As one of the gateway cities to the New World, underground gay life has flourished in Montréal for centuries. Montréal’s legendary joie-de-vivre and queer-positive embrace has turned the city into a choice LGBTQ international tourism destination, and there is much to see and do in Montréal for LGBTQ travellers in 2017.
Summer kicks off with Montréal drag legend Mado Lamotte’s 17th annual Drag Race—the over-the-top two-hour outdoor live show predates RuPaul’s Drag Race—at the Montreal Fringe Festival, whose 2017 edition runs from June 8 to 18. Several professional Montréal drag queens team up with their amateur counterparts for a side-splitting outdoor afternoon competition in Parc des Amériques. Mado’s Drag Race is usually held on the final weekend of the Montreal Fringe Festival. Free admission.
Montréal will be the place to be in August for the inaugural Canada Pride festival, as the city celebrates its 375th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Expo 67, and Canada marks 150 years of Confederation in 2017. Organized by Montréal Pride, the largest Pride festival in the Francophone world, and modelled on EuroPride and WorldPride, the 11-day Canada Pride celebration is expected to draw over 750,000 spectators from August 10 to 20, 2017.
Canada Pride will feature a sports tournament, an international conference on LGBTQ rights, as well as a series of indoor and outdoor parties and concerts. Canada Pride will also incorporate Montréal Pride’s annual LGBTQ Community Day, Trans and Dyke Marches, and the colourful and exciting Pride parade. Some 80 Pride organizations from across Canada will all be represented in Montréal, and each contingent will participate in the Pride parade. There will also be a massive Disco T-Dance featuring “A-list Canadian artists the likes of which have never been seen before at a Canadian Pride celebration” and the annual Mega T-Dance and closing show, all on August 20.
Montréal’s Pervers/Cité festival dubs itself the “underside of Pride” and will run concurrently during Canada Pride. This radical queer festival organizes activities to “reanimate the radical underpinnings of the Pride movement.” Visit perverscite.org for their soon-to-be-released 2017 dates and program.
After such a great adventure, “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” seen by two million visitors in twelve cities over five years couldn’t end like this… As cherry on the cake, as a very early Christmas gift or as a 2017 good resolution, the @mbamtl is presenting a surprise return of the most incredible wedding moments by #JeanPaulGaultier from May 27th until October 9th, 2017 in Montréal! #LoveIsLove
The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts brings iconic gay French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier back to Montréal for its Love Is Love by Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition showcasing Gaultier-designed wedding gowns. The exhibition features 30 creations—some being displayed for the first time—and underscores love and diversity by celebrating straight, gay, intercultural and interracial unions. Love Is Love runs from May 30 to September 3.
Meanwhile, as part of Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations and the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, the McCord Museum presents the Fashioning Expo 67 exhibition (March 17 to October 1) which revisits the world exposition that marked Canada’s Centennial and showcased Montreal designers and Canadian fashion before 50 million visitors.
In Old Montréal, the Centaur Theatre presents the Quebec premiere of the acclaimed Canadian comedy Bed and Breakfast, a heart-warming play about two gay men who move from urban Toronto to a tiny tourist town to convert the family residence into a B&B. The two leads play dozens of male and female characters—from narrow-minded rednecks to awkward high school boys—as prejudice tests the couple’s resolve, with some unexpected comical plot twists. Bed and Breakfast runs from April 25 to May 21.
Canada’s only Black LGBTQ film festival, Massimadi, kicks off their ninth edition during Black History Month. “Massimadi” comes from the contraction of two Haitian Creole words: masisi, a pejorative word for fag, and madivinez, for dyke. Organizers combined them in a bid to reclaim both words when they founded the film festival back in 2009. Visit massimadi.ca for news on their 2017 edition which will take place at various Montréal venues from February 21 to March 4.
Montréal’s Gay Village will also host the 17th edition of Mtl en Arts, an arts festival showcasing local and emerging artists in a one-kilometre-long outdoor art gallery, from June 28 to July 2.
Mtl en Arts takes place on the lively one-kilometre Aire Libres pedestrian mall on Sainte-Catherine Street in the Gay Village, stretching east from Place Émilie-Gamelin near Berri metro station to Papineau Street. Here, the city’s iconic “Boules Rose” – a.k.a. Pink Balls – installation covers the entire pedestrian mall, including the patios outside the many bars, cafés and restaurants. The “Boules Roses” can be seen from as far away as the Jacques Cartier Bridge and from the air, and has become so popular that tourists visit the strip on double-decker buses just to take pictures. During Canada Pride, the Aire Libres pedestrian mall will be at the heart of all the celebrations.
Tourists can also explore secret Gay Montreal outside the Gay Village on the History of Gay Montréal Self-Guided Walking Tour.
After drawing 800 revelers to their first party in 1991—raising $3,500 for AIDS Community Care Montréal—Montréal’s famed straight-friendly Black & Blue gay circuit party quickly became the single most successful all-night dance party on the planet. The Black & Blue main event is held on American Columbus Day Weekend (and Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend) each October. Visit bbcm.org for details about Black & Blue’s upcoming 27th annual edition.
Image+Nation is Canada’s oldest LGBTQ film festival and will screen the best of queer cinema from around the world at its milestone 30th annual edition this year. “Image+Nation is also one of the oldest LGBTQ film festivals in the world,” says festival director Charlie Boudreau. “It is a great contributor to the social fabric of Montréal and plays a trendsetting role within the larger festival circuit in Canada, North America and internationally.” Visit image-nation.org for news on their 2017 edition which will take place at various Montréal venues over 11 days beginning in late November.