What is Pride without a parade?
That’s the question queer Montrealers asked themselves after learning in May that organizers Divers/Cité cancelled the annual street party.
But Montreal’s gay community refused to do without the parade, and thanks to a new fired-up community organization, Montreal will have a Pride parade this year.
The parade that wasn’t supposed to happen is being thrown together at a breakneck pace by a coalition of community leaders, businesses, and activists represented by a seven person team called Célébrations LGBTA Montreal (the “A” stands for “all friends,” or “amis” in French). The group formed in late May with the sole purpose of salvaging the Pride parade.
Célébrations’ representative, Jeffrey Spivock, says that the news of the cancellation mobilized the queer community in Montreal.
“The reaction was outstanding in its collective surprise and disappointment,” says Spivock. “We said, ‘We’re Montreal, we can’t not have a parade.'”
To his understanding, Spivock says Divers/Cité declined to plan this year’s parade because it wanted to shift its focus to only arts and cultural events. It has also been reported that low turnout (76 per cent of Pride festival-goers skip the parade) and never-ending expenses like insurance and security.
Responsibility for the parade was handed to a new organization, Célébration de la Fierté LGB2T de Montréal. But after the city refused to issue a permit for a parade on Fierté’s preferred date, Jun 16, plans for the parade unravelled and the event was cancelled.
Spivock says the queer community rallied to resurrect the parade not only because it’s a fun party, but also because the parade sends an important message.
“The parade is a celebration of our major accomplishments,” says Spivock. “In a city as vibrant as Montreal, we need to set the standard for inclusiveness.”
Local businesses are also playing a large role in saving the parade. According to Célébrations LGBTA, it’s the first time in a decade that businesses have stepped up to provide the majority of the parade’s budget.
“They really rallied when we went asking,” says Spivock.
Célébrations LGBTA only announced the parade was going ahead on Friday, but over 35 groups have already confirmed their participation.
But Spivock says the 2007 parade won’t be the most extravagant parade Montreal has ever seen.
“We’re definitely not going to organize the biggest parade ever in Montreal, we just want to make sure there is a parade.”
The parade will be held during the day to attract a wider audience to the festivities. Previous Montreal Pride parades have happened at night.
Divers/Cité’s Pride arts festival will kick off days after the parade, on Aug 1.
Spivock says Célébrations LGBTA plans to keep organizing Montreal’s Pride parade in the years to come.
“We want to keep being community based,” says Spivock. “We want to keep having a successful and evolving parade.”