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social sciences

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Truxx did not mark the end of raids, but it did galvanize the community. The ADGQ was greatly strengthened. It went on to publish the first long-running gay magazine in Montreal, Le Berdache. It launched the first successful discrimination lawsuit against the Catholic school board, which had refused to lease them space. It also continued to organize legal support for the Truxx arrestees.

By the mid 1980s, however, the expansion of gay public space and a greater public tolerance for homosexuality had a demobilizing effect and the ADGQ disbanded.

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The AIDS Crisis

Mayor Drapeau's party was ousted in 1986 and was replaced by an administration that included the first openly gay city counselor, Raymond Blain. He was instrumental in providing space for a gay and lesbian community center, but the new focus of activism was already by then the fight against AIDS, complications from which he himself died in 1992.

The Montreal AIDS Resource Centre (an outcrop of Gay Montreal) founded in 1984, was the first of a plethora of organizations that offered information, care, and support to those affected. Several individual doctors and researchers were also instrumental in bringing the health care system (which is public and universal) to deal adequately with the epidemic. Because of AIDS, media coverage of homosexuality became commonplace.

Tolerance of Homosexuality

The most significant source of progress for gay and lesbian liberation in the 1980s and 1990s was probably television. Contrary to the rest of Canada, where American television prevails, Quebec in general and Montreal in particular is especially fond of homegrown soap operas and mini-series broadcast at prime time. Very early in the 1980s, these sported sympathetic gay and lesbian characters and broached such important themes as coming out.

Openness to homosexuality was presented as modern and progressive to the French population eager to distance itself from the grande noirceur, or great darkness, the period prior to the 1960s when they were poorer, less educated, and living under the rule of the once powerful Catholic Church, which controlled education and other social services such as health care.


Most Montrealers take pride in their openness to sexuality and look in horror at organized anti-homosexual crusaders in English Canada and in the United States. Province wide, Quebec politicians from all parties are generally friendly to gay causes, as shown by the unanimous approval of a Civil Union law (equivalent to marriage and allowing for adoption and parental rights) in 2002.

Locally, city officials encourage the development of a thriving gay village replete with bars, stripper joints, and saunas. The city helps to promote the Divers/Cité pride festival and even "circuit party" events, such as the Black and Blue. Official support was instrumental in bringing the Gay Games to Montreal in 2006.

Three free monthly periodicals--Fugues, RG and Être--cater to gay men and lesbians, in addition to the four alternative weeklies that give adequate coverage of cultural events, such as Image & Nation, the oldest and largest gay and lesbian film festival in Canada.

A plethora of groups and organizations--from sports leagues to biker clubs to libraries and archives--make for a vibrant glbtq community. Most of these organizations are members of a political umbrella group called La Table de concertation des lesbiennes et des gais du Québec, which was the major force behind the successful lobbying for spousal rights.

Sadly, such victories have been politically demobilizing, as was shown in May 2003 by the lack of reaction to a raid on a stripper bar by the morality squad of the Montreal police, the first such action against a gay venue in nine years. Although the gay press has been unanimous in condemning the police and of their use of the traditional anti-homosexual arsenal of antiquated "Bawdy house" and "Gross Indecency" laws, very little grassroots support for the accused has emerged, whereas some conservative gays have gone so far as to approve of the police action.

Most Montrealers, comforted by the relative freedom of the past decade, see the raid as an aberration rather than as a threat to sexual liberation.

In spite of this apparent aloofness in the face of police repression, a number of Montreal's gay and lesbian organizations are fighting homophobia as never before. One of the largest and better financed, Gai-Écoute, is confronting lingering hostile attitudes wherever they may be, even in the world of sports, on which it has recently focused with an advertising campaign showing two hockey players kissing.

Another group, the GRIS, is sending hundreds of gay and lesbian volunteers to high schools to answer questions about homosexuality and to study the attitudes of students towards gay men and lesbians.

Finally, perhaps because Montreal has become a haven for many gay and lesbian refugees and immigrants who have contributed enormously to its community, a local chapter of Amnesty International has specialized in taking on cases of discrimination and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation in the third world.

Louis Godbout

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social sciences >> Overview:  Canada

In 2005 Canada became the fourth country to recognize same-sex marriages; the milestone victory solidified Canada's position as a leader in the struggle for glbtq equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Civil Union

Vermont's Civil Union law conferred all the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage on same-sex couples.

arts >> Overview:  Film Festivals

The queer film festival circuit came into its own in the early 1990s and has since burgeoned into a major international phenomenon.

literature >> Overview:  Québécois Literature

Although gay and lesbian Québécois literature has only a fifty-year history, it has flourished and seems destined to merge into mainstream Québécois literature.

social sciences >> Overview:  Toronto

Toronto's glbtq community has gone from being a hidden subculture to a power base in politics, the economy, and the arts.

social sciences >> Overview:  Vancouver

With a constant influx of immigrants and a vigorous and adaptable economy, Vancouver is a progressive city with a large and active glbtq community.

social sciences >> Baudry, André Émile

André Baudry, as leader of the French homophile movement from the early 1950s into the 1980s, was the principal spokesman for homosexuals in France before the rise of gay liberation in the 1970s.

arts >> Gay Games

A quadrennial sporting and cultural event designed for the glbtq community, the Gay Games has become a lucrative attraction for host cities.

literature >> Gide, André

André Gide, one of the premier French writers of the twentieth century, reflected his homosexuality in many of his numerous works.

literature >> Gidlow, Elsa

Elsa Gidlow, known to many as the "poet-warrior," was unabashedly visible as an independent woman, a lesbian, a writer, and a bohemian-anarchist at a time when such visibility was both unusual and potentially dangerous.

arts >> Outgames

The first world Outgames, held in Montreal in the summer of 2006, inaugurated what promises to be a quadrennial athletic and cultural event that combines the pursuit of athletic excellence with the joyous celebration of community.

literature >> Proust, Marcel

Marcel Proust is the author of A la recherche du temps perdu, one of the major achievements of Modernism and a great gay novel.

social sciences >> Stonewall Riots

The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.

arts >> Tewksbury, Mark

Olympic medalist Mark Tewksbury was closeted throughout his competitive swimming career, but since coming out has become an advocate for glbtq rights.


Benoît, Luc, ed. Sortir. Montréal: Éditions de l'Aurore, 1978.

Chamberland, Line. Mémoires lesbiennes: le lesbianisme à Montréal entre 1950 et 1972. Montréal: Éditions du Remue-ménage, 1996.

Demczuk, Irène, and Frank W. Remiggi eds. Sortir de l'ombre : histoires des communautés lesbienne et gaie de Montréal. Montréal: VLB, 1998.

Higgins, Ross. Chronologie du mouvement gai-lesbien au Québec: Événements majeurs avant 1980. Archives gaies du Québec:

_____. De la clandestinité à l'affirmation: pour une histoire de la communauté gaie montréalaise. Montréal: Comeau et Nadeau, 1999.

_____. A Sense of Belonging: Pre-liberation Space, Symbolics, and Leadership in Gay Montreal. Ph. D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropolology, McGill University, Montréal, 1997.

Leznoff, Maurice. The Homosexual in Urban Society. Master's Thesis, Department of Sociology, McGill University, Montréal, 1954.

Sylvestre, Paul-François. Bougrerie en Nouvelle-France. Hull: Asticou, 1983.

Québec's official site for gay tourism:

Montreal Gay Village Tourist Information at the Gay Chamber of Commerce:


    Citation Information
    Author: Godbout, Louis  
    Entry Title: Montreal  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 11, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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