La vie à Montréal est gaie! Life in Montréal is gay!
There is a double entendre happening in the above statement… by ‘gay’ we mean ‘happy’ AND ‘homolicious.’ Montréal has a long history of pride that ranges from our very own Stonewall in 1977 to being the first provincial jurisdiction in the world to recognize same-sex civil unions to a contemporary attitude that welcomes diverse peoples from all walks of life. We are the crossroads of Europe and North America, and our many dimensions of language, culture, art, politics and sexuality fuel a passion and sophistication that is unparalleled anywhere on the continent.
THE GAY VILLAGE: YOUR FIRST STOP
In Montréal, gay life is certainly not confined to geographic boundaries, but we are fortunate to have a whole neighborhood that is devoted to sexual and gender diversity. We don’t want to brag, because we’re certainly not size queens, but Wikipedia states that the Montréal Gay Village is “the largest in North America.” I suppose we’re just homosexually well endowed.
With over 100+ street-level merchants ranging from funky restaurants to cozy Bed & Breakfasts, charming antique shops to steamy saunas, the adventure-seeking traveler can easily spend a weekend without leaving the Gayborhood. You can get a famous Montréal lesbian haircut, or increase ‘blood flow’ with our Cirque du Soleil inspired male strippers, who are more than content to take off their bottoms for eager visitors.
And one of the best aspects of the Village is absolutely free! Aires Libres, which roughly translates to ‘Open Air,’ is a unique eco-artistic Montréal initiative. From May to September the main street of the Gay Village becomes a pedestrian mall (closed to motorized vehicles), where out-of-town visitors mix with locals to shop, dine al fresco or just relax on a bench in the sunshine to watch the world go by.
LGBT FESTIVALS TO MARK ON YOUR CALENDAR
Montréal, among many things, is a city of festivals. Several of the parties we host are world renown, such as the Montréal Jazz Fest (this year featuring Cyndi Lauper) or the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival (a must-see for any homo with a sense of humor). We also have four major festivals that specifically cater to LGBT peoples:
Divers/Cité – An internationally recognized event with a very loyal following, the festival celebrates diversity with music, art and dance. (July 26 – August 1)
Célébrations – Our classic Pride festivities complete with an energetic parade, a community day and always some hot surprises! (August 13 – 16)
Black & Blue – Started in 1991, a massive circuit party featuring international stars, which also doubles as a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS related organizations. (October 6 – 12)
Image&Nation – The official LGBT film festival of Montréal, highlighting the best of local and global queer film. (Late October)
ACTIVITIES BEYOND CRUISING*!
*Cruising still encouraged.
Sunday afternoons present two fantastic options in Montréal. The first is a massively popular drumming festival on Mount Royal called Tam Tams, where visitors can literally feel the pulse of the city. And you’ll probably get a good smell of the city as well; it’s a mixture of maple leaves and ‘Mary Jane.’ The second option is Piknic Électronik. Located in Parc Jean-Drapeau, home of the 1967 World Expo, Piknic Électronik is an outdoor dance party featuring a mixture of local talent and internationally recognized DJs. Here you can watch the sunset over the city’s distinctive skyline – a truly authentic Montréal experience.
Montréalers love to eat. French cuisine is clearly on the menu, but the culinary options are as diverse as the countries that have chosen to call the city their home. We are an urban center increasingly built of various immigrant communities, and each ethnicity brings a unique flair to the table. Montréal does have its traditional specialties, such as smoked meat and bagels, and a visit without sampling the poutine is considered a sacrilegious crime. We are a foodie’s paradise with a passion for satisfying our epicurean urges.
Due to all that delicious food, Montréalers also like to exercise. We consistently rank in the top bicycle-friendly cities in the world (askmen.com recently gave us a Top 10 global rating), and much of this is due to a tourist-friendly, community bike share program called BIXI. Other sporty activities include walking on Mount Royal, rollerblading along the Lachine Canal, Rollerderby tournaments in the trendy Plateau district and, of course, full-contact cruising in the Gay Village.
In a recent article by Lonely Planet, Montréal was named one of the Top 10 hedonistic cities to visit because of its amazing party culture. This becomes evident in the Gay village where clubs such as Parking, Unity and Sky Pub, for the guys, and Le Drugstore, for the women, offer multiple dance floors, and roof top patios for unique perspectives on the city. The party keeps going until the sun comes up at afterhours clubs such as Stereo and Circus.
Also, there is an interesting shift occurring in the local queer nightlife scene, with many gay parties blossoming outside of the Gay Village. Women will find the Meow Mix is the perfect way to see seductive local burlesque, cutting-edge performance art and cocky drag kings. Guys should check out Mec Plus Ultra held at the Belmont bar on historic ‘Main Street’ (Boulevard Saint Laurent) where the music is electropop, the boys are BUTT Magazine-esque and the beer is cheap.
ACCOMMODATION: SO MANY OPTIONS
The options for staying in Montréal are as diverse as the colors of a big gay rainbow. For those on a budget, there are plenty of low-cost choices, such as backpacker hostels or university residence accommodations. For those interested in a personal touch, there are many B&Bs located directly in the Gay Village. And if you’re a queer with a penchant for opulence, our decadent boutique hotels in Old Montréal will have you curled in the lap of luxury.
But no matter where you choose to rest your dancin’ feet, you will most certainly be greeted with a smile and a ‘Bonjour!’
Click here to check out our LGBT Getaway Package