Ecce Hommen


Frenchprotest-1A headline in GayStarNews read:  “France: Is this the most homoerotic anti-gay protest ever?” and sure enough, there were the photos of muscular, shirtless dudes in the street protesting France’s same-sex marriage bill. The men of “Les Hommen” scribbled slogans on each others’ bodies, held hands, and exhibited all the fraternité of men in a Pride parade. The article assumed the demonstration to be a parody of the “Femen” women who went topless to protest Russia’s anti-feminist and anti-GLBT policies during Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Amsterdam. If that’s the model for Les Hommen, someone should tell them that, while baring breasts is an act of defiance for women, it isn’t so for men, for whom going shirtless is not taboo but is conducive to a kind of tribal exhibitionism. Frenchprotest-2Some of the French protesters were arrested for other peccadilloes, but most left in peace, doubtless heading off to give one another warm sponge baths to remove those pesky slogans. Cold comfort, however: within days President Hollande would be signing the law that extends full marriage equality to same-sex couples throughout France.


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Discussion2 Comments

  1. It also reminds me of what Foucault, for all his faults, demonstrated so well: our post-1860 culture has trained us to spot/suspect homosexuality so well, that we see it everywhere. As someone who divides his time every year between France and the US, I can honestly say that French men are less given to such “gay panic” than American men. I have been kissed by many a straight Frenchman – and trust me, I’m no idol – and I don’t think they or any onlookers ever wondered about their sexuality. Those muscular Frenchmen may actually not have seen their actions as homoerotic or even “suspicious,” and those who saw them, at least some of them, may not have either. Whereas in the US, that is going to be the first reaction to such a sight. Homoeroticism truly is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s an eye that is formed by the culture that eye is raised in.

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