02x03 - France

Episode transcripts for the TV show "Gaycation". Aired: February 2016 to April 2017.
"Gaycation" follows Ellen and Ian as they set off to explore LGBT cultures around the world. From Japan to Brazil to Jamaica to the USA, the two meet some fascinating people during their travels and hear their stories.
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02x03 - France

Post by bunniefuu »

I'm in France, the home of fine-wine, gay Paris, and nude beaches.

♪ Did you see them? ♪
♪ Did you see them? ♪
♪ They're just walking around, yeah ♪

Daniel: I'm in France.

And Ellen couldn't be here, so I'm on my own for this one.

It's my second time here, and it's my first time being out and open with my sexuality, and I'm excited to look at the country with a new perspective and new eyes.


[Singing in French]

First time I was here, I was studying abroad.

I think I romanticized Paris and France.

Paris represented something different than my Indiana upbringing.


There was this whole component to my life which was hidden.

It's actually really powerful for me to come back.

I get to look at Paris and France in a whole new way.

I just feel like, you know, sometimes you just got to get a little loose when you are in Paris.

I'm in the Le Marais, the famous gay district in Paris, and I'm really excited to talk to more gay people in the area and see what's going on tonight.

We're wearing matching outfits I think.


When you're going out, you mainly see just gay men around this area, yeah?

What're you doing tonight?

In your opinion, what is it like to be gay in France?

Would you say that it's easy to be gay in France?

Thanks so much. I'll let you get back to your party.

Wow! Ooh, wow! Ooh, sensual.


A little sensual kiss there.

It's been a long time since I've been here, so I'm kind of having a flashback and I'm thinking about the young Ian and when I studied abroad here and about the times when I would...

I would just kind of experiment with what it would mean to go into a gay bar. What do gay bars look like here?

I would kind of just roam the streets and think about going in, and, um...

I'm going to go into the gay bar this time.

Hi, guys.



And you?


Gregory, Ian.

Nice to meet you.

And do you all live in Paris?



I'm just, like, wandering around the streets of Le Marais...

I can practice my French a little.


I only know certain phrases.

[Speaking French]


[Speaking French] Whoo!

I like your accent.

Yeah, I practice the accent.

It's sexy.



That's what I like to hear, boys. Tell me more.

You are hetero?


You are hetero?

No, no.

No? You are gay?

I'm gay, yeah.



What is it to be like gay in Paris?



That's the question.

Hard question.

Actually, it's easy.

Because no...

It's open.

Yes, it's open.

It's open, so it's cool, but after, that depends where you are.

Like you're from...

Your place in Paris, to be gay it's out.

I live in Boulogne, so it was very difficult to be gay to assume that I'm gay.

Is it just the... Is it just the area that... the people in the area are closed minded to it?

Yeah, because I live in the 93 so it's a hard city.

Right. And so you just come into the city to party?

And to be with people and hang out.

Yeah. Always here. Never in my city.

Are we doing arm in arm? Let's not cozy up.

Okay come on boys.

Come on.

What is this next bar that we're going to, what is it like?

You want to meet daddy...

[Laughter] That's it.

Sometimes the daddies are what you need.

Yeah, it's good.



Le Marais is one of the great gayborhoods in the world and since the '80s, it's been the epicenter of the LGBTQ culture in Paris.

It's great seeing young people have spaces like this, where they can be themselves, but it really is a predominantly male scene.

I'm here during Gay Pride Week, and the Rainbow Flag is flying high.

Right now Parisian Pride is happening right across the river from here.

There is a lot to celebrate.

Marriage equality was just legalized in 2013 after a long, hard fight.

This party of thousands of spectators and participants moving through the center of the city, Paris would seem to be accepting.

But I want to find out if this is the case for the entire LGBTQ community.

Nasr: Pride got really depoliticized over the years in France.

It was just like this... an excuse to celebrate more and more. I mean, I'm all for dancing and celebrating but Pride should be focused more on political issues.

Daniel: I'm meeting with journalist and activist, Edwin Nasr.

Originally from Lebanon, he's now based in Paris and has become a rising voice within a new q*eer movement that's trying to make minority issues more visible.

This movement is putting on an alternative to Paris's Gay Pride called Pride De Nuit or Night Pride.

I think we should focus more on political issues.

That's why events such as the Night Pride, if you wish, focus on visibility and politicization and, like, asking the government to recognize trans-rights, to focus on what's been going on in the projects.

How LGBTQ people of color feel stuck there.


