Gay History 101: November 25, 2015

Le Marais, Paris. (Photo: Wiki user BellevueLove.)


For the last several years, a revolution has come up in the peaceful elegant and bourgeois Parisian sky. Paris, which is the world’s most visited city has become one of the world’s most gay city as well and the first capital to elect an openly gay mayor in March 2001, Bertrand Delanoë re-elected with 57 percent of the votes in march 2008.

Gay Pride Marches bring over 700,000 people in the streets. The gay district is set in the historical center known as "Le Marais." It is one of the most fashionable districts, and most expensive to live in too. Le Marais became a center of LGBT culture, beginning in the 1980s. As of today, 40 percent of the LGBT businesses in Paris are in Le Marais. Florence Tamagne, author of "Paris: 'Resting on its Laurels'?" wrote that Le Marais "is less a 'village' where one lives and works than an entrance to a pleasure area" and that this differentiates it from Anglo-American gayborhoods. Tamagne added that like U.S. gayborhoods, Le Marais has "an emphasis on 'commercialism, gay pride and coming-out of the closet'. Le Dépôt, one of the largest cruising bar in Europe can be found in the Le Marais area.

Jean Paul Gaultier (1952) is a French haute couture and prêt-à-porter fashion designer. Gaultier was the creative director of Hermès from 2003 to 2010. In the past, he has hosted the television series Eurotrash. Gaultier caused shock by using unconventional models for his exhibitions, like older men and full-figured women, pierced and heavily tattooed models, and by playing with traditional gender roles in the shows. This earned him both criticism and enormous popularity. Gaultier produced sculptured costumes for Madonna during the nineties, starting with her infamous cone bra for her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour, and designed the wardrobe for her 2006 Confessions Tour.

Christian Dior (1905 –1957) was a French fashion designer, best known as the founder of one of the world's top fashion houses, also called Christian Dior, but now owned by Groupe Arnault. He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes; Dior is quoted as saying "I have designed flower women." His look employed fabrics lined predominantly with percale, boned, bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made his dresses flare out from the waist, giving his models a very curvaceous form.

Jacques Morali (1947 –1991) was a groundbreaking French Disco & Dance music singer/songwriter, producer, arranger and creator of novelty acts like The Ritchie Family and Village People.

In the 70’S while in New York, Morali attended a costume ball at "Les Mouches", a gay disco in Greenwich Village. As he gazed around the room, he was impressed by all the "macho male stereotypes" portrayed by the party guests. The idea came to him to put together a group of singers and dancers, each one playing a different gay fantasy figure. And the Village People’s concept was hatched, they went on to became one of the most successful acts of the Disco-era. Morali died of AIDS in 1991.

Charles Trenet (1913 –2001), was a French singer and songwriter. He was most famous for his recordings from the late 1930s until the mid-1950s, though his career continued through the 1990s. In an era in which it was unusual for singers to write their own material, Trenet wrote prolifically and declined to record any but his own songs. His song "La Mer", which according to legend he composed with Léo Chauliac on a train in 1943, was recorded in 1946. It is Trenet's best-known work outside the French-speaking world, with more than 400 recorded versions. The song was given unrelated English words and under the title "Beyond the Sea" (or sometimes "Sailing"), was a hit for Bobby Darin in the early 1960s, and George Benson in the mid-1980s. "Beyond the Sea" was used in the ending credits of Finding Nemo. In 1963, Trenet spent 28 days in prison in Aix-en-Provence. He was charged with corrupting the morals of four young men under the age of 21 (they were 19). His chauffeur claimed that Trenet was using him as a pimp. The charges were eventually dropped, but the affair brought to public light the fact that Trenet was homosexual. He was never particularly public about it and spoke of it rarely.

Marie-France Garcia (1946) is a French singer and actress. She is transgender and a Parisian pop icon of the 1970s.

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