Sebastià Portell is a writer and a playwright. He has also developed a cultural outreach scheme from a perspective of gender and sexuality. He's a regular contributor to media outlets such as Time Out Barcelona, 'Cadena Ser Catalunya' and the newspaper 'Ara Balears'.
Not everybody realises it, but for centuries Barcelona’s main queer icon was a Black single mother. The patron saint of the Catalan people, a golden diva and beloved mother of any reputable house, the Virgin of Montserrat is one of the undeniable queens of the Catalan LGBTQ+ community. Her skin is black, and her life, just like all the lives of any people who are different from what the system expects them to be, matters.
It’s not so outlandish to consider the power of the collective imagination and the influence it can have on the identity of a community and how much we should look after and preserve it – how we should empower it, even. If the Virgin and glitter queen of Catalonia is Black, why aren’t there more Black LGBTQ+ leaders in the city?
Barcelona has been, throughout its herstory, an extremely diverse city, an intersection for commercial routes and, more recently, a welcoming destination for people from around the globe. The celebration of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona meant only the beginning of a process that over time has made it clear that, as one of the popular anthems of the city claims, ‘Barcelona has a lot of power’, as well as a penchant for a great party, queerness and sisterhood.