Well, h*m* is are alive and well.

Yes, everywhere.

In the same sentence where you're talking about h*m*...

Exactly. Being structural.

... h*m* has risen and landed right in front of us.

How often does that...

That happen in France?

No, that happens quite often.

People like me get both.

People will just, like, spew out r*cist rhetoric.

But we get that a lot. Yeah, of course.

I mean, it's part of everyday life I guess for everyone.

Daniel: Paris is known as the City of Love, and it has a reputation for being liberal and progressive when it comes to sexuality.

And while I'm still learning about how much of that is true today, in the 1920s, a vibrant subculture for q*eer artists emerged albeit in the underground world of the Parisian night life.

I'm meeting with Bambi, a trans-cabaret performer who rose to stardom in the 1950s after leaving her home in Algeria.



[Conversing in French]

Thank you for coming here.

Oh, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Can I help in any way?

You carry the cups?

I'll carry the cups.

And where are we going? Into the room?

Oh, to the saloon.

Here and here.

There we go.

63 years ago when you were performing in Paris Night life, can you help paint that picture for me?

What life was like then? What it was like for you?

When did you decide, I want to perform on the stage?

And in your everyday life, did you feel you were in danger?

Reflecting on your personal experience and what you've been through, do you feel like it's better to be public with who you are and more visible, or do you think it's better to keep it hidden, to keep it quiet.

I think it's better to keep hidden because you live your own life.

Ah! Bravo!

For you.

So, what do we say again, I forgot.




That's the last time I was on a beach in my life.

How old are you here?

I was 41.

When you think about your performing prime in Paris, do you think life is less or more interesting when you were young versus today?

It's different.

At that time, I wanted to realize the person I was, in myself.

That is today forgotten.

I don't think of that anymore.

I'm Marie-Pierre Pruvot, and that's all.

And I just live.

[Cheers and applause]

The artists and activists from Bambi's era took a defiant stance.

They carved out their own space for the q*eer community since they didn't have one in society.

And today, across town, a new generation of q*eer feminists are doing the same.

To make sure the party is welcoming for the LBT community, few men are invited, so I'm grateful to be joining in tonight.

I'm wondering, do you wish for more spaces in the mainstream arena, or do you like having these more underground parties?

I would love to know from both of your perspectives what it means to be a q*eer woman in France?

Being private does not mean being quiet.

And while Prude Pride is underground, it's by no means in hiding.
Daniel: It's been three years since the marriage equality ruling in France. Many had hoped it would bring further progress for LGBTQ rights, but change hasn't happened so quickly. I'm on my way now to meet with French artist, Emily Jouvet.



[Conversing in French]

She uses her art as activism and encourages members of the q*eer community to voice the issues that they still face.

Emily invites me to participate in her new project.

By touching her belly and discussing family, this peace response to French law that prohibits assisted reproduction for single and q*eer women.

It's been a while. It's probably been like three years.

You know, I think if I were so deeply connected to a lesbian couple that really wanted to have a child, let's say like my friend Ellen, if she decided that she wanted to have a kid and she needed sperm, I have thought about, would I give her my sperm?

I would potentially think about donating.

Okay, thank you.

Was that good? Okay. [Laughs]


Can you tell me more about the project you are working on?

I would love to know more about your personal experience with getting pregnant and the things you had to go through to sit here with that belly?

Can you tell me more about what's going on with the reproductive rights in France?

When you think about France in the future, do you see that LGBTQ people and other minorities will actually get to full equality?

Control over one's body without government or social stigma, is a fight shared by countless q*eer women as well as transgender people in the country.

Today, there is still legislation in place that demands sterilization in order to legally confirm one's gender.

A new wave of transgender activists in France are fighting against this law through participation in marches like the upcoming Night Pride and through smaller gatherings that aim to strengthen and empower the trans community.

There is this association in Paris called Acceptess Trans, and they host this weekly meet-up at a pool where q*eer and trans people can get together and swim in a judgment-free zone, and I'm going to go in now and check it out.

It's run by trans-activist, Giovanna Rincon.

The meet-up that you're having this evening, what is it exactly?

Why the pool?

Let's do it, yeah.

I'm ready.


Can you describe your experience of being trans and young and male in Paris and in France?

Within the LGBT community, do you feel that you're seen and that you're heard and that you are part of the community?

Daniel: There is some acceptance for the gay community within France.

[Woman singing in French]

But other LGBTQ people are still fighting for a place within the mainstream.

