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

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)

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