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Gray Paree Turned Gay Paree

While Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë was shaking hands with Mayor Gavin Newsom and other government officials in San Francisco last week, we who are still trekking the cobblestones of the City of Light have taken advantage of a few of Paris’ most glorious days. The long, cold and dreary winter has finally drifted off into warm, truly Spring-like sunny days that have the trees opening their bright green leaves and the tulips standing tall.

I urge you to treat the parks and gardens, outdoor cafés and market streets as your playgrounds and bask in the “chaleur” (warmth) and the color of Spring in Paris. This past weekend was a non-stop photo-op, so I can’t stop myself from showing off what was a typical stroll in my own “petit coin” of the city, starting off with the formal gardens of the Hôtel de Sens, on to those of the Musée Carnavalet, through Place des Vosges to the Canal Saint-Martin. Sun worshipers were battling for outdoor tables and everyone, but everyone was out of doors doing anything and everything one can imagine.

Back on the West Coast, important relationships unfolded between the two cities. The official Web site of the city, http://www.Paris.fr headlined the mayor’s San Francisco visit with “Les maires de San Francisco et de Paris signent ‘un pacte numérique'” (“The Mayors of San Francisco and Paris sign a ‘digital pact'”) — an agreement to transform each of their cities into wireless pioneers that “unir toutes les villes du monde” (unite all the cities of the world). This comes as a result of San Francisco’s recent contracts with Google and Earthlink to install a wireless network connecting the entire city with the Internet free of charge.

The San Francisco Sentinel took a similarly reported view point: “Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë graces Sister City San Francisco Wednesday for working sessions on non-discrimination, homelessness, the digital media, love fest with the French American community and opening of the San Francisco International Film Festival.” (Read the entire article and see some great photos by clicking here.)

Meanwhile, instead of focusing on the important aspects of the meeting of the two mayors, the San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Cecilia M. Vega headlined her article with: “Gay mayor of gay Paris visits gay San Francisco.”

It is both fascinating and disturbing that this influential newspaper should sensationalize the story by playing the “gay” card when “gay” has nothing to do with anything — not any that I can ascertain from the nature of their collaboration. Does this journalist insinuate that his sexual orientation sheds a negative glow on the City of Light? Or that there isn’t any wonder that San Francisco, known for its large and outspoken gay community, should have such a strong bond with Paris?

The Chronicle at least admits, “In Paris, the fact that Delanoë is openly gay is a non-issue. He made his sexual orientation public when a journalist asked him about it before he was elected mayor.” And in his speech on Wednesday, Delanoë began by saying, “San Francisco is a City who has a message for the world…A message of equality for
every individual whatever its identity.”

As I was answering emails Saturday on a laptop at the café La Pierre du Marais directly across from the Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement where WiFi is offered free of charge to anyone in range…and while strolling under the newly planted shade trees on a balmy Sunday Spring afternoon along rue de Bretagne, enjoying every moment of the stunning city Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has worked so hard to make a paradise for ALL of its residents, both rich and poor…I couldn’t help but think how lucky we are to have at least a few progressive thinkers in our midst, gay or non-gay.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. The month of May is filled with holidays to celebrate with friends and family. Take a picnic to the parks and gardens next Monday, May 1st, Labor Day in France. For information on Paris parks and gardens, visit the official site of the City Hall at Paris.fr

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