetravel.com/madrid.html.

11. Ibid.

12. Roland Barthes has described some aspects of the ideological foundations of tourist guides. In Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995), Barthes bases his comments about tourism on his analysis of the French Blue Guide (a traditional French tourist guidebook) and its representation of—not surprisingly— Spain. His analysis ofthe tourist discourse dismantles a rhetorical montage conceived to support Franco's regime; it shows how travelogues build a mirroring between land- scape and tourist, between "here" and "there," by creating zones of historical and ide- ological encounter.

13. Rancho Mirage Travel, www.ranchomiragetravel.com/madrid.html.

14. Gay Spain: Feel the Passion (Madrid: Spanish Tourism Institute, 1996), accessible through Coordinadora Gai-Lesbiana, www.pangea.org/org/cgl.guiae.html.

15. Pefialba, "Madrid, City of Passion," 32.

16. Ibid., 33 .

17. David Andrusia et al., Frommer's Gay and Lesbian Europe (New York: Macmillan, 1999), 592.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid.

20. Almodovar is considered to have received more official financial support than most Spanish directors. That support came principally from the Ayuntamienlo de Madrid [Madrid's City Hall], especially during the gestation ofthe movida madrilena in the 1980s. During the first years of the Spanish democracy, Madrid's official cultural pol- itics exhibited a desire to become an intemational urban center; the movida reflected that desire. For an interesting memoir of the movida and the support provided by the city's mayor at that time, Tierno Calvan, see Jose Luis Gallero, Solo se vive una vez:

Esplendor y ruina de la movida madrileria (Madrid: Ardora, 1991). Some of Gallero's interviewees regarded the role of gays in the formation of the cultural movement as "emblematic": "La primera gran liberacion la producen los homosexuales" [The first great liberation is produced by homosexuals], says Borja Casani, one of the movida's participants (21). For a study of the figure of Almodovar in the context of post-Franco Spain see Kathleen M. Vernon and Barbara Morris, "Introduction: Pedro Almodovar, Postmodern Auteur" in Post-Franco, Postmodern: The Films of Pedro Almoddvar, ed. Kathleen M. Vemon and Barbara Morris (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1995), 1-24. For an analysis of the image of Madrid in Almodovar's films see Martin D'Lugo, "Almodovar's City of Desire," in Vernon and Morris, Post-Franco, Postmodern,



7 7

21. Pefialba, "Madrid, City of Passion," 33; Andrusia et al., Frommer's Gay and Lesbian Europe, 594.

22. MacCannell, Tourist, chap. 6. See also Carol Crawshaw and John Urry, "Tourism and the Photographic Eye," in Rojek and Urry, Touring Cultures, 176—95.

23. Andrusia et al., Frommer's Gay and Lesbian Europe, 612.

24. Penalba, "Madrid, City of Passion," 35, 33.

25. Observers of contemporary Spanish gay life and cultures insist on the resistance of Spanish homosexual cultures to public gay identities and wider visibility. Smith talks about a "Spanish skepticism towards gay or lesbian identity" that impedes the forma- tion of homosexual public spaces and thus favors homosexuality as a private practice that remains outside discourse {Moderns, 135). The contrast with the gay guidebooks could not seem sharper. However, both accounts can be read as complementary, since the visibility of the gay territory does not necessarily grant more visibility to other urban and social spaces. Most likely, in Madrid as in any city with a gay scene, the gay area can be perfectly functional with the sociality of the closet. Focusing on many other aspects of contemporary Spanish culture. Smith's book mentions Chueca only in a footnote about the "regenerating" effects of gays and lesbians on a traditionally dan- gerous area {Moderns, 132 n. 46).

