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Three Reasons Paris is Great for LGBTQIA+ Students

July 06, 2018
by CEA CAPA Content Creator

Talking about the LGBTQIA+ community can be controversial and sparks strong opinions. LGBTQIA+ individuals may feel unsafe and uncomfortable with expressing their sexual or gender identity, especially in environments unfriendly to the LGBTQIA+ community or in unfamiliar territories. Being part of the LGBTQIA+ community myself, I have experienced both positive and negative reactions. However, out of all the cities I visited around the world, Paris was the most LGBTQIA+ friendly thus far. Here’s why:

France is Recognized as one of the most Gay-Friendly Countries

Liberté (freedom), Égalité (equality), Fraternité (brotherhood): the three core values of France. The French law has recognized LGBTQIA+ rights since 1791. Although there was public disapproval of LGBTQIA+ rights until recently, France found ways around restrictions of same-sex marriage (which is now legal) through PACS, giving any individual, no matter the gender, tax breaks, such as presented in a marriage. There are many LGBTQIA+ friendly areas around Paris, including Le Marais, which is close to the CEA CAPA Paris center, Quartier Pigalle, and Bois de Boulogne. Paris demonstrated its support for the LGBTQIA+ community, especially after the Pulse shootings, where France paid tribute to the fallen by hanging LGBTQIA+ flags along Hotel de Ville and lighting the Eiffel Tower with Pride colors and the hashtag #lovewins displayed on its base. While there will always be people who don't support controversial and previously ostracized communities, there have been minimal protests against laws protecting LGBTQIA+ rights in Paris. It's an overall inclusive city that LGBTQIA+ individuals can feel safe in. Don’t just take my word for it; experience the city for yourself!

 Hotel de Ville after 2016 Pulse Shooting

Parisians Keep to Themselves

From my experience in Paris, the citizens here keep to themselves. They have this gift of looking straight ahead of them without much more than a sideways glance. In the U.S., I often receive sideways glances because my hair is short, and people are trying to figure me out. It's natural to feel uncomfortable with things we do not understand. While individuals here do stare, just as they do everywhere else I have either lived or visited, I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe. I felt and still feel today, that Paris is more accustomed to LGBTQIA+ individuals. I'm sure the liberal vibe of the city plays a part in the rate of gender and sexuality acceptance. Paris was the perfect place to visit while I was in the process of coming out to friends and family because it normalized LGBTQIA+ communities, which drastically increased my confidence in myself and who I am. My confidence also increased when I learned that France received recognition as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world.

CEA CAPA Paris Staff

The CEA CAPA Paris staff were incredible supporters of everything LGBTQIA+. While I studied abroad for the first time in 2016, I wasn't out to anyone accept for two friends. I felt the need to hide my identity, who I am. Living in the conservative state of Nebraska did not exactly encourage me to live authentically. However, the day I arrived in Paris, CEA CAPA held an orientation where they explained cultural differences and how to stay safe within unfamiliar settings. They gave everyone a pamphlet and the first thing that stuck out to me was a full page of LGBTQIA+ resources and numbers for support. I never had the need to use any of these resources, but it was the first time I felt validation. As I was leaving the orientation, I overheard two individuals, one a student and the other a CEA CAPA staff, discussing LBGTQIA+ matters and so I joined the conversation. The staff member explained that Paris is a more liberal city and the CEA CAPA Paris Center itself was located near many LGBTQIA+ themed areas. The staff member also gave advice that I have lived by ever since: not everyone in this world will accept you for who you are but hiding who you are prevents anyone from accepting you. Studying abroad in Paris changed my perspective on living authentically and allowed me to gain the confidence I needed to live a better life for myself. My experience abroad also gave me the resources to practice cultural sensitivity to manage misunderstandings, so rather than getting frustrated with intolerance, I listen to understand why intolerance occurs.

If you are part of the LGBTQ community, I would highly recommend seeing what CEA Study Abroad and Paris has to offer.

 CEA Paris Center

Mika Richards is a CEA CAPA Onsite Ambassador in Paris. They currently study Intercultural Communication at Illinois State University and studied abroad in Paris, France with CEA CAPA in Spring 2016. If you’d like to learn more about the ambassador program, here is more information.
Read more about our CEA CAPA Content Creators.
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