Bonjour to you bilingual, maple syrup loving, delicious beer drinking, red and white blooded Canadians (and Canadiens). In this article ManPlay will be addressing the Gay Pride Quebec City Festival, and we'll touch upon some history, the activities that you might be expecting to see, and a little bit of the city itself. The historically rich, arts filled, French speaking city; with cobble stone streets, beautify old buildings, stunning parks great for walks, and amazing shopping and eating opportunities. It is one of the many Gay Pride festivities that take place in the Great White North, otherwise known as Canada.
When you think of Gay Pride in Canada, you may think of some fabulous cities like Montreal may come to mind as well, as it was the first Gay Pride in Canada. Vancouver, which has the largest Gay Pride Parade in Western Canada, attracting upwards of 750, 000 people to the streets each day. The CalgaryGay Pride which is full of history, including the first time a former Prime Minister was the Grand Marshal for a Gay PrideParade. Of course, we would wouldn't want to forget to mention the host of the 2014 World Pride, Toronto which attracts an estimated 1.3 million in visitors each year, making about $135 million in revenue for the city. The Quebec City Pride Festival , or otherwise known as Fête Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow Festival), was established in 2002, and has been running strong for fourteen years.
The first official Gay Pride Parade started in Montreal, Quebec in 1979, which started as a way to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City, where the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village, was raided by the New York Police. The Stonewall Inn was a gay and drag bar that was meant to be a safe haven for the New York LGBTQ+ Community, but that haven was quickly ruined, which kicked off the worlds first protest for homosexual rights. Ten years after the Stonewall Riots, in Montreal, a local community group called La Brigade Rose (The Rose Brigade), produces "Gairilla," bringing together approximately 52 people in 1979 and 250 people in 1980. But all of this was started by Liberal Party leader Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau‘s quote "there’s not a place for the state in the bedroom of the nation," you can find a video of this quote by the late Prime Minister here, provided by the CBC Archives.
The French Canadien city, and capital city of the province of Quebec, Quebec City, had its first Gay Pride festival over Labour Day weekend in 2002 to commemorate the province's 25th anniversary of the bill of rights passing, which outlawed the discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Unfortunately a few anti-gay demonstrators showed up to crash the celebrations, which to be honest, is to be expected at high profile and highly controversial events such as Gay Pride. "There are still idiots in 2002," scoffed one man in French, as he walked by a woman holding a sign that read "homosexuality is not natural." (CBC News, 2002) It is something to be expected in Quebec, which historically has been a very conservative province, with a heavy Catholic population, which is notorious for being anti-gay. Overall organizers and attendees alike agreed that the parade was a huge success, many of which stated that with will be joining in the festivities for years to come.
André Gagnon is the man who spearheaded the organization of Quebec City's first Gay Pride Parades from 2002 until 2004. In 2004 Gagnon founded the GLBT Québec/Fighting Homophobia, which as of 2014 is known as the Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec, which roughly translates into Rainbow Alliance of Quebec. Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec is a non-for-profit organization that strived to build a reputation for being advocated of the LGBTQ+ community. They are currently focusing on an International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia in Quebec, but also have brought awareness to Quebec's capitol through events, including Fête Arc-en-ciel, Quebec City's Gay Pride, but also Altern'Art Festival of Quebec, which ran from 2005 until 2012.
Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec has been publishing journals called SORTIE (which means Output) since 2007, with five editions published yearly, they are distributed all over Quebec. Its mission is to address issues and events related to the fight against homophobia and transphobia. If you don't live in Quebec, and would still like to check out what SORTIE has to offer, you can check out their online archives.
Although an exact number has not been stated, it has been said that thousands of people attended the Gay Pride Quebec City's first year. According to a Canadian census, Quebec City's population in 2002 was roughly 170,000 people, making the turn out of being in the thousands more understanding. It also seems to be a really good turn out for the first year of the Gay Pride Quebec City. Last year Gay Pride Quebec City is had an estimate of 100, 000 people attending the 2015 events. It is a safe guess that there will be about the same amount of people to attend this year's events, if they are in fact happening. In 2011, the population of Quebec City was 516,622 and based on population growth, the population in Quebec City could be an estimated 520,000 people, and if 100,000 people were to attend the Gay Pride Quebec City celebrations this year, then that is a good chunk of the population, although, one would think that perhaps some of the attendees would be coming in from other parts of the province and perhaps even other parts of Canada as well.
