The local airport has two flights a day and the region is best known for free-ranging pigs feeding on acorns. Is this the most unlikely place for a massive street party, inspired by a homophobic mayor? Even one of Spain’s best kept queer secrets? You wouldn’t think so. But you would be wrong.
At least you will be forgiven if you have never heard of Badajoz. Let alone of the annual festival “Los Palomos”. Los Palomos literally means “pigeons”, and in Spain is used as a derogatory term for gays. So, when the (now ex-)mayor of Badajoz called gays “palomos” in a radio interview, saying that “lame ‘pigeons’ left his city” he certainly didn’t think that this would give birth to one of the most vibrant responses celebrating diversity in his “provincial backwater”.
It turned out that those backward views, at least when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, were held not so much by the people – but mostly the mayor himself. And so, “Los Palomos” started as a protest party right there where the mayor couldn’t miss it – in the centre of his city. With 10,000 not so lame “pigeons” and their friends dancing in the streets a few weeks after the derogatory remarks. The event became a runaway success. Suddenly, Badajoz was on the “gay map” – but not because it was a place from where “lame pigeons” fled from, but rather a place where they flocked to.
And if the first edition seemed a success, then “Los Palomos” today can be seen as one of the biggest celebrations of diversity in Spain. Year after year, the festival has gathered more support – and participants, reaching over 30,000 participants last year. In fact, it is now the most popular event in the city – even more popular than the famous Carneval.
In while the first edition lasted only a day, nowadays Badajoz celebrates diversity in the “province” for two weeks: Starting from IDAHO in May until the first weekend in June and featuring exhibitions, films, theatre plays, concerts … and even a thematic tapas route. To find out more about the various activities, have a look at the facebook page of the event.
And in case you wondered: the celebrations are now opened with the current mayor joining in comfortably.