“They all clapped for the lesbian one, but when the gay one screened, there was no applause. It was a straight crowd; it didn’t really surprise me. Straight crowds are still much more comfortable with seeing lesbian displays of affection than those between men.”
Upon first screening, it’s hard to tell that the new Heritage Minute isn’t the real thing. After all, would it be that odd for the 60-second, historical up-with-Canada-themed films to celebrate Canada’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2006?
But it’s not real. Rather, 24-year-old Montreal filmmaker Dominic Poliquin concocted the video — which has gone viral on YouTube via Facebook and Twitter posts. The film features Poliquin acting as a police officer who receives a marriage proposal, on bended knee, from his Mountie boyfriend. The two lock lips as the narrator reminds us of Canada’s proud heritage moment of legal recognition of same-sex marriages.
“I watched the originals, like everyone else,” says Poliquin of his inspiration. “When same-sex marriages were recognized in Canada, we were only the third country in the world to do so. That’s a real revolution, and that’s something I’m really proud of, not to win a war, but rather of equality.”
Poliquin decided to take this moment and give it the Heritage Minute treatment. The Heritage Minutes were launched in 1991 as a way of celebrating famous moments in Canada’s history that many Canadians might not know about. The minutes have celebrated everyone from Emily Carr to Laura Secord and are often very earnest in tone.
Poliquin premiered his first Heritage Minute send-up at Image+Nation, Montreal’s queer film festival, in the fall of 2011, where it got a huge round of applause that continued for several minutes. He followed up in January with a Heritage Minute dedicated to lesbian love.
The films have garnered international attention, with Poliquin interviewed by journalists in the US, Holland, Bosnia and Japan, and have been flagged as videos to watch by sites like Queerty, AfterEllen and Joe My God. Queerty called Poliquin’s vision an “adorable love story,” while noting that it was a parody ad that “wasn’t actually sanctioned by the Canadian government.”
Poliquin screened his gay Heritage Minute for the second time in January, at a Montreal business networking event called Apollo. There, more than 1,000 business people met in Old Montreal to shmooze. Poliquin was invited to show both his new lesbian video and his gay-marriage themed short from 2011.
Poliquin also received a response from the people behind the official Heritage Minutes. “They realize that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They have invited me to pitch ideas to create an official minute and become a part of their series.”