Love, Deception, And Eternal Exile: The Story Of The First Same-Sex Marriage In 1901

Date May 29, 2019

Nowadays, it is much easier to build relationships with your partner than it was 50 years ago. For many countries, contractual marriages, social inequality, and forbidden same-sex partners have remained in the past.

Anyhow, just like 100–200 years ago, not all people want their children to “ruin” their lives and doom themselves to ridicule and persecution.

The story that took place in 1901 received worldwide publicity. Moreover, this experience inspired the LGBT community members to fight for the right to be happy.

Elisa Sanchez and Marcela Garcia met during their studies. The girls were going to become primary school teachers. There was no evidence when their friendship became so strong, but over time, it grew into something more. The girls were so close that rumors of their romance reached Marcela’s parents, who sent the daughter to Madrid.

After graduation, she returned to her homeland and worked as a teacher in a small village school in Kahlo. As a gift of fate, Elisa had already been working there. Soon, the girls settled together, causing a lot of gossips and attracting a lot of public attention.

Meanwhile, the author of the book Elisa y Marcela, Narciso de Gabriel, didn’t consider that the couple’s relationship was cloudless. He claimed that Marcela and Elisa had a lot of arguments. Moreover, Elisa allegedly became pregnant to a man whose name remained unknown. It was believed that during this period, mysterious Mario appeared in their lives.

According to a story, supposedly invented by Marcela, he grew up in London and moved to Spain only in adulthood. Such Mario existed in reality indeed. He was Marcela’s cousin who allegedly died in a shipwreck before the following events.

Nevertheless, taking a new name and wearing men's clothes, Marcela-Mario got married to Elisa in the Catholic Church on May 26, 1901.

Love, Deception, And Eternal Exile: The Story Of The First Same-Sex Marriage In 1901José Sellier [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Soon, the authorities became aware of the deception: because of the police persecution, they were forced to move to Portugal and after that to Argentina. According to rumors, during this runaway, Elisa gave birth to a child and married a wealthy man 24 years her senior. After 1904, no further information about the two was found.

Elisa and Marcela’s story became the basis of the scenario presented in 2019, at the 69thBerlin Film Festival. The leading roles in the romantic drama Elisa and Marcela were played by Natalia de Molina and Greta Fernandez.

In addition to a rather unusual plot, the film was also distinguished by an original approach to the filming process. It included the elements of a silent movie, was focused on one of the characters and had scenes with a complete lack of action.

Opinions of film critics were controversial. Some considered the picture almost a direct call to fight for the rights of the LGBT community. Some predicted great success to the topic of forbidden love. Others found the plot rather provoking.

The screen version doesn’t always have to reproduce real events, making them even more special and unique.

What do you think? Were there no people in 1901 who suspected that Mario and Marcela were the same person? Share your thoughts in the comments.