This website is an interactive academic
tool for CEA-UNH course:
Gay Paris:
Culture, Society, & Urban Sexual Identity

CEA GlobalCampus | Spring 2009
UNH Course Code: GEN230
Credits: 3 | Location: Paris, France

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Transsexuality and France

Recent news has that transsexuality will no longer be classified as a mental illness in France, an awesome victory for trans rights. I'm not sure how many will keep up with the blog after the semester, however, I found this article extremely relevant to our class as well as worth a leisurely read, thus I could not resist a good posting. Hope you all have an absolutely fabulous summer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Perez Hilton - Gay Marriage in NY

Gay Marriage THISMUCH Closer In New York State!Filed under: Gay Gay Gay
More progress!!!
The NY State Assembly passed a bill to legalize gay marriage on Tuesday!!!!
The bill now moves on to the Senate, where it will hopefully pass as well.
New York Governor David Paterson has said that he will sign the bill into law. He was he one that introduced it last month!
If the bill became law, New York would follow Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Iowa in legalizing gay marriage. New Hampshire has passed a bill legalizing gay marriage, but it still needs to be signed by the governor.
Equality for all!!!!!!
Posted: May 12, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Monday, May 11, 2009


Le Marais

ACT UP/ Aides

1920's in Paris

Shifts in Gay Paris in the 20th Century

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Same-sex marriages gradually gain legal ground

Even in states that don't allow gay marriage, court decisions on child custody, divorce and other issues are giving incremental rights to same-sex couples.,0,3072176.story?track=rss

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The white gay male is the dominant image that has been associated with the gay rights movement. We have discussed this issue in class to some extent; the invisibility of lesbianism, gay individuals of color, and any other identity that does not fit neatly into the gay white man mold. The following blog article addresses this issue, it ties the pervasive gay white male image to the patriarchy's role in the gay rights movement.

Here is the link:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Hampshire Senate passes gay-marriage bill

Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:28pm BS

By Andrew J. Manuse

CONCORD, New Hampshire (Reuters) - New Hampshire's Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would legalize same-sex marriage after an amendment was added that allows clergy to decline to marry gay couples.

The bill, which passed in a 13-11 vote, needs to be signed by Governor John Lynch to make New Hampshire the fifth U.S. state where gay marriage is legal. The Democrat has not indicated whether he will sign or veto the bill, but has expressed opposition to the measure.

Read the full article.

Some Reasons as to Why Prop 8 Passed

My friend and sociology graduate student wrote a blog article as to why Proposition 8 passed, and why black and latino voters are being blamed. It is a lengthy piece, but well written and informative. It takes a close look at the pro-prop 8 campaign; it's tactics, what demographic they targeted and how, the construction of their ads, their rhetoric, who they consist of, and so on. If you have the time, I definitely recommend the read.

Here is the link:
New York Times slideshow: Gay Marriage

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stephen Colbert | Gay Marriage

Stephen Colbert on the issue of gay marriage.

The original ad:

Miss California

Gay Marriages in Iowa Start With Little to No Protest

I'm surprised, much like the residents of Iowa, that there wouldn't be more protests when the majority of the population strongly opposes gay marriage. Interesting...

A Quiet Day in Iowa as Same-Sex Couples Line Up to Marry

Published: April 27, 2009
DES MOINES — In a way, life looked unexpectedly ordinary here on Monday as Iowa began allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The large, angry protests some had imagined never materialized in this city, the state’s most populous. Neither did the crowds of couples from all over the nation that some feared might create a carnival-like atmosphere captured in earlier images from other places.

By noon, no protesters could be found outside the marriage license office. Extra sheriff’s deputies assigned to keep order milled around the Polk County recorder’s office, looking bored. And an early-morning line of dozens of same-sex couples waiting to apply for licenses had dwindled into a few people discussing recent rainfall patterns.

Given polls showing that most Iowans object to same-sex marriage, Shawn Regenold and Steve Kearney of West Des Moines had feared a tense, perhaps overwhelming scene. Thus they decided not to bring their children — ages 2, 3 and 4 — as they sought their license. Instead, they found a quiet building where, every so often, couples receiving licenses burst into rounds of applause and where, on the front steps, a local pastor married a few smiling couples as television cameras rolled.

“People in Iowa tend to get real hot about things,” said Maggie Grace, a neighbor of the West Des Moines couple who had come to fulfill the witness requirement for their license. “And then they go on about their way.”

Officials in some of the state’s 98 other counties described similarly low-key scenes on the day Iowa became the latest state to permit same-sex marriage and the first in the Midwest to do so. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled this month that a decade-old law prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the State Constitution.

In Davenport, talk of a morning protest came and went. In Iowa City, an opponent of same-sex marriage delivered a petition signed by eight people urging the local county recorder there not to grant licenses. Similar petitions, some with many more signatures, were delivered across the state, though the Iowa attorney general has said recorders must abide by the court’s decision and provide the marriage licenses.

Protests were more pronounced in some rural areas. About 50 people waited outside the Wayne County Courthouse urging the recorder there, Angela Horton, not to allow the marriages.

“Speaking for myself personally, it has put me in a difficult position,” Ms. Horton said. “But I am going to uphold the law.” She noted that by midafternoon no same-sex couples had sought licenses at her office.

Chuck Hurley, the leader of the Iowa Family Policy Center, which opposes such marriages, said he and others were distressed that state lawmakers had adjourned for the year on Sunday without agreeing to begin the process of amending the State Constitution to stop the unions. Mr. Hurley, who delivered a petition with thousands of signatures to the recorder here early Monday, told reporters that more people had not turned out to object because they were busy “raising children and going to work.”

