“It was obvious thirteen years ago because there was a lack, and now we have created a need”, summarizes Benoît Arnulf, artistic director of the queer cinema festival,
In & Out, one of the oldest in France, which takes place from Thursday to September 18 in seven locations in Nice. He has been an activist in the region for fifteen years and created the Les Ouvreurs association in 2007 with which he raises awareness on issues of violence and discrimination against LGBTQ + people (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans, queer) in schools.
For him, this kind of festival, like the interventions in schools, “it’s important”. “We need to have spaces for meetings and exchanges. First, because all kinds of events that concern the community make it possible to give more visibility, but also because we can thus share similar experiences. For thirteen years, we have worked in depth so that it is not a fad and that tolerance and acceptance of the other become the norm. Even if we are supported by the institutions, we go back to work every year to keep the fight alive, which is not won, either here or elsewhere. “
Nice, in the top 5 most gay-friendly cities
Already in 2012, Nice was ranked in the top 5 of the “most gay-friendly cities” in France according to a survey carried out for the magazine Stubborn. Since then, the city has continued to invest in the cause, in addition to supporting events. In particular, she created the label which trains staff in Nice establishments in welcoming LGBTQ + visitors. She hosted the “Lou Queernaval”, the first and only gay carnival in France. She also inscribed the identity of the district of Place du Pin and rue Bonaparte by painting the pavement in the colors of the LGBT flag.
But would Nice be more “gay” than “lgbt-friendly”? Olivier Caillau, founding president of the LGBT Côte d’Azur Center admits: “Without having statistics, lesbian women are less visible in events but are very present in associative groups, such as Caram’elles. “
A remark made by Mikely, 24, when she arrived in Nice two years ago. “I’m not really part of an association, I live my life on my own with my girlfriend. But it’s also because I feel like there aren’t really any places for us. There are clubs for gays, where I was turned away because I was a woman, there are gay bars, but nothing for lesbians to my knowledge? Even during organized events, it is very masculine even if it is always benevolent and inclusive. “
Local representation to act together
It is precisely to bring people together that the LGBT Côte d’Azur Center was created in 2011. Olivier Caillau develops: “We needed a structure in the area, which brings together associations from the community, to support each other and evolve on joint projects, without having to meet in Paris or Marseille. We got what we asked for in 2008 from Christian Estrosi: a local and the PACS in town hall. Today, we can welcome all types of public and we also have a health service ”.
For the founding president, such a local organization is essential for the cause. “We are a relay for national struggles, at each event, we can reach thousands of people. We had the marriage, but there is still some way to go in the fight for our rights, especially for the identity and respect of trans people. “
It is in this sense that Fernando, who considers himself a cisgender gay man, approached the LGBT Center. “As soon as I moved in, I looked and found the association. In Marseille, where I lived for three years, I experienced two episodes of discrimination, just walking in the street with my partner. So, being part of a local group, with allies, is very important for me, to act and fight together against this violence while showing that we are there, that we exist. “
According to the latest data from the SOS Homophobie association, of the 1,369 testimonials received in 2020 from LGBT-phobia, nearly 80% concerned gays. Fernando adds: “Nothing has happened to me in Nice yet, I feel safe to be who I am, but I know it exists and that’s why we have to keep fighting. So that society understands that we have the right to respect and that we can live like everyone else. “