A little after noon on Sunday, around 300 people watched emotionally as four workers at Madrid City Hall unfurled a 26-meter-long rainbow banner from one of the balconies.
The symbol of LGBT rights will fly from the Cibeles Palace until next Sunday, coinciding with the Gay Pride celebrations in the Spanish capital.
The historic moment was made possible by Madrid’s new left-wing mayor, Manuela Carmena, who described the multicolored standard as “a flag with scars.”
This is a very important day for the entire city and a milestone after so many years of struggle”
Jesús Grande, president of Cogam
“It was lost and recovered,” said the 71-year-old leader of the Ahora Madrid coalition, whose tenure breaks with a quarter-century of conservative rule in the city. “Its fabric is now perfect, which is a joy to behold because of everything it means.”
Carmena also highlighted the fact that Spain was a pioneer in the legalization of same-sex marriage, passing laws to that effect in 2005 and following in the footsteps of the Netherlands (2001) and Belgium (2003). The United States joined this club last week, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a right that cannot be banned by state authorities.
“We were the first, and I am very proud to be the mayor of a capital that took such an important step,” said Carmena.
Jesús Grande, president of Cogam, the Madrid LGTB rights association, called it “a very important day for the entire city and a milestone after so many years of struggle.”
In an unprecedented move, the Madrid regional assembly joined the initiative and displayed its own rainbow flag from its headquarters in Puerta del Sol.
The decision was made by new premier Cristina Cifuentes, who is emerging as a figure of regeneration within the center-right Popular Party.
Messages of support abounded on Twitter: “Thank you for giving us hope again with a different way of doing politics,” wrote one user. “This is an honorable gesture,” tweeted another.
Nevertheless, a few users of the microblogging site did express dissent: “Do you think this is really what the majority of Madrileños want?”
Madrid has not been the only Spanish city to visibly embrace the gay rights movement since the political swing to the left resulting from the May 24 local and regional elections.
In Valencia, where the left-wing regionalist politician Joan Ribó ousted the conservative Rita Barberá after 24 years in office, the rainbow flag has been flying from City Hall since last Friday.
“The LGTB flag that I am extending to the entire city is a symbol of the happiness felt everywhere on our streets,” said Ribó. “In this way, Valencia welcomes diversity.”