(Editor's note: October is LGBT History Month, celebrated annually to recognize the notable achievements of LGBT people throughout time. Each day this month, Equality Forum will feature one LGBT icon who has made notable contributions to society and SDGLN will publish the story here in the Causes section.)
Federico Garcia Lorca was a celebrated Spanish poet and dramatist. He is internationally recognized as one of the most important poets of the 20th century.
Born June 5, 1898 in Grenada, Lorca was the son of a wealthy farmer and a pianist. He attended the University of Grenada to study law, but soon abandoned his studies to pursue poetry and theater.
In 1919, Lorca moved to Madrid, where he organized local theatrical performances and read his poetry in public squares. He wrote “The Butterfly’s Evil Spell” (1920), “Book of Poems” (1921) and “Gypsy Ballads” (1928), which garnered him international fame. Lorca became associated with a group of artists known as Generation 27, which included filmmaker Louis Bunuel and artist Salvador Dali.
In 1929, Lorca moved to New York City to study English at Columbia University. The experience inspired him to write “Poet in New York,” which was published posthumously. The book explores the oppression of minorities, a common theme in his works.
Lorca returned to Spain during a period of political turmoil. He founded a theater company and wrote the well-known tragedies “Blood Wedding” (1933), “Yerma” (1934) and “The House of Bernarda Alba” (1936).
Spain’s traditional Catholicism caused Lorca to conceal his sexual orientation. While he never used the word homosexual, many of his poems speak of his “secret desires.”
In 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Lorca was arrested by right-wing nationalists because of his outspoken liberal views. Two days later, he was murdered. His books were publicly burned in Grenada’s Plaza del Carmen and his works were banned in Spain. Controversy still surrounds the details of and motives for his death.
“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.”