Road to ESC 2019: Australia & France

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Former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Courtney Act has lost the chance to represent Australia at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest with her song  “Fight for Love”. She was beaten on Saturday by Kate Miller-Heidke and her song “Zero Gravity” which you can see below.

Australia has been allowed to compete at the Eurovision Song Contest since 2015, and there is a huge fanbase for the competition in the country.

Meanwhile French contestant Bilal Hassani–who is apologetically queer– is facing a wave of hatred in his home country after securing the coveted spot to represent France at Eurovision. He has been the subject of homophobic harassment on social media, French LGBT rights groups denounced.

France fights anti-queer bullying

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France introduced a national campaign to fight bullying of queer kids in middle and high schools across the country. Starting this week France’s Ministry of National Education and Youth launched All Equal, All Allies. It’s a campaign that ensures all state schools put up anti-bullying posters, as well as provide accompanying guides about queer students for teachers.

SOS Homophobia spearheaded the campaign, which aims to make queer youth in France feel more included at school. They found an increase of reports of anti-queer incidents by 38% in the last year. Their recent report also said this causes decreased self-esteem, isolation and dropping out of school. The risk of suicide attempts remains four times higher for queer youth than for the rest of the population.

They wrote in a press release: ‘SOS homophobia hopes that all institutions, public and private, will open their doors to this campaign so that it can reach a maximum of students and complete the work of prevention and awareness provided by SOS volunteers.’

In November last year, a French queer activist group warned of an increase in anti-gay attacks across the country. Across France, complaints of homophobic attacks increased by 15% since the beginning of 2018.

A number of French queer rights activists also believe that the number of people to experience homophobic attacks or abuse is widely underreported. This is just the tip of the iceberg,’ said the spokesperson for rights group Inter-LGBT, Clémence Zamora-Cruz.

‘On the ground, many attacks go unreported. Often, victims don’t complain for fear of reprisals, or because they’re afraid of speaking to police officers who aren’t aware of issues relating to LGBT identity. They’re scared of not being listened to.’

Last month, a handful of French artists got together to release a song to help tackle homophobia. De l’Amour tells the story of gay refugee Azamat, with all proceeds raised going to French charity Urgence Homophobie (Emergency Homophobia).

Among the artists volunteering to sing on the track and appear in an evocative video were Emmanuel Moire, Christophe Willem and Muriel Robin.

My 13

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Jonathan is in love with Julie. Unable to gather the courage to speak to Julie, Jonathan formulates a plan to steal her diary, which he believes would reveal to him the way to impress his crush. The plan includes befriending Julie’s brother Charles who is Jonathan’s classmate. Thanks to Charles, Jonathan gets an invitation to a party at their house.

During the party, Jonathan manages to steal the diary, excuses himself and heads home to read it. On one of the pages of the diary, he finds a drawn heart and the name …Jonathan. He is overjoyed until he realises what’s really going on…

The short is in French but pretty easy to follow. If you want to watch it with subtitles (English, German, Spanish or Portuguese) you can do that here.

Historical Hotties *1

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Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), often dubbed “the boy poet”,  offended writer Charles Clos by using his poems as toilet paper, is said to have masturbated into the drink of pianist Ernest Cabaner, & enjoyed spoiling poetry readings by shouting ‘SHIT’ at the end of every line.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur Rimbaud in the film Total Eclipse in a scene with fellow poet and lover Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis)

Lauded as one of the greatest French poets in history, Rimbaud has inspired many generations of poets. He also wrote the bulk of his poetry in his teens and gave up on writing altogether at 21, after finishing one of his most revered pieces, Illuminations. 

His love affair with Paul Verlaine, was marked as turbulent, to say the least. Their relationship ended rather violently, with Verlaine shooting Rimbaud in the wrist with a revolver in Bruxelles.

 

The art of Pierre Joubert

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Pierre Joubert (June 27, 1910 – January 13, 2002), was a famous French illustrator. He was closely associated with the creation of Scouting and could be called the father of the idolised image of the boy scout in France and Belgium.

He illustrated dozens of books and magazines with images of scouts and other boys in adventurous and escapist settings, shaping the daydreams of generations of teens.

Of Love

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As many as 70 chart topping French singers have released a new single called De l’Amour to tackle homophobia. The haunting and beautiful melody translates into English as ‘Of Love’ and tells the story of gay refugee Azamat; who was the first refugee the charity helped escape persecution in his home country.

The song was released this week as a download. All proceeds from its sales will go to French charity Urgence Homophobie (Emergency Homophobia).

 

Reinventing Marvin

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Reinventing Marvin, winner of the Queer Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, explores the painful relationship a young gay man has with his past. Marvin grows up amid a gruff and boorish family in a French village. Artistically inclined, with a nascent attraction to other boys in his class, he’s the victim of aggressive bullying at school and home.

When he gets into a Parisian drama school and meets a more welcoming peer group, he has the opportunity to craft a completely new identity. He changes his name and meets a wealthy older man who introduces him to Oscar-nominated actress Isabelle Huppert, whimsically playing herself. But his childhood experiences still haunt and call to him, leading him to write a theatre piece that brings him into the public eye but causes recriminations back home.

Director Anne Fontaine creates a scenario that fluidly drifts between Marvin’s past and his present, revealing the frequently fraught moments from adolescence that make the man.

French President’s Chef teaches queer Arabs & Israelis rejected by their Families how to cook

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The head chef of the French presidential palace was in Israel on Monday to teach Jewish and Arab gay teens rejected by their families how to cook for themselves.

The 39-year-old chef, who has been working for French presidents at the Elysee Palace for 20 years, visited the Jewish state for the class. “I will teach you simple recipes that you can remake,” Gomez told the kids.

One of those listening intently was a young man from an ultra-Orthodox family who has had no contact with them since he came out at the age of 16. “Meeting this chef is an extraordinary experience,” said the teenager who asked to be named only as “O.”

O lives at Beit Dror, an organisation which supports gay people in Israel, while attending cooking classes at a school in the centre of the country.

Gomez taught the young people to make cannelloni spinach gratin and apple pie. Gomez is taking part for the sixth year in a row in the “So French, So Food” festival in Israel, which brings around 20 prominent French chefs to work with Israeli counterparts.

“Every year I support a charitable cause and put my name at the service of an organization,” Gomez said. He was the youngest person to win the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France award for chefs in 2004, when he was just 25.

“It’s good for them to participate in this workshop. This moment of happiness for these young people is not insignificant,” said Yael Doron, director of Beit Dror. Beit Dror has 14 beds for young people rejected by their families who are homeless and sometimes even forced into prostitution, Doron said. Most come from religious Jewish or Muslim families.

“Beit Dror saved my life,” said an 18-year-old referred to as “L” and wearing ripped jeans and a black T-shirt. His father is Muslim and his mother Christian and he said he was a victim of physical violence during his adolescence. “I don’t believe in religion any more; I believe in myself now,” he said.