I have always known about May 1968. I grew up with it as a date on the calendar like some people grow up with Easter Sunday, or Armistice Day. It shaped my world.
But I never really knew what it was. Just as many kids don’t know much about the resurrection or the second world war.
I knew there was a sort of revolution. And I knew it made my parents who they were.
I was born just over two years later. I missed all the action as usual. But it seems like it is part of me.
The things my parents used to talk about always included ‘meetings’, ‘demos’ , ‘the centre’. One of my first words was ‘wistiwersity’ for university where my step-dad was running a bit of a cultural studies revolution of his own.
I went to a women’s liberation playgroup. I knew what ‘lesbian’ meant. Our friends had a cat called ‘paper tiger’.
But nobody told me about Foucault. I had to find out about him all by myself.
He said none of his work after that date would have happened if it wasn’t for May68.
Imagine if we had not have had ‘The History of sexuality’ or ‘Archeology of Knowledge’.
I wonder what that day was like.
Apparently most of the students were quite respectable as you can see in this photo.
The homos and the lesbians had to march at the back. They were still considered a ‘scourge’ on French society. May 68 was part of what changed that.
You could say that May 68 led to the gays in Le Marais, shaking their maracas, but that would be a bit simplistic.
If I had have been there, as a student in Paris, I am sure I would have marched. But who with? The beautiful young things at the front? Or the homos, the lesbians, the queers at the back.
I think I know the answer to that one, don’t you?