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Caroline Warman

36. Anon., The Private and Public Life of the Posterior Marquis de Villette, Retroactive Citizen, 17911

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  • 1 Anon., Vie privée et publique du ci-derrière marquis de Villette, citoyen rétroactif, Paris: c.1791 (...)

1In July 1750, two gay men were discovered carrying out ‘an act of gross indecency’ and were sentenced to death. These were the last executions carried out in France for this reason alone. Yet texts demanding the right for freedom of sexual orientation did circulate, at first in secret and then in plain sight during the Revolution. They are often fairly crude, as the following suggestive and burlesque example shows. The source text uses the letter ‘Q’, which is a pun on the word ‘cul’, meaning arse; the translators have swapped it for ‘Rs’, meaning the same thing…

2Villette, driven by a passion for cheek, stands up with an enthusiasm worthy of a more distinguished topic, a topic which should not even be thought of in a free state: ‘For how much longer will we tolerate the aristocracy expanding its empire into the smallest of matters?

3For too long now our necks have been tied to their leash. Either every individual must have presidency in turn or presidency itself must be completely abolished. Consequently, I denounce to you the As, which have occupied first position amongst their fellow letters since the invention of the alphabet, despite the fact that all letters merit this position in every regard. Therefore I demand that it is the turn of the Rs to take presidency. If I may say so, I hope that you are just enough to consider my motion and hope not to have denounced in vain a violation which has prevailed, alas, for too long’.

4Although this motion would have seemed laughable to a number of Jacobites, as there were many among them who were unwaveringly fond of the Rs, the motion was taken to a vote, and it was decided by a very large majority that the Rs would in turn take presidency.


1 Anon., Vie privée et publique du ci-derrière marquis de Villette, citoyen rétroactif, Paris: c.1791 (l’an III de la liberté), in Patrick Cardon, ed., Les Enfants de Sodome à l’Assemblée nationale, Lille: QuestionDeGenre/GKC, 2005, Appendix.


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