Montréal guide to Off-Pride

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

Montréal Pride is the largest LGBTQ+ Pride in Canada and will take place at the Parc des Faubourgs from August 8 to 18, 2019.

But there are many LGBTQ+ events happening in Montréal in the days leading up to and during Pride.

Here is a sampling of Off-Pride events in Montréal.

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts blockbuster Thierry Mugler: Couturissime exhibition showcases Mugler’s work as a visionary couturier, director, photographer and perfumer. The gorgeous exhibition features more than 150 ensembles, most of them on display for the first time, created between 1973 and 2001, as well as many never-before seen accessories and stage costumes, clips and videos, archival documents and sketches. Thierry Mugler: Couturissime runs to September 8.

Montréal Pride Hackathon 2019

The community-oriented Queer Tech hosts its third annual PrideHacks at the PricewaterhouseCoopers office. This year, organizers are hoping for 100 participants who will provide tech solutions to 10 LGBTQ+ non-profits and NGOs. PrideHacks runs August 9 to 10 and is open to everybody, from novice coders to experienced engineers.


The Écomusée du fier monde presents Zïlon and Underground Montreal, a terrific career retrospective of iconic Montréal artist Zïlon, his collaborations with other notable artists, and the various emblematic and alternative spaces that bore witness to his art, from the LGBTQ+ Village to the Quartier des spectacles. The exhibition runs until September 1.

Queen of the Main

The Queen of the Main is, of course, Café Cleopatra, a show bar since 1895 and last remnant of Montréal’s fabled Sin City-era red-light district. While female strippers gyrate downstairs, drag queens rule the stage in the upstairs show bar where Montréal’s House of Laureen drag troupe presents Queer Pride on August 17. Showtime is 10 pm. If you don’t go for the fabulous drag queens, then go just to experience the incredible time warp that is Cleo’s.

Get some Hed!

Also at Café Cleopatra, In the Wings Promotions remounts its acclaimed production of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s Tony Award-winning rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by genderqueer East German singer Hedwig Robinson. There are four performances with a live band from August 8 to 10.

Queer History in Mile-Ex

The Never Apart centre in Mile-Ex presents two must-see summertime exhibitions: the travelling Queer as German Folk (joint project of the Goethe-Institut, Schwules Museum Berlin and Federal Agency for Civic Education) revisits the history of queer movements in the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, and reunited Germany since the 1960s; and the After Hours Chez Madame Arthur exhibition chronicles Montréal lesbian bars of the 1970s and 1980s. Both exhibitions run at Never Apart until September 28.

The Polaroid Project

The McCord Museum presents the internationally-acclaimed touring exhibition The Polaroid Project - At the Intersection of Art and Technology featuring the original works of some 100 of the most celebrated international artists of the 20th century – including Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and David Hockney – along with the Polaroid cameras they used. The exhibition runs to September 15.

Date from hell

Fresh from wowing audiences at OFF-JFL, writer/producer Christina Saliba remounts her hit horror-comedy Lesbian Speed Date From Hell! for four performances at Le Ministère between August 10 and 16. Beneath the laughs, the campy play explores the negative impacts of ghosting (ending a relationship by ceasing all communication) and a lack of social responsibility in online dating.

Literary Pride

The Violet Hour reading series presents its Pride edition with an evening of short readings and performances by LGBTQ+ writers and artists Christian Baines, Dayna McLeod, Clementine Morrigan, Ahmad Danny Ramadan and Sherwin Tija. Hosted by Christopher DiRaddo at Stock Bar in the Village on August 15 at 6 pm. The next night, a couple blocks over, the bilingual Authors in Undies event at Bar Le Cocktail on August 16 begins at 6 pm, with host and author Denis-Martin Chabot. Also, the 12th Queer Between the Covers book fair happens on Pride Parade day this year, on August 18 from 11 am to 6 pm.

Remembering Guilda

Following a screening of the superb French-language documentary film GUILDA: Elle est bien dans ma peau about famed Montréal female impersonator Guilda – a.k.a. Jean Guida – there will be a conference lecture by collector and amateur historian Louis Godbout of the Québec Gay Archives. For more than 50 years, Guilda sang live and often staged elaborate productions, with grand costumes and as many as 40 performers, including dancers and a live band. Guilda did uncanny impersonations of Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf, Mistinguett, Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth. Guilda also met many other stars while headlining cabaret halls and nightclubs the world over, including Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and Josephine Baker. This special Québec Gay Archives event will be held on August 14 at 7 pm at Cinéma du Parc. Free admission.

Queens at the Queen E

Montréal drag icon Mado Lamotte will be accompanied by Squeegee Nicky on the piano for Mado’s second annual Royalement Vôtre! concert performance in the Espace C2 at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel on August 8.

The Queen E will also host its third annual Pride Day cocktail viewing party on its third-floor Nacarat Terrace, whose panorama view of the parade on René-Lévesque Boulevard below is pretty stunning. DJ, cocktails and food, and a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Montréal Pride. August 18 from noon to 4 pm. Book early since space is limited.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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