Pride organizers hope to unite Montreal under rainbow flag
Organizers of the 13th annual Pride festival are promising to be bigger and bolder than ever.
The 11-day celebration begins Thursday, Aug. 8 and includes 20 free shows, one massive dance, and hundreds of activities.
Michel Dorian and Jean-Sebastien Boudreault say they want to rival Just for Laughs and the Jazzfest.
"I'm on the board of Montreal Pride, I'm working at the office of Montreal Pride and I do my shows. It's a lot," said Dorian.
In addition to the fun and vibrant flair, organizers are drawing attention to an important anniversary.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, when police raided a gay bar and sparked a week of violent clashes.
That was the launching point for a movement that still faces obstacles today.
"People think everything is perfect in Canada, but it's not true. We've achieved a lot and that's why we have this celebrating part of Pride, but we also have the demanding part," said Boudreault.
On Sunday several hundred transgender people and supporters marched in downtown Montreal, calling for more access to healthcare and social services.
Meanwhile the LGBTQ community faces a backlash from socially conservative groups, including those planning a "straight pride" parade in Boston later this month.
"We're extremely preoccupied with the fact that a certain movement, far-right movement coming from the U.S." is at work, said Tourism Minister Melanie Joly.
Regardless, Montreal Pride is trying to help develop the movement in other countries, citing Canada's legislative changes as an example, with homosexual behaviour decriminalized in 1967, and gay marriage legalized in 2005.
Pride activities take place at Parc des Faubourgs
The Parc des Faubourgs, at the corner of De Lorimier Ave. and Ontario St. East, is the main venue for Montreal Pride activities.
It includes two stages: the indoor Montreal Casino stage, and the outdoor TD Stage.
The park will be open to all from Aug. 9 to 18 with the exception of Monday Aug. 12 and Tuesday Aug. 13.
There are more than 200 performers and artists at the Pride Festival, and they include: Ciara, Margaret Cho, Steve Grand, Brian Justin Crum, Luciana, Sasha Velour, and Janice Robinson.
Local artists include: Ariane Moffatt, Claude Dubois, Luce Dufault, Safia Nolin, Debbie Lynch-White, Roxane Bruneau, Florence K, Genevieve Leclerc, Cassiopée, King Melrose, Kim Richardson, Eve Salvail, Fanny Bloom, Elizabeth Blouin-Brathwaite, Michel Dorion, Rita Baga, and Jimmy Moore.
This year the Pride Parade takes place on Sunday Aug. 18 at 1 p.m., and will run along René Levesque Blvd. from Metcalfe St. to Alexandre-DeSeve St.