St Pierre

November 10, 2009

I’m going away for a few days, so here’s another bit about the record to keep you going. Music – high up the piano, covered in faux mellotron, and the temptation for drums and accents resisted. Listened to it today and thought, hmm, that’s alright. The layered part toward the end brings me as close to a kitchens moment as I’ve done for a while – lots of layered guitars seeking no purchase.

The lyric is based on an obscure autobiography called I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual. An irresistible title to me. Its a short book outlining his experiences in the 2nd world war – from the concentration camp near his home town in Alsace where he saw his lover Joe mauled to death by dogs, to post-war France and his attempt to live a heterosexual life, resulting in alcoholism and self-loathing. He finally reconciled himself to his true nature and came out in the 80s. He wrote to the government claiming his right as a former victim of Nazi abuses, but his crime of homosexuality was not seen as something to recompense. Even the Bishop of Strasbourg had something disparaging to say about him. Pierre did interviews for Gay Pied, the influential gay French magazine of the time, and on TV. Following one appearance he was queer-bashed, an elderly man trying to be himself, claiming what he felt was rightfully his. His main complaint was that he should receive compensation for being deported from France, as indeed other victims did. This was refused by the French state – the French having such a problem with homosexuality. He was also shocked that none of the other witnesses of Joe’s killing had come forward to tell the story, that it was down to him. He is the only witness to have spoken out about gay hate crime in France in the second world war.
Pierre never gave up his fight for recognition by the state that he was a victim of the war. A documentary film, Paragraph 175, was made about his life, which I’ve not seen but would be keen to.

So Pierre gets a song, as few would celebrate this forgotten, rather sad man.

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2 Responses to “St Pierre”

  1. Ronald Says:

    Stephen,

    I have a google search for Pierre Seel and your blog popped up. So, maybe not all that obscure? Anyway, I am reading the autobiography with maybe a stage play in mind.

    ‘love to hear your song.

    Ronald


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