“People I associate with are very much law-abiding people,” he said. “They’re not going to chain themselves to their recorders’ offices.”

Iowa joins Connecticut and Massachusetts in allowing same-sex marriage, and Vermont will follow in September. California also allowed them for about six months until voters there rejected the idea in November.

The Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling on April 3, which surprised many here, spurred a new set of technical, philosophical and legal questions, which public officials and others have been racing to sort through over the past three weeks.

State officials were rushing to change the wording on marriage license applications and other official documents to reflect the change. The forms now refer to “Party A” and “Party B” and give applicants an option to describe themselves as “bride,” “groom” or “spouse.”

Though the court’s ruling had no direct effect on religious leaders, many must decide whether to marry same-sex couples. Members of some denominations are divided on the matter.

By the end of Monday, more than 200 couples had applied and paid $35 for marriage licenses in Iowa. (No statewide count was available.) Some came from neighboring states like Illinois and Nebraska, officials said. Iowa requires a three-day waiting period for applicants to marry, though some couples received waivers from judges and were married by Monday afternoon.

Melisa Keeton, 31, and Shelley Wolfe Keeton, 38, let out a cheer when a clerk here offered congratulations and their certificate of marriage. The couple had raced among the recorder’s office, a judge’s chamber for a waiver and the front of the government building where the Rev. Peg Esperanza of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Des Moines offered them the “short” vows she carried with her.

Ms. Keeton said the couple did not wish to wait even three days because she was in the final trimester of a difficult pregnancy. The couple had parked in a lot away from the recorder’s office, they said, in case there were crowds or protesters or “hoopla.”

“Who would have known we didn’t need to?” Ms. Wolfe Keeton said.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"A woman's quest to erase a past that won't die" "A woman's quest to erase a past that won't die:
30 years after gender-reassignment surgery, woman's past as a man lingers." This is a recent MSNBC article that talks about some of the topics in class, in particular this woman's struggle (with family and law) to be respected as a transgender.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boy or girl?

This is an interesting study in how people are “gendered” in society. In it this clip, a boy with an androgynous look and high voice asks strangers to guess if he is female or male.

Agression homophobe dans le 3è à Paris

Trois hommes gays âgés de 27 à 46 ans, un journaliste Genevois en mission à Paris et deux de ses amis parisiens, ont été victimes d’une violente agression physique à caractère homophobe, alors qu’ils se promenaient lundi 20 avril à 23h50, dans le 3è arrondissement de Paris. L’agression s’est produite devant la Mairie du 3è arrondissement. Le groupe d’agresseurs était composé de 15 individus, âgés entre approximativement 17 et 21 ans. Après avoir traité les trois hommes de sales pédés, ils les ont encerclés puis leur ont porté des coups de poings et de pieds. Selon le témoignage des victimes passées ce jour au Centre LGBT Paris IdF, les agresseurs étaient particulièrement haineux et seule l’intervention d’une patrouille de policiers du commissariat du 3è leur a permis de s’en sortir sans plus de dommages que des hématomes et arcades sourcilières fendues. Les agresseurs avant de se disperser ont proféré des menaces en interdisant à leurs victimes de remettre les pieds dans le quartier. Lorsqu’ils ont porté plainte ce matin, les policiers du 3è leur ont confirmé que la bande était habituée des lieux. Les trois amis tiennent à souligner l’efficacité et l’empathie des policiers du 3è arrondissement qui les ont pris en charge en les conduisant à l’Hôtel Dieu, mais ils ont demandé une audience au Maire du 3è pour aborder la question de la sécurité des personnes homosexuelles dans le quartier. Le Centre LGBT Paris IdF, implanté dans le 3è arrondissement, se félicite des bonnes relations entretenues avec la mairie et le commissariat du 3ème, cependant, ce n’est pas le premier témoignage d’agression à caractère homophobe dont il a connaissance, souvent le fait de bandes formés de jeunes très violents. Le Marais, dans le 4è a également été récemment le lieu d’agressions d’homosexuels. Aussi, nous semble t’il nécessaire de demander aux autorités, d’exercer une vigilance particulière et de prendre des mesures spécifiquement adaptées à ce type de délinquance homophobe qui peut se produire à l’encontre de personnes LGBT, également des femmes, dans ces arrondissements qui ne sont pourtant pas considérés comme des quartiers sensibles, mais des lieux de sorties, en particulier mais pas seulement, des personnes LGBT.

Christine Le Doaré pdt du centre LGBT de Paris

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gay Liberation and Lesbian Feminism

Jeffreys, Sheila, “Gay Liberation and Lesbian Feminism,” in Unpacking Queer Politics, London, Polity Press, 2003, pp. 1-14.

Two aspects of gay liberation theorizing distinguish it dramatically from queer politics. One is the understanding that the oppression of gay men stems from the oppression of women. Another is that many forms of gay male behaviour, which today are lauded in queer politics, are the result of gay oppression, and cannot be ended without ending the oppression of women. Forms of behaviour which historically were part of the behaviour of men who had sex with men, such as cruising and effeminacy, were seen by GLF activists to be the result of oppression, rather than inevitable and authentic forms of gay behaviour (p. 4).

