It’s been 40 years since Spain held its very first gay pride parade, when around 4,000 people took to the streets of Barcelona to rally for LGBT+ rights in 1977.
This year, the country will become the first Spanish-speaking host of the World Pride festivities, with visitors from around the globe descending on Madrid's Chueca district this week.
For creative team López Rekarte, it seemed the perfect time to make a comment about the state of LGBT+ rights in the country and draw attention to the discrimination that occurs from both inside and outside the queer community.
‘Stop Plumofobia’ is a social exercise that’s calling for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to paint their nails bright pink and upload a photo of their middle finger to social media.
But what exactly is plumofobia? The project’s co-creator Manex Rekarte says the origins of the newly-coined word date back to Francoist Spain, when homosexuality was illegal.
“When Franco was alive, pluma was a secret expression to say gay, as the sexual orientation was non-existent, this expression was a way to say that somebody was camp or gay,” Rekarte tells SBS.
“With time, pluma (feather in Spanish) has extended to many other orientations, like butch lesbians, camp heterosexuals etc.”
Rekarte says the ‘Stop Plumofobia’ campaign is addressing some of the negative stereotyping (based on race, gender, sexuality and appearance) that has increased with the use of dating apps such as Grindr.
“Since some time back we feel that there is a terrible discrimination that has grown to be accepted within the LGBT+ community.
“Social media and hook up apps have brought some of the worst attitudes into our community with expressions like: no fats, no femmes, no rice, no chocolate.
“Instead of supporting the people who have walked down the road of freedom with us, we are adopting heterosexual attitudes of the past and this is something we really should not allow.”
Rekarte says pink nail polish was chosen for the campaign to make a bold statement, both online and in daily life.
“Hands will always be a symbol of unity, pink of the queer community and showing the middle finger of rejection,” he tells SBS.
“When you are at a grocery store and buy your veggies, when you pull out your money to pay the store owner, pink nails are gobsmacking.”
‘Stop Plumofobia’ has photographed actors, journalists, artists, drag queens and LGBT+ supporters to represent the diversity of the queer community—and is encouraging people world-wide to do the same.
“It is an open invitation to think about where LGBT+ communities’ current position comes from and to make us think about how LGBT+ movement created freedom in a heterosexual society, while now we are oppressing our equals within.”
Rekarte says the campaign is a reminder of how important it is to recognise all members of the LGBT+ community, regardless of age, gender identity, race, ability or appearance.
While the city of Madrid is abuzz with celebrations for gay pride, he says the festivities aren’t necessarily representative of the entire community.
“It often has no imagery of people over 50 years old in the event's communication; no people of other races, all participants are glamorous,” Rekarte tells SBS.
“If you are out of the norm, this is not your place, if you are of another race, this is not your place and if you are not a wealthy person, you had better move along.
Rekarte says he hopes that the government can engage with the issues facing the LGBT+ community, beyond hosting the Pride celebrations.
“Spain is a PrEP-less country and beyond Madrid has a very high level of Hepatitis A infections.
“These matters (a clear reflection of a right-wing government that celebrates Pride, but does not do their homework), are realities of the LGBT+ community that need some attention and should also have a voice this week.
“And beyond Spain we must also show some support to Latino LGBT+ communities—things are not sweet for lesbians and gays in Latin America.”
To take part in the campaign, you can paint your nails pink and upload it to social media with the hashtag #StopPlumofobia.