A bit of radical revolutionary history today! In the wake of the counterculture and liberation movements that emerged in the late 60s, and especially in the wake of May 1968, which was a turning point in French political and social history, gays and lesbians in France were looking for a way to obtain radical visibility. The student and proletarian uprisings that had agitated France throughout the year 1968 had generally given little room to talk about the liberation of women and the LGBT community; and older groups centered on homosexual identities tended to remain hidden.
By the end of the 60s and the early 70s, many among the younger generations were trying to build new, more radical movements. One of these was the Front Homosexuel d’Action Révolutionnaire (Homosexual Front for Revolutionary Action), or FHAR. Based in Paris, it stemmed from a mixed group of lesbian and gay activists who had no wish to assimilate into “normal” society and who pushed for more groundbreaking reforms and laws. At first, the group was primarily made up of lesbians who came from the MLF (the women’s lib group in France). Men were a minority in the group, though as time went by, their numbers grew, which led to a reversal of proportions, and a marginalization of lesbian, feminist, and women’s voices within the group – this eventually resulted in people breaking off to create their own groups, like the Gouines Rouges, to whom we’ll devote an article later on.
Ménie Grégoire was a famous French radio host in the early 70s, and her radio show was the kind where people called in to share their experiences and points of view on a given theme. Pretty classic. Except that on March 10, 1971, she decided to record a show with the theme: “Homosexuality, a painful problem.”
Yep. You can already see how this might indeed be a problem. She’d invited a psychoanalyst and a priest (both dudes, obviously). This was one of the shows that were recorded publicly – and as the show went on, more and more people in the audience started getting more and more restless, up to the point where a riot more or less broke out. The show had to be interrupted, and apparently Ménie Grégoire fled the scene while people were chanting “Down with heterocops!”
This was one of the events that gave visibility to the FHAR in its beginnings. The whole movement was kind of short-lived though, precisely because, as we mentioned earlier, of the growing marginalization of the founding voices and of feminist issues.
If you read/speak French, you can read the transcript of the radio show right up to the point when it was interrupted here, as well as testimonies by
Marie-Jo Bonnet et Françoise d’Eaubonne
about this whole period here, and you can listen to the whole thing here!