The Queer Kissing Flashmob was a multi-faceted success:
A SUCCESS BEFORE THE FLASHMOB IN BARCELONA TOOK PLACE
When we launched the “Queer Kissing Flashmob” in Barcelona, other groups embarked upon similar actions in Mexico City, Mexico and Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The latter held their Queer Kissing Flashmob on November 6th, the day before the Pope arrived in Barcelona, and the success of their event in Galicia was a strong motivation for us.
A SUCCESS DURING THE FLASHMOB IN BARCELONA
Right before the flashmob in Barcelona, the vibe on the street was both interesting and entertaining. You could sense an electric conspiracy between those of us present as we exchanged looks and gestures to indicate that we would be fellow participants in the flashmob. The group and the environment thus created a magical aura around the event.
More than two hundred people attended the kiss-in, standing on both sides of Cathedral Square as the Pope passed by. These individuals were willing to take the time to get up very early on a Sunday morning to lend their support in favor of the diverse kinds of love that exist in the world. Our efforts were more significant than all institutionally-sponsored awareness-raising campaigns.
We are particularly proud of the appropriate behavior all participants showed both before and during the event, acting in an organized, peaceful, and civil manner and respecting other people. However, we are opposed to those individuals who engaged in sign-holding, flag-waving, shouting and protesting after the kiss-in (and hence, the flashmob) ended. Fortunately, these actions were short and temporary, in no cases leading to physical aggression. Furthermore, the government’s representatives at the flashmob (especially the local police) were completely respectful of the event at all times.
A MEDIA SUCCESS
Without a doubt, the media played a key role in our event’s success. Our actions were covered by the media on 5 continents, including in countries we thought we would never reach, including Morocco, Ghana, Angola, South Africa, India, and Bangladesh.
We are particularly aware of the differences in media coverage within Spain and internationally (not to mention the practically non-existent media coverage in Catalonia, especially in La Vanguardia and on TV3), and would like to highlight some of the differences between local headlines (in Catalonia and Spain) and international headlines.
While the local press saw our actions as something nice or anecdotal, headlines in the international press were nearly unanimous. More than 90% of international media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Times, Le Figaro, and Corriere della Sera wrote headlines recognizing the power of our actions, including
§ Pope defends family as Spanish gays hold “Kiss-in”
§ Pope in Spain met by gay “kiss-in”
§ Gays in Spain stage “kiss-in” as pope drives by
§ Gay protesters stage a kissing demo during Pope visit in Barcelona
We are proud to point out that our efforts defied the goals of both the Catalan and Vatican authorities, who hoped that press headlines would read something along the lines of “Pope consecrates Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.” Some media including the Los Angeles Times and Irish Times newspapers did not even include pictures of the Sagrada Familia or the Pope in their coverage, instead using pictures of the flashmob. Similarly, it was a serious blow to the Catalan media and authorities that international press articles did not even mention that the Pope conducted the mass in Catalan. It is clear just how ridiculous their efforts to actively sell themselves to the all-powerful Church appear now.
Together with all of you, we were able to show that Spanish society has changed. We are ecstatic that two foreign TV reports—one in English and one in French—both recognized our role as protagonists in this event and arrived at the conclusion that Spanish society is “liberal” (in the words of the British report) and “in the vanguard of social movements” (in the words of the French). We are overjoyed to know our efforts demonstrated just how much Spanish society has changed; without them, international coverage would probably have focused on a narrative we dislike, one we hope to leave behind definitively.
A TIMING SUCCESS
Our action occurred at the best time possible, as the Pope’s remarks during his visit to Spain reaffirmed our fight against his antediluvian views.
Echoes of our efforts which reverberated across the world reminded people of this institution’s views on the many different kinds of love. These echoes underscored the need for a social debate which many thought had been resolved, yet which to us clearly still needs to take place.
A TECHNOLOGICAL SUCCESS
From its birth, social networks and web 2.0 technology played a key role in the success of this bottom-up effort. We believe these models have proven effective and will be useful for future protests. Additionally, Facebook’s repeated censorship of the event (censoring pages, the event page, and numerous user accounts) catapulted us to media fame.
A PERSONAL SUCCESS
On a personal level, the event was highly enriching to us: a small group of friends took a simple idea and demonstrated that we can have a significant impact in effecting change. We had never before been so successful in our fight against the positions of the Catholic church. We accomplished our goals: achieving international visibility and sparking a social debate.
A SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION
Though 6 friends were the driving force behind this event, we would not have been able to succeed without the collaboration of many people who helped make this event possible. We would like to thank:
§ Oriol Grau (Palomino) and David for their inestimable help in producing the promo video for the event.
§ Our colleagues who provided translations from Italy and Slovenia.
§ Ely for her fantastic poster.
§ All the members of the press who supported us, including local and international radio stations.
§ Facebook for catapulting us to media fame by means of their repeated censorship.
§ Bloggers the world over for spreading the word about our initiative.
§ The Barcelona establishments which were kind enough to post our posters.
§ Santiago de Compostela and Mexico City, for taking up our idea in other places.
§ All of the participants in the event, for attending and behaving civilly both before and during the event.
§ All of our fans who for various reasons could not attend the event yet nevertheless followed our progress tirelessly and aided in spreading the word.
We hope our initiative is the seed of a new form of fighting against the Catholic church’s views on different kinds of love, and that wherever the Pope travels, he always finds a “queer” group kissing alongside the Popemobile’s route. In a nearby example, it would be wonderful if a group of individuals in Madrid were to anonymously organize an event as we have done in order to create a new “Queer Kissing Flashmob” which will greet the Pope when he visits Madrid in the summer of 2011.
It’s extraordinary that something so noble as a kiss can be revolutionary in the 21st century, isn’t it?