I'm meeting up again with my friend, journalist Edwin Nasr to continue our conversation about the minority experience within France and the LGBTQ community.

Allow me.

Okay, thank you.

What do you think are the biggest issues that the LGBTQ community faces in France?

It's LGBTQ people of color because they're never a part of a conversation.

It's also visibility.

It's harder to talk about these things in France because identity politics isn't really that respected. So, even like seeing people of color is offensive to a normal French person.

So they don't speak of...

They have a color-blind attitude.

They don't acknowledge multiple narratives.

There is one national common narrative, which is like this constant universalist, you're either French or you're not, and that's it.

You don't get to have your own experiences.

And people who don't fit into this are usually just marginalized.


Are you one of the rare voices in that conversation?

Are there a lot of people talking about that?

There are some people talking about that, they aren't much.

I focus on LGBT people who do not live in the city but who live in, like, what you American folks would call the projects, I guess, on the outskirts of Paris, people who haven't been given a chance to be really be open about their sexuality because they live in very disenfranchised places where the government has completely forgotten about them.

And why do you feel personally connected to that kind of work?

When I first came here and gay marriage was legalized, I saw lot of gay people just telling themselves, "Well, let's just stop there, we got all our rights, we are equal now."


But then I saw how, like, LGBTQ people lived in the suburbs and the projects basically.

And so I just really wanted to find the intersection between, like, poverty and LGBTQ issues because they do really intersect and because coming out really is a privilege, and living your life as a free gay man or a free gay woman really is a privilege, as well.

So that's why I wanted to write about this stuff.

I know your boyfriend's here, not that we have to put him on camera, but I want to know... See, what a cute couple.



What's your name?


Basim. Ian.

So nice to meet you.

You too.

And are you openly walking around...


... and holding hands and hanging out...

In Paris we are. Yes, yes.

A way to protect ourselves from racism is to basically be very, very gay together in public spaces so that we aren't seen as this potential thr*at. We aren't bestialized or demonized as these, like, masculine, Arab men.

It's a race issue, as well. It's not only a like anti-Islam thing.

Daniel: I'm leaving the center of the city and headed to the suburbs of Paris, known here as the banlieue.

These areas are home to the majority of Paris' ethnic and religious minority communities.

Those to the northeast of the city have come to be associated with what the French government calls "sensitive urban zones" or areas where there is high unemployment and poverty rates.

And so, the residents of the banlieue often deal with intersecting cultural stigmas against immigration, religion, and poverty.

I'm going to a class held by Abdelkader Railane, who grew up in the suburbs and now teaches a course aimed at deconstructing discrimination.

Young people from the area who apply for government aid attend the class.


And she said what?



I'm just curious about people's families and what if you went home and told your family that you were gay?

What would their reaction be?

What about you? What would your family say?

How long? My whole life.

I think the important thing for me to say is that I don't live here.

I don't know about your lives necessarily but I'm from a small town, so I'm used to this conversation, right.

To me, the things that people are saying here are actually pretty typical.

I studied abroad in Paris when I was young, I was 20 years old, and I was not out with my sexuality, I was in fact struggling with it, struggling with what people would say and how I would be treated?

And so I'm imagining my old self sitting in this room and hearing the things that I heard today, and I think maybe there's actually someone in here who is also in that same struggle.

But think about everybody in the room and how they might potentially be offended or hurt by what you say.

Those kind of words and those kind of statements actually do lead to the k*lling and m*rder and v*olence of other people, and we should reflect on that more.


Nice meeting you. Good luck to you.

So, you put me on the spot there.

I was not... I truthfully was not expecting that.

But, you know, I am actually really happy that you did that.

It was a very eye-opening experience for me and surely for them, I'm thinking.


You were talking about your past and your past being r*cist and h*m*.

What was the turning point for you towards a more accepting attitude?

I thank you so much for the experience that I had today, and thank you for all the work you're doing and for sharing your change of heart and working so hard to help other people change their hearts and their minds.

Daniel: French colonial policy was rooted in the concept of assimilation, and that history has created a population of people who have been born into French culture though they were not born on its soil.

Immigration from French speakin nations in North Africa has made the Muslim community in France one of the largest in Western Europe.

The recent wave of t*rror1st att*cks as well as the European refugee crisis has inflamed national debate about what it means to be French.

I'm meeting with Nassr Eddine, a Moroccan-born Imam to hear about how being an immigrant, Muslim, and gay have affected his experience within France and the LGBTQ community.

In the street I'm not really profiled as gay, so I'm facing more Islamophobia in the street.

