"Historians of homosexuality have for many years been preoccupied with the question of whether “homosexuality” travels across time and space. In a different context, Spanish historians have asked whether the history of Spain is fundamentally “different” from that of the rest of Europe. These questions have rarely been posed together, but this book, jointly written by a British scholar and a Spanish scholar does just that through an in-depth analysis of historical documents—including medical, psychiatric, legal, and literary texts—from the mid-nineteenth century to the eve of the Franco dictatorship.
Like the history of twentieth-century Spain generally, Francoism casts a long shadow over the history of Spanish homosexuality. As Richard Cleminson and Francisco Vázquez García note, “the conception that homosexuality was ‘repressed’ and therefore invisible before the ‘transition to democracy’ [after 1975] is a strong motif which still holds sway” (2). The book’s title, “the invisible ones,” both acknowledges and problematizes this theme. It also reminds us both that the history of homosexuality has largely been hidden in histories of modern Spain and that Spanish homosexuals remain largely unseen in the general history of European homosexuality. The authors challenge this dual marginalization, demonstrating that homosexuality was of interest to Spanish professionals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries while showing that these writers were often influenced by ideas from France, Britain, and Germany. Even if Spanish concerns about homosexuality were not entirely “different,” they did follow patterns that add a layer of complexity to histories of homosexuality that focus on northern and western Europe.
The period under study—1850 to 1939—reflects this concern to locate Spanish homosexuality within a broader European context while acknowledging Spanish specificity"