Homosexual oppression and the oppression of women were both seen to result from the imposition of what were called `sex roles'. Political activists of the left in this period were profoundly social-constructionist in their approach. Thus both gay liberationists and feminists saw sex roles, which would probably now be called `gender roles', as being politically constructed to ensure male dominance. Women were relegated to the female sex role of the private sphere, nurturing and being concerned with beautifying the body in order to be an appropriate sex object. Lesbians were persecuted because they challenged the female sex role of sexual passivity and the servicing of men. Gay men were persecuted because they challenged the male sex role, which, as well as requiring masculine behaviour, was founded upon heterosexuality and sexual intercourse with women (p. 2).

`We have been forced into playing roles based upon straight society, butch and femme, nuclear ``marriages'' which continue within the relationship the same oppression that outside society forces onto its women' (p. 2).

We are children of straight society. We still think straight; that is part of our oppression. One of the worst of straight concepts is inequality . . . male/female, on top/on bottom, spouse/not spouse, heterosexual/homosexual, boss/worker, white/black, and rich/poor. . . . For too long we mimicked these roles to protect ourselves ± a survival mechanism. Now we are becoming free enough to shed the roles which we've picked up from the institutions which have imprisoned us. (Wittman 1992: 333)

One development that is likely to have hastened the abandonment of feminist insights by many gay activists is the withdrawal of lesbians in large numbers from gay liberation, in order to concentrate their energies on lesbian feminism...One issue which was a source of serious schism between men and women in gay liberation was sexual practice (p. 6).

Lesbian feminism starts from the understanding that the interests of lesbians and gay men are in many respects very different, because lesbians are members of the political class of women. Lesbian liberation thus requires the destruction of men's power over women...The principles of lesbian feminism, which distinguish it quite clearly from the queer politics of today, are woman-loving; separatist organization, community and ideas; the idea that lesbianism is about choice and resistance; the idea that the personal is political; a rejection of hierarchy in the form of role-playing and sadomasochism; a critique of the sexuality of male supremacy which eroticizes inequality (p. 8).

Woman-loving does not survive well in male-dominated queer politics. In a mixed movement the resources, influence and just sheer numbers of men give them the power to create cultural norms. As a result, some lesbians became so disenchanted with their lesbianism, and even their femaleness, that there are presently hundreds, if not thousands, of lesbians in the UK and the USA who have `transitioned' ± i.e. adopted the identity not just of males but of gay males with the help of testosterone and mutilating operations (Devor 1999).

The lesbian of lesbian feminism is a different creature from the female homosexual or female invert of sexology or earlier assimilationist movements. She is very different, too, from the gay man of gay liberation. Whilst gay liberation recognized that sexual orientation was socially constructed, there was no suggestion that gayness might be subject to voluntary choice, and might be chosen as a form of resistance to the oppressive political system. The lesbian feminist sees her lesbianism as something that can be chosen, and as political resistance in action (Clarke 1999). Whereas gay liberation men may say `I am proud', lesbian feminists have gone so far as to say `I choose' (p. 8).

Lesbian feminists took from radical feminism the understanding that `the personal is political' (Hanisch 1970). This phrase sums up the important revelation of the feminism of the late 1960s and the 1970s that equality in the public sphere with men was an insufficient, if not a nonsensical, aim...Hierarchy had to be eliminated from personal life if the face of public life was to change, and if the barriers between public and private were to be broken down (p. 11).

Eroticizing equality

The creation of a sexuality of equality in opposition to the sexuality of male supremacy, which eroticizes men's dominance and women's subordination, is a vital principle of lesbian feminism. Radical feminists and radical lesbian feminists in the 1970s and 1980s argued that sexuality is both constructed through, and plays a fundamental role in maintaining, the oppression of women (Millett 1977; MacKinnon 1989). Sexuality is socially constructed for men out of their position of dominance, and for women out of their position of subordination. Thus it is the eroticized inequality of women which forms the excitement of sex under male supremacy (Jeffreys 1990a). As a result, radical feminist critics argue, the sexuality of men commonly takes the form of aggression, objectification, the cutting off of sex from emotion, and the centering of sex entirely around penile entry into the body of a woman. For women sexuality takes the form of pleasure in their subordinate position and the eroticizing of men's dominance. This system does not work efficiently. Thus, throughout the twentieth century, a whole army of sexologists and sex advice writers sought to encourage, train and blackmail women into having orgasms, or at least sexual enthusiasm, in penis-in-vagina sexual intercourse with men, preferably in the missionary position so that the man could remain `on top'. The sexological enforcers have identified women's failure to obtain such pleasure as political resistance, or even a `threat to civilisation' (Jeffreys 1997b).

The construction of sexuality around the eroticized subordination of women and dominance of men is problematic for other reasons too. This sexuality underpins male sexual violence in all its forms, and creates men's sexual prerogative of using women, who dissociate to survive, in the prostitution and pornography industries. Thus radical feminists and lesbian feminists have understood that sexuality must change. A sexuality of inequality, which makes women's oppression exciting, stands as a direct obstacle to any movement of women towards equality (p. 12).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Queer French | Chapter 5: Gay Paris: Language, Sexuality and Space in the French Capital

excerpts taken from: Queer French: Globalization, Language, and Sexual Citizenship in France
_Denis M. Provencher

Recent scholarship has observed the emergence of the city as the economic and cultural center in the modern period and underscores the connection between the Western city and globalization...Scholars also maintain that globalization helps shape the character of the modern city, and in turn the city affects the pace and form of globalization...Major cities have emerged as a strategic site not only for global capital but also for the formation of transnational identities (p. 149).

What does this have to do with our "identity" discussions employing Foucault and other theorists?

