News (World)

Parisian drag queen to carry Olympic torch during opening ceremony

Minima Gesté
Minima Gesté Photo: Screenshot

A drag queen has been announced as one of the people who will carry the Olympic flame in the opening ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. She has been targeted for hatred by the right since she was announced as one of the people who will participate in the Olympic torch relay, but the city of Paris is standing up for her.

“I know that visibility is still one of the pillars of acceptance of our LGBTQIA+ community,” 33-year-old Parisian drag queen Minima Gesté said in a video announcing her participation. “So having a drag queen carry the flame—and who might fall flat on her face with it, wait and see—it’s an enormous source of pride.”

The video was posted online on Wednesday, and many people in the comments responded by attacking Minima. “Decadence of civilization brought on by the left,” one person commented. “Can I get a Russian passport?” another person wrote, calling Minima’s participation a “fiasco” and “ridiculous.”

Far-right politician and niece of proto-fascist politician Marine Le Pen, Marion Maréchal, attacked Minima in an interview on the channel TF1. “This person performs in a way that is particularly vulgar, hypersexualized,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a good way to represent France in the eyes of the world.”

But Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stood up for Minima.

“I reaffirm my full support for her,” Hidalgo said in a statement on Friday. “I’ll say it again: I am proud and, yes, Paris is proud that a drag queen will carry the torch and the values of peace and humanity.”

The city’s X account said that the original video was “the target of numerous homophobic and transphobic statements.”

“Public insults, particularly of a homophobic and transphobic nature, are an unlawful act,” the account said, referring to France’s hate speech laws. “The Mayor of Paris will be passing statements that she believes potentially rise to the level of a violation of the law against public insult of a homophobic or transphobic nature to the Paris prosecutor’s office.”

“I really don’t care if Marion Maréchal Le Pen doesn’t agree that I should carry the Olympic flame,” Minima said in an Instagram story. “I’ll say it again: yes, I’m proud, and yes, Paris is proud that a drag queen will carry this flame and, therefore, the values of peace and of humanity.”

Minima will be one of several people who will carry the torch when the relay gets to Paris on July 14 and 15.

Maréchal has previously criticized the government based on rumors that French pop star Aya Nakamura, who is Black, was asked to perform at the opening ceremony. Nakamura was born in the West African nation of Mali and immigrated with her family when she was young to a working-class suburb of Paris, becoming a French citizen in 2021. Popular in France, her music is influenced by her African roots.

“The French don’t want to be represented in the eyes of the world by a singer whose style is influenced by the hood and Africa,” Maréchal said, according to an NPR translation. “This is a political move by [French President] Emmanuel Macron, who wants to tell the world that the face of France is multicultural, and we’re no longer a nation with Christian roots and European culture.”

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