Guérin was born in a liberal Parisian family. Early on, he started political activism in the revolutionary syndicalist magazine La Révolution prolétarienne of Pierre Monatte. He abandoned university and a literary career in 1926, traveling to Lebanon (1927–1929) and French Indochina (1929–1930) and became a passionate opponent of colonial ventures.
The writings of the French bisexual anarchist Daniel Guérin offer an insight into the tension sexual minorities among the Left have often felt. He was a leading figure in the French Left from the 1930s until his death in 1988. He contributed to the homophile journal Arcadie. In 1954, Guérin was widely attacked for his study of the Kinsey Reports in which he also detailed the oppression of homosexuals in France. "The harshest [criticisms] came from Marxists, who tend seriously to underestimate the form of oppression which is antisexual terrorism. I expected it, of course, and I knew that in publishing my book I was running the risk of being attacked by those to whom I feel closest on a political level." After coming out in 1965, Guérin was abandoned by the Left, and his papers on sexual liberation were censored or refused publication in left-wing journals. Guérin was involved in the uprising of May 1968, and was a part of the French Gay Liberation movement that emerged after the events. Decades later, Frédéric Martel described Guérin as the "grandfather of the French homosexual movement." Guérin spoke about the extreme hostility toward homosexuality that permeated the left throughout much of the 20th century. "Not so many years ago, to declare oneself a revolutionary and to confess to being homosexual were incompatible," Guérin wrote in 1975.
Le livre de la dix-huitième année (poèmes), Paris, Albin Michel, 1922
L'enchantement du Vendredi Saint (roman), Paris, Albin Michel, 1925
La vie selon la chair (roman), Paris, Albin Michel, 1929
Fascisme et grand capital. Italie-Allemagne, Paris, Éditions de la révolution prolétarienne, 1936
^Frédéric Martel, Le rose et le noir. Les homosexuels en France depuis 1968 (Paris : Seuil, 2000), pp.46.
^*The Parti Communiste Français was "hysterically intransigent as far as ’moral behaviour’ was concerned" (Aragon, victime et profiteur du tabou, in Gai Pied Hebdo, 4 June 1983, reproduced in Homosexualité et Révolution, pp. 62-3, quote p. 63.); * The trotskyist Pierre Lambert's OCI was "completely hysterical with regard to homosexuality"; Lutte ouvrire was theoretically opposed to homosexuality; as was the Ligue communiste, despite their belatedly paying lip service to gay lib. (à confesse, Interview with Gérard Ponthieu in Sexpol no. 1 (20 January 1975), pp.10-14.) * Together, Guérin argued, such groups bore a great deal of responsibility for fostering homophobic attitudes among the working class as late as the 1970s. Their attitude was "the most blinkered, the most reactionary, the most antiscientific". (Etre homosexuel et révolutionnaire, La Quinzaine littéraire, no. 215, no. spécial : ‘Les homosexualités’ (August 1975), pp. 9-10. Quote p. 10)
^Guérin, Daniel. 1975. "Etre homosexuel et révolutionnaire", La Quinzaine littéraire [fr], no. 215, no. spécial : ‘Les homosexualités’ (August 1975), pp. 9-10.
Copley, Antony R. H. (1989). "Daniel Guérin: Towards Self-Acceptance". Sexual Moralities in France, 1780–1980: New Ideas on the Family, Divorce, and Homosexuality. London: Routledge. pp. 181–197. ISBN978-0-415-00360-5. OCLC883700728.