Large cities draw these identities. Paris, for example, has become home to a high number of French homosexuals in recent decades, and 46 percent of France's gay men lived in Paris in the early 1990s...many write of the 'importance of getting one's gay self to a big city' (p. 150, 151).

Specifically, Paris' gay neighborhood Le Marais serves as a canonical gay reference or 'lieu de mémoire' for many of France's homosexual citizens (p. 153).

Situating Gay Paris in Historical and Contemporary Contexts

Scholars have traced the emergence of various homosexual establishments between 1880 and 1920 in northern Paris in the district of Montmartre, which has been qualified as the 'center of anarchism, Bohemianism and illicit sexuality.' During the interwar period, gay venues spread to other parts of the city to include bars and nightclubs on the Champs-Elysées and on the Left Bank at Montparnasse as well as in working-class dance-halls on the Rue de Lappe near Place de la Bastille. In contrast to gay Berlin of this same era, which remained largely separate from the larger urban landscape, gay Paris remained mainly a mixed (hetero and homo) space as Paris' homosexuals frequented many of the same bars and nightclubs as other French citizens. With the emergence of French existentialism in post-war France of the 1950s, gay bars, nightclubs and restaurants such as Le Fiacre on Rue du Cherche-Midi eventually emerged on Paris' Left Bank in the district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, however, gay night life would eventually return to the Right Bank in the 1970s on the Rue Sainte-Anne between the Palais Royal and the Opera House. The 1980s and 1990s brought about another urban shift, marked by visibility whereby Le Marais and les Halles developed the heaviest concentration of gay-oriented bars and restaurants in the city and replaced many of those found in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Montmartre and the streets around Sainte-Anne. Le Marais celebrates gay visibility (p. 155).

In this chapter, the author cites that there are 185 gay venues throughout the city...(p. 158).

The author asks many of his 'informants' to draw their own gay/lesbian maps of Paris. Analyze these maps - how are they different based on the particular situation of the person drawing the map? French-male/lesbian/Jewish/Beur..

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

With Victories, Gay Rights Groups Expand Marriage Push

New York Times

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Gay-rights groups say that momentum from back-to-back victories on same-sex marriage in Vermont and Iowa could spill into other states, particularly since at least nine other legislatures are considering measures this year to allow marriage between gay couples.

Read the rest.

Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriage

Associated Press

The state of Vermont became the first state today to legislatively approve gay marriage. Governor Jim Douglas vetoed the bill, but the state House and Senate overrode him 100-49 and 23-5 respectively. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa also permit gay marriage, but their approval came from courts.

Read more here.

Monday, April 6, 2009


excerpts taken from Chapter 14: ACT UP: The History of a Political Movement
The Pink and the Black _Frédéric Martel



"ACT UP is a group based on anger." (p. 295)

Larry Kramer: New York
"Larry Kramer acquired a sulfurous reputation by denouncing, in his prophetic novel, promiscuity, back rooms, and the obsession with sex. Because he criticized what was at the time the very essence of the homosexual lifestyle, Kramer was viciously taken to talk in 1978 by gay activists, who denounced his persistent guilt, 'gay homophobia,' self-loathing, hidden moralizing, and proselytizing hatred of sex." (p. 285)

"With 20,000 Americans already dead of AIDS, Kramer hoped for a return to radical grassroots militancy. On March 8, 1987, he created the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, known by the acronym ACT UP. The organization adopted the slogan "AIDS is our holocaust;" it chose the pink triangle as its emblem, but, symbolically, inverted it so that the tip pointed upward, like a weapon that has been turned upside down. An openly homosexual organization, ACT UP chose provocation, as indicated in such slogans as 'The government has blood on its hands.' 'ACT UP is a rude, nasty organization, like the virus that is killing us,' wrote Kramer." (p. 287)

"In conjunction with ACT UP, American homosexuals invented the practice of 'outing,' publicly revealing the homosexuality or HIV status of a person reputed to be a 'closet queen' or a conservative." (p. 287)

The French Context:

In an interview, published by The Observer in England (in June 1991), Edith Cresson (the new French Prime Minister under Mitterrand at the time) is quoted as saying:

"In English-speaking countries most men prefer the company of other men, but most of these men are homosexual - maybe not the majority, but in the United States a full 25 percent of them are, and in England and Germany it's nearly the same thing...I don't know whether that's a biological or cultural fact, but I remember noticing in London - and all the girls make the same observation - that men don't look at you in the street...Anglo-Saxons are not interested in women as women...It's a problem of upbringing and I consider that a kind of illness." (p. 288)

In a later interview with ABC, she went on to add:

"A man who is not interested in a woman, that seems bizarre to me...I think [heterosexuality] is better. Homosexuality is different and marginal. It exists more in the Anglo-Saxon tradition than in the Latin tradition. Everyone knows that. It's a fact of civilization." (p. 289)


It was Didier Lestrade who "wondered whether it might be a good time to create an ACT UP organization in Paris. Lestrade was a reporter for Gai Pied Hebdo and Libération...He marveled at American homosexual life, with its chosen ghettos and communitarian political culture, and even more at the strong-arm tactics of ACT UP-New York. 'I went through the 1980s like the queers of that time: going out, having fun, cruising, fucking, not thinking. We had an irrational side when it came to the disease. Until very late, I was looking the other way.' Lestrade was infected with HIV at a late date - in early 1987, when, as a contributer to Gai Pied, he was perfectly well-informed of the risks. He awaited the signal from his friends to launch the ACT UP venture. He was thirty years old." (p. 291)

