Montréal shows its Pride across the city

Richard Burnett

Montréal Pride is the largest LGBTQ Pride in Canada and will take place at the Parc des Faubourgs from August 9 to 19, 2018.

But the whole city is getting into the spirit of Pride and 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.

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Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

For the third consecutive year, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will not only take part in the Pride Parade on August 19, but will open its doors to festivalgoers for an exclusive half-price visit ($11.50) of the temporary exhibition From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-face Picasso, Past and Present, on August 13 from 6 to 9 pm.

The MMFA will also welcome Miss Major Griffin-Gracy to speak at a lecture organized by Fierté Montréal Pride. An American trans woman activist, veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and a 2018 Fierté Montréal Pride Grand Marshal, Miss Major (as she is commonly known) is an iconic figure of the sexual and gender diversity communities and will give a free lecture about her extraordinary life, in the MMFA’s Bourgie Hall on August 17 at 7 pm.

Montréal Pride Hackathon 2018

The community-oriented Queer Tech MTL and GLEE will organize and host their second annual PrideHacks at the PricewaterhouseCoopers office. Last year’s event drew some 70 participants who completed tech projects for five non-profits, from upgrading phone systems to building websites and apps. This year, organizers are hoping for 100 participants who will provide tech solutions to eight LGBTQ non-profits and NGOs. Click here to register. PrideHacks runs August 11 to 12 and is open to everybody, from novice coders to experienced engineers.

The History of Sexuality

Playwright / director Dane Stewart remounts his hit 2017 play The History of Sexuality, which is based on a series of interviews with queer Montrealers. The play and its nine-person cast offer an intimate and radically honest examination of sex and power from a queer perspective. Five students take a graduate seminar studying the work of revolutionary philosopher Michel Foucault. As they argue over issues of sexuality, gender, oppression and free will, these theories begin to rupture and spill out into their own lives. The characters expose the complexities of sexuality as it collides with kink, BDSM, disability, race, gender, and sex work. The play runs at Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts from August 9 to 12.

Literary Pride

The Grande Bibliothèque is a vast state-of-the-art public library and cultural venue located on the western end of Montréal’s Gay Village. It provides open and free access to more than four million items, including two million books, and during Pride, from August 9 to 19, the library has plenty of LGBTQ-themed programming, including a selection of LGBTQ books on display on each floor.

On Saturday, August 11, French-language programming at their Espace Jeunes includes an hour of storytelling for kids aged three to five with beloved Montréal drag queen Barbada de Barbades, from 10:30 to 11:30 am. Free admission.

The following day, at 10:45 am. on Sunday, August 12, The Queerest Little Ledo Productions and La Petite Librairie D&Q present the second edition of the bi-monthly English-language Rainbow Story Hour – a queer Montréal twist on Drag Queen Story Hours in other cities – featuring local LGBTQ drag queens, comedians, advocates, performers and celebrities - at the Librairie Drawn & Quarterly in Mile End. This edition features comedian Tranna Wintour, nine-year-old drag sensation Lactatia, as well as transgender creator and popular YouTuber Aaron Ansuini. Children of all ages welcome. Free admission.  

One of the Boys

The Grande Bibliothèque will also premiere director Doris Buttignol’s new documentary film Ti-gars (One of the Boys) about the FTM transition of Canadian Forces Cpl. Vincent Lamarre, who served in Afghanistan. The doc will be screened in the library auditorium on August 16 from 7 to 9 pm, followed by a public Q&A with both Buttignol and Lamarre.

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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 will welcome international drag punk Disasterina to their third annual Filthy Pride with Disasterina - House of Laureen Pride Show on August 11, featuring Disasterina, Uma Gahd, Noah Gahd, Anaconda LaSabrosa, Phoenix Wood, Queeny Ives, Rubi Strange, Lizzy Strange, Aleera Verushka and Verona Verushka. Showtime is 11 pm. If you don’t go for the fabulous drag queens, then go just to experience the incredible time warp that is Cleo’s.

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A Night at the Tubs

Director Davyn Ryall presents a remount of the musical comedy SAUNA: The Musical! featuring a shameless all-male cast at Café Cleopatra from August 8 to 19. Presented in both English and French versions.

Queens at the Queen E

Montréal drag icon Mado Lamotte will be accompanied by Squeegee Nicky on the piano for Mado’s much-anticipated Royalement Vôtre! performance at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel. This marks Mado’s debut at the equally legendary Queen E, on August 9 from 8 to 10 pm.

The Queen E will also host its second annual Pride Day cocktail viewing party on its third-floor Nacarat Terrace, whose panorama view of the parade on René-Lévesque Boulevard below is stunning. DJ, cocktails and food await, and a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Fierté Montréal Pride. August 19 from noon to 4 pm. Book early – space is limited.

MSM [men seeking men]

Toronto theatre company lemonTree presents MSM [men seeking men], their critically-acclaimed dance/theatre piece inspired by transcripts of online conversations between men who seek other men, playing at the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, August 16 and 17 at 8 pm.

Gently Down the Stream

Brave New Productions presents the Canadian premiere of Tony-nominated playwright Martin Sherman’s 2017 Off-Broadway play Gently Down The Stream, a love story about the triumphs and heartbreaks of the entire length of the gay rights movement, celebrating and mourning the ghosts of the men and women who led the way for equality, marriage and the right to dream. Runs at MainLine Theatre from August 2 to 11.

Up Close & Personal with Deborah Cox

Contemporary art and LGBTQ issues take centrestage at the Never Apart centre in Montreal’s hip Mile Ex neighbourhood. During Pride, their superb Legend Series (past superstar guests have ranged from Bruce LaBruce to Joey Arias) welcomes soul and pop diva Deborah Cox, who was long compared to Whitney Houston until she matched Whitney chop-for-chop on the 2000 duet Same Script, Different Cast. In the studio, Houston told her, “You can sang! You’re in the club now!” Cox will appear at Never Apart on August 17 from 7 to 9 pm.

From Stonewall to Mauritius to Montréal

Montréal’s historic St. James United Church downtown will host an outdoor, bilingual, broad-based spiritual gathering prior to the Pride parade on August 19, beginning at 9 am in St. James Square. St. James United has played a significant role in Montréal’s LGBTQ community by participating in community events, performing same-gender marriages, providing a ‘safe’ spiritual haven, being visible in the Pride parade and offering support and education against homophobia.

This year’s guest speaker will be Montrealer Liliane Laventure-Burnett who defied death threats to be ‘Godmother’ of the historic first-ever Indian Ocean Pride in her native Mauritius in June 2018. Says St. James United Reverend Arlen John Bonnar, “We would like the LGBTQ community in Mauritius, and elsewhere, to know that as we gather, march and celebrate in Montréal, we hold them in our thoughts and prayers.”

Montréal Pride runs from August 9 to 19. For more information, visit www.fiertemontrealpride.com.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

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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