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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: May

May saw Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota all legalise same-sex marriage, bringing the total number of States with equal marriage to 13. Whilst any progress made should undoubtedly be celebrated, nearly three-quarters of American States still have not legislated for full marriage equality. 

In today's review it seems that America wasn't the only place where equal marriage was in the news this month, so let's take a look at what else happened in...

France holds its first same-sex marriage amid protests

As the UK Parliament approved the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill without a hitch, things were passing less peacefully in France this May.

Paris may be known as The City of Love, but there were ugly scenes as equal marriage was signed into law.

The whole journey of France’s “marriage for all” law was marred by increasingly violent protests, with demonstrations organised by peaceful opponents often being overtaken by right-wing groups.

Anti equal-marriage campaigners took to the streets (

SOS Homophobie, a French non-profit organisation that aims to tackle homophobia, reported a 27% increase in calls to its helpline in the year leading up to the law passing and there were numerous individual reports of attacks on individuals and gay bars as well as malicious packages and even death threats being sent to French politicians. 

Despite these issues, France’s first same-sex ceremony was conducted on May 29th, when Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau married in Montpellier. Although protesters did try to disturb the ceremony, a large security presence ensured that things went to plan.

History is made in Montpellier (scotsman.com_

In his wedding speech, Boileau said, "After the hatred, it's time to talk of love” and, strangely, his sentiments were somewhat echoed by one of laws most outspoken opponents, comedian Frigide Barjot. She urged protestors to keep away from the wedding, saying, “You don't protest against people who love each other - otherwise this movement becomes homophobic."

I’m sure that, in time, opponents of equal marriage in France and elsewhere will come to realise quite how little the changes in law impact their lives and the society they live in. As Maurice Williamson, a New Zealand MP, said in a visit I shared in yesterday’s review:

The sun will still rise tomorrow. Your teenage daughter will still argue back with you as if she knows everything. Your mortgage will not grow. You will not have skin diseases or rashes or toads in your bed, Sir. The world will just carry on.”

Robbie Rogers returns to football

Three months after coming out and announcing his retirement from football, Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay player to sign for a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in the United States.

Robbie Rogers unveiled as an LA Galaxy player (

In an interview with The Guardian given shortly after his initial announcement, Rogers spoke about how impossible it seemed to be an openly gay professional footballer. He also spoke of how uncomfortable some of his teammates’ casual homophobia made him:

Sometimes I would laugh because it was kinda funny. And, sometimes, it got malicious. That was when I would get this awful feeling in my stomach. I would turn my head and try to chat about other things. They often don't mean what they say. It's that pack mentality – they're trying to get a laugh, they're trying to be the top guy. But it's brutal. It's like high school again – on steroids.”

I’m sure that feeling is familiar to a lot of us; a feeling that we should try to laugh things off or change the subject or look the other way. Imagine, then, how it would feel if the pack mentality Rogers speaks of wasn’t just coming from colleagues or mates in the changing room, but in stadiums filled with tens of thousands of people ready to pick on anything they see as a weakness.

Rogers posing with his dog, Jeffrey (

So what made Rogers decide to kick-start his career again? He claimed to have had “no intention of coming back” until he attended an LGBT Youth forum organised by Nike. He said that meeting the young people there made him feel like a “coward”:

These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?”

And what happened when Robbie Rogers ran onto the pitch as the first openly gay man for the first time? This…


Often our fear of the unknown is the hardest thing we have to overcome.

Now that Robbie Rogers has tackled his fears head on, he is a young man in the prime of his career, doing what he loves and living an authentic life and that's nothing more than his bravery deserves.

"Blue" is the winning colour at Cannes

In May, “Blue is the Warmest Colour”—a drama portraying a love story involving two women—won the Palme d'Or, the highest accolade at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is based upon a graphic novel of the same name by French author Julie Maroh and became the first film adapted from a graphic novel to win the Palme d’Or.


Whilst the film gained wide praise from critics and audiences alike, much of the publicity surrounding it focussed upon its ten-minute lesbian sex scene. Whilst many movie critics (predominantly male, presumably straight) praised the scene, it didn’t receive such a warm reaction from many lesbian and bisexual women.

On one hand it’s a sign of progress that the plot saw two women get intimate and the director’s instinct wasn’t to immediately fade to black after a look or a kiss but to actually show what happened next. On the other, that scene was created by a male director. That’s not to say that directors should only shoot things they have personally experienced—that would pretty much wipe out whole genres of film—but the main criticism from gay women was that the sex scenes depicted the male fantasy of two women in bed rather than a realistic representation.

Lea Seydoux (Emma) and Adele Exarchopoulos (Adele) (

One of the most outspoken critics of these scenes was the writer of the story itself, Julie Maroh. She said in a blog about the film:

It appears to me that this is what was missing on the set: lesbians. I don’t know the sources of information for the director and the actresses (who are all straight, unless proven otherwise)… [T]his is all that [the scene] brings to my mind: a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex…”

This seems to be the problem with LGBT+ visibility and representation in film and TV. On the occasions we are depicted, we are either completely neutered or our experience is depicted by directors who are usually male and actors that are usually straight. But when we decide that we want and deserve something better and produce our own media, there’s a severe lack of funding and mainstream coverage.

I’m not convinced that any of that will change any time soon, but perhaps the publicity that “Blue is the Warmest Colour” received and the fact it was accepted warmly by so many out-with the LGBT+ community might open some eyes and open some doors for more LGBT-centric films to reach a more mainstream audience.

Have you seen "Blue is the Warmest Colour" yet? If so, what did you think?

Well I'm away for some mulled wine and a mince pie (ice-topped of course), but I'll be back again tomorrow to have a look at what happened in LGBT+ news in June.

If you're looking for something to do to pass a long Winter's evening, why not have a look back at the reviews of the year so far here...

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee

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