The French community has long been known as a hotspot for cuisine and culture, but it’s also known as one of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly countries in the world. Along with being considered one of the most progressive countries for LGBTQIA+ rights, France has a number of well known and influential celebrities – past and present – who are openly members of the gay community.
France has a long history of influential gay celebrities among their writers, politicians, musicians and, most notably, fashion.
Here’s 15 well-known and influential members of the French LGBTQIA+ community.
Who’s Who in the French LGBTQIA+ Community:
Past and present members of the Influential French LGBQIA+ community number in the hundreds, and these are just 15 of the more recent representatives:
- Jean-Paul Gaultier (Fashion)
- Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Musician)
- Olivier Royer (Athlete)
- Bertrand Delanoe (Politician)
- Didier Erebon (Author/Philosopher)
- Francois Ozon (Film Director)
- Laurent Ruquier (Comedian/Writer/Lyricist)
- Claire Pommet (Musician)
- Christian Dior (Fashion)
- Yves Saint Laurent (Fashion)
- Christian Louboutin (Fashion)
- Jean Cocteau (Artist)
- Nina Bouraoui (Novelist/Songwriter)
- Jean-Jaques Aillagon (Politician)
- Mathilda Gerner / Hoshi (Musician)
Jean Paul Gaultier is a well-known and prolific fashion designer, whose designs have long celebrated the blurring of social lines and sexuality.
Born in April 1952, Gaultier enjoyed a long and loving relationship with his partner Francis Mengue, until the latter passed away in 1990. He credits his partner with encouraging him to start his career, a career that began in 1976, though he recently announced his retirement in 2020, at least from couture fashion shows, though he said he will continue to design clothing.
He also credits some of his creative direction, and his open membership in the LGBTQIA+ community to his parents, who he said supported him when he came out as a young man.
Born in September 1961, Jean-Yves Thibaudet is a well-known and well-acclaimed classical pianist, is recognized both for his music and for his openly gay lifestyle, which includes wearing couture on stage. From the beginning of his career, Jean-Yves has made a point of following his own melody, including touring with his partner, long before the LGBTQIA+ community began to gain ground.
Today, Jean-Yves Thibaudet is playing around the world, including in a series of performances with Micheal Feinstein, called “Two Pianos”, according to the New York Times. He and his partner are reported to have homes in both Los Angeles and Paris, and enjoy regular travel.
Born in December 1955, Olivier Rouyer is a retired football player and coach, who came out shortly after his retirement. As of today, Olivier Rouyer is the only football player, current or retired, who has come out as openly gay.The original announcement was made in 2011.
Since coming out, Olivier Rouyer and other international footballers who have come out have worked to end any stigma against being gay in the international athletic community. This includes encouraging others to come out, and asking players to wear rainbow colors in support during Pride Month and other important days.
Bertrand Delanoe was born in May 1950, and served as Mayor of Paris from March 2001 to April 2014. However, before that, he made a splash when he became one of the first French politicians to come out in public.
Delanoe officially announced he was gay in 1998, before he was elected as Mayor of Paris. Despite hiccups, he had a long and successful stint in the position, and served two full terms before retiring from the post.
He’s currently single, according to reports online, but openly proud of both his orientation, and his country’s response to his public revelation in 1998.
Born in July 1953, today Didier Eribon is an author, a philosopher, a French intellectual historian and, first and foremost, one of the leading French explorers of homosexuality. His 1999 publication ‘Insult and the Making of the Gay Self’ explores the question of homosexuality in relation to the pressures of society.
His work began with a groundbreaking biography of Michel Foucault, and from there branched into studies of what he calls ‘the gay question’. Ironically enough, he said that when he came to Paris, it was easier to admit to being gay than to being lower income.
Born in November 1967, Francois Ozon has made a name for himself as a screenwriter and director who specializes in movies full of satire and a wildly open view on human sexuality. Openly gay and not afraid to tackle sensitive subjects in his work, Francois is a top film maker, known for films such as ‘Everything Went Fine’ and ‘Summer of 85’.
Some call him the ‘openly gay bad boy of French cinema’. Others report that he’s waiting to tell the perfect love story, though Covid has interrupted those aspirations somewhat. Either way, he’s known for treating the topic of LGBTQIA+ relationships, with all their highs and lows, in a unique, captivating, and elegant manner.
The film maker isn’t reported to be seeing anyone at this time, though there are rumors of past relationships, and one hopes there is every chance for romance in his future.
Comedian, radio host, impresario, lyricist and television presenter – Laurent Ruquier wears many hats, and in the 1990s, he added one more: openly gay. In 2012, he entered into a civil union with his partner of 10 years, Benoit Petitjean.