Early ACT UP-Paris Activities:

"Militants picketed in front of the National Assembly, manipulating powerful images and words. Their signs were translated into French: 'silence=mort' and 'action=vie.' On December 1, 1989, they demonstrated against the church's opposition to condoms, making catcalls and shouting, 'Condoms are life, but the church forbids them!' They hung a banner reading 'OUI A LA CAPOTE' (Yes to condoms) between the towers of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. Later (May, 1990) the prime minister's Service d'Information et de Diffusion was 'zapped' because it has censored the AFLS subway campaign. The city of Paris was hit (June, 1990) for its 'AIDS plan,' which was judged too timid. The Senate was zapped (May, 1991) for trying to make it a crime to transmit the virus and for reinstating homosexuality as a criminal offense." (p. 291)

"ZAPS": (rapid actions against a person, a media outlet, or an organization)

"The organization used slogans that were Manichean ('AIDS: Mitterrand is guilty' 'Got HIV? France prefers you dead'), political ('Infected under Mitterrand, dead under Chirac'), oddly demanding ('Give me T cells, Balladur!') [a reference to Prime Minister Edouard Balladur], provocative and vulgar ('Proud to exist, proud to fist'), and even morbid (at Père-Lachaise Cemetery, militants spray-painted 'Look, the state is investing in your future!' or shouted 'Make way, we're coming!'). The watchwords were often amusing, vaguely Dadaist ('Eat apples to fight AIDS!'), or bordering on self-ridicule ('AIDS is disco'). They could also be sentimental, as in this moving slogan on Gay Pride Day in 1992: I WANT YOU TO LIVE!" (p. 292)

How is this approach effective? Was it needed at the time, given the political context? Still? Why? In what ways could this approach be ineffective?

French Response:

"Beyond the debates and the tone adopted by ACT UP, the former president of the republic's silence on the AIDS issue remains incomprehensible. All in all, the disease, which appeared when he was elected in 1981 and increased tenfold during his two seven-year terms, was never the object of the slightest assessment on his part. Thus Mitterrand failed to address one of the key issues of the century's end, an issue encompassing both exclusion and discrimination." (p. 292)

Did things change immediately, even within the organization?

"There was a real lack of courage on our part. We distributed ACT UP pamphlets at the entrances to gay bars, even though we knew very well that people inside were fucking without condoms. We should have gone in and cleaned out the fucked-up mess inside. For my part, I have always supported a minority position, which was and still is to have the back rooms closed down..." (p. 298)

ACT UP | Aides

"On May 21, 1994, a few hundred militants from ACT UP-Paris lay on the ground on the parvis Beaubourg for the 'day of despair,' among pictures of coffins, slogans about the hecatomb, and, in ACT UP's newspaper, many reproductions of death's heads. A week later, on May 29, Aides organized the 'march for life' from the Palais Omnisports in Bercy to the Eiffel Tower. There were several thousand marchers in a joyful, easygoing, familial atmosphere; in the end, several thousand francs in donations were collected. These two demonstrations in themselves mark the distinction between ACT UP and Aides." (p. 300)

Aides: It's not your fault you are sick
ACT UP: It is other people's fault you are sick

Lestrade: "There is a great deal of violence within ACT UP because of the despair, the anger, and the grief. This despair was put to use, channeled somewhere. Militants were told: 'You're scared, you're angry, you can do something with that anger.' ACT UP is the only organization that channels that anger outward." (p. 302)

"ACT UP also distinguishes itself from Aides in its strong declaration of homosexual identity, transforming a social stigma into a positive identity. Aides may have appeared more 'apologetic' - something for which it has naturally been criticized by ACT UP. In Aides, people are homosexual. In ACT UP, they are queer." (p. 302)

Philippe Mangeot (a student at Ecole Normale and an activist at ACT UP) says:
"ACT UP is a place of circulating desires. I have two fiancés right now: I found both of them at ACT UP. I've sometimes thought the Aides guys were better-looking, though. But the goal of ACT UP is to have the best-looking guys in Paris! ACT UP is a cruising group, but it's also a group where people whose sexuality is not yet defined can come, and where they often have their first homosexual experiences. For example, even the straights in ACT UP are queer! That's a joy to me. There's a process of becoming queer in ACT UP." (p. 304)

The Pink Condom:

"On December 1, 1993, the spectacular action of putting a giant fluorescent pink condom on the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde made all of France smile." (p. 306)

Chapter 11: The History of a Social Movement

The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France Since 1968
_Frederic Martel

In 1984, Foucault died of AIDS at the Hôpital Pitié Salpêtrière in the 13th arrondissement in Paris. Foucault's death can be seen as the founding act in the birth of Aides (the organization). (p. 216)

What organization were both Foucault and his lover Defert active participants in? On whose behalf?

