Friday, June 06, 2008

French gay veteran journalist: gays want to be left alone

I read this article this morning, and I thought it was so good, I translated it.

I had a bit of trouble translating the word "impudeur". I wrote "lust", but "lust" is a bit strong. "Immodesty" is one translation, but that's a bit weak.

It's an interview of an eighty-year-old pioneer of the gay press in France, Pierre Guénin.

Liberté Politique.

Pierre Guénin : Sexual Liberation? An anti-social lust

Radical gay communitarianism sees in each hetero an enemi, so says the otherwise excellent British series Queer as Folk. The reality of boys who love boys and girls who love girls is a mystery that accommodates itself as badly to hate as to lust. Between Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment and the backrooms of Marais, must gays choose their camp? A little, it seems. Where does that come from? The Spirit of May ’68, did it not facilitate the conversion of this mystique into politics, from sexual liberation to obligatory sexuality? Let’s put the question to Pierre Guenin, pioneer of the gay press in France.

LIBERTE POLITIQUE : What is it about the heritage of May ’68 that you oppose?

PG: The sectarianisme. “Homos on one side, heteros on the other”—I never wanted this, no more than “bosses on one side, workers on the other” or “intellectuals on the left, bohemians on the right”. I prefer work and celebration to class struggle.

LP : You are over eighty years old and you still do not hesitate to call yourself a « homosexual ». What is your opinion of society today?

PG: I agree with Nicolas Sarkozy when he denounces the implosion of the education system in the last three or four decadres, the disappearance of authority figures such as the schoolmaster, for example. I might have voted for Francois Mitterand in 1981 because he announced he would put an end to the penalization of homosexulaity, but I have, progressively, joined the ranks of the right.

LP : It is said that May 68 unleashed the zeal of the homosexual lobby…

PG: In reality, today as yesterday, the majority of gays search for tranquility rather than recognition. For liberty, in fact. From my career as a journalist, I have boxes of readers’ letters. What do I see? Gays experience a lot of dismay. I am definitively vaccinated against all idealization of the homosexual lifestyle. I am quite struck by the fact that most gays want to be unnoticed. They desire only to be left alone, that we do not interfere in their private life. The testimonies of gays in the country are most touching: the solitude is appalling.

LP : Did we not lose in the 60’s and 70’s some sense of measure…and of modesty?

PG: Quite right, sexual liberation more easily permitted the cutting up of the marriage contract, multiplying—we see now—divorces and reconstituted families. “No prohibitions allowed!” they said. Teens in power! Down with authority, civic pride, morality, respect, chivalry, those old constaints that we had to put up with for centuries. The result? Many excesses that are toxic for society.

LP : Finally, does being « sexually liberated » signify « being liberated » tout court?

PG: Obviously, no. What does that mean? Sexuality is only one aspect of personality and identity. An important aspect, no doubt, but not exclusive. Before one is homosexual, “a homosexual” is a human being. People have criticized me for not having done enough politics, for not having fought enough for the gay cause. But what do gays want? I will come back to what my readers said: “Sexuality has nothing to do with one’s social life”. “Do we ask heteros what they do in their beds?” As for Gay Pride “Proud of what? “ Can be we proud of a sexual particularity? I do not want a “coming-out” society.

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