Montreal Gay Pride’s week-long celebration which started on Monday continues to draw record crowds as organizers stress family-friendly entertainment. Yesterday’s festivities were held at Place Émilie-Gamelin, a vibrant city square in central Montreal, which was created to commemorate the city’s 350 years of existence.
At the main show called Horizons, there were more high school students and straight couples. But that’s okay because everybody’s welcome and Tuesday’s main event was free to everyone. According to the Fierté Montreal Pride website, the show is a brand new Montreal Pride production that pays homage to the celebration’s “grand marshalls by showcasing the beauty of interethnic differences.”
As it went down, the show would turn out to be a melding of Hollywood and Bollywood crowds, with French songs and Inuit throat singing in between. As organizers have expected, throngs of tourists, marked by the baggage-on-wheels and the Asahi or Canon cameras that they wield, have begun to descend on the city of Montreal.
The crowds are expected to swell to at least half a million people by Sunday when Montreal Gay Pride undertakes its yearly parade, which is a 10-year-old tradition. According to the Montreal Gazette, security has been doubled for this year’s event in consideration of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting on June 12. Apparently, Montreal City Hall isn’t taking chances, although there are no identifiable security threats at the moment.
The expected attendance of the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who has not missed out on any of this year’s gay pride celebrations in the country, impacts security concerns as well. Trudeau is certainly a crowd-drawer, although he has attended countless gay pride parades in the past as a matter of habit — that is, before he took over the country’s highest office.
“It’s sort of frustrating that it has to be a big thing,” CTV News quotes the prime minister as saying. Nevertheless, Trudeau’s gay parade attendance will always be a big thing for event organizers as he causes Pride attendance to swell to record levels. To the Montreal Gay Pride, in particular, rising attendance can only mean more business for the city’s gay village.
For decades, CBC News reports, the Montreal Gay Village has struggled to reinvent itself as it “becomes a victim of its own success.”
The source explains this seemingly strange phenomenon as follows.
“Village merchants are losing out on business as gay people feel more welcome in other parts of the city…Young gay men and women feel more at ease in many parts of the city and don’t look only to the village to live, shop and party. What’s left is a neighborhood in flux as businesses rely more and more on the summer tourist season to stay financially sustainable.”
Montreal’s Gay Village is situated on Saint Catherine Street East, between the Beaudry Metro station and Amherst Street in the city’s Ville-Marie neighborhood.
But Montreal’s gay village is not alone in this regard, as other gay villages around the world experience the same fate.
“Gay villages across North America have become a victim of their own success and of society’s increased tolerance,” says CBC News. The source goes on to cite similar experiences in New York’s Greenwich Village and Toronto’s gay district.
“Being queer in Montreal wasn’t always safe, ” says The Montreal Gazette.
“Montreal has its own turbulent history with gay rights: on a warm July night in 1990, revelers leaving the Sex Garage loft party were met by dozens of police officers with batons…It sparked days of protest from Montreal’s gay rights community, and is often referred to as Montreal’s Stonewall, in reference to a series of riots following a raid in New York’s City’s Greenwich Village in 1969.”
As Montreal celebrates its annual Gay Pride for the 10th year, it looks to a Canadian prime minister whose unique and eternally optimistic attitude is often overshadowed by his extremely mediagenic personality. Nevertheless, Trudeau’s brand of optimism still manages to cut through media channels, as Huffington Post Canada clearly shows.
But the question remains, will eternal optimism be enough to stem the tides of terrorism that continue to plague the known free world? From Justin Trudeau’s point of view, it does seem so. Trudeau’s unshakable convictions on democracy seem to hold amid Donald Trump’s insinuations of building a wall.
To date, no act of terrorism has befallen Canada despite its visibility in fighting ISIS and welcoming Syrian refugees with arms wide open. Still, the threat of terrorism continues to hang like the sword of Damocles in every huge public gathering or celebration anywhere on the planet. Is the best recourse then to avoid large gatherings like the impending Montreal Gay Pride parade this Sunday?
The Montreal Gazette poses the question, and René Poitras, manager of Bar Relaxe located in Montreal’s gay village, answers as follows.
“I’m not scared. We’re aware that it could happen here. But if you stop because of that, then you’re not really living anymore. Life is short enough.”
This is what truly makes this Sunday’s big event, the Montreal Gay Pride parade, a test of wills. On a warm July night in 1990, Montreal’s LGBTQ community was at war with the city’s very own police force. This Sunday, LGBTQ plus heterosexuals and the Canadian prime minister on their side face will participate in a parade at 1 p.m. Eastern time followed by a moment of silence at 2:30 p.m. to commemorate the victims of the Orlando, Florida, shooting victims as well as other victims of sexual discrimination.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]