Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Paris, March 5, 1971. At Mutualité Theater in Paris, professor Lejeune gives a lecture against the abortion. The feminist writer Francoise d'Eaubonne proposes to her comrades of the Women's Liberation Front (MLF) to go there provided with unconventional weapons: it’s the famous "sausage commando". Instead of being made drive out, the militants attack with sausages as bludgeons. The catholic and extreme right-hand side militants of the security service are disabled.
Some images of “The revolution of desire”. Françoise d’Eaubonne, feminist writer and one of the FHAR founders, sings “The FHAR song”, on the famous tune by George Brassens, “La mauvaise reputation” (new archive document, courtesy of Warner Chappell Music France).
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The revolution of desire, by Alessandro Avellis and Gabriele Ferluga, follows the way which carried out some young rebels of May 68, to feminism, until the foundation of the FHAR (Homosexual Revolutionary Action Front). It is also the occasion to pay homage to two eminent figures of this movement, the writer and feminist Françoise d'Eaubonne (recently passed away), and the beautiful rebel Guy Hocquenghem. A long time forgotten, due to his attacks against the intelligentsia of President Mitterrand’s friends in the yuppies period, this odd essay writer returns to fashion in the Nineties in the USA, thanks to the influence that his works have in the development of the queer theory. According to the philosopher Didier Eribon, this theory, born in the departments of gay studies of the American universities and quickly widespread everywhere in the world, "can be regarded as a rediscovery of political and theoretical questionings of the FHAR and, at the same time, of Hocquenghem’s criticisms against them”. In The homosexual desire, according to the theories developed by Deleuze and Guattari, as well as by his spiritual father and friend of a whole life, René Schérer, Hocquenghem wants to make leave sexuality Freud’s oedipian triangle and focuses on an anal sexuality as an element of lack of differentiation between the two genders, and he writes: "our asshole is revolutionary".
Guy Hocquenghem was especially persuaded that homosexuality could not be reconciled with a social normalization. What he could not imagine, it was the appearance of a terrible virus which went, by a tragic irony and during about fifteen years, to normalize the gays which became worthy of human compassion, from a social and right-thinking point of view. The same virus was going to kill him at 41 years, while at the same time he began a promising literary career. Today, the theories of Hocquenghem return to fashion. A revolutionary or at least a rebel idea of homosexuality is still possible, in a global world which conformed the gays to the all-marketing laws and the ultra liberalism. To be opposed to the false tolerance of some politics, to criticize the electoral chicaneries of President Sarkozy who, in spite of the beautiful speeches, keeps in his party the homophobe Mr. Vanneste, to condemn who dedicates with a big pomp the Parisian square near Notre Dame to the reactionary pope John Paul II, to militate for the rights of the transsexuals, are still the objectives of an antagonistic and lively part of the LGBT movement. In this documentary, the authors chose to connect the FHAR with the Pink Panthers ("Dykes and fags attack" is one their slogans) and try to understand the influences that the ancient young and full of ideology people of yesterday, can have nowadays on the present (and perhaps a little more disillusioned) militants. Appeared in 1986, the Guy Hocquenghem’s Open letter to those which passed from the Mao collar to the Rotary club, shows that the thought of this writer perfectly applies to the present time. He examines the ideas of the "new philosophers" of President Giscard period and of the various representatives of President Mitterrand period. He uses his personal memories of the barricades of May 68 and a lot of public statements, in order to draw the portrait of a generation which, mainly, disavowed its values and which passed from the pacifism and the great ideals of the young jet set to the militarism, to the support of the nuclear power and to the capitalist system. Guy Hocquenghem would not have been astonished to see Mr. Kouchner in Mr. Fillon government...
The revolution of desire, by Alessandro Avellis and Gabriele Ferluga. Dvd release on June 23, by Hystérie Prod.
The revolution of desire trace the history of the first French gay and lesbian liberation front and it analyzes the passage from revolt to normalization of gay people. By the actions of delirious “commandos” and some essays with evocative titles (Report against normality, Three billion of perverts), the film outlines the portraits of two amazing intellectuals and unconditional partisans of the revolution of desire: Guy Hocquenghem and Francoise d'Eaubonne.
Among the interviewed persons, we can find the philosopher René Schérer, the photographer of the MLF Catherine Deudon, the filmmaker and militant Carole Roussopoulos, the brother of Guy Hocquenghem, Joani, the historian Marie-Jo Bonnet, and the militant group of Pink Panthers.
The two authors of this film were captivated by the human and intellectual adventure represented by the FHAR (Homosexual Revolutionary Action Front), a movement so crucial in the history of French and European homosexuals. Parisian gay people openly come out in the street for the first time in 1971, thus daring to share a public demonstration. Their slogans are: "Our body is politic!", "Family = pollution", "Proletarians of all the countries, masturbate!". In a few years, the old refrains like "to live happy, live hidden" are discarded, and in the name of a great freedom, the FHAR makes visible French gay and lesbian people. The film is focused on the cross fight of the gays and the feminists, who had just made their own coming-out with the MLF (Women's Liberation Front). In their political speeches, women and homosexuals shared the same background: the need of a free provision of their own body, the fight against the antiquated patriarchal system, which oppressed them.