Born in February 1963, he started out writing columns for his school paper, but from such humble beginnings, Ruquier has made a successful career that spans over 3 decades, and internationally acclaimed television shows. He’s never been particularly outspoken in the LGBTQIA+ community and cause, but one might argue that his public lifestyle, media presence, and relationships speak for him
Claire Pommet (Pomme):
Born Claire Isabelle Geo Pommet in August 1996, this young woman is better known by her professional stage name of Pomme. Pomme is a well known French musician, skilled with a harp and other stringed instruments. A singer, songwriter and performer, Claire Pommet is unafraid to tackle the topic of sexuality in her music, along with other difficult subjects.
Claire says her family is a loving one, and that she’s always been very comfortable with her homosexuality. She says she believes it’s important to be open and comfortable with her sexuality in her music, to help encourage young girls who are exploring their own sexuality.
As a young artist, she’s still in the midst of making her mark on the music scene and the LGBTQIA+ community, and who can tell what the future will hold for her?
He may have passed away in 1957, but there’s no question how much of an impact Christian Dior has had on the world of fashion and fragrance. Even 60+ years after his passing, Christian’s style lives on in the iconic A-line, H-line and Y-line models.
The time period of his life (1905-1957) meant that Christian Dior’s private life was kept out of the spotlight, so there’s little evidence of his sexuality. This leads some to question whether he was gay or not, but the general consensus is that the fashion icon whose brand, House of Dior’ remains popular to this day, was in fact a closeted gay man during his life.
Yves Saint Laurent:
Yves Saint Laurent lived from 1936 to 2008, and like his partner and mentor Christian Dior, he was an acclaimed member of the fashion scene throughout his entire career. He was also, unlike Dior, openly gay.
Saint Laurent spent many years with his romantic partner Pierre Berge. Together they founded a group for AIDS research, to which was donated the proceeds of auctioning their art collection after Saint Laurent’s passing in 2008.
Yves Saint Laurent was best known in the fashion industry for the chic beatnik and haute peasant styles, and for his use of metallic and transparent fabrics in his designs.
Born in 1963, this iconic French fashion designer is best known for the lines of shoes that bear his name. Chrstian Louboutin is a prolific and popular fashion designer known for his stiletto heels with their distinctive red soles. He’s worked with some of the industry greats in his time, including Jean-Paul Gaultier and Yves Saint Laurent.
Louboutin is openly gay, and has been for many years, declaring proudly that his family have always been supportive. In 1997, he entered a relationship with landscaper Louis Benech. The relationship is reported to still be going strong.
In addition, Louboutin has joked about his ‘bromance’ with rugby star Gareth Thomas – to whom he sent a custom pair of shoes after the rugby star became one of the first men in the sport to come out in 2009. The two have since formed a close friendship that works in part to support and encourage other athletes who wish to come out.
He lived from 1889 to 1963, but it can be argued that Jean Cocteau’s work has an impact that is timeless. From being a poet, novelist, playwright, and filmmaker, he branched into painting, and became a huge part of the avant-garde scene.
He made his reputation and his mark by linking different forms of media, expression and styles of work, including merging elements from different time periods. His work was often personal, an expression of his unique view of the world.
Despite the time in which he lived, Jean Cacteau was openly gay, and known to have frequent male lovers, including Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. While these relationships were considered scandalous, and sometimes ended badly, Jean Cocteau is one of the better known openly gay artists of his time period.
Born in 1967, this French novelist and songwriter is known for tackling questions of identity, childhood, desire, memory and celebrity in her works. Among these themes, she touches on her own experiences with a childhood in Algeria and France, as well as her experiences regarding her own homosexuality.
Her Book ‘All Men Want To Know’, is said by some to be a love letter addressing the topic of falling in love as a homosexual and exploring romantic relationships. Many of her works are considered auto-fiction, though she admits to influences from the lives of others, such as Marguerite Duras, David Lynch and Eileen Gray.
The writer prefers to keep her private life quiet, so there is no report as to whether or not Nina is seeing anyone at this time.
Born in 1946, Jean-Jacques Aillagon is a member of the Union for Popular Movement (UMP), and a close confidant of Jacques Chirac. From his humble beginnings as a school teacher in 1972, Jean-Jacques has risen to be President of the Chateau Versailles and a member of the French Economic and Social Council – France’s third most powerful constitutional assembly.
Jean-Jacques is openly gay, but otherwise keeps his public and personal life separate, and his personal life private. He has not been linked to anyone at this time, but that does not mean he does not currently have a partner.
Mathilde Gerner (Hoshi):
Mathilde Gerner is a well known singer with the stage name Hoshi, a top french icon, and one of the leading members of the French LGBTQIA+ community, who came out in 2018 after a magazine mentioned her homosexuality. Since then she has been out loud and proud.
Hoshi’s music explores many themes of homosexuality, including themes such as dealing with intolerance, hate, and her experiences with her family and society in general. There are no reports of her having a partner at this time, but time will tell what the future holds for this musician and songwriter.
These fifteen are only a fraction of the members of the French LGBTQIA+ community, past and present. Each of them has made, and continues to make, an incredible impact on the world around them. From being the first to step out, to active supporters of the community, from fashion designers to singers to athletes, these people showcase the heart of the French LGBTQIA+ community through the generations.