For example, when something, a t*rror1st att*ck happens in Paris, people pointing, like, looking at me as a stranger or as an enemy or someone who doesn't fit in this secular society.

And in France, we have secularism, and some interpretations of this are very narrow-minded.

And this is for me, an Islamophobic, Neo-colonial thought, which is happening in the LGBT community, also.

You're saying, though, that the LGBT community is not giving you space in that conversation.

When you read a statement for the 2016 Pride, for example, they don't talk about racism we face, they don't talk about Islamophobia we face, they don't talk about police v*olence, they don't talk about ethnic profiling, they don't talk about refugees and asylum seekers.

So for me, very important to talk about intersectionality because we face it.

How do you feel about the same sex marriage being legalized here?

I'm happy that it is legalized.

Works for some people, but because France signed before years ago kind of bilateral conventions, 11 nationalities are still excluded from that, from that law.

So me being Moroccan, I cannot marry, for example, my partner.

This is very contradictory, that a law that normally brings equality still actually being discriminatory against, I mean, a few nationalities.

And what do you think exactly has to change in France for you to be more accepted and not face so much discrimination?

What I advocate or fighting for is to educate people on intersectionality.

It's a double duty. Me being Muslim, I have to actually feel others struggles and have to be with them.

My challenge is to build bridges so that people can teach themselves but also teach others because if we are not enough empowered on a civil society level, we cannot actually have weight towards politicians, and this is actually the biggest challenge.

Daniel: There is a rising political tide that's against multi-culturalism led by the National Front, France's conservative party.

They believe in a massive reduction of immigrants, promotion of traditional family values, and maintaining an undivided France.

The recent wave of t*rror1st att*cks in France has fueled the National Front's popularity.

And surprisingly, a recent survey pointed out that 32% of gay couples voted for the FN during the regional elections in 2015.

That year, the party won 12 cities, one of which was Beaucaire in the south of the country.

I'm on my way there to meet its mayor, Julien Sanchez, a rising star within the FN.

Thank you so much for talking with me today, and you're a very young mayor, yes?

Being such a young mayor, do you think it's important for young people to get involved in politics?

Tell me more about the National Front.

What does the National Front stand for?

What are its ideologies?

I'm wondering how diversity fits into what you are talking about?

I think on the one hand, maybe some people would say that your party is h*m* because of its stance originally on gay marriage and some of the anti-LGBT laws that are in place and potentially going to be put into place.

And at the same time, there is support from the LGBTQ community for your party.

How is that possible, and why do you think that is?


What do you say to a woman who is a lesbian and wants to have a child?

She would be a beautiful mother, but she can't...

She can't do that here and she has to go to another country.

I'm interested in the conversation around LGBTQ people, and I'm wondering how minorities have a voice then if they... if they feel like they need to be heard to make changes for their lives but they don't have a place to do that?

And they are not considered in the conversation, how do you think they get a voice?

There are things that you say just in their subtlety that is a disregard for the issues that people face.

Let's cook a fish, Matty!


Daniel: I am here experiencing Paris in a new way and France in a new way, and I think the interesting part is, is that I've been meeting so many radical, intelligent, passionate young people that were my age when I studied here, and they have been teaching me so much.

And they are really helping me understand how to politicize your experience.

And they realize that if they have a voice in politics, it can change things.

When Pride started, it was a protest.

They risked a lot stepping out into the street, asserting their sexuality, making it political, and making what was invisible visible.

That energy is being reclaimed through Pride De Nuit, and the march is today.

Pride De Nuit brings the issues of marginalized q*eer communities to the forefront.

It's a place where those voices who have been silenced can be heard, and this year's is bigger than ever.

I mean, how are you feeling right now?

Describe to me what you think the energy in the air is like?

I'm very happy to see just how, like, diverse the crowd is, because I did not expect this two to three years ago.

I thought the LGBT community was a lost cause in terms of politicization. And just to see them all very, like, excited to be here and vocalizing very radical demands is just... yeah, it fills my heart with joy. [Laughs]




Pride De Nuit is saying, "You're not listening to us, you're not giving us a platform to be heard even within the LGBTQ community.

And we need to now create a space where we can shout that out.

Where we can be political, we can be loud, and we can be aggressive with our politics.

France is really diverse.

Really interesting because of its diversity.

And just looking around that crowd and seeing so many young, vibrant, passionate, beautiful people.

I think it really helps to make people have to face things that they're uncomfortable facing, and that's how real progress happens.
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