Spanish LGBT icons: Jose Perez Ocaña

José Pérez Ocaña was an Andalusian artist (naif painter and pionner performer) and one of the first LGBT activist in Spain. It was a controversial figure of great importance in the Spanish transition (the period after Franquism), representative of the much-craved freedom at that time.

Openly bisexual and proud to be recognized as it, he left his hometown in Seville countryside in 1971 due the intolerance and exclusion, to move to Barcelona, the ideal city to express his art and his transgressive ideas. He declared himself an anarchist and he participate in the CNT (National Confederation of Labour) International Libertarian Conference of 1977 in Barcelona doing of his most historical perfonmances.

Although his art was appreciated, Pérez Ocaña noted for his way of life, for express himself freely without regard to the possible consequences of stagnation in a country still conservative and with archaic values. He was a typical character of the Ramblas (the most famous street in Barcelona), where he made his performance of travestism broad daylight with a mixture of Andalusian popular culture and the religiosity typical from his land, claiming for the freedom of expression.

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But not just his life was original, Pérez Ocaña also died in a surprising way. He went to his hometown for celebrate Carnival with his family, whom he adored, and he prepared a sun costume with paper, cloth and flares, which unfortunately burned, causing his death in the hospital a week after the accident.


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