Long-time queer community supporter and popular Odyssey DJ Jules Leclerc passed away Aug 13 at the age of 43 after a protracted illness.
The many community members he touched say the loss is a deep one.
“His spirit was just huge,” says Leclerc’s close friend of 25 years, Gerald Slater.
“People always saw him as someone you’d go to. He made you feel welcome. You’d feel good. You were immediately energized.”
A Facebook site dedicated to Leclerc (called the
DJ Jules LeClerc Gathering Place) has already generated almost 200 stories, some of them from young people terrified of coming out, a process Slater says Leclerc was particularly helpful with.
“He made them feel welcome,” Slater says. “It was an important part of their lives.”
Leclerc and Slater met in their native Manitoba where Leclerc hailed from Lorette just outside Winnipeg.
“We immediately had a connection,” Slater says.
Leclerc came from a large family, mostly from Manitoba with some relatives in northern BC, as well.
“The family and friends of family became one. Sometimes we hear stories of families turning on friends and shut them out,” Slater says. “There was absolutely none of this. When the family saw how much Jules was loved, they knew he was where he wanted to be and with those who loved him unconditionally and the family didn’t want to change anything for their brother, only be there also to love and support him.
“It was magical, really,” Slater says.
Leclerc decided to come out West several years later; Slater followed shortly after.
In 2004-2005, Leclerc served the queer community as the Dogwood Monarchist Society’s (DMS) Emperor XXXI — DJ Jules Rose.
Slater says as Leclerc had many friends in the drag community it made perfect sense for him to become part of the DMS and its work.
“It was really him wanting to give back to the community. They’ve given him just this wonderful opportunity — music and DJ-ing.”
And that, says Slater, was Leclerc’s passion, one he translated into a career as one of the city’s legendary and longest-serving DJs, a career spanning two decades.
“His research on music was incredible,” Slater says. “It was one of his joys.”
He says it was at The Odyssey’s Retrosexual Mondays where Leclerc’s passion would take flight. “He would take music form the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and spring them together,” Slater says. “If he didn’t know a song, he would research it. He would please the older crowd and the younger crowd at the same time. To please everybody, that’s not easy.”
In addition to his work with the DMS, Leclerc was also active with A Loving Spoonful and Friends for Life, particularly its gay bingo nights.
Long-time friend Barb Snelgrove says Leclerc’s death is a great loss to the community and that he will be sorely missed.
“He was so important to his community. He was so important to me. Certainly never replaceable,” Snelgrove says.
“It is very difficult for me to express how I feel about this beautiful, beautiful man who has made me laugh for so many years.
“He fought to the bitter end and he gave love and happiness to everyone around him. He put a lot of dance and smiles in a lot of peoples’ steps and faces.”
In conveying his condolences, Al Houston, Chief XIX, Silver Coyote of the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society, says Leclerc “was a fascinating gentle soul who always made sure you smiled before you walked away from his presence.”
Houston calls Leclerc a “true gem in the crown where he and his Empress Estie served their community to a degree of respect and admiration.”
A celebration of Leclerc’s life will be held Monday, Aug 25 at the Stanley Park Pavilion at Malkin Bowl at 6 pm. Doors open at 4 pm.
Slater expects about 500 people to attend. He also encourages everyone knew Leclerc to share their memories on the Facebook site: