France’s Counter-Protests Warm My Frozen Heart

Another day, another protest. If you gazed upon the streets of Paris this weekend you would have seen a familiar scene: long lines of people shouting and hollering over same-sex marriage. It happened a month ago, it happened a few weeks ago, so really there’s no surprise that it’s happening again.

Be Not Afraid Via Pierre Goyard for Objectif Subjectif

Be Not Afraid Via Pierre Goyard

But unlike the previous manifestations that condemned homosexuality and warned how the fabric of society would be torn apart if gay couples had families, these demonstrations were organized by the other side of the argument.  The gayer side of the argument. The wittier side.

Did you ask if marry Via Pierre Goyard

Did you ask for our opinion on your marriage? Via Pierre Goyard

We want adoption not your balls(kids) Via Pierre Goyard

We want adoption, not your balls/kids Via Pierre Goyard

Via Pierre Goyard

Destruction of traditional marriage isn’t part of the gay agenda Via Pierre Goyard


Damn right! Via Pierre Goyard


Les Straddlers via Nataly J

Inter-LGBT, Fédération LGBT and Coordination Interpride-France teamed up to organize a series of weekend rallies throughout France. Up until now, conservative anti-gay citizens had claimed the title of vocal majority and used it as a platform for their ludicrous claims. To prove that the VITA Alliance didn’t speak for everyone, same-sex supporters showed they could put on an equally impressive march, even if they lacked the coordinated T-shirts. Organizers estimated more than 100,000 people took to Paris’s street on Sunday, which echos an IFOP poll result projecting that 60% of France’s population support same-sex marriages and 46% are in favour of same-sex adoption.

You had gays, we’ll also make straight (kids). Via Pierre Goyard

Homophobes from all countries – punish yourselves Via Pierre Goyard

Les Straddlers Encore via Nataly J

Les Straddlers Encore via Nataly J

Even though the protesters were smiling and in good spirits, they weren’t ecstatic. The proposed same-sex marriage law is a step towards progress, but it still falls short of equality. The law extends rights to married couples, but what about families? While the VITA Alliance and other groups protest the law because it may hurt children that are born to same-sex couples, same-sex supporters worry that the law won’t do enough to protect kids and their parents. When it comes to same-sex co-parent adoption, non-biological parents would have to jump through a thousand hoops, including marriage, before they could say their kid was theirs. A heterosexual man would simply have to sign on a dotted line to say he was the adoptive father of his partner’s children. Amantine Revol, deputy president of the association Les Enfants d’Arc en Ciel expressed her concern,

We’re not talking about virtual kids, we’re talking about perhaps hundreds of thousands of children currently being raised in gay families in France who need legal rights. What is being proposed is not enough – couples would have to marry before applying to adopt their own children, which could take years. Gay co-parents need immediate legal recognition and the automatic right to be named on a child’s birth certificate.

Our children also need to be protected Via Pierre Goyard

Our children also need to be protected Via Pierre Goyard

Via Pierre Goyard

Equal rights are not a threat Via Pierre Goyard

SOS Homophobie President Elisabeth Ronzier has similar misgivings,

This is a historic moment because it’s the first time a French government is moving towards more equal rights for gay couples and families. But we’re not celebrating yet because the proposed law still doesn’t give complete equality. We want equal rights to medically assisted procreation. We want legal rights for co-parents – that means full parental responsibility for people raising a child with their partner. We have urged the government not to bow to the pressure of the opposition against this law. We expected some to oppose it, but we’ve been shocked by the violence of the opposition – and the retrograde, cliche-ridden arguments bordering on insults.

There’s another month of hand-wringing and people-watching before French citizens see which side made a greater impression on Parliament and the people, but this weekend’s protests stand as message to Hollande that he can’t back down or fail those that voted him into office. We’ll see whether love or hate wins out in January when the anti-gay rally dons their gendered shirts once more on the 13th and Take Action for Equality walks on the 27th.

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

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    • That was the first thing that crossed my mind when Pierre sent me the photos. My second thought was “I probably shouldn’t caption each photo with that.”

    • Seriously! France, you get my vote for most attractive country. And yes, I am both happy to see you and that is an Eiffel Tower in my pocket.

  1. I love these photos! <3 <3 <3

    I have a question on queerness in France that may or may not be on topic. If there are any French autostraddlers out there that can help me out with this, I would so appreciate it!