"In the Libération the day after Foucault's death an article ran: 'Foucault is said to have died of AIDS. As if an exceptional intellectual, because he was homosexual - though extremely discreet about it - represented an ideal target for the disease currently in fashion...We are embarrassed by the virulence of this rumor. It is as if Foucault had to die in shame.' This extraordinarily unseemly article shows how difficult it still was to speak of AIDS in 1984: Connotations of 'shame' were still attached to the disease...We will never know whether Foucault was aware of the nature of his illness..." (p. 218)

..."in his journal, seven months before his death, wrote in his journal. 'I know I have AIDS, but I forget, thanks to my hysteria.'" (p. 218)

"In 1984 in France, the diagnosis of AIDS was not being communicated to the patients who were affected by it." (p. 219)

Defert wrote and dispatched the founding letter of Aides, the organization:
"AIDS is a crisis of sexual behavior for the gay community; the majority of the victims it has struck are from this population, whose culture has recently been built around gymnasium values, perpetual youth and health. We have to face and institutionalize our relation to illness, infirmity, and death. Gays have not addressed the moral, social and legal consequences for themselves. Sexual liberation is not the be-all and end-all of our identity. It is urgent to conceptualize our ways of loving until death, something straights institutionalized long ago. I will not go home to Mama to die." (p. 220)

"Despite the foresight, Defert's letter outlining his platform did not inspire enthusiasm. Most of the doctors and lawyers who were contacted did not reply. As a result, only homosexual militants attended the first informal meeting of Aides, which took place in Defert's apartment on October 4, 1984." (p. 221)

"In many respects, the organization represented a group of mourners...What linked these pioneers in the struggle against AIDS in France was their awareness of a state of emergency...The organization immediately chose to move in several directions: it formed a telephone hotline with a recording, distributed brochures and pamphlets, staged debates and public lectures, but also, already, provided a service destined, unfortunately, for a long future: 'aid to the sick.' Everything was set in place in early 1985, with no financial means except gifts from the first volunteers. They juggled their personal telephone lines for the first hotlines. Edelmann offered his apartment on rue Michel-le-Comte, in the Marais, and it virtually became the office of Aides." (p. 223)

..."AIDS specialists were immediately contacted and were relieved to learn of the creation off Aides...: 'We finally had people ready to bring up matters of importance, people who were not hobbled by homosexual militancy...The founders of Aides had the incredible courage to tell their little home truths to their homosexual brothers.'" (p. 223)

In 1985 a bath owner in Paris expressed: "I don't really want to put up condom dispensers or information boards about AIDS. People come to the baths to relax, not to get all upset.

And Aides was met with considerable resistance: ..."We were perceived as a new Protestant moral league, as if we were preventing those who were making money on the backs of gays from continuing to operate their businesses." (p. 224)

..."It was the history, in short, of a disconcerting, never-ending denial." (p. 224)

"Given the context of 1985 and the urgency of the situation, the pioneers in the fight against AIDS in France decided to venture into gay bars, beginning with those whose owners were more receptive...Of a total of more than a hundred gay spots in Paris, however, fewer than ten establishments accepted the Aides prevention information in 1985-87." (p. 225)

BROCHURE, printed by Aides in February 1985: "The vase majority of people infected with AIDS, over 80 percent, are male homosexuals. Caution: AIDS is contagious. AIDS is sexually transmitted." (p. 225)

Resistance in the gay community continued: In Gai Pied, September 1985: "Tobacco causes cancer, we all know that. Have we stopped smoking? Sex causes illness. Must we stop making love? Modern life causes cancer. Should we retire to Ardeche...How can we believe in a medical establishment that discourages us, that announces nothing but catastrophes of contagion, that marches only to the tune of fear and despair?" (p. 227)

"What is the best way to fight an epidemic? Should the model of an American-style coalition be adopted, one based on identity and multiculturalism? Or should it be the universalist and, as necessary, republican model?" (p. 228)

"In France during the 1980's, then, the "AIDS movement" was not established by homosexual militants but rather by homosexuals who were not involved in identity politics. That made all the difference. On the one hand, such an observation allows us to explain the specifically French delay in mobilizing organizations, a delay that, despite the arrival of Aides in 1985, puts France in the next-to-last position on the list of European countries." (p. 231)

"In an atmosphere often marked by the violence of illness and grief, activist from Aides, often HIV-positive themselves, took care of a family of Haitians, then a Zairean drug dealer, a sixty-year-old female prostitute, and a transvestite without identity papers. They passed out condoms in the Verrières woods, an outdoor cruising spot on the outskirts of Paris, or in the Tuileries. Defert's and Edelmann's apartments again served as the organization's offices (later moved to rue de l'Abbé-Groult in Cité Paradis, then to rue de Belleville, and finally to rue du Château-Landon, where the office is today)...Gradually, the Aides hotline was set up, twice a week at first, in one home or another and then in Edelmann's apartment on rue Michel-le-Comte." (p. 233)

"In France, there was probably a history of AIDS before Rock Hudson's death and another after it. The year 1985 seems to have been the time when the illness appeared in the media..." (p. 235)

What was the reaction of the French government to AIDS? In relation to other nations? (p. 235, 236, 237)

During this whole struggle..."homosexuals felt they were being accused, not for their practices, but as homosexuals, for what they were. Thus they could only react by denying and denouncing such a situation...The degree to which homosexuality is socially acceptable is very important in understanding the fear of AIDS." (p. 241)

"Should an AIDS organization turn to professionals, especially the medical establishment, and acquire information...Or should it be 'communitarian' in nature, a mass movement or infected or exposed individuals, a kind of family where one fought for others as much as one for oneself?" (p. 243)

AIDES initiatives today:

Chapter 10: The Conflagration

The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France Since 1968
_Frederic Martel

" 'A cancer that afflicts only homosexuals? No, it's too good to be true, I could die laughing!' Michel Foucault fell of his sofa, contorted by a fit of uncontrollable laughter..." (p. 187)

"The first mention of the 'gay cancer' in the monthly Gai Pied dates from September 1981. It took the form of a short informative article signed by Antoine Perruchot and titled 'Amour à risques' [At-risk love]: 'The American gay community is in an uproar. In the last several weeks, about forty cases of the very rare Kaposi's sarcoma have been reported in the United States. All the patients are queer." (p. 189)

