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Out and about in the Village

Happy times are very visible in this part of town

By : Adair MacGregor

In Montreal, there are more rainbow stickers on cars, hotels, restaurants, clubs and even bicycle shops and grocery stores than in any other place in North America.

Once a visitor finds his way though, our happy tourist will know exactly when he’s hit the main strip. Filled with trees, parks, memorials and extremely packed sidewalks, the Gay Village hosts international restaurants of all flavours, trendy clothing stores, quaint cafés, gaudy strip clubs, large saunas and more gay bars and discotheques than Paris. It’s common knowledge that a motivated partier can start Thursday afternoon and party until Sunday morning, all within the confines of Montreal’s Gay Village.

The Village is situated on Ste-Catherine between Papineau and Berri-UQAM Metro stations and is flanked by Rue Sherbrooke and Rue Rene-Levesque. In terms of geographic area, Montreal is home to the largest gay community on the continent.

Even though evidence of social repression dates into the 90s, the trees along the streets, the park benches and the thriving community are all thanks to funding from the municipal, federal and national government who fully support the growing community. Our happy tourist can sit amidst the greenery, sip on a choice of iced lattes and watch all levels of the gay community mix and manage in a completely accepting environment.

In the coming years, the Gay Village will become the site of one of the biggest and most important LGBT community centres in North America. A total of $7.5 million is being spent to fund a four-storey complex in the heart of the Village that will include a cultural center, a centre for community affairs and a commercial space. Among the many groups flocking to the center is Quebec’s Gay Archives, the lesbian archives (called “TRACES”) and a new library The Village Businesspersons and Professionals Association (L’association des commercants et professionnels du Village) is central to the growth of the community. Banding together like no other sector of the city, the organization deals with all economic problems that concern the Village. Every year, along with a non-profit organization, the association helps out with the Village’s International Art Festival which unites many artists to perform and showcase their art.

Other festivals include Black and Blue, which brings tourists from all over to attend the biggest gay circuit party in the world. In the midst of summer, Montreal’s gay pride celebration, Divers/Cité, takes a week to share in cultural events from animated shows, calming river cruises and frenzied parties. In fact, there is rarely a weekend in the summer where something isn’t going on. Last time we saw our happy tourist, he was lost in a crowd of men, smiling, and getting ready to dance.

Montreal is gay—tell your friends. Our happy tourist already has.



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