Spain’s first openly LGBT bullfighter believes others will come out of the closet in the future.
“There were always gays in bullfights, but they didn’t say anything,” says Mário Alcalde.
He recently revealed to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that he is pansexual — someone who is attracted to another person regardless of sexual orientation or gender.
At 31, Alcalde works as a baggage handler at Madrid airport and lives with his family. Bullfighting only makes money for a minority of stars in this universe.
On a farm near the border with Portugal, Alcalde trains to participate in one of Spain’s best-known — and controversial — traditions.
Dressed in a small black vest and tight gray pants, he seems to embody “slaughterer culture” every inch.
It was a spontaneous decision to come out as pansexual, he says. Not even his family knew.
“The idea came… artists are very spontaneous. It came from my heart.”
The idea that a matador is an artist has long been consolidated in the bullfighting community. Defenders of this culture see the events as a noble competition where man faces the beast.
This bloody competition is prohibited in most countries and even in some parts of Spain.
Its critics say it is a cruel, prolonged and sadistic spectacle in which a bull normally has no chance of survival.
It is a cultural segment of ancient Spain, where extravagance meets the culture of the brave macho and is much more associated with Spanish conservatism than the contemporary gay scene.
“I thought there would be a feeling against it, but people are accepting it and in the best possible way,” says Alcalde.
He attributes being Spain’s first LGBT matador to the perception that bullfighters come more “from the countryside” and not from cosmopolitan cities.
Now he hopes to establish a “peña”, or meeting point, for bullfighting enthusiasts in Chueca, the heart of Madrid’s LGBT+ community.
“Perfect!” says resident Antonio, who gathers on a night out with friends in Chueca’s main square, next to a metro sign decorated with the LGBT rainbow flag.
“I’m glad he came out. It will lower the ball on the ‘machos,’ as we call them.”
Couple Juan and Juan were also pleased to learn that a bullfighter came out of the closet, but they don’t agree much about one of the strongest Spanish traditions.
“I’ve been following bullfights since I was a child, I like it and I know what the event means,” says Juan.
Your husband is less of a fan. “I don’t think gay culture fits into that universe. The whole bullfighting thing is very conservative.”
Another table, with younger LGBT+ people, is even more critical of the tradition, which has been losing popularity in Spain.
“The problem with bullfighting is that we confuse an animal and lead it to death in a tragic way,” says Maria. “Bullfighting continues because it is a tradition. If this idea were new, I doubt it would be approved.”
Alongside Maria, Fran sees a certain contradiction in liking bullfighting and also being part of the LGBT community – although she says that “everyone is free to have their own beliefs”.
Bullfighting attendance has been in decline for decades.
Despite the increase following the Covid-19 pandemic, driven mainly by young people, statistics from the Spanish Ministry of Culture show that just under 2% of the population went to a bullfight in the 2021-2022 season.
Mario Alcalde strongly resists the suggestion that his passion is increasingly irrelevant and out of step with modern sensibilities.
“There is no decline,” he says, adding, “Society’s sensibilities don’t adjust to the realities of life.”
“Wanting to push away the idea of death is wanting to push away everything. To truly live you need to know that you are going to die.”
In training, Mario faces off against a young cow while holding a pink cape and weaving around the ring, before running to get behind a safety barrier.
The animals are not killed in this training, but they are injured by a man on horseback who uses what appears to be some kind of spear.
At the end of the session, Mário’s pants are stained with blood — which is not his.
Despite repeated questions about the violence to which bullfighting animals are subjected, he maintains his position until the end.
“If I had to live another life, I wouldn’t mind being a brave bull and dying like a brave bull.”
It’s a firm, traditional defense of an activity that Mario Alcalde now aims to modernize and diversify, while critics hope it’s just an aging mark of Spain’s past — regardless of the killer’s sexual orientation.
*This text was originally published here.
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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