Monday, September 17, 2007

Family Types

AOG, Madrid

This past weekend I spent it with my partner and some friends in Sitges, also known as gayville on the Med; a small town about 45 minutes from Barcelona.

We all rented a small apartment (decoration 70s vintage), and the beach was a 5 minute walk from there. On Saturday, we got there rather early and spent most of the day either baking under the sun, or freezing in the Mediterranean sea. Yes, Spain is a hot country, but September is September, and Autumn is just around the corner. My partner and I separated from the group at lunch time (2-4 pm Spanish time) and then went back to the beach, although on another part of town.

When we all met for dinner (round 10 pm), our friend Eduard was slightly outraged. The town council had placed a metal sign saying the beach were they had been all day (a nudist beach), was a family beach. It said so in Catalan, in Spanish, and (almost) in English (we all thought it was quite funny that they had written Familiar Beach, and not Family Beach). First, there was the issue of the wording: "family". Since there is no such thing as a "children's beach", or "unmarried people" beach, or "Divorcees beach", to call it a "family beach", was odd. What did it mean? That only families were allowed? Right then, how do you define a family?

The town council knows exactly what it defines as a family: One male figure, one female figure, and an overgrown monster baby figure, white against a pale yellow background. And here was the rub.

How dare the town council not only declare a beach as a family beach or not, it even defined what a family was: male, female, baby. And yes, by trying to "innocently" re- classify something which no one in Spain has the authority to do (no one classifies beaches as gay, straight, or nudist. Beaches in Spain are known as such through tradition alone), the town council has made a mistake. Or at least, it has offended a lot of gay people.

My friend Eduard was up in arms.

Why is there only one model of what a family might be? A family can be 2 people, or 20, and before you say "traditional", remember, this is 2007, and Spain has legalised gay marriages, and as we all know, gay couples can adopt children. As single people do.

It made me think. It made me realise that things are changing very quickly, and, at the same time, not quickly enough. Needless to say the party in power in Sitges is the Conservative party, a party very keen on keeping gay people off "its" town. Eduard had, has, a point.

Still, it didn't spoil the weekend for us, and we were soon making jokes about it.

Another typical weekend in Spain.

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