HIV/AIDS, the Double Rhetoric, and Grassroots Activism in France from 1987-1993



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This thesis examines the historical context men who slept with men faced in France during the emergence of HIV/AIDS during the late twentieth century. Specifically, it addresses the first and second round of state HIV/AIDS responses from 1987 to 1993. It argues that despite Michèle Barzach’s accolades as “the AIDS minister” she did not create the state response out of her own insights about disease prevention or public health. Instead, Barzach used guidelines set forth in Maurice Rapin’s report on the state of the nation’s HIV/AIDS responses, the Rapin Report. In addition, this thesis argues against Martel’s popular history, The Pink and The Black, that gay communities are to blame for the spread of HIV/AIDS into the general population because of their in inadequate action. Drawing on interviews with Health and Gay Pleasure co-founder, Gérard Pelé, this thesis demonstrates a relatively quick and pragmatic response to HIV/AIDS from the gay community for all men who slept with men. While France was slower to response to HIV/AIDS than most other western European nations at a state level, this research demonstrates that it was not because of distain for the gay men the emergent disease was associated with, but a complex interaction of factors, such as medical doctors not receiving quick or adequate funding for their initial research into the disease and gay men fearing the removal of newly won rights and further stigmatization through associations with disease. From 1980 to 1993, men who slept with men in France legally changed their status as a legally defined pathology and state scourge to a group of men targeted in campaigns designed to preserve their lives and validate their existence as legitimate French citizens.



HIV/ADIS, France, Gay health and pleasure, Michèle Barzach, Gérard Pelé, The Pink and the Black, The Rapin Report, The Got Report, Santé et Plaisir Gai, The AIDS work group, HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns, Jack off parties, Masturbation history, Homosexuality, LGBTQ history, Gay France, HIV/AIDS activism, The Double Rhetoric, Grassroots activism in France