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Living in Arcadia

Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in France from the Liberation to AIDS

Living in Arcadia

Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in France from the Liberation to AIDS

In Paris in 1954, a young man named André Baudry founded Arcadie, an organization for “homophiles” that would become the largest of its kind that has ever existed in France, lasting nearly thirty years. In addition to acting as the only public voice for French gays prior to the explosion of radicalism of 1968, Arcadie—with its club and review—was a social and intellectual hub, attracting support from individuals as diverse as Jean Cocteau and Michel Foucault and offering support and solidarity to thousands of isolated individuals. Yet despite its huge importance, Arcadie has largely disappeared from the historical record.

The main cause of this neglect, Julian Jackson explains in Living in Arcadia, is that during the post-Stonewall era of queer activism, Baudry’s organization fell into disfavor, dismissed as conservative, conformist, and closeted. Through extensive archival research and numerous interviews with the reclusive Baudry, Jackson challenges this reductive view, uncovering Arcadie’s pioneering efforts to educate the European public about homosexuality in an era of renewed repression. In the course of relating this absorbing history, Jackson offers a startlingly original account of the history of homosexuality in modern France.

336 pages | 25 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2009

Gay and Lesbian Studies

History: European History


Living in Arcadia is a work of exceptional erudition, originality, and insight. It not only restores the most important French homophile movement to history in all its complexity; it also uses that history to make a powerful revisionist argument for the intelligence, savvy, courage, and, indeed, dignity of the people who founded and guided it. Julian Jackson shows that they were more assertive, diverse, and radical on sexual matters than they are commonly made out to be. As one of the most important studies of the pre-Stonewall homophile movement we have, Living in Arcadia represents a major new contribution to both gay history and French history.”

George Chauncey, author of Gay New York

“This is a vibrant, multifaceted history of one of the late twentieth-century Europe’s most important homosexual organizations. It uncovers how the French group Arcadie emerged, struggled, and flourished in a society that was taking new steps to punish and silence sexually marginal men and women. On this solid foundation, Jackson builds an innovative analysis of how homosexuality in the West was lived by individuals and debated in public from the 1950s through the 1980s. Wide-ranging research, beautiful writing, and astute insight reinvigorate our understanding of both gay liberation and post-1945 France.”

Todd Shepard, Johns Hopkins University

“This book is a major work of scholarship—well written and thoroughly researched—that throws light on a little understood period of gay history in France, while also adding to our knowledge of the international ‘homophile’ movement and contemporary France in general. By telling the story of Arcadie, Jackson presents a rich and ultimately sympathetic account of what it meant to be a homosexual Frenchman in the years after World War II and before the rise of gay liberation. In addition to elucidating Arcadie’s raison d’être, nature, achievements, and shortcomings, Jackson gives readers a vivid portrait of its founder, André Baudry, a man about whom little has been known until now.”

Michael Sibalis, Wilfrid Laurier University

"A remarkable book full of vivid details about this forgotten episode in French gay history."

Hans Soetaert | Gay and Lesbian Review

Table of Contents


     Cambridge to Paris, 1978
     “The French Exception”: Gay Historiography in France
     Arcadie: The Unknown Story
     Rethinking Arcadie

Part One. The Background

1. Homosexuality in France from the Revolution to Vichy
     Homosexuality and the Revolution
     Regulating Sexual Disorder in the Nineteenth Century
     French Variations
     Paris as Sodom
     Homosexuality in Belle-Époque Paris
     The Interwar Years: Talking about Homosexuality

2. The Shadow of the Occupation, 1942–1955
     1940: Blame It on Gide
     Fascinating Fascism: Sleeping with the Enemy
     Liberation: “Beautiful Babies” and Unruly Youths
     Moral Order
     Freedom in Clandestinity: The “Civilization of the Pissotières
     Fighting the Puritans: Futur

Part Two. Et in Arcadia Ego, 1954–1968

3. Beginnings, 1954–1956
     Losing a Vocation, 1922–1945
     Finding a Vocation, 1946–1952
     Young Man in a Hurry, 1953
     Recruiting Support: Treason of the Clerks, 1954
     Teething Troubles I: Quarrel with Amsterdam, 1955–1956
     Teething Troubles II: “A Danger to Youth,” 1955–1956

4. Survival, 1956–1968
     Living in the Catacombs, 1956–1957
     Putting Down Roots, 1957–1959
     A New Recruit: Daniel Guérin
     “Social Scourge,” 1960
     Arcadie Embattled, 1960–1964
     Arcadie Becalmed, 1964–1968

5. The Vision of Arcadie: Homosexuality and Ethics
     The Homophile International
     Escaping the Shadow of Gide
     Science and History
     “Permanent and Diffuse Revolution”
     The Politics of Dignity 
     Ethics and Authenticity: Assuming One’s Condition
     The Secret Garden

6. Living in Arcadie
     A Spiritual Family
     Finding Arcadie
     Arriving at Arcadie
     The Provincial Desert
     Building a Library I
     Building a Library II
     The Club
     “La Bonne Parole” I: Preaching the Arcadian Life
     “La Bonne Parole” II: Living the Arcadian Life

Part Three. Arcadie Contested, 1968–1982

7. The Deluge, 1968–1972
     Sexual Revolutions
     1968: The Revolution and Sex
     Monks in the Dark Ages?
     “Homosexuality, This Painful Problem”
     The Rise and Fall of FHAR
     The “Toads of Arcadie”

8. The Arcadie Years, 1973–1978
     Recognition at Last
     The “Arcadian People”
     Competitors I: The Sex Explosion
     Competitors II: The Political Explosion
     The Giscardian Moment

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