Pride Week 2015 is back this year with what is promising to be its biggest and most colourful celebration of the LGBTQA community yet. The annual event is returning to Montreal from August 10th-16th with events such as its famous Pride Parade, Community Day, and six other full days devoted to celebratory festivities. Pride Week follows another exciting year of progress made in the fight for LGBTQA equal rights. From the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in favour of marriage equality to increasing discourse about trans issues, there is much to celebrate with this year’s raising of the rainbow flag.
The origins of Montreal Pride Week go all the way back to the 1970s when people began protesting against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In the early to mid ‘80s moderately sized parades were held under varying names such as “Gai-lon-la” and “Marche Bleu Blanc Rose”. Throughout the years the parades have begun to increase in size, spanning along Sainte-Catherine East in the heart of the Gay Village.
July 15, 1990 marked an especially important day for the increasing visibility and fight for equality of the Montreal LGBTQA community. Largely known as Montreal’s own Stonewall Riots, the Montreal Police violently broke up a “Sex Garage” party in Old Port where over 400 gay, lesbian, and transgender partygoers were assaulted and arrested. Images of the violence quickly spread and Montreal became aware of the unfair targeting and fear the LGBTQA community faces. These events led to an investigation by and recommendations from the Human Rights Commission and also helped initiate an era of mutual respect and cooperation between the Montreal Police and LGTBQA community. Since 2007, Montreal Pride has been organizing Pride Week to increase the visibility and celebrate the diversity and long history of the LGBTQA community.
Montreal Pride Week 2015 will end with its iconic Pride Parade on August 16th at 1pm. Last year the parade attracted over 300,000 onlookers and this year it’s expected to draw in even more celebrators. Starting on the corner of Guy Street, the parade will march east on René-Lévesque Boulevard, through the Village, and end at Place Émilie-Gamelin where the rest of the week’s festivities will take place. The parade will feature dozens of brightly decorated floats provided by local sports, groups, and other organizations as well as a multitude of choreographed dancers and brilliantly costumed individuals. Montreal Pride will present a series of awards to the best floats in the parade, including awards such as Most Crowd-Pleasing Float and Best Costume and Make-Up. Onlookers are invited to dance and march alongside the parade in their best outfits as it makes its way through downtown Montreal.
Pride Week will be holding a wide variety of events and activities to appeal to individuals of all ages and interests. Family-friendly community events will include the Trans March, Community Day, and the Raising of the Flag Ceremony. There will be various highly anticipated, educational conferences throughout the week such as “Let’s Talk About Bisexuality” and “News for Trans Rights, 2015 and After”. During the evenings and nights there will also be a series of cocktails and parties, including multiple 5 à 7s, happy hours, professional DJs, and special shows.
Pride Week is promising to be one incredible celebration that can’t be missed. With various festivities and events happening at all times during the week, there is something to fit everyone’s schedules and interests. Happy Pride Week, Montreal!