This year, Montreal’s Pride is like a dying man. Every once in a while, if it hasn’t made any noise, you gotta check its pulse to make sure it’s still with us.
A week ago, I heard a rumour that the whole thing was off again. But it would seem either the rumour was wrong, or the situation has been rectified; today I came across the latest press release with the latest details. It’s posted below for your reading pleasure, translated by yours truly. Please forgive any mistakes as I’m about to go to bed and not in a proofreading sort of mood.
My opinion on Pride is pretty clear-cut: we need it.
The “we” here extends waaaay beyond our happy little local queer bubble; in fact, Pride is probably far more important for the many people who don’t or can’t ever attend it than for the ones who do. It’s meta-activism – the kind whose effects can’t be quantified or necessarily even felt. I know a lot of people are starting to roll their eyes at the whole concept of Pride, but anytime the so-called debate comes up, it’s so riddled with homophobia of both the internalized (“Pride doesn’t represent normal mainstream me, it’s full of those awful drag queens and disgusting leathermen”) and externalized (“why do gay people need gay pride? We straights don’t have straight pride!”) varieties that I have a hard time sussing out any true substance to the debate.
Really – there are shockingly predictable and consistent sets of truly awful opinions out there. If you want recent confirmation of this tendency towards various forms and degrees of homophobia, look no further than the May 17 issue of Montreal’s Hour weekly, which contains an article about the original Pride cancellation. Specifically, take a look at the comments section at the bottom. It’s all there, folks. Completely cringe-worthy, and nothing we haven’t been hearing for, oh, forty years or so. (Sure, there are also nicer comments in there, but it isn’t hard to find the traditional yucky ones.)
For the curious, last week’s issue of the Link (Concordia student newspaper) featured an article by Lina Harper about the history of Pride and current opinions of the institution, mine among them. But of course an article quote can only go so far… so here’s my not-so-humble opinion in its full glory.
The purpose of Pride is not to provide a party for the masses, although that’s certainly a pleasant and beneficial side effect. No, the purpose of Pride is:
- To show the world that there exists a place where it’s safe to be queer, out of the closet, and visible as such on the streets, and this safety extends so widely that hundreds of thousands of people feel perfectly comfortable being photographed and otherwise identified as participants.
- To provide a widely-known point of access to queer community for those who might otherwise have a hard time finding anything beyond “hotsex4u”-style gay chat sites and news articles about same-sex marriage.
- To exist as an outpouring of joy that in turn provides a source of moral support for the activists, from armchair to full-time, who move queer rights forward for all of us. We all need a bloody party once in a while.
- To serve as a major cultural gathering where information (such as safer sex info, human rights info, etc.) can be widely disseminated and seen as an integral part of queer existence – keeping queers at the forefront of progressive movements everywhere.
- To remind ourselves, and the world, that we are unabashedly sex-positive and gender-diverse, lest we sink into the normalized morass that is North American sexual/gender-binary culture.
- To remind us of our history – may we never forget that the rights we do have required a lot of fighting to acquire, and may we pay tribute to our forequeers as best we see fit.
- To help queer people all over the world get laid.
With all that in mind, please, someone, find me a good reason – I mean a good one, not one that relies on hatred of sexual and gender minorities – why Pride should end. And if you manage to come up with one, the next challenge is to tell me what possible other single event could cover all the bases I just listed with as much effectiveness and joy. Do that, and we might have a real debate on our hands.
Otherwise, stop bitching, put on your goddam feather boa and your chaps, and get out there in July and August like the rest of us privileged Montreal queers. We fought for our party years ago, and we’re still working hard for it now. So let’s bloody well enjoy it.
Célébrations LGBTA Montréal
514 528 6190
SAVE THE DATE:
LGBTA COMMUNITY DAY AND PARADE WILL TAKE PLACE IN MONTREAL ON JULY 28 AND 29, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 – We are extremely pleased to announce that the gay & lesbian parade and community day will take place once again this year, this time under the aegis of a new non-profit organization, Célébrations LGBTA Montréal.
Community Day will take place on Ste.-Catherine St. East (between St-Hubert and Papineau streets) on Saturday, July 28, 2007, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The LGBTA Community Parade will take place on Sunday, July 29, 2007, starting at 1 p.m.
These major events will continue an important tradition that began in 1979. We would like to underscore a first-time event: Mr. Claude Vaillancourt will be providing artistic direction for the parade. Participating groups are strongly encouraged to follow a very specific concept, under the theme “the power of the four elements.”
The parade trajectory, final programming and further information will be available at a press conference taking place within the coming two weeks.
For further information, please contact
Célébrations LGBTA Montréal
514.528.6190 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The event is benefiting from unprecedented support from Montreal’s business community and community groups, including:
La SDC du Village
La Chambre de commerce gaie du Québec
La Fondation BBCM/Festival Black & Blue
Groupe d’intervention en violence conjugale chez les lesbiennes (GIVCL)
Centre communautaire des gais et lesbiennes de Montréal
La Coalition des transsexuelles et transsexuées du Québec
La Coalition jeunesse montréalaise de lutte à l’homophobie
L’Association des mères lesbiennes
La Fondation Émergence
L’Association des lesbiennes et des gais sur Internet
L’Association des motocyclistes gais du Québec
Productions Village du Monde
Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes