This is an extract from the post-face of Le Noir est une couleur from Grisélidis Réal. Réal was an anarchist whore, an artist and a poet. She was a pioneer of the sex worker movement in the 1970’s and was part of the occupation of French churches in 1975. I translated this passage because she deserves to be know outside francophone countries.
I no longer hide. Times have changed, we revolted. In the face of the world, thousands of women coming out of the night and speaking, writing, gathering, sometimes in masks, but also openly, and shouting their truth, their lives. They were listened to, muzzled, contested. They wanted to silence them, but their voice was stronger. We had to see them, to know they exist; so they are no longer crushed like roaches in the dark.
In Paris, fourteen years ago, in a chapel in Montparnasse, I entered into revolution, with my damned sisters. Since then I’ve never left them. The revolution has taken us, and will not let us go until the last breath. It inflames the world.
Never again, will our children be stolen from us. We will not be despised, hunted, trapped, killed. Our lovers will no longer be thrown in prison. Respect will lie down in front of us as a velvet carpet on which we walk barefoot without being hurt, happy, triumphant.
Even if we still have to fight, to the death, still have to pay, always pay with our blood, our lives. This money they are taking from us is very hard to earn, and even more to sacrifice.
Freedom is priceless. We know it, which is our strength and hope.
Prowling like she-wolves, like tigress, like birds we will walk on the moon if necessary, we will gain our rightful space, we who are the balm on the wounds, offered and injured, soft, violent, women and witches, princesses of our senses and of men’s desire.
In Paris, at the Chapel of St. Bernard, in Montparnasse, at the beginning of June 1975, five hundred women were present, pale, resolute, some had no more voice after too much talking, and shouting. The priests who had received them covered with a cloth the statues of the Virgin and the saints. The fourth night, the police drove them out with batons.
We will not give in. The struggle continues, it crosses the seas; it burns paper, screens, walls. Never again, will we walk the streets like hunted animals, we will no longer be raped in cars nor anywhere.
To my too many missing friends, who died of loneliness, of too much love given, never received: In their memory, I will have to say how the everyday life has killed them, and the contempt from people. And how beautiful they were, generous, full of talent and mystery, surrounded by all those who had such need of them, who were hungry for their caresses, their tenderness, their infinite patience, their knowledge, their power.