Toronto Dominion (TD) Bank Group has been long time supporters of Gay Pride Quebec City, Fête Arc-en-ciel, since 2008, and has been the title sponsor. A quote by Julie Blackburn, Branch Manager, TD Canada Trust, illustrates the bank's commitment to the LGBT community"The commitment to diversity and inclusion, we demonstrate our support for Fête Arc-en-ciel but also our concrete daily actions. We want to make our institution a place where employees and customers feel comfortable, supported, valued and respected in all their diversity. We try to be a pioneer in opening and do our best to be recognized as an employer of choice by the GLBT community. The association with is synonymous for us to support a community actor who made a difference by creating a concrete impact in society." (Bertrand, 2012) Quebec City isn't the only Gay Pride that TD Canada Trust supports, which goes to show the commitment that TD Canada Trust has for supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
Other corporate sponsors of the Gay Pride Quebec City celebrations are: Agropur Division Natrel,Jumbo Jumbo Coiffure, André Lemieux Atelier, Fou-Bar,Bar Le Sacrilege, Karine Verrette Investors Group, St. Matthew's Bar, Auberge Place d'Armes - Hotel Champlain, Bijoux bleu Créations Québécoises, La Piazzetta, Bistro L'Accent, Le Bal du Lézard, Le Panetier Baluchon, Le Drague Cabaret Club, Caisse Desjardins de Québec,Michel Giroux, psychologue, Carol Côté, Courtier Immobilier Hypothécaire, and Clinique de médecine esthétique Audet.
Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec has been fairly creative with their events in the past, usually having themes, like last years, 2015, which was Show Your Colours, and we thought we would showcase of the events that were quite interesting or exciting. The festival runs through Labour Day weekend, so the festival runs for four days. There have been many more unique and exciting events that has happened over the years, but there is only so much space on the page. If you wish to see more, you could look through the Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec magazine SOURTIE archives, the information always came out in their May issues.
To start off the Gay Pride Festival in 2015, SaphoMag, the webzine for lesbians and bisexual women SaphoMag launched its 2015-2016 season followed by Karaoke at the hosting venue, as is tradition on Thursday nights. With Caitlin Jenner (once Bruce Jenner) becoming public, Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec, along with Aid Trans Quebec (ATQ) had an open panel on media and transgender realities, discussing issues important to the trans community, with guests Samuel Champagne, Judith Lussier, Huguette St-Denis and Patrick Verret. Aid Trans Quebec, or The ATQ is a nonprofit organization whose mission is not only to support transgender people, but also to raise awareness of the transgender and combat prejudice in Quebec.
One event that ran last year, in 2015, that seemed quite interesting was the BDSM workshop; A fetish company called FanXtasie offered an introductory lecture to bondage practices, dominance/discipline, submission/sadism and masochism. The event was open to the public, and fostered a safe space. It was only open to adults 18 years of age and older, but gave people the opportunity to explore a kinkier side to themselves.
In 2011, they had female impersonator Kate Cooper perform The Farmer Show, a reproduction of French Canadien musician Mylène Farmer, with detailed choreography, fantastic dancers and costumes all inspired by the Farmer's shows and music videos. Also in 2011, the bar St. Matthew's held the Mr. Bear Quebec Contest, were self proclaimed Bears (large hairy gay men) compete to win the title. The event was open to anyone who wished to enter. This was the first year it ran at the festival, and it seemed quite popular.
Montreal female impersonate and artist Michel Dorion stole the show at the Quebec City's Gay Pride in 2010. The performer's show, named Taking Opportunities, performing the music of Quebec born Celine Dion. In 2008 and 2009, wrestling company Renegade Warefare Wrestling, performed a wrestling show to "fight" homophobia, and defeat stereotypes of the homosexual community. A powerful display of strength, a perfect metaphor for the struggles of the homosexual community.
Some other events that has occurred in the past are friendly 9 hole round of golf where people had the chance to play half a game of golf in a friendly environment on one of Quebec City's most beautiful golf courses. There were also delicious brunches, with some of the foods Quebec City is famous for. An other event was an evening of cocktails, laughs and music. For the past few years now Gay Pride Quebec City has held singing competitions where anyone can join in and compete, it's like Gay Pride Quebec City very own Idol competitions. There had also been Party de Filles (Girl Party) a female only event to feel safe, dance and enjoy one another's company. In the past there has always been tons of musical events, and of course, the Gay Pride Parade itself.
Although the list of the events for 2016 Fête Arc-en-ciel have yet to be posted on the Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec website or social media, after looking through the past activities of the last thirteen years, there might be a lot of fantastic and exciting things to do next Labour Day weekend.
Due to the fact there has not been any information made public yet regarding 2016 Gay Pride it is hard to say for a fact if there will be one in Quebec City this year, as l’Alliance Arc-en-ciel de Québec's currently only has posted the information from 2015's Gay Pride. If the Gay Pride Quebec City festival does happen, it will probably take over the course of the Labour Day Weekend being on September 1st through to September 5th, in the historic, beautiful and romantic Vieux-Québec (Old Quebec), here is hoping.
Something that will never change is the venue itself, Quebec City. Old Quebec is the historic neighbourhood of Quebec City which is divided into two sections, the Upper Town and Lower Town. Upper Town has a lot of historic and political builds, along with beautifully maintained parks. Lower Town is home to many museums, performance halls, theatres and exhibition venues.
If you would like to check out any of the sources used in this article, below are all sources used in the order found in this article:
Quebec City Gay Pride- http://www.arcencielquebec.ca/
SORTIE Archives- http://www.arcencielquebec.ca/activites/journal-sortie/archives/
Info-Culture Webzine- http://info-culture.biz/2012/08/10/fete-arc-en-ciel-de-quebec-2012-2/#.Vxfr0zYrKf9