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Our History

  • the Omnibus bill

    By adopting the Omnibus bill, Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s government decriminalized homosexuality. Prior to this, the majority of gay men and women in Québec lived in the shadows and in the closet, despite the popularity of few downtown gay bars. Montréal also had a few out local gay heroes including Armand Monroe, who was named as the Marilyn Monroe impersonator “La Monroe”, in Montréal's Tropical Room of the Downbeat Club on Peel Street. In 1957, Armand demanded that gay staff be hired; on August 27, 1958, to mark his birthday, men were allowed to dance together for the very first time in a Montreal nightclub.
  • the Olympics

    As part of an attempt to “clean up” the city prior to the Olympics, Mayor Jean Drapeau convened a Public Morality Program aimed at gay and lesbian establishments. Beginning with the raid on the Aquarius Sauna in February 1975 with a police raid, many well-known establishments were targeted, including Club Baths (January 23, 1976) and Cristal Sauna (February 11, 1976). From the 14th to the 21st of March 1976, the Sauna Neptune, the Taureau d'Or, the Studio 1, the Stork Club and Jilly's, among others, were raided, fined and/or closed under often dubious charges. Many of the patrons and owners were arrested in what was, at the time, the largest of mass arrests in Québec since the 1970 October Crisis. In June, the Comité homosexuel antirépression (CHAR) was formed to protest the brutality of the raids; 300 people took to the streets. Finally, in October, the CHAR became the Association pour les droits des gai(e)s du Québec (ADGQ).
  • police raids

    Police raided Truxx and La Mystique. On October 21, over 140 gay men were arrested outside the Truxx bar. The following night, 2,000 people took to the streets to protest these arrests and voice their anger. Québec became the first jurisdiction in North America to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, adding it to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
  • The first parades

    La Brigade Rose, a local community group, produced “Gairilla”, bringing together approximately 52 people in 1979 and 250 people in 1980. From 1981 to 1986, different community groups began to produce parades, first under the name “Gai-lon-la”, then “Marche Bleu Blanc Rose”, and always held towards the end of June. For a few years, the parade even fell under the banner of the “Fête Nationale”, since the June 24 date coincided with the Stonewall anniversary. Pink Brigade handed over the organization of Gay Pride to the ADGQ (Association pour les droits des gai(e)s du Québec), who organized Gay Pride until 1986. From 1988 to 1992, Parades continued to attract revellers, sometimes in the thousands, to celebrate Gay Pride on Sainte-Catherine Street East, between Saint-Hubert and Champlain Streets, in the heart of the Gay Village.
  • July 15, 1990

    July 15 was a momentous date in the history of Québec Gay Rights. When a group of overzealous Montréal police officers decided to violently break-up the "Sex Garage" party in Old Montréal, a series of events unfolded, in what was widely-held as Montréal’s version of the Stonewall Riots. That night 400 primarily gay, lesbian and transgender revellers were taunted, brutalized and arrested while trying to leave the party. Enraged and no longer willing to settle for unfair targeting, giant protests occured on that same night and the night following outside the Montréal Police Station 25. Images of the brutality outside the "Sex Garage" party circulated around the globe and nearly three million Montrealers were finally made aware of the fear and conditions constantly faced by Montréal’s sexual and gender diversity population. The events of July 15 lead to an investigation, a series of recommendations by the Human Rights Commission, the creation of both Black & Blue and Divers/Cité and fostered in a new era of cooperation and mutual respect between a newly sensitized Montréal Police Force and the LGBTQ Community. Today the Montréal Police is considered an ally in combating homophobia and protecting our rights. Lastly, the "Sex Garage" protests also mobilized the sexual and gender diversity communities and opened the door to a new era of inclusiveness, particularly with respect to the transgender population.
  • Divers/Cité

    Suzanne Girard (formerly an organizer of the Image+Nation LGBTQ Film Festival) and Puelo Dier (an original organizer of the protests following Sex Garage Party) joined together to form Divers/Cité, after no parade was held in 1992. Together, they grew the Divers/Cité parade from a mere 5,000 people in its initial year to an estimated 200,000 in its 5th year. Divers/Cité was an integral and internationally recognized part of gay life in Montréal and an important cultural festival that featured many members of our impressive sexual and gender diversity community as well as international performers.
  • first legal Québec gay marriage

    On April 1, Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf invited crowds to witness and celebrate the first legal Québec gay marriage at the Montréal Palais de Justice, after a Québec Court of Appeals upholded, on March 19, the Lemelin decision. On June 29, the same-sex marriage legislation passed a final reading in the House of Commons making Canada only the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to officially recognize same-sex marriage.
  • The beginnings of Célébrations LGBTA Montréal

    Divers/Cité withdrew from the organization of community events. Célébrations LGBTA Montréal (currently known as Fierté Montréal Pride), a newly formed, community-driven and not-for-profit organization, took the reigns and proudly organized the Montréal Gay and Lesbian Community Day & Parade on July 28 & 29 2007. Célébrations LGBTA Montréal was launched with the unprecedented support of the members of Montréal’s sexual and gender diversity communities. The 2007 edition launched many exciting new features including Grand Marshals, an Artistic Director, a theme, as well a series of awards to highlight spirit and float-design.
  • Our Flag, Our Pride

