You say society must integrate homosexuals.
I say homosexuals must disintegrate society.

Françoise d’Eaubonne

The Front Homosexuel d’Action Révolutionnaire (FHAR) came out of a lull in activity of the Mouvement de Libération des Femmes (MLF)1. Lesbians fleeing or excluded from the Arcadie club (a stuffy “Homophile” organization) joined the MLF and invited some of their fag friends along to the meetings. In what is generally considered the founding act, they disrupted Ménie Gregoire’s radio show2 devoted to homosexuality on March 10 1971. The FHAR was formed out of this action, initiated by the MLF. An alliance of women and homosexuals against fusty, reactionary, phallocratic France seemed obvious. In an article published in Tout! (the issue was banned for “pornographic content”) they subverted the feminist Manifesto of the 3433: “We are more than 343 sluts, we have been fucked up the ass by Arabs and we are proud”. About fifty homos demonstrated in Paris on May Day behind the MLF procession with banners reading “DOWN WITH THE DICTATORSHIP OF NORMALS” and “MALE, FEMALE, FUCK THIS”. Another of their slogans was “HIGH-SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE CUTE” acknowledging the High School Students Action Committee which was marching behind them. The same year they published the legendary pamphlet Report Against Normality through the publishing house Champ Libre.

The FHAR’s mode of operation was copied from that of the MLF – the only structure was informal general assemblies at the Beaux-Arts (fine art school) in Paris. But that meeting structure “just gave the power to the stars. Warmth and enthusiasm at the beginning quickly gave way to aggression, which became the normal mode of operation4. The number of participants started out at about thirty (mostly women) and reached about six hundred at one point (mostly men). It should also be mentioned that it had a reputation as a venue for hookups and group sex.

Their program consisted of excess and provocation, such as at Pierre Overney’s5 funeral rites in 1972 (perhaps the reason why libertarian Trotskyist Daniel Guerin left the group). In terms of theory, the FHAR was stuck between affirming and criticizing homosexual identity. Sociologically it was made up mainly of students, teachers and intellectuals, mostly from Trotskyist or Maoist groups.

1972 was a critical year for the young FHAR, already in crisis, “just like all the left groupuscules6 as its cutest figurehead, Guy Hocquenghem, acknowledged. “We are imprisoned in the game of shame”, he added, “but we have turned it into a game of pride. This is nothing more than gilding the bars of our cage. We are not free and proud”.

At the end of May, sick of the ambient misogyny, lesbians from the group left and started the Gouines Rouges (Red Dykes) and gradually distanced themselves from the FHAR. In June, the FHAR Group 57 published the first issue of its journal Le Fléau Social (Social Plague) – against “the cesspit” of the family and political organizations. It was strongly influenced by the Situationists, although it could not be reduced to just that. It was signed by Francoise d’Eaubonne, Pierre Hahn and Alain Fleig; the latter was the main organizer. It denounced the homosexual (not yet “gay”) commercial ghetto that was beginning to develop and which was, for Fleig, “the submission of the libido to the law of value”.

Le Fléau also brought a radical critique of leftism and militantism. Dissenting members of Group 5 split to join Group 118 and started publishing their own journal Antinorm, which was closer to the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste (Communist League). The FHAR thus “unleashed two currents, one hateful and the other submissive – Le Fléau and Antinorm, respectively” (Jacques Girard).

From issue 3, Le Fléau started to take a critical distance from the FHAR and MLF and gradually abandoned the subject of homosexuality. The end came quickly, in 1974, with the last issue of Le Fléau. In February the police occupied the art school, long since been deserted by the FHAR.

It’s not easy to fill the void left by a raging comet. Certain groups tried – the Groupes de Libération Homosexuels (GLH’s)9 started by former members of the Arcadie club and young members of FHAR. There were many schisms within the GLH’s, but outside Paris the groups expanded. Their style was completely different – they abandoned revolutionary claims and made specific, reasonable demands (against discrimination), tried to speak to all homosexuals and developed a strategy of counter-culture communitarianism and recognition-seeking. The GLH’s brought one fundamental new idea: “homosexual political militancy transcends membership of any social class, ideology or party” (Jacques Girard).

Its goal having been to destabilize society and abolish sexual normality, the FHAR remained stuck between the apology of the homosexual subject and its critique. Reconstituting the ghetto it had denounced, it ended up leading to no more than another homosexual normality.

The following article “Feminism Illustrated, or The Diana Complex” was published in the last issue of Le Fléau Social in 1974.

B. & M.

1 Mouvement de Libération des Femmes – Women’s Liberation Movement, a composite group formed in 1970 out of feminist groups formed after 1967, including women-only groups born after 1968, influenced by American feminism.

2 French radio personality who did popular shows about psychoanalysis and sexuality.

3 “Manifeste des 343” – the Manifesto signed by 343 women who admitted having had an abortion when it was still illegal, feminist petition for the right to abortion and contraception produced in 1971.

4 Jacques Girard, Le Mouvement homosexuel en France, 1945-1980, Syros, 1981.

5 Militant worker from the “maoïste-spontanéiste” tendency of the Maoist “Gauche Proletarienne” (Proletarian Left), killed by a Renault security guard at a demonstration outside a Renault factory in Billancourt in the suburbs of Paris. During the demonstration at Overney’s funeral procession (maybe 200,000 people) members of the Gazolines group in the FHAR cortege, done up as mourning women in black veils, wailed, moaned and wept ostentatiously while chanting “Liz Taylor, Pierre Overnay, One Struggle!” The leftists were outraged. It was a scandal.

6 “groupuscules”: pejorative term designating extreme-left (Trotskyist or Maoist) organizations that were very numerous at the time. The most widely known were La Ligue Communiste (the Trotskyist Communist League) and La Gauche Prolétarienne (the Maoist Proletarian Left).

7 Group 5 was the group based in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.

8 Group based in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.

9 GLH’s – Homosexual Liberation Groups.