'Since the beginning of the year, not a week has gone by when the mainstream press has not reveled in sensational headlines about a disease that is preying on us poor queers. More virulent than the plague and gangrene combined...Wait and see. In the meantime, live, do not panic. So fucking is dangerous? What about crossing the street? ' [Cluade Lejeune, Gai Pied, April 1982]

'So, as a result of a disease specific to them, queers are now going back on the list they had unfortunately dropped off, that of social scourges.' [Albert Rosse, Gai Pied, June 1982]

"The first phase, denial of the disease or, at the very least, a belief that it was unlikely to come to France, can be easily explained: no one knew how the disease was spread. The virus had not been discovered, nor had the means of transmission..." (p. 190)

"AIDS appeared soon after the homosexual liberation movement...Its initial progression occurred at a time when homosexual lifestyles had become widespread in France: there was organized cruising, there were baths and back rooms in the provinces, and there was the new specialized neighborhood of the Marais in Paris. In many respects, the homosexual 'theater' of the early 1980s was a boon for the new virus. The way AIDS was spread, via networks and relays fed by the high level of sexual promiscuity and the intermingling of partners, set off a chain reaction that grew exponentially. For homosexuals, the conflagration had started." (p. 192)

"Among the once-anonymous figures made famous by the epidemic, Gaetan Dugas will probably remain the international symbol for a certain irresponsibility on the part of gays. A flight attendant with Canadian Airlines, he was the archetype of the modern homosexual of the early 1980s: blond, mustached, twenty-nine years old. Every year he accumulated an estimated 250 sexual partners. In June 1980, he learned that the blotches on his body were due to a very rare form of cancer, Karposi's sarcoma. Rapidly informed by doctors that he had contracted the 'gay caner' he agreed to give them the names of seventy-three of his recent lovers. The epidemiological research, conducted by a method similar to police cross-checking, showed that in 1982 at least forty of the 248 cases diagnosed in North America were among former partners of Gaetan. Duly warned, he nevertheless rejected the advice to be careful and to take protective measures, saying the disease, 'I got it; they can get it too!' He died on March 30, 1984. This 'sex kamikaze' was nicknamed 'Patient Zero.' (p. 195)

"In late 1982, twenty-seven cases of AIDS were reported in France: eight of the patients were homosexuals were had spent time in the United States around 1980, and there was no question that they had been infected there. Four others were also homosexual but seem to have been infected in France; the rest were heterosexual and had traveled to the Caribbean (Haiti) or to equatorial Africa. The disease gradually progressed from being the 'gay cancer' to being the '4H' cancer: homosexuals, heroin addicts, Haitians, and hemophiliacs." (p. 195)

"On January 3, 1983, Willy Rozenbaum removed a lymph node from a French homosexual patient who had spent time in New York...Montagnier placed the sample in a culture under a hood at the Institut Pasteur. 'We had decided to do a probe, as we call it...we had an extraordinary stroke of luck because the first probe was the right one. On the fifteenth day, with the initial culture still alive, we detected the presence of weak but significant 'reverse transcriptase' activity." (p. 196)

"Although the causal link between the virus and particular behaviors on the part of homosexuals was virologically false (the virus was not specific to gays), the truth is that this link was epidemiologically well founded (most of the people in France were homosexual)...Militants fell victim to the same identity trap they claimed to be fighting. They confused AIDS, which attacks homosexuals for 'what they do,' with a disease that would attack them for 'what they are.' " (p. 197)

Sound familiar? What does this have to do with our conversations about identity politics/Foucault?

"The Gay Pride Day festivities of 1983 made no reference to AIDS." (p. 197)

"The discovery of the virus led to the distribution of a questionnaire intended to exclude blood donors who belonged to 'at-risk groups' in 1983...It is understandable why homosexuals felt that any administrative action designed to keep them from donating blood - a social act and a civic duty - was 'a threat of the pink star.'" (p. 198)

How did the reaction of French militants to the issue of blood donation differ from that of Swedish and British militants in 1983? (p. 200)

"Failure to implement the 1983 memo on the screening of donors (homosexuals, drug addicts, prisoners), combined with blood drives in prisons, turned out to be directly responsible for the contamination that occurred in France over two years' time." (p. 201)

"In 1984-85, it was confirmed that LAV (the future HIV) was the virus responsible for causing AIDS. In December 1984, a test (called "Elisa") as developed to detect antibodies to the virus, and its distribution began in 1985. These developments changed the way the disease was viewed: on the one hand, condom distribution changed the way the disease was viewed: it began to be considered a means of protection (1984); on the other hand, anyone could find out whether he had been exposed to the virus. In 1985, the test revealed that there was a phase of seropositivity, a latency period during which the person was infectious but not ill. The epidemiological prospects took on a new dimension: so-called healthy carriers were now renamed 'asymptomatic carriers.' The scope of the tragedy became clearer. Current patients were only the tip of the iceberg: AIDS was truly a pandemic of enormous proportions." (p. 202)

Official spokespeople began to change their tone: "Dr. Lejeune [of Association des Medecins Gais] declared: Sine the number of partners is a risk factor, we must lower that number. Obviously, the virus must be in the blood: let us therefore refrain from donating our blood. Finally, the virus may be in sperm, so we must use condoms...Every aspect of sexuality is affected by AIDS. Admitting for the first time that the risk of contracting the virus increased with the number of sexual partners, the Association des Medecins Gais chose to depart from its earlier line. September 1984 marked a turning point." (p. 203)

