"Mariage pour tous" - literally translated as "marriage for all" - seems as though it should be a done deal. The law finally went through here in France last May. For most of the people I know, the matter was never even up for debate: of course homosexuals should be allowed to marry. Don't they eat, breathe, sleep, and love just like every other human being on the planet? There is a huge temptation to quote Shylock's monologue from the Merchant of Venice here, but I am valiantly resisting! The fact remains though, that in this enlightened age of the 21st century, I would like to think that the sort of discrimination that led to Shylock's speech has been left far behind us. It is obviously too much to ask. I have just heard that the next major anti-"marriage for all" demonstration is scheduled for early this February.
Our work, as artists, is cut out for us. Art has often been a tool for social change, and we can only hope to have some effect on public opinion. But this subject merits every attempt toward change in the never ending battle against discrimination of all kinds.
In my circle, two major projects are under way. The first has already made a splash this past summer. The photographer Olivier Ciappa has taken major stars and reinvented them as lovers in his series of photos entitled "Imaginary Couples". Whether the stars are straight or gay is not the issue. The object is to show that if homosexuality is not an problem for these major public figures, then why should it be one for you?
Olivier's photo's were exhibited in the 3rd arrondissement and were unfortunately the object of immediate vandalisation. His facebook page was temporarily blocked when his photos were reported too often as being "inappropriate". Undeterred, he is taking his exhibit on an international tour, showing his photos around the world, more specifically in countries where homophobia is rampant.
Olivier continues to add to his "Imaginary Couples" series on his facebook page - don't hesitate to take a look and "like" his photos...
The second project I want to mention today is one that is particularly dear to my heart and I am very proud to have been one of the participants. Stéphane Corbin has united 90 singers, 20 musicians and 17 lyricists to create a musical project entitled "Les Funambules" (The Tightrope Walkers). Stéphane composed the music for the songs of the album and the project has just become the object of a crowdfunding campaign. Once again, the issue is not about the sexual orientation of the participants, but simply about the basic human right to love. Gay, straight, or lesbian, a vast number of performers from the Parisian musical theater community have rallied around Stéphane to bring public awareness to this issue. Everyone has donated their time and talent and all proceeds from the sale of the album will go to associations such as "Le Refuge", which takes in young homosexuals who have no where else to turn.
Check out their brand new website HERE.
At the end of the day, when asked the question "what would you do if you found out that your daughter was gay?", I hope I would be doing what I am doing now: trying to make sure that our children, no matter what their sexual preferences, can grow and evolve in this world without being discriminated against. Because no love should ever be afraid to speak its name.