Tens of thousands swarmed the streets of Paris’ 4th arrondissement on Sunday in support of gay marriage, or le mariage pour tous. The “marriage for all” bill entered the French parliament a little more than a month ago, and demonstrations both for and against the legislation have been resounding throughout the country since.
The fierce opposition to gay marriage has sent an “electroshock” through France’s LGBT community, Nicholas Gougain, the spokesperson of the Inter LGBT, told Le Monde. One month before Sunday’s demonstration, protesters mobilized nationwide to voice their disapproval, and recent polls show that the country remains divided on the issue, with 41% of the population against gay marriage and 48% against gay parents’ adoption rights. Yet as we saw in the U.S. elections, gay marriage is becoming accepted more and more, and some think it is just a matter of time before France follows suit.
Despite the gravity surrounding the mariage pour tous debate, Sunday’s manif felt like a party. Marchers brandished rainbow flags and musicians played big band tunes on the sidewalks. Children ran through the crowds with ribbons in their hands and friends drew hearts and peace signs on each other’s cheeks. These militants were there to manifest, but they made sure to have fun doing it.
While the demonstrators were mostly ordinary citizens of all ages, genders and backgrounds, there were a few well-known activist groups among them. Perhaps the most famous, and the most controversial, was Femen, whose participants came with their bodies painted in bright colors, forming a topless rainbow. The women led the stream of people protesting behind them with a banner that read, “In Gay We Trust.”
An unexpected addition to Sunday’s demonstration turned out to be the variety of music. One group sang gay-friendly versions of classical choral songs, another played contemporary jazz. The UNEF, Ile de France’s student syndicate, marched behind a band of percussionists dressed in pink. Every song sounded like the kind of music a high school band might play to rally a football stadium.
Another creative feature of the mariage pour tous demonstration was the various slogans and chants. “Si t’es pour égalité, tape dans tes mains!” one demonstrator sang into a megaphone, “if you’re for equality, clap your hands!” After each line, the crowd behind her erupted with cheers. “Si t’es pour égalité, encore plus fort!,” she yelled, “again, and even stronger!”
Sunday’s manif expressed the fervor with which the LGBTQ community and its allies are fighting for their rights. In a demonstration of diversity, passion, creativity and dedication, these citizens proved that they will not give up until their rights are realized.
Want to see more of my photos and hear some chants and music from the march? Check out the video above!
In gay we trust,