PEDRO SEGUNDO MARDONES LEMEBEL was an out Gay Chilean essayist, chronicler, novelist, and LGBT activist born on this date (d: 2015); He was known for his cutting critique of authoritarianism and for his humorous depiction of Chilean popular culture, from a queer perspective. Imagine a cross-pollination between RuPaul, Larry Kramer and Antonin Artaud. He was nominated for Chile’s National Literature Prize in 2014, and was a 1999 Guggenheim Fellow.
Lemebel attended writing workshops to hone his skills and network with other writers, his first writing recognition was in 1982, when he won an award for his short story, Porque el tiempo está cerca (“Because time is short”). In 1986, he published as his first major work, the book Incontables, a compilation of short stories under the feminist publication label, Ergo Sum. A year later, he co-founded a performance collective that used the tactics of intervention and disruption of events to raise public consciousness about the struggles of minorities in Chile. The disruption and performances of the collective brought Lemebel into public awareness in Chile. In 1986, he disrupted a meeting of Chile’s left wing groups opposed to Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, entering the meeting in high heels and in facial makeup depicting an hammer and sickle extending from his mouth to his left eyebrow. At the event, he spoke about his manifesto, ‘Manifest: I Speak for my Difference’ criticizing homophobia in left wing politics. Though widely known to be a communist, he was estranged from the party because of his homosexuality (not unlike Harry Hay.)
Lemebel is beloved for his influence in the fight for homosexual rights, his work as a writer, and his strong political side. Lemebel was much more than a writer; he was a free man, an artist, a political and popular icon, but more than anything a rebel and a voice for the LGBTcommunity.
Lemebel was born Pedro Mardones Lemebel, but he too k the last name of his mother, as the first big political decision that reaffirmed his commitment towards his Gay side, a side that was extensively incorporated into his literary works. Lemebel was able to envisage a hidden reality of Gay people; he was able to unmask the violence of which Gay people were victims in Chile. The importance of Pedro Lemebel is not only value for his talent as a writer, but also as a person of defiance in a conservative and machista country. Journalist Óscar Contardo described Lemebel as a “popular figure: a figure that is suppose to be disgusted in our society, which is the “loca” (queen), he managed to make that figure as the center, and then transform it into a popular icon.”
Some of his works include: La esquina es mi corazón, Loco afán: Crónicas del sidario (chronicles). Santiago: LOM, (1996); De perlas y cicatrices (“Of Pearls and Scars”). Santiago: LOM, (1998); La esquina es mi corazón, Santiago: Seix Barral, (2001.) Tengo miedo torero (novel). Santiago: Grupo Editorial Planeta, (2001) (translated as My Tender Matador, published by Grove)
Lemebel died in 2015 of laryngeal cancer.