Is Muriel Robin really right to advise young LGBT people not to make films?

Saturday September 16 in the evening on the set of What an era presented by Léa Salamé, the artist Muriel Robin caused controversy by ardently denouncing homophobia in cinema.

I don’t make films because I’m homosexual. I am the only actress in the world to come out as gay », she declared then before launching into a long presentation of the damage of homophobia on the careers of actors.

Jodie Foster? “ She was silent for 30 years “. Kristen Stewart? “ She is first with a man, Robert Pattinson, so she has the heterosexual stamp, her homosexuality is a bit sexy and rock “. Anna Heche, in a relationship with Ellen Degeneres when the latter came out? “Sher career ended overnight, she never worked again summershe died of an overdose “.

Rock Hudson? “ He stopped talking “. A fragmentary but edifying statement which has the merit of highlighting what Salamé, Dechavanne and even Pierre Arditi seem to discover live on television: the cinema world has never been as open as is claimed to be to LGBTI+ people.

And France in all this? “ I know French gay actors, I know themthey keep silent otherwise we will never put women in their arms again “. Statements that ignited social networks, where thousands of Internet users rushed to list counterexamples pulled out of their hats to prove that Muriel Robin, as a 68-year-old lesbian actress, did not know what she was doing. spoke. Really ?

Smoky counterexamples

According to X (formerly Twitter), cinema has always been a paradise of tolerance, privilege and open-mindedness for homosexual actors and actresses. In the comments of the tweet of What an era, the names of Jean Marais and Jean-Claude Brialy constantly come up as examples of actors whose openly lived homosexuality would in no way taint their career. Examples which are more of a total distortion of reality. If Jean Marais’ homosexuality was known to those around him, it was not known to the public. The same goes for her romantic relationship with Jean Cocteau, the origin of several of her best-known roles. Jean-Claude Brialy only revealed his homosexuality at the end of his career in 2000 in his autobiography. He died seven years later.

The other names cited to discredit Muriel Robin range from Adèle Haenel, who has since retired from the industry, to Xavier Dolan, who only had leading roles in his own films, via Guillaume Galienne (who is simply not gay).

If the absurdity of this anger against the comedian can make you laugh, it is the cynicism of the situation which is essential: no matter how much we want to prove Muriel Robin’s error, nothing works. “In cinema you have to be desirable, there is something of the order of sexual desire, consciously or unconsciously. That means that if you are homosexual you are not desirable, not penetrable! And when we are not penetrable we are worthless! “, she explains with determination.

What about young LGBT talents?

In addition to the names already mentioned and well known in the world of cinema, what about young queer actors and actresses who are just starting out? Muriel Robin says it clearly during her appearance in Quelle Époque: “ There’s no point in them doing this job, they won’t work and they won’t make films “. To which Léa Salamé protests: “ Are you serious here? Are you telling 20 year olds not to do this job if they are homosexual? “. By saying this, Muriel Robin shocks. But we can also look at these young actors and actresses who are starting out in an environment which, if we are to believe prejudices, should be wide open to them. Who are they ? Can we really be desired by filmmakers when our public sexuality and our appearance removes us from dominant heterosexual desire?

A few examples are in order. In 2015, France 2 broadcast the first season of Ten percent. Camille Cottin shines as a lesbian agent, Laure Calamy explodes as an assistant in love with her boss, and Nicolas Maury reveals himself to the general public as a funny and spicy assistant. In many ways, they are the three revelations of the series.

Today, the first is beginning her career in the United States, the second, since screened, is the new darling of French cinema, while Nicolas Maury, although lucky, enjoys less success. Since the series, he has filmed in A knife in the heart by Yann Gonzalez (gay filmmaker), in a few discreet secondary roles, and directed his first film, Rag Boywhich comes out in 2020, between two confinements.

In three years, he has starred in only one film, the comedy That’s lifeand has since been trying as best he can to find funding for his second production.

Félix Maritaud is revealed by Robin Campillo in 120 beats per minute, then in the resounding Savage (by Camille Vidal-Naquet) in 2018, where he played a young sex worker. Selected at Cannes, in Angoulême then nominated for the Césars, the film, which owes a lot to Maritaud’s inhabited and acclaimed interpretation, makes a lasting impression but will also, paradoxically, be his last leading role to date.

Snubbed from male revelations at the Césars, he has since distinguished himself in secondary roles, with as much talent as ever. He also seems to be supporting Muriel Robin this weekend on Twitter: “ Feel you sis » (I feel you my sister in French), he wrote in reaction to his comments.

Similar melody for trans actress Mya Bollaers, discovered in 2019 in Lola towards the sea alongside Benoit Magimel. The film may well have been widely noticed for its treatment of transidentity and then nominated for a César, but its main actress has since been completely absent from our screens.

Christa Théret, iconic face of the 2000s for her role as Lola in the essential teen movie LOL with Valérie Lemercier, is also absent. However in 2009 LOL far exceeds three million admissions at the French box office and becomes a phenomenon for an entire generation of young adolescents. So much so that the director left to direct an American remake three years later with Miley Cyrus in the role played by Christa Théret. After this explosion, the latter appeared in a few films, including secondary roles with Xavier Giannoli and Olivier Assayas, but failed to make a name for herself in the industry. She comes out publicly in 2021. This year, Christa Théret shines brilliantly in the lesbian drama Louise and Bertrand Mandico’s brilliant new queer film, Conann, in theaters in November. A very meager career for an actress who should have been seen everywhere.

Antoine Reinartz, without achieving the success of a Pierre Niney or a François Civil, is perhaps the one who is doing the best. Recently noticed as an unsympathetic lawyer in Anatomy of a fall, the Palme d’Or for Justine Triet, the actor’s career does not appear to be an exception to what Muriel Robin underlines. He has indeed distinguished himself in numerous films directed by gay men: Robin Campillo with 120 beats per minuteFyzal Boulifa with The Damned Do Not CrySamuel Theis with Small type

In 2019, the actor explained to Komitid that living his homosexuality openly in the cinema “ remains tricky » : « At the same time, you must always leave a little bit of mystery to create desire “.

Kicking the anthill

Why have all these actors and actresses, as talented as they are promising, not become as popular and viral as Benjamin Voisin, Vincent Lacoste, Léa Seydoux or even Adèle Exarchopoulos, who nevertheless made themselves known through gay and lesbian roles?

Just like the stars of yesteryear, young talents still bear the weight of homophobia in cinema. By dismissing emerging queer comedians and reducing the most well-known to silence, French cinema, consciously or not, deprives us of these strong positions, hence the tidal wave that that of the comedian triggered .

If Muriel Robin speaks today, it is not so much about her case. She herself says: “ I am at peace, I cried my body’s tears every day. We see today I’m fine, it’s finished and classified “. All the power of his speech thus lies both in its rarity, but also in its overwhelming resilience addressed to the youngest. Without a big name to come out of the closet or platforms offered to possible rising stars, French cinema was destined to act as if the problem did not exist. In five minutes, Muriel Robin holds up a mirror to an entire industry and forces it to confront a highly damaging denial. Perhaps the long-awaited start of a new chapter?

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