Few well-known French actors or actresses have publicly spoken about their homosexuality, like Nicolas Maury or Adèle Haenel, who said goodbye with a bang to the cinema.
French cinema is led to question the place it reserves for LGBT+ performers, after Muriel Robin’s story about her difficulties in establishing herself on screen as an openly lesbian actress. Ultra-popular, the actress and comedian put her foot down on the set of What an era! on France 2 this weekend, saying she was “the only actress in the world to say (her) homosexuality“.
Muriel Robin, 68, says her sexual orientation has prevented her from being offered roles in comedies for decades, even though she fills theaters with her shows. “I know French homosexual actors, they keep quiet“, as there are no gay or lesbian performers displayed”who have a great career“, she continued, going so far as to blurt out to young people: “we must tell them that there is no point in doing this job. They will not work“.
In question, according to her, the “desire» which is to be projected on the stars of the big screen: «if you are homosexual, you are not desirable, you are not penetrable. And when we are not penetrable (…) we are worthless», summarized Muriel Robin. This discrimination is impossible to quantify: there is no data on the sexual orientation of actors and actresses.
Few well-known French actors or actresses have publicly spoken about their homosexuality, like Nicolas Maury or Adèle Haenel, who said goodbye with a bang to the cinema last May. Abroad, the British Rupert Everett has already mentioned the difficulties of being a gay actor, when Muriel Robin cited the example of Jodie Foster, who kept silent for a long time.
On the other hand, the 50/50 collective, at the forefront of issues of discrimination, published a barometer last year making it possible to measure in particular the proportion of LGBT+ characters in French films. The conclusion ? They are rare: out of the hundred films studied, the sexual orientation is known for 82% of the main characters, and only 5% of them are homosexual or bisexual, and they are “strongly stereotyped», Notes the study.
Very often, these roles are played by actors who do not identify as homosexuals, emphasizes to AFP Stéphane Gaillard, a casting director involved in the subject. And the rare outspoken gay or lesbian actors are no longer offered straight roles, seeing their identity “vampirized», he continues. “It’s not a conspiracy, it’s something very ingrained and not thought through“, even among queer directors, he analyzes. Result, “Even today, actors have great difficulty saying who they are. It’s a huge risk“.
“For a straight person, playing a gay role brings added value, it’s a springboard, whereas for a gay person, it’s the risk of only being offered one type of role», he adds. The mechanism described by Muriel Robin “plays especially for the best-known stars, who must remain objects of desire», adds another casting director and manager at 50/50, Sophie Lainé Diodovic.
Beyond supposed sexual orientation, this professional calls for “a cultural deconstruction of masculinity» dominant, to better reflect the diversity of the public’s desires. When preparing certain films, “I already heard myself answer this one, it sounds too gay“, she says about an actor who does not meet the classic criteria of virility “à la Belmondo or Depardieu“. Already things are moving, “with Edouard Baer, Timothée Chalamet», much less physically virile.
To continue changing this “collective unconscious», Sophie Lainé Diodovic calls for “collective work» from all over the world. Former agent Dominique Besnehard (Ten percent) hopes that Muriel Robin’s position can help young performers: “what she is doing there is good (…) she will move things forward“, he said in the online show BuzzTV.