"Their initial denial had made AIDS an invention of American puritanism; now these writers denied that the virus had reached epidemic (pandemic) proportions: a new phase; a new form of denial." (p. 204)

In response to people's assertions that there was probably no one left in the San Francisco bathhouses, Foucault (in 1983) reportedly said, "Don't kid yourself. There have never been so many people in the baths, and it's really extraordinary. This threat hanging over everyone has created a new complicity, a new tenderness, a new solidarity. Before, you hardly exchanged a word; now, everyone talks. Everyone knows precisely why he's there." (p. 205)

"While the condom was emerging as the only effective measure of prevention, nothing was more striking than the homosexual community's delay in accepting the idea. The government shared this reticence about the subject: it was not until 1987 that condom advertising was authorized." (p. 206)

..."For us, using a condom and reducing the number of partners was a return to a bygone era, a crime against love." (p. 206)

"In the first results of the testing conducted by blood banks after the 1985 Fabius decree, the rate of infection among blood donors was extremely high - the highest rate in Europe...This was the epicenter of blood contamination...every week between March and July 1985, between fifty and one hundred people who received tranfusions were infected...and of slightly more than 3,000 hemophiliacs living in France, nearly 50 percent were infected by the virus between 1981 and October, 1985." (p. 207, 212)

"It is possible to see the history of homosexuals' mobilizations against AIDS between 1981 and 1985 as an almost uninterrupted series of misunderstandings, delays, and self-imposed blindness. The 'flighty' way in which homosexual leaders treated the AIDS problem took various and contradictory forms, from denying that the disease existed to denying its importance, from refusing to take preventative measures to refusing to be tested for the virus." (p. 207)

In a published letter from Charles A. in Homophonies (1983), a gay doctor in Nantes says: "Even though I'm a doctor, I am proud to know almost nothing about the 'gay cancer.' The glut of information about a disease I will probably never see in my office makes me sick." (p. 208)

"Homosexual denial is an important fact in the history of the epidemic in France...In 1982-83, France, unlike Sweden and Great Britain, had no homosexual community: the only bond was sexual; it was a community of desire." (p. 209)

What does this have to do with our discussion of identity politics? How are identity politics useful in combatting something like AIDS?

Foucault's lover Daniel Defert: "I have never been a militant of homosexual identity because identity politics is not my style."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

oops, here it is:

Gay ‘cure’ still sought by some therapists

This is a recent MSNBC article about the amount of UK doctors that still are looking for ways to "cure" homosexuality

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Iowa Court Voids Gay Marriage Ban

Iowa's become the first midwestern state where gay marriage is legal. Yay!

Here's the link to the New York Times article:

Friday, April 3, 2009


Everyone! We will have the pleasure of having Gentry Lane, MFA (specialization: expatriate artistic communities in Paris between the wars) with us on Monday, April 6 to tell us fabulous tales from the 20's and 30's. Please be on time for Monday's class: we are honored to have her.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chapter 4: S'assumer dans la famille: Coming out in the French (Republican) Family

excerpts from: Queer French: Globalization, Language, and Sexual Citizenship in France
_Denis M. Provencher

filiation: symbolic link between parents and children

"..home is still the site where young people spend lengthy periods of time with a parent or parent and siblings...Even when young people leave home, the family home is still the site through which many of their individual biographies and expectations are routed and consequently where the emotional functioning of the family is often played out." (p. 119)

French conservatives present a universalizing discourse where that which is 'biologically universal' in nature (that is male/female sex roles; opposite-sex pairings) become 'symbolically universal' (that is acceptable gender and parental roles; legitimate parent-child bonds) both in French culture and in a more 'universal culture'. (p. 123)

It is on this basis that gay adoption is met with such resistance in France. "They (those who resist adoption) explain that sexual difference is a fundamental (anthropological) reference that is prepolitical insofar as it structures society: as a consequence, it should not be trifled with politically. Filiation without sexual difference would thus undermine a symbolic order that is they very condition of our ability to think and live in a society." (p. 122)

Moderate politicians in France support homosexuals and their rights claims as long as they continue to occupy a 'subversive position' as exemplified in the PaCS civil union that keeps them outside of the traditional family unit. "Middle-ground reformists prefer 'disorderly conduct' among homosexuals: as long as homosexuality remains subversive, it will not subvert the 'symbolic order' of heterosexuality...toleration for homosexuality should not lead to its inclusion within the family." (p. 123)

Hence, many French gays and lesbians may hold a general discussion about sexuality with their parents, however a discussion of the individual's sexual practices or their particular homosexual identity remains 'indicible' (unspeakable) or even taboo. (p. 125)

Gabriel (29-year-old gay man from a middle-class Parisian family, web designer and aspiring artist) *p. 127

Nadine (39-year-old lesbian who worked as a police officer in Lyon, grew up with an older sister and younger brother in a village of 5,000 inhabitants outside of Lyon, where both parents worked as bakers. On her 36th birthday she told her parents) *p. 133

These are the opening credits for the French reality television program Loft Story (like Big Brother) from 2002. Thomas, one of the characters, was first introduced on the show as a virgin and he developed a reputation as such among his co-lofters. His supposed sexual naivete and shyness prompted co-lofter David to seek additional information - the scene follows where five of the lofters discuss Thomas's same-sex preference during one of their 'natural' daily interactions. *(p. 139)

Monday, March 30, 2009