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'He changed Montreal': LGBTQ+ activist John Banks has died at 80

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LGBTQ activist John Banks has died at the age of 80, according to the Archives gaies du Québec.

Banks organized the first-ever Pride March in Montreal in June 1979, which 52 people participated in.

"John would have been the first person to tell you that it was no easy task putting together a Pride March back in 1979," said Richard Burnett, arts & culture journalist, and good friend of Banks. "Getting city permits for a gay march in 1979 was not an obvious thing."

John Banks (standing) along with other organizers in Montreal's first Pride March in 1979. (Archives gaies du Quebec)

Banks and La Brigade Rose—his organizing group—held the march under the guise of Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities so as not to attract negative attention.

The march grew to roughly 250 participants in 1980 before eventually

growing into the large-scale parade that it is today.

Banks' death comes five days before the end of Pride Month.

"We're all going to miss him. He changed Montreal. He was a hell of a human being," said Burnett. 

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