Joseph Doucé: a personal approach

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By: Frits Bernard

...Que de peine j'ai pour toi, Jonathan, mon frère!
Je t'aimais tant!
Ton amitié était pour moi une merveille
plus belle que l'amour des femmes.

-- 2 SAMUEL 1 : 26

In May of 1973, the Parisian monthly ARCADIE, 'Revue littéraire et scientifique', published by André Baudry, featured my article 'Nouvelle enquête aux Pays-Bas' (New Research in the Netherlands), which provides a synopsis of research into the consequences of sexually flavored acts between adults and young people. No such report had ever appeared in France before.

Three years later, the AHOY' complex in Rotterdam was the scene of the first big sex fair: 'Sexualiteit en menselijke relaties 76' (Sexuality and Human Relations), which was followed by a second fair in 1978. At the first fair I met the legendary reverend Joseph Doucé, who was still very young at the time and manned a stand with literature concerning his pastoral activities in Paris. He had come over to Holland, which was much more liberal back then, specifically to promote his ideas. I was not to meet him again until several years later.

Joseph Doucé, born on 13 April 1945 in Sint Truiden (Belgium), settled in France and later became a French citizen. He was a Baptist and performed his pastoral work in the context of the Centre du Christ Libérateur, 3bis, rue Clairaut, Paris. The Centre's chairman was Jan van Kilsdonk S.J. from Amsterdam. It was founded in 1976 and provided assistance to sexual minorities. The Centre published its own small magazine; ILIA, meaning 'Il Libère, Il Aime' (He Liberates, He Loves). There were small-scale monthly meetings for transsexuals, transvestites, gays, lesbians and pedophiles. Attention was also given to short-term and long-term prisoners.

The work was difficult in an exceedingly repressive France, but Doucé never gave up. He was a fighter and put himself in the service of persecuted fellow humans. It was a pleasure to debate and philosophize with him. He visited Holland from time to time, and when he did he stopped in Rotterdam to see me. We usually had lunch in the sunroom of restaurant 'Engels', opposite central station. Sometimes he was accompanied by his younger friend Guy. We used to discuss all facets of sexuality at length. ARCADIE was also broached: Doucé was very interested in the research that was being done in Holland at that time. After his always too short visits he left for Utrecht or Amsterdam, where he had church contacts. He also visited the Pauluskerk in Rotterdam now and then. He was restless, always busy, active, alert. He knew countless people from all walks of life.

We had become friends. I last visited him in Paris in March of 1988. He had opened a specialized bookshop by the name of 'Autres Cultures' (Different Cultures) in the heart of the city, 46 rue Sauffroy. The shop offered a lot of interesting sexological literature in various languages that could not be obtained elsewhere. I clearly remember the time when a large stone had been flung through the windowpane in the door... it was a warning.

I held a lecture in the Centre and later signed one of my French books at the Théâtre de l'art. This was 'Costa Brava, nouvelle pédophile', published by Lumière et Justice, a publishing house founded by Doucé. The gathering at the Théâtre de l'art was unsuccessful: almost nobody showed up. Fear ran rampant. On 8 March a large raid had been held throughout France and overseas territories which had long-lasting effects. I did have the fortune of meeting Eric Jourdan, author of 'Les mauvais anges' (Bad Angels, a novel about the love/hate relationship between two teenagers), among other books. That evening, Jourdan was to present his play 'Drapeau noir' (black flag) in the Théâtre de l'art. All in all it was a memorable event.

Doucé had been threatened several times before. The government also ordered him to remove 'Costa Brava, nouvelle pédophile' from the stand of Lumière et Justice during the annual 'Salon de l'Erotisme' in Paris. At first he refused to comply.

Things were to become more dramatic. On 19 July 1990, Doucé was taken for questioning by two people who identified themselves as police officers. A long silence ensued and many rumors began to spread. On 18 October 1990 his mortal remains were discovered in the Rambouillet woods. How did he die? The mystery has never been solved entirely. Had Doucé involved himself in too much risky business? Had he been too progressive? A number of books on the Doucé case appeared in France. Many people think of his demise as a huge loss. The majority of the French people did not mourn for him: they just considered him a pain.

The Centre's future became uncertain. The bookshop, which was run by his friend, had to be closed. Doucé's friend now lives in Holland. What remained were the books published by Lumière et Justice during the eighties. These are mostly readers edited by Doucé, such as 'Couples homosexuels et lesbiens: juridique et quotidien'; 'Le sadomasochisme en question'; 'La question transsexuelle' with a preface by Prof. Dr. G.F. Bouman and an introduction by Prof. Dr. Louis Gooren, both from the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) of Amsterdam; and the important 'La pédophilie en question' (The Question of Pedophilia), with a preface by none other than Dr. W. Waynberg, chairman of the Institut de Sexologie. This book contains much interesting information, also about the Netherlands. France, however, was not ready yet for its message. And the matter is still unfinished business.

Pastor Joseph Doucé was murdered ten years ago. The Pauluskerk in Rotterdam rightly commemorated him in October of 2000. We must not forget him. Until his death Doucé had remained above all a pastor. I remember him as one of the most remarkable personalities I was privileged to meet in my lifetime.

source: Article 'Joseph Doucé: A Personal Approach' by Dr Frits Bernard; OK Magazine, no. 76; December 2000