    2012 marked the 6th edition of the Fierté Montréal Pride organization and festival. On this occasion, the theme of the parade was Our Flag, Our Pride. Fierté Montréal welcomed more than 327,000 people who took part in the activities. 2012 was punctuated by the presence of a special guest: David Testo, a former soccer player for the Montréal Impact, involved as Grand Marshals. Testo was one of the few professional athletes to have publicly come out of the closet, also paving the way for other sexual and gender diversity athletes worldwide.
  • Our flag, Our life: RED

    The 7th edition of Montréal Pride was a resounding success with a record participation of 462,560 on all 7 days of festivities. A more diverse programming than ever, has highlighted a sexual and gender diversity communities dynamic and proud. The year 2013 marked the 35th anniversary of the rainbow flag. The theme chosen by the organizers committee: Our flag, Our life: RED. Red, the first color represented in the rainbow flag embodies the vitality, love and passion of the sexual and gender diversity communities.
  • Our flag, Our flame : ORANGE

    For this 8th edition, coinciding with the 30th Montréal parade, the theme was Our flag, Our flame. The color of the flag of honor was orange, which represents healing, vitality, energy and heat. A colour that represents the many facets of our community. A vibrant community, dynamic and diverse, united by a deep desire for acceptance and respect. Despite four consecutive days of rain, the 8th edition of Pride Montréal was a great success in terms of participation and community involvement. During the seven days of the event, nearly 400,000 people took part in the various activities offered.
  • Our Flag, Our Energy : YELLOW

    For the third consecutive year, the Pride Parade theme was inspired by the rainbow flag and the third colour which is, yellow, representing light and energy. The Parade was under the theme Our Flag, Our Energy. The Pride Parade, the largest parade in the province, broke all records. The sunny weather encouraged some 290,000 spectators to line the parade route along René-Lévesque Boulevard to admire and cheer on the 127 contingents representing Montréal Pride partners and the city’s sexual and gender diversity organizations. The 9th edition of Montréal Pride enjoyed unprecedented media coverage, giving the festival the opportunity to sensitize the general public about the realities faced by LGBTQ people. The presence in Montréal of International Grand Marshal Anna Sharyhina, director of KyivPride (Ukraine), brought to the forefront the violence and the difficult living conditions that sexual and gender diversity people endure internationally. The popular transgender actress Candis Cayne also received much media attention, making an extraordinary contribution to sensitizing the media and the general public about trans people’s situations both here and around the world.

MONTRÉAL PRIDE

 

Founded in 2007 as an initiative of Montréal’s sexual & gender diversity communities, Montréal Pride is now the largest gathering on this matter in the Francophone world.

The organization’s primary mission is to support and promote local communities while serving as a beacon of hope for people around the world who continue to battle injustice.

Today, Montréal Pride attracts nearly 2.7 million local and international visitors for eleven days of community and cultural activities including free shows, panels, the community day and the parade.

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A Brief History of the Rainbow Flag

 

All around the world this summer, the rainbow flag will be waving in the streets as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities celebrate Pride. But why did Pride adopt the emblem of the rainbow?

The use of bright colors to indicate sexual orientation is not new. Historically, homosexuals, forced to hide, would wear bright colors as a sign amongst themselves. Oscar Wilde wore a green carnation in his lapel in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a symbol that was used by Londoners and Parisians to discreetly signal their sexual orientation. In Australia, it was the wearing of bright yellow socks. During the Holocaust, homosexuals were forced to wear a pink triangle. In the 1970s, purple became the colour of choice in San Francisco, where the “purple hand” was proposed as the symbol of gay pride.

Gilbert Baker

Gilbert Baker (Photo : Spencer Platt —Getty Images)

Today the rainbow flag is, for many cultures, a symbol of peace, diversity and harmony, but the flag with six stripes is specific to the LGBTQ+ community. It began during the Pride Parade in San Francisco in 1978 when Gilbert Baker, American graphic artist and LGBTQ+ political activist, designed what is thought to be the first gay pride flag that would become a key symbol of Gay Pride for years to come. Baker used the symbolism of the rainbow because, he said, “We are all of the colours. Our sexuality is all of the colours. We are all the genders, races and ages.”

Initially, Baker’s had eight coloured stripes: pink for sexual liberation, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for serenity and nature, turquoise for art, blue for harmony and violet for the human spirit.

But in November 1978, when a march was organized to protest the assassination of Harvey Milk, Baker’s friend and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, Baker worked with the Paramount Flag Company to produce a seven-striped version because the pink was not commercially available. Baker also removed the turquoise to maintain an even number of colours. Eventually, the indigo was replaced by royal blue, giving us the six-striped flag (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) we know today.

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