In April of 1971, the Gouines Rouges (“Red Dykes”), were formed in order to combat the sidelining of lesbians in both the
Women’s Liberation Movement and the Gay Rights Movement in France.
At the time of the Gouines Rouges’s formation, the Mouvement
de libération des femmes (“Women’s Liberation Movement”) had been
prominent for two years, and the Front homosexuel d’action révolutionnaire
(FHAR, “Homosexual Front for Revolutionary Action”) had been created
just two months before in February of 1971. As more and more gay men began to
flock to the FHAR, the lesbian women who had been original members felt that a
split was necessary in order to address the specific needs of gay women, who
stood at a crossroads of marginalization.
A meeting of over fifty women was held at the
Beaux-Arts auditorium in order for them to address the misogyny of the FHAR, and what was originally intended to be a simple airing of the grievances
became the birth place of the Gouines Rouges. The name Gouines Rouges, or “Red
Dykes,” was chosen after a particularly vocal dissenter yelled out the slur at
one of the group’s demonstrations, and thus carrying on the LGBTQ communitys long-standing tradition of reclaiming slurs. The group spent the majority of 1971 hosting
lesbian specific parties and handing out leaflets at the entrances of women’s
clubs, but it wasn’t long until the Gouines Rouges rejoined the Women’s
Liberation Movement and began to fight for the idea that lesbian rights are in fact a vital tenet to women’s liberation.