The FHAR was mainly created by lesbians. They sought a new space to express themselves, out of the MLF that was too busy with heterosexual centered problems. So, they started to meet separately and they were received by Arcadie, a homophile but slightly misogynist group. The moment in which the FHAR was “officially” born, is the boycotting of the broadcast of the famous announcer Ménie Gregoire, live from the Salle Pleyel in Paris, March 10, 1971. Entitled “The homosexuality, this painful problem”, the broadcast became very quickly a real homophobic digression, and provoked the rebellion of the lesbians and the gays that were in the theatre: they attacked Ménie Gregoire, she was forced to escape.
Following the success of this action and its media echo, the group of women which had been constituted is quickly widened by the arrival of many gays. This fact gradually makes the movement more and more developed and allows for the first time a radical change in the vision of the "painful problem" by the whole society. Suddenly, it becomes possible to be fag and leftist at the same time, while accusing the middle-class ideas and the so-called "hétéro-cops".
The MLF and the FHAR are born from the ashes of May 68, while revolting against this movement which refused to be confused with the claims of sexual freedom. Three years after May 68, the members of the FHAR find again the spirit which had animated them on the barricades of the Latin Quarter or in the court of the Sorbonne University in Paris. Younger militants, intellectuals, writers and anarchists join the movement. The writers Daniel Guerin, Jean-Louis Bory and Francoise d'Eaubonne who organizes the first meetings, are among them.
Guy Hocquenghem joined the group when this one is yet on the go, and he becomes rather quickly an emblematic figure, thanks to the rigor of his thought and the coherence of its revolutionary theories. The FHAR expresses a philosophy in total and declared opposition to the right-thinking of that time: the gay sexuality, centered on the anus, can destroy the simplistic and repressive Freud’s outlines. The gay difference is now asserted and it becomes a model in opposition to the heterosexual couple and to the divisions of gender, imposed by the procreative family. Today, the thought of the FHAR remains revolutionary and it keeps his provocative character. A great part of the ideas developed in those years, were too quickly forgotten. The normalizing tendency of the gay movement and the upsetting caused by the plague of AIDS, contributed to cause that.
By some extracts of videos of the time, by the magazines of the FHAR (Antinorm, Le Fléau social, Sexpol) or by its publications (Report against normality, Three billion of perverts), we can discover the hidden face of an explosive cultural revolution which destroyed the sexual stereotypes of a whole generation. A new language was born ("male chauvinist pig", "family cell"), all the secret morals or the morals driven back during centuries, became the matters of philosophical debates and social analyses: the male prostitution, the cruising areas, the sex in the public places, the orgies and the love with Arabic or very young beautiful men. The assembly hall of the faculty of Fine arts, where the militants joined every Thursday evening, become very quickly a place of seduction and immediate sexual intercourse, a place to express freedom.
This means that quickly the political claims and priorities change. Little by little, the lesbians realize that at the FHAR, they cannot be listen to and that the engagements diverge: beyond the common base of the social acceptance of homosexuality, they fight against the oppressions they endure even as women, whereas the boys strive to obtain a sexual, asserted freedom. The separation seems inevitable and the FHAR dies out slowly.
"The FHAR was a will-o'-the-wisp", affirms one of the interviewed persons. In spite of this sentence, in the very beginning of the years 1970 this anarchist and libertarian movement started a true revolution of the morals and an undeniable change of political scene for gay people in France.
The revolution of desire collects new memories of the protagonists of French sexual liberation movements:
The film goes on relating the history of FHAR, while investigating the present and seeking a trace of this rebellion in one of the young group which nowadays continues these fights, the Pink Panthers. Their queer claims against the moral order shows us how the revolutionary message of Guy Hocquenghem can find an echo today, for example in the no-global fights and in the exploration of desire policies, facing the unilateral return to the conjugality. Their goal is to set free homosexuality from its present glamorous marketing image as it is perceived in our society and relayed by media.
The film, presented for the first time at the last Paris gay and lesbian film Festival, received a very cordial response. A large public of all ages took part in the very animated debate which followed the meeting.
Created by three filmmakers, Hystérie Prod is an independent film production company, whose the first vocation is to reveal and accompany new talents and to promote an engaged cinema.
The revolution of desire, from an historical point of view, is a very interesting film because it tells an outstanding history which had a great incidence on the evolution of general ideas on homosexuality, but also on the evolution of the rights of the homosexual community. But today, who knows the FHAR? Despite of all, the history of gay and lesbian people is still hidden enough, badly known and a taboo. The history has an enormous importance for the movement itself, which is always "in progress" and which has to know and analyze its own origins to go ahead.