Being Gay in France isn't a Crime

By Karen Fawcett The French Government and its tourism industry doesn't keep it a secret that homosexuals are welcome in France and especially Paris.  The Government's Tourist office's 'come one and come all' web site even has a dedicated section targeting Gay Paris and why not? 
As if Paris didn't have enough going for it, visitors can't help but be overwhelmed by its beauty. The gardens, architecture, lively street life in the quartiers, stately buildings along the Seine are just a few of the city's attractions. Factor in the hip new and constantly changing restaurants, mushrooming hotels and galleries, Paris seduces visitors to leave the city with a sense of wonder.
Gay men and women have been coming to Paris for years from all over Europe, the Middle East, and America.  Paris has been more tolerant, and even welcoming, to those who have been marginalized, not to say persecuted because they were culturally different.  Thus France has been home and a haven to many homosexuals including writers Christopher Isherwood, Stephen Spender, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, André Gide, Jean Genêt, Julien Green, James Baldwin, and Edmund White among many others. 
It's less well-known that many gay men in business jumped at assignments in Paris because what they did wasn't considered sinful in Paris (hardly anybody was paying attention, anyway), it was safe to come out of the closet, and—back in the day—no one was going to blackmail a homosexual for being what he was.  And no one is shocked these days to see a same-sex couple expressing displays of affection in public.  In other words, Parisians tend to be less judgmental than many.   
If you walk through the Marais in the Fourth Arrondissement, many restaurants and bars are courting the gay crowd as they generally have larger and more disposable travel incomes. There are more than a few hotels that advertise being "Gay Friendly."
If Paris's literary history interests you, you'll be fascinated by David Burke's http://www.writersinparis.com/theearly20thwriters.htm  (BP URL)
If you're a man and want to join an organized group, Manstouch Travel is known to be the best tour group. Its tours run the gamut from cultural to perhaps a bit naughty.  Tell Larry Davis you read about his travel service here and you'll receive a 5% discount.
Davis, who's very British, lived in the US for many years and is a adept at marketing and analyzing the market.  His company that was started in 2002 offers quality service and extremely upscale tours. Are there dedicated tours for lesbians?  Davis is quick to say no since no one looks twice when women travel together or in groups.  "If there were a company dedicated to homosexual women," Davis assures me he'd know about it.
This travel company is well known for exploring Paris from a gay perspective, including art, architecture, and literary Paris. One tour is "Erotic Vision of Male Beauty in the Louvre."  For men who are into fashion, Manstouch Travel  has guides who specialize in being sure that "chic" takes on a new definition.
Whether or not you're gay, and the majority of our readers aren't, it's a plus that there are places where people are welcome as long as they exhibit good manners.  And where people aren't forced to hide in the closet for fear of retribution.
If you have some favorite tours (and there are so many in Paris), please post them in the comments section.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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