Isabel Franc, prize-winning lesbian novelist

Isabel Franc Poster

LGBT Rights in Spain: Writing and Social Change

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Stern Center, Great Room – 7:00 p.m.

What role can the writer play in bringing about social change? Franc, who grew up during the repressive dictatorship of Franco, addresses this question in the context of Spain’s gay and lesbian movement.

Topical Background
From the end of the Spanish Civil war in 1939 until 1975, Generalissimo Francisco Franco governed Spain autocratically, based on nationalism and traditionalism. As part of an imposed national unity, Spanish was the only official language, even though other languages were widely used in certain regions of the country. Censorship controlled every aspect of culture. Dissidents and opponents of the regime were imprisoned or they simply disappeared. During his rule, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community was severely stifled. Not only was homosexuality illegal, but there were very few references to homosexuality in literature, cinema and music. Any references that did survive censorship were negative in tone. Despite this culture of oppression, a clandestine gay scene began to emerge in Barcelona in the 1960s.
Franco’s death in 1975 provided an impetus for drastic political and social change. Spain transitioned peacefully and relatively smoothly from totalitarian dictatorship to democratic constitutional monarchy, from extreme conservatism and nationalism to social cultural liberalism. Spain began to exhibit greater social tolerance as part of a larger cultural movement known as La Movida. Though discrimination still exists, particularly in rural areas, homosexuality and bisexuality are now largely accepted throughout the country. In 2005, Spain became one of six countries to legalize same-sex marriage. It is also the first country to give same-sex marriages the same legal rights as heterosexual marriages, including adoption privileges.

About the Speaker
Isabel Franc’s works range from novels to short stories and poetry. Her novel Entre todas las mujeres was a finalist for La Sonrisa Vertical award for an erotic narrative in 1992, and more recently, her thriller No me llamas cariño won the Shangay award for the best novel with a gay or lesbian theme. She has also published a lesbian crime fiction trilogy under the pseudonym Lola Van Guardia. Ms. Franc’s novels have been translated into French, Italian and Portuguese.
Her humorous style combines satire, parody and irony in a universe where women are the protagonists. Spanish newspaper El País lauds her writing: “She writes with sarcasm and tenderness in equal parts, about those who could have just stepped out of a Woody Allen film though their feet are firmly of an Almodovar ground.”

Related Readings

Video of the Program