An insight into the phenomenon comes from Patrick McCarthy, a young gay blogger who lives in Bordeaux. ‘Up until 2005, Bordeaux was a very gay-friendly city,’ he says. ‘Same-sex couples could openly walk down the street holding hands without any problems. However, in the space of two months, five gay men were murdered in the city. The blame was put on Bordeaux’s Muslim community since some of these hate crimes were carried out by people of Arabic origins.’
The Bordeaux gay scene has dwindled since the attacks, but McCarthy says that he, like Lestrade, is alarmed at the way that assaults by a few Arabs have created a major polemical opposition between gays and Muslims. The Front National now offers a welcoming home to gay people who feel judged by Muslims and share wider concerns about immigration and the loss of French identity.
That gay men now feel comfortable with the Front National is the result of a deliberate effort by its leader, Marine Le Pen, who has pursued a programme of detoxification (the French term is ‘de-diabolisation’) ever since she took control of the party in 2011. Her father, Jean Marie Le Pen, who led the FN from its founding in 1972 until Marine took over, described homosexuality as a ‘biological and social anomaly’. In the 1980s he argued that all individuals with Aids should be kept in isolation, and in the 1990s was still declaring that ‘There are no queens in the National Front.’