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Take Action Against Exclusion of Lesbians in Paris

JANUARY 2, 2003. The following petition, signed by more than a thousand individuals and organizations, including Act Up-Paris, the Paris Lesbian Film Festival, Coordination Lesbienne de France, and several transgender groups, will be presented in January 2003 to Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë. It demands lesbian and transgender inclusion in the "Archive of Homosexuality" subsidized by the City of Paris, as well as a general overhaul of the project.

The petition was launched by Archilesb!, an ad hoc dyke activist group founded a year ago by Marie-Hélène Bourcier, lesbian historian Marie-Jo Bonnet, Beatriz Preciado and others to fight the project. Vigitrans, a transgender group formed for the same purpose, has been circulating a parallel petition. "This is the first time lesbian and transgender people in France have worked together," Preciado said.

Stop the exclusion of lesbians from the future Archive of Homosexuality in Paris! Let Your Voice Be Heard! End the Exclusion of Lesbians from Public Projects in Paris!

The City Council of Paris has provided a one-year grant of $100,000 to launch a project proposed by Jean Le Bitoux and Christopher Miles to create an Archive of Homosexuality in Paris. The funding will support the preparatory stage of the project and involve research, the development of guidelines, consultation with "experts" and the selection of a steering committee.

On several occasions, the lesbian group ARCHILESB! has asked the various responsible parties (the designers of the project as well as the Paris City Council) to correct the omission of lesbians from the project, but our claims have not been heard.

Today and without delay:

1. We ask that the scientific and political content of the project be entirely reviewed:

We ask this because the project produces exclusion within the LGBT community: it is gay-male-centered to the detriment of lesbians, transsexual and transgender people. Neither the Paris City Council nor the French-Inter-Pride Organization [the umbrella group that organizes the Paris Gay Pride Parade] should support a project that claims that "during a first period, the archival resources will concern mostly male homosexuality for historical reasons."

This assumption is not only politically unfair but also historically inaccurate. The designers of the project seem to be unaware of the history of the social movements and politics of France which are rooted in the lesbian and feminist culture. The project's definition of "homosexual history," which prefigures its archival methods and futures resources, is gay-male-centered. It underestimates the contribution of lesbians to the LGBT social political history and promotes a long-lasting discrimination.

The expected aims and functions of the archive of homosexuality must be opened to reflection and discussion within the LGBT community: the specificity of the Lesbian Archives, the possibility of a "living archive" as oppose to a passive and historical vision of the future archive, the question of the relationship of a "minority archive" to the State institutions and powers, its relationship to AIDS archives, etc. are just some of the issues that need to be addressed.

2. The Archive Project must be politically representative of the differences within the LGBT community. It must therefore respect current European laws on gender and sexual equality.

Lesbians and their representative organizations must be actively integrated within the archive's steering committee. It is unacceptable that out of 59 project participants only 5 are women!

The launching of the preparatory phase of the project must be open and clear, and must integrate lesbians in both research and management positions.

ARCHILESB! works together with VIGITRANS to end the discrimination of transsexual and transgender people in the archive project.

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