Each year, Fierté Montréal Pride gives away thousands of free condoms during its LGBTQ Pride festival, and plans are to do the same at the first-ever national edition of Canada Pride, which kicks off in Montreal this week.
But when a middle-aged delivery man recently dropped off boxes containing some 18,000 condoms at the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve offices of Fierté Montréal, he freaked out.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” the delivery man repeated in French to Fierté Montréal staffers. “I’m delivering condoms to a bunch of faggots!”
“He kept saying this over and over,” said Fierté Montréal vice-president Jean-Sébastien Boudreault. “Here we are in 2017, and we’re being called faggots in our own office!
“It just shows you how ingrained societal homophobia still is in this day and age. That’s why Pride is still important.”
Organized by Fierté Montréal and modelled on EuroPride and WorldPride, Montreal will host the inaugural Fierté Canada Pride parade and festival Aug. 10 to 20.
Canada Pride Montréal 2017 is part of the official programming of Montreal 375 celebrations and Canada 150 festivities, and is expected to draw over 750,000 spectators, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has confirmed he will attend the Aug. 20 parade.
Pride organizations from across Canada will participate in the parade, including contingents from Halifax, Toronto and Saskatoon.
Canada Pride Montréal 2017 features a sports tournament, two international LGBTQ human rights conferences, Community Day and the parade, plus more than 260 additional activities, including 15 free large-scale concerts and DJ sets every night. Pop star Nelly Furtado performs Aug. 18.
The idea for Canada Pride was hatched by Boudreault and Fierté Montréal president Éric Pineault in 2013, then presented to Fierté Canada Pride (FCP), the non-profit national association of Canadian Pride organizations founded in 2004.
The FCP represents Region 7 — Canada — at InterPride, the international association of Pride organizations.
“All the members were very enthusiastic about the prospect for a national Pride,” Boudreault said. “So FCP came up with a new license for the name, Fierté Canada Pride, and in 2014 they did a call for bids, which we won — we were the only bidder — in 2015.”
Fierté Montréal moved into larger offices when it realized its operation would double in size. The non-profit organization’s 2017 budget is $7 million, up from $3 million in 2016 (and up from $137,000 in 2007). A whopping $5 million of that comes from private sponsors.
Fierté Montréal saw staff increase to 32 from 19 in 2016, and the number of volunteers has nearly doubled, from 600 in 2016 to 1,100 this summer.
The price tag has also increased: Entertainment talent is budgeted at $700,000, security costs top $250,000 and the bill for setting up Parc des Faubourgs — the festival’s new and much larger principal outdoor venue at the eastern end of the Gay Village — is $1.8 million.
The second site for performances and dancing remains at Place Émilie-Gamelin, at the western end of the Gay Village.
Boudreault deflects complaints about the growing commercialism and congestion of the Pride circuit.
“Canada Pride will be bigger than WorldPride in Toronto in 2014,” Boudreault said. “You can’t have free events of this size without corporate sponsors.”
“We should be happy that companies are no longer afraid to associate themselves with Pride and the LGBTQ communities. Pride is supposed to be inclusive, so let us all celebrate what we have achieved so far.”
Pineault notes Fierté Montréal is “paying the travel costs of some 300 human-rights-conference attendees from Africa and around the world, and we have waived the Community Day inscription costs for organizations with an annual budget of less than $100,000, so this has had an impact on our costs and revenues.”
“But it is a way for us to give back to the community and help support LGBTQ rights.”
The 17 grand marshals of Canada Pride Montréal 2017 — including Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury — represent every region of the country.
As for Furtado, Pineault said: “We wanted an A-list Canadian entertainer. She has also come out as bisexual, has always been supportive of LGBTQ rights and is very popular in the community.”
Since November 2016, Montreal organizers engaged ethnic communities at three public consultations to ensure inclusivity and diversity at Canada Pride Montréal 2017.
Pineault is pleased Indigenous Canadians “will officially open Parc des Faubourgs, the human-rights conference and the parade, and will lead our parade.”
“It is our way of recognizing that the lands on which we are assembled for Canada Pride Montréal 2017 are located on the unceded territories of the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawks).”
The next Canada Pride will be held in Winnipeg in 2020. Fierté Montréal, meanwhile, says it will bid to host WorldPride in 2026.
AT A GLANCE: Canada Pride Montréal 2017 runs Aug. 10-20. For more information, visit fiertemontrealpride.com.
Canada Pride Montréal 2017 presents some 260 arts and cultural activities and events, from literary events to art exhibitions. Admission to listed events is free unless otherwise noted.
Gregory Charles and Marie-Mai co-host the Montréal is Proud concert at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 11 at 8:30 p.m.
Quebec drag icon Mado Lamotte headlines her own 30th anniversary concert at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 12 at 8:30 p.m. “It’s an homage to me!” said Mado. “It will showcase all the best numbers I have done in 30 years, and I have about 15 costume changes!”
There is a series of voguing events, notably the IN DEEP Kiki Vogue Ball at Bain Mathieu (2915 Ontario St. E.) on Aug. 13 at 5 p.m., with judges and NYC voguing legends Twiggy Pucci Garçon and Chi Chi Mizrahi. Admission: $15-$20.
Comedy Network star Elvira Kurt headlines the QUEER.FÉMINISTE.FUN comedy show at Place Émilie-Gamelin on Aug. 16 at 9 p.m. Other comics on the bill include Montrealers Jess Salomon, Dorothy Rhau and DeAnne Smith.
The Supernovas concert stars David Usher and Jonas on Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. “I was raised in a household where love is love, and I’m bringing the rock and roll element to Pride,” said Montreal rocker Jonas. “I’ve got the leather coming out!”
Kids Day at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 17 runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Activities for children 3 to 12. Free snacks and refreshments provided.
Drag Superstars starring 12 contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race – including 2017 winner Sasha Velours – at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 17 at 8:30 p.m.
Drag queen VassyLyne Towers will host the Authors in Undies literary event at gay-male strip joint Stock Bar (1171 Ste-Catherine St. E.) on Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m. Admission: $5 suggested donation, with all proceeds going to AIDS Community Care Montreal.
Canadian pop star Nelly Furtado concert at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 18 at 8 p.m.
LGBTQ Community Day hosts kiosks along Ste-Catherine St. E. between St-Hubert St. and Papineau Ave. on Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Montreal drag legend Michel Dorion hosts her annual Illusion drag extravaganza showcasing drag stars from across Canada — including the legendary 85-year-old Canadian doyenne of drag, Michelle DuBarry — at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. “I haven’t performed in Montreal since 1972,” said Michelle DuBarry (a.k.a. Russell Alldread). “Drag keeps me going! I love being Michelle!”
The post-parade Mega T-Dance at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 20 kicks off at 1 p.m. and will feature renowned Montreal “sing-jay” and Canada Pride Montréal 2017 ambassador Sandy Duperval, one of four DJs spinning at the T-dance. “I’ve worked around the world and Montreal is so most open-minded,” Duperval said. “This will be the best kick-off Canada Pride could have!”
The family-friendly Canada Pride Montréal 2017 parade kicks off at noon on Aug. 20, and will run east on René-Lévesque Blvd. from Drummond St. to de Champlain St. Seen from above, it will resemble a 3 km-long Rainbow flag, with six sections in the colours of the flag. Do not forget to observe the Moment of Silence at 1:30 p.m., to honour LGBTQ pioneers and those lost to violence and AIDS.
For more information, visit www.fiertemontrealpride.com.