26. Such a promoted visibility does not seem to provoke a major homophobic response. Gay settlement seems not only allowed but welcomed: "It is interesting to see the old people who have lived there all their lives being interviewed by TV reporters on Gay Pride Day. These lifelong residents always seem so happy to embrace the community that saved their borough from drugs and neglect" (Penalba, "Madrid, City of Passion," 33). Gay community neutralizes homophobia by playing the role of urban rescuer:

gentrification is the due gays pay to society. Chueca is not, as might be expected, the scene of an urban war between sexual cultures, between religious traditions and a hedonistic modernity; quite the contrary, it exhibits a peaceful transition, almost an embrace between the old and the new. It thus becomes the proof of social tolerance and openness, the illustration of an exemplary political landscape. El pais semanal, the Sunday magazine of a mainstream Spanish newspaper, published an article about Chueca a few years ago that described the rapid change of the area and pointed out the absence of conflicts with the old residents. One interviewee, an Australian man who decided to become a resident after being a tourist (and thus possessed the authority of intemational knowledge), highlighted the smoothness ofthe transition: "Parece men- tira que anciaiios de la epoca de Franco no digan nada al ver a parejas gay besarse en la plaza mientras los ninos juegan en los columpios. Lo aceptan. Es posible que a alguno no le guste, pero en cualquier otro sitio la gente reaccionarfa, no dejarfa a la pareja besarse, insultarfaii" [It seems unbelievable that old people from the Franco era do not say anything when they see a gay couple kissing in the square, while kids are playing in the swing. They accept it. It is possible that some of them don't like it, but


anywhere else people would react; they would not allow the couple to kiss; they would insult them]. The reference to Franco frames the "public kiss" as the scene in which the old and new residents face each other. The tolerance of the kiss, as witnessed by a foreigner, is crucial to placing Chueca and Madrid on an intemational scale and to val- idating its new openness. The gaze of the ex-tourist and new resident is essential to certifying visibility before the local readership. See Joseba Elola, "Chueca: El barrio del Arcoiris," El pais semanal, August 1998, 50.

27. On the connection between gay identity and tourism see Howard Hughes, "Holidays

and Homosexual Identity," Tourism Management 18

(1997): 3-7 .

28. Andrusia et al., Frommer's Gay and Lesbian Europe, 610.

29. Ibid.

30. Kaplan, Questions of Travel, 58-59 .

31. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology ofthe Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); John Berger, The Sense of Sight, ed. Lloyd Spencer (New York: Pan- theon, 1985), 219.

32. Penalba, "Madrid, City of Passion," 30.

33. A recent report on Spanish gay literature highlights the coincidence between the novel's title and the transformation of the neighborhood: "[El gladiador de Chueca]

few years ago jus t as the boom of gay establish -

ments in Chueca was reforming the neighborhood" (Lawrence Schimel, "Letter from Spain," Lambda Book Report, November 2000, 5).

34. Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History, trans . Tom Conley (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 89.

35. Carlos Sanmne, El gladiador de Chueca (Barcelona: Laertes, 1992), 129. All subse- quent page references are to this edition.

36. Certeau, Writing of History, 90.

37. The figure of the moro is certainly a central piece of Spanish culture, not only because of the cultural and ethnic legacy Moors left after centuries of occupation but also because of the constant, and in recent decades intensifying, flux of migrants from North Africa to Spain. Of course, the moro is not only a figure of cultural and economic value; he is traditionally also a privileged object of homoerotic desires and a sexual- ized gaze. Juan Goytisolo, a major figure in contemporary Spanish literature, has writ- ten repeatedly about this homoerotic bonding across races and nations, between Spaniards and Moors, and places it at the margins of the increasingly hegemonic gay culture. For an analysis of the tension with the gay and lesbian movement in Goyti- solo's work see Brad Epps, "Estados de deseo: Homosexualidad y nacionalidad (Juan Goytisolo y Reinaldo Arenas a Vuelapluma)," Revista iberoamericaria 62 (1996):

had the good fortune to come out a


38. This does not mean, of course, that homophobia is merely an effect of racism and class divisions. It means that, in contexts of high mobility and cultural diversity, the threat




of homophobia appears in a field in which the social — including race, class, visa sta- tus, cultural identities, and so on—and the sexual can be read in continuity (typically, for instance, the scene of prostitution, as in El gladiador de Chueca). How to under- stand the connection between social and sexual violence in such a context requires an analysis not only of the nature of the desires but also of the politics of location and the chronologies in which homophobia emerges as a political and social issue.