The Spanish in general are not a shy nor modest bunch. Any trip to the beach will make that abundantly clear before you even step foot onto the sand.
This is not thanks to all beaches are topless, but because many people lack any swimsuit whatsoever. Now, some of them will strip down to their bikini briefs, thongs, bras – whatever’s under their clothes – and jump into the water or laze in the sun. Meanwhile, a smaller number will just get naked. There are specific nude beaches, but other beaches generally tolerate nudity.
Sexuality in Spain
Moving on… Despite being a Catholic country, Spain’s citizens (refreshingly) have little to no interest in upholding any kind of biblical law themselves. They’re even less interested in what anyone else should be doing. There are no zealots here, and people understand that you are what you are – and that is perfectly fine.
Case in point: Gay marriage is legal. In fact, I don’t know that there was ever a debate about it. Sexual orientation is such a non-issue here. It is hard to explain to a North American how they don’t use the word “tolerance” because they don’t need it. For example, the other day at the beach, I watched a group of older teenagers interact over a couple of hours.
The group was clearly familiar, probably schoolmates. While at first the girls grouped their towels separately from the boys, within an hour they were all together and a few couples were forming. It was easy to see because public displays of affection are an everyday thing and Spaniards are quite demonstrative. The group of ten young friends continued enjoying their day as a few of them paired up. Furthermore, not one of them blinked when two boys in the group paired off and clearly began flirting and touching. They were a non issue, something that entire country has contact with every day. In my country, there would be staring, whispers, and maybe even violence.
Another example of sexuality being a total non-issue. About a month ago in Spanish class, we read about people’s struggles with learning a foreign language. The profiles included a little history and what they did for a living. When I came to the last profile, Antonio, his profile stated that he was “Amo de casa”. Ama de casa means housewife, so imagine my delight when I thought, good one Spain, I am going to read about this guy who stays home while his wife goes to work! (While openness regarding sex and sexual orientation are the norm, Spain has not progressed quite as far with gender equality topics). Anyway, upon further reading, I discover that Antonio met his husband in France. So, yes he is an Amo de Casa – and his husband goes to work.