The Briochin Bernard Buge is 69 years old today. Thinking about it, he spontaneously remembers “the nationalizations, Georges Marchais who was negotiating, and the abolition of the death penalty”. But, “strangely”, in this month of December 1981, the debate on the decriminalization of homosexuality does not come to his mind.
. And for good reason: in his life as a young gay man, the crime of homosexuality was not a sword of Damocles, because “in any case, there was enormous social pressure. We didn’t show up. Holding hands, kissing each other in the restaurant… We didn’t do that, ”says the former principal of an agricultural high school.
“We didn’t say anything to our parents”
It was in 1978, while doing his cooperation in Mostaganem, Algeria, that he met Lionel, his first companion. On their return to France, the couple moved to Morlaix (29), then to Saint-Brieuc. “We lived together for 32 years. In the early days, we said nothing to our parents. We explained to them that we were living together”. Bernard finally opens up to his father and mother. “There are a few reactions, such as: What will the neighbors say? My mother regretted not being able to have grandchildren – history would have it otherwise – but there was no problem”.
A son in 1995
AIDS occurs. “We spent our time at the bedside of friends, at the Pontchaillou hospital, in Rennes. We have lost fifteen loved ones. It was a disaster”.
Bernard and his companion survived. From this “dreadful period”, he also remembers the stigmatizing headlines of certain newspapers: “Gay cancer, that’s nice, isn’t it? “, he quips.
The desire for children will make them look towards life. They become close to a lesbian couple. Their son was born in 1995. “There was mum and dad, and the godfather and the godmother”. Their child grew up smoothly and “has had a girlfriend since 9th grade.”
“We must not give up”
Bernard Buge then met a new companion and got married in 2014, “one year after the establishment of marriage for all, in the town hall of Saint-Brieuc. It was one of the first unions of a homosexual couple”. He applauds “the enormous evolution of morals since the Pacs”. He nevertheless remains vigilant, with regard to recent very violent homophobic attacks, in Toulouse, Marseilles or Paris. “We must not let go and justice must judge severely, in the same way as an anti-Semitic or racist act”.
“It was a matter of privacy”
Loïc, he was a young Parisian communist militant, in 1981. He had realized that he had been gay “for two or three years”. His primary concern is elsewhere: “It was to know whether the government was going to follow a left-wing policy, or not”.
He joined the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Saint-Cloud. “I think I knew that the law that criminalized homosexuality was repealed, but it was not a major subject for me. The Communist Party had a tolerant attitude, obviously supported the repeal but considered that it was a question of private life, ”he insists.
However, he admits it, “even if there was a great freedom in the relations between the beings, it was not easy to be homosexual before the law. People had internalized the fact that it was something shameful”.
“Homosexuals were not separate beings”
The essential milestone was the AIDS crisis. “AIDS has greatly contributed to raising awareness of the need to protect citizens. The homosexual community had been hit first. It was a great catastrophe and, at the same time, it made people recognize the idea that someone who is sick is not a criminal, but someone who must be cared for, protected. The AIDS years led to the realization that homosexuals were not separate beings”.
“Today, something natural”
According to him, today’s society is not at all the same as it was then. “Before 1981, people could live their sexuality relatively well but it remained something hidden. Today, they experience it as something natural”. What does he think of the attitude of Idrissa Gueye, this Paris Saint-Germain player who refuses to wear the rainbow flocked jersey of LGBT pride? “There is the persistence of a certain number of prejudices in part of the population, but it is far from being the majority”.
40 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality
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