Spanish poet's struggle to accept gayness explored in biography

Spanish poet's struggle to accept gayness explored in biography

4th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

A new biography about Federico Garcia Lorca discusses the seminal poet’s life, love and work.

A new biography, which hits bookshelves Wednesday, focuses on the struggle which Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain's most widely acclaimed 20th century poet, had in accepting his homosexuality.

In Lorca y el mundo gay (Lorca and the Gay World), his biographer Ian Gibson offers evidence that the poet's lifelong frustration at concealing his sexuality contributed greatly to his literary achievements.

"It was very difficult for him to live with his gayness,” said Gibson, a leading scholar on Lorca. “He was afraid of being seen as effeminate."

"Lorca's works, which today have global impact, would not exist if it were not for his status as a sexual marginal," added the author of Federico Garcia Lorca: A Life which was named "Best Book of 1989" by the New York Times.

Firing squads

Lorca, whose work deals with themes such as love and injustice, was 38 when he was shot dead in his native province of Granada by partisans of right-wing General Francisco Franco at the outbreak of Spain's 1936-1939 civil war.

Ian Gibson in a recent interview

The sympathies of his family for the Republican government in power at the time are thought to be the reason why Lorca faced the firing squad but Gibson argues his homosexuality was also key in him being killed.

Gibson, 69, says one of the men who is alleged to have shot Lorca bragged after that he "put two bullets up the arse of that homo."

Lorca's works were censored during the right-wing dictatorship that followed the end of the civil war which also repressed gays.

It was only after Spain returned to democracy following Franco's death in 1975 that Lorca's more homoerotic poems were published and his homosexuality was discussed more openly.

"During decades, the homophobia and homo-aversion that ruled in this society made the job risky and difficult,” said Gibson, who was born in Ireland but who has since acquired Spanish citizenship.

 Book cover“You had to protect the poet's name, avoid invading his privacy, distinguish between his work and his life."

The 386-page book describes Lorca's trips to New York and Cuba as well as his relationship with surreal painter Salvador Dali, which will the subject of a film called Little Ashes starring English actor Robert Pattinson and opening in the United States in May.

Gibson believes Lorca's remains and those of three other men who were shot along with him lie in a site close to an olive tree that has since been designated a memorial park but others claim the burial spot is 400 metres (yards) away.

A statue prominently located in Madrid’s Plaza de Santa Ana honours Lorca.

Olivier Thibault /AFP/ Expatica

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