Monday, November 02, 2009
Garcia Lorca and our Buried Gay History
I see that more than than seventy years after he was murdered by a fascist death squad in the early days of the Spanish Civil War.
Shot with three other men, because he was a lefty libertarian poet who annoyed the Catholic Church. Then shot twice in the ass because he was gay. And buried in an unmarked grave.
They are finally going to dig up the body of Federico Garcia Lorca.
The right-wingers in Spain are foaming mad. They'd rather the past remain buried and forgotten. And for good reason.
As many as 114,000 Spaniards were killed or disappeared during the conflict that lasted from 1936 to 1939 and pitted the rightist forces of Gen. Francisco Franco against an elected leftist government.
And Lorca's family, which fought the exhumation for decades, still isn't convinced.
"I think the fact of physically touching someone's bones is not going to make a difference in reconciliation with two Spains," said García Lorca. "I don't necessarily think it will be a healing experience."
But I agree with this guy.
"To leave them in the mass graves means leaving the victims of Franco lying unidentified, like dogs," declared Francisco Gonzalez Arroyo, a local historian, whose views echo many on the left who say the process will bring healing.
And I also agree with what the noted historian and Lorca authority Ian Gibson had to say:
"Garcia Lorca does not just belong to his family, to his nieces and nephews. He belongs to humanity..."
Because his Spanish genius does belong to the world. And of course he belongs to us; the gay people whose history is so often buried, just like Garcia Lorca's gayness was buried for so long. Not just by the fascists, but also by his family, and Spain's literary establishment.
"Spain couldn't accept that the greatest Spanish poet of all time was homosexual. Homophobia existed on both sides in the civil war and afterwards it was a national problem.
Scholars colluded in the cover-up for fear of losing access to the poet's archives, or antagonising the family, he says. "All his poetry turns around frustrated love. His tormented characters who can't live the life they want are precisely the metaphor for his sorrow. He was a genius who turned his suffering into art."
Which is obvious when you read the Dark Sonnets. he wrote to his bisexual lover Rafael Rodriguez Rapun.
“Tú nunca entenderás lo que te quiero / porque duermes en mí y estás dormido. / Yo te oculto llorando, perseguido / por una voz de penetrante acero”
"You will never understand that I love you/ because you sleep in me and are asleep./I hide you, weeping, persecuted/ by a voice of penetrating steel."
The same Rafael who one year to the day Federico was murdered, refused to take cover when fascist planes strafed Republican positions. Just stood there and blazed away at the oncoming fighters until he was killed. One year to the day they murdered Federico.
Oh yeah. If there was such a thing as poetic justice Federico Garcia Lorca would be buried next to the man he loved. Instead he'll probably be buried in some dark family vault.
Or maybe they'll never find him, just as he once wrote:
"Then I realised I had been murdered. They looked for me in cafes, cemeteries and churches .... but they did not find me. They never found me? No. They never found me."
But at least the dark vault of Spanish history is about to be reopened. The families of the victims can reclaim their loved ones and give them a proper burial. Spaniards can reclaim their hidden history.
Just like we are reclaiming OUR hidden history. Federico and Rafael can be properly remembered on the same day they died. Together. Forever.
And the gentle, brilliant,gay poet and all the other ghosts of that brutal civil war, can rest in peace at last...