Daniel Baylis gets around. Montreal, that is. The self-proclaimed undercover socialite and recessionista extraordinaire blogs about gay life in Montreal so queers across North America can live like locals when they visit. Born and raised in Prince George, BC, Baylis moved to Montreal thinking he’d stay for a year. That was six years ago. Xtra.ca got together with Baylis for the inside scoop on Montreal.
Xtra.ca: What type of feedback have you received for the blog?
Daniel Baylis: I get really lovely feedback from various people. For instance, this week I had some random dude from Columbia say, “Hey! I saw you in a video in a blog… AMAZING! I love you!” If this keeps up, I should be married by Thanksgiving.
Xtra.ca: In what ways could Montreal be better for us homos?
DB: Tough question. I feel as though in many ways we are living in the Promised Land — safety, access to community and resources, marriage rights…. Recently a wave of “Outside-the-Village” parties has started, which is exciting in the sense that not every queer Montrealer feels akin to the Gay Village. The lesbians have been doing these parties for years with Meow Mix, but now the boys have Mec Plus Ultra and Hank. Plus there are some rad mixed parties such as Faggity Ass Fridays, I Want Your Sex Too and GenderBlender. I think these parties will continue to add texture and depth to gay life here.
Xtra.ca: What would you say is the best cruising spot in Montreal for men? For women? For transfolk?
DB: For men, Simon’s Department store, Parc Lafontaine, the Gay Village, any park after dark. For women, Mile End, Roller Derby, Concordia’s Cinema Politica, Le Drugstore, Le Cagibi. For transfolk, City Bar.
Xtra.ca: Where’s the best place in Montreal to have a romantic gay date?
DB: I feel like this town oozes romance. I think wandering the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal on a warm summer night is pretty dreamy. When September rolls around, the romance factor augments again with the leaves changing colour. An autumn picnic is pleasurable. In winter, skating on the pond in Parc Lafontaine is the adorable place to be.
Xtra.ca: Where’s the best place in Montreal to dump someone?
DB: I would recommend pushing your dumpee off the top of Mont Royal, in a sacrificial sort of way.
Xtra.ca: What’s your favourite Montreal neighborhood?
DB: The Plateau. When I first visited Montreal in 2002, I exited the Mont-Royal Metro station and began wandering the streets of The Plateau to discover fripperies (second hand boutiques) and charming spiral staircases. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be dreamy to live here some day?” And now I do.
Xtra.ca: Does one have to be gay to appreciate Montreal’s gay life? What does it offer to straights?
DB: I think gaybourhoods are a popular destination for straights that simply seek amazing experiences, such as bistros, boutiques and nightclubs.
In general, I think straight people are drawn to gay culture because of a liberal and permissive climate that the dominant hetero culture lacks. In Montreal, gay life offers that “free to be” mentality where one is able to step away from culturally induced shame or prescribed gender/sex roles.
Xtra.ca: Describe your perfect Montreal Saturday.
DB: Sleep in. Brunch with the Globe and Mail at one of my fave diners: Bagel’s Etc, Dusty’s, Café Art Javva. Meet friends in Parc Lafontaine for a lazy picnic, including tetra-pack red wine. Return home. Shower. Primp. Ride scooter downtown. Check out some festival action or a club in the Gay Village. Go home. Sleep (or not).
Xtra.ca: Your love of Montreal comes shining through on your blog. In five words or less, tell me why you love Montreal.
DB: Seductive. Challenging. Diverse. Welcoming. Liberal.
Check out Daniel’s blog at Tourisme-montreal.org/Blogs/Gay-Life.