A look at Montréal’s vibrant, thriving LGBT+ community
Walk the streets of Montréal’s Gay Village (known as Le Village on city maps), and you’re not only in North America’s largest official village, but also one of its oldest. But Montréal’s LGBT+ identity isn’t held back by neighbourhood borders. Long an LGBT+ haven with a rich history of championing human rights, trendsetting activism and an unforgettably welcoming spirit, Montréal’s vibrant joie de vivre reflects every colour of the rainbow.
A quick his/her/theirstory
The first known gay business in North America was a cake and apple shop owned by Montréaler Moise Tellier, registered in 1869. Since then, Montréal’s gay population has made its mark city-wide, in the process building one of the world’s most important LGBT+ havens. Today, Sainte-Catherine Street through the heart of Montréal’s downtown and through the Village transforms into a bustling pedestrian-only zone, under the iconic rainbow ball canopy 18 Shades of Gay designed by Claude Cormier – an annual attraction beloved by locals and tourists alike.
A timeline of LGBT+ milestones and accomplishments in Montréal
1958 – Men dance together openly for the first time in Montréal nightclubs.
1967 – The Pierre Elliott Trudeau government introduces the Omnibus Bill, proclaiming, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Homosexuality and transexuality are decriminalized. Private consensual same-sex activity is proclaimed legal two years later.
1977 – The province of Québec became the first jurisdiction to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation with the amendment of the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
1992 – The ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military in Québec is lifted as of January 1, 1992.
1998 – Montréal hosts the IGLTA Annual Convention (and again in 2007).
2003 – The 22nd World InterPride Conference gathers international activists in Montréal (returning to the city for its AGM in 2013).
2004 – Québec introduces legal civil unions, with the rest of Canada following by 2005. Same-sex adoption is also legal as of November, 2004.
2006 – Montréal plays host to the 1st World Outgames.
2006 – The International Conference on LGBT Human Rights comes to Montréal.
2007 – Fierté Montréal Pride is the new face of Montréal’s annual Pride festivities, quickly becoming a major point of the annual Pride calendar.
2009 – Québec is the first province in Canada to adopt an official policy and action plan to fight homophobia in society.
2015 – Québec makes it legal to change a person’s legal gender, without the requirement of sexual reassignment surgery.
2017 – LGBT discrimination in Québec is proclaimed illegal in the Québec Charter of Human Rights (as well as Gender Identity and expression federally under Bill C-16).
A busy calendar of festivals and events
Montréal’s annual Pride celebrations are held in August, gathering nearly 3-million LGBT+ revellers to the city. Punctuated by its famed T-Dances held in leafy Parc des Faubourgs (with a killer view of the Jacques Cartier Bridge), Montréal Pride’s annual line-up of superstar DJs, drag artists, musicians and other diverse performers punctuates the end of the summer with a pink exclamation point.
The rest of the year plays host to LGBT+ festivals and programming ranging from the annual image+nation (Canada’s oldest and longest-running LGBT+ film festival) to the Suoni per il Popolo Festival that brings intriguing and innovative LGBT+ musicians to the city for three weeks in June, with additional special events throughout the year. The gallery and performance space Never Apart hosts internationally renowned artists throughout the year, as well as an exciting off-site party schedule. A uniquely colourful underground scene also plays a big part in the city’s LGBT+ identity, with a slew of parties and performances the whole year round.
A city looking forward
Montréal’s groundbreaking creativity has brought the city to the forefront of the sciences, education, music and fashion. And as a leading city of technology, groups like Lesbians Who Tech and Queer Tech MTL are looking forward as united fronts for LGBT+ workers changing the face of tech. And there’s no stopping there – a hotspot for LGBT+ startups, innovations and creativity, we’ve only just seen the first tip of the iceberg.