Paris Pride and Parisian Cafés: A Coming Out with Bryan Pirolli - Context Travel

Paris Pride and Parisian Cafés: A Coming Out with Bryan Pirolli


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Gay men and women had few public areas to congregate before café culture took over in Paris. Rich people had their homes, a few restaurants catered to the middle class, and the poor met in secret in public places. Despite persecution of homosexual activity disappearing after the 1789 revolution, however, acceptance was far from universal.

As Haussmann changed Paris, cafés along the Champs Elysées began to attract a gayer set. Thinkers and artsy types met in St. Germain's cafés. There were cafés where lesbian couples met, one woman donning a dress, the other a tuxedo. These spaces became democratic institutions where everyone could come, but not necessarily be their true selves. Most gay establishments were hidden behind closed doors, but by the 1970s, the first gay café in the Marais opened, creating the roots for the district's association as Paris's gayborhood. It remains, to this day, the only true gay district in all of France.

Led by an expert on LGBTQ history and culture, Bryan Pirolli, this interactive seminar will introduce the historical underpinnings of gay liberation in Paris from the Revolution up to the AIDS crisis. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how Paris played a pivotal role in LGBTQ liberation in France.

Bryan is a dual national who spent years touring and writing about France as a journalist and researcher in Paris, where he completed his Ph.D. at the Sorbonne. He launched The Gay Locals in 2015, offering LGBTQ services for travelers after writing countless articles and guidebooks that seemed to ignore this segment of history and culture.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.