    J'ai fait la connaissance d'un français récemment, à une soirée chez moi. Une amie m'a dit qu'il est de Lille; c'est possible que je vivrai là l'année prochaine. Donc, je lui ai démandé (comme un blague), "Oh, est-ce qu'il y a beaucoup de lesbiennes là?" Il m'a démandé, "Pourquoi est-ce que tu me demande ça?" Et j'ai dit, "Parce que je suis lesbienne, et je veux savoir s'il y a des autres lesbiennes là." (Les autres ont ri.) Plus tard, il a dit qu'on ne devrait pas dire des choses comme ça jusqu'à on connait un autre très bien. Est-ce que c'est vrai? Je ne veux pas être malpoli, mais aussi je ne veux pas être obligée de me cacher. J'aime parler d'être lesbienne parce que personne ne sait que je suis lesbienne si je ne lui dis pas. Comment est-ce que on peut être ouvertement lesbienne en France sans être malpoli?

    S'il vous plaît, excusez mes erreurs! J'apprends encore. :)

    • Hello Lisa,

      Don’t worry too much about that : being gay is not about rudeness in France. Je pense que ce que ton ami français veut dire par “malpoli” c’est que c’est très direct de dire “je suis lesbienne” ou “je suis gay”. En général, les Français attendent de construire une relation de confiance pour dire cela. Ca dépend. Je pense que si les gens ont ri c’est parce qu’ils ont été surpris par ta franchise directe.
      Ne t’inquiète pas. De plus, Lille est une grande ville très dynamique, et oui, il y a beaucoup de gays et de lesbiennes !

      Welcome to France, then. Enjoy your future stay.


      • Pierre, merci beaucoup pour ta réponse! J’ai l’habitude d’être très directe ici aux États-Unis, donc c’est un peu difficile de comprendre. Quels sont les meilleures moyens de sortir du placard aux français?

        Aussi, tes photos sont géniales!!!

        • I live really close to Lille, actually, and when I was out bar hopping with friends the other night, I met some lesbians by bumming a cigarette for my friend and then asking if there were any gay hang-outs in the area. Apparently the gay bars in Lille are sort of far away from the main clubbing scene, but there are definitely queer girls around if you’re paying attention.

    • Totally agree with Pierre. Most probably they were surprised by your “bluntness”. French are private people, it’s not a question of homophobia or intolerance or even weirdness. It’s just the way people are. They take time to come across talking personal openly. Don’t worry in most cities there are large communities of gays.

  2. ” I want a shitty PowerPoint presentation at my wedding too” was my fav among many, many witty signs on Sunday.

  3. I love the little girl holding the “I’m a dyke and I want medically assisted procreation” flag. On dirait une petite Gavroche – la gaminerie parisienne devient queer.

  4. I was just reading the newspapers this afternoon when I saw an article. Justice was given to a lesbian couple in France who was verbally attacked and slightly hurt by a homophobe. The guy was sentenced to 2 years prison. Yayy

  5. Yay for France and I’m totally not objectifying the “On veut l’adoption, pas les gosses” girl…but there’s some stuff happening in Germany,too, so (hint, hint!) get onto it, AS!

  6. this was just such a great protest, i want to do it again everyday. i was marching behind the Femen girls, awesome as usual. and then one girl asked me if she could take a pic of my “you do you” tote, French success for autostraddle !

  7. The protest in Nantes was great, a much bigger crowd than the 700ish who showed up for the counter protest a month or so ago. It was also really nice to see lots of heteros there this time, a few with signs from this group: like you see on their homepage. My GF’s parents also drove an hour to come and even asked about coming before we knew there was even a protest scheduled. So sweet.

    It was especially nice considering just about the time most people would need to head out to get there it started pouring down buckets which was made worse by the wind. But by the time it got started people came anyway and the sun came out.

    I also love the ring-finger image one of the local queer collectives came up with:

  8. I’m straight guy, and I was there (actualy, I figure on one of Nathaly’s pictures, that’s why I’m reading that post :) ). The point is gay marriage is no more a gay-only issue in France. There were loads of straight people and straight famillies in this protest, there were even catholic pro groups, and french young people massively supports gay marriage.

    To be clear, I’m personnaly opposed to the marriage as an institution. The mayor has nothing to do with my love. But the opponent’s homophobic speech mixing gay/lesbian union and bestiality, or same-sex adoption and pedophilia is so sick and disgusting, I couldn’t stay home on Sunday.

    However, I gave my support here, but I think I’ll be where I truly belong in the counter-protests on the 13th of January at the right-wing’s giant protest.

    Just a last word about the 13th Jan. Ususaly, in France, the right wing quite never protest, but when they do, they achieve to gather hundreds of thouthands people from the whole country. We must be there to shout our voice.

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