I’ve mentioned surrealist leader André Breton’s homophobia before, so I decided to investigate.
Apparently most of what is known of Breton’s dislike of homosexuality stems from round table discussions that were held in the years 1928 – 1932, long before Kinsey or Masters and Johnson began their clinical surveys. Participants included many of surrealism’s best known figures: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Antonin Artaud, Benjamin Peret, Jacques Prevert, Marcel Duhamel, Yves Tanguy, Pierre Unik, etc…. Their findings were partly published in the surrealist magazine La Révolution surréaliste. For those of us without access to those magazines (and that is 99.999% of us) there is an English translation available from Verso books with the title Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions 1928-1932, which publishes verbatim accounts of all of these round table discussions.
Quoting from both sides (pro and contra):
André Breton said:
- “I accuse homosexuals of confronting human tolerance with a mental and moral deficiency which tends to turn itself into a system and to paralyse every enterprise I respect.”
Pierre Unik states:
André Breton concludes:
- “I am absolutely opposed to continuing the discussion of this subject. If this promotion of homosexuality carries on, I will leave this meeting forthwith.”
Some surrealists came to the defense of homosexuals, most notably Raymond Queneau who states:
- “It is evident to me that there is an extraordinary prejudice against homosexuality among the surrealists.
I’d like to investigate further who was pro and who contra, but I am running out of time here.