This year’s Pride Festival in Montreal was simply spectacular. Over the course of 10 days people from around the world flocked to our city to celebrate Canada’s leadership in LGBT freedoms and equality for all. This year was extra special with the super sized festival coinciding with Montreal’s 375th celebrations and Canada’s 150th. This year also marked the first ever Canada Pride so there was plenty to celebrate.

img_7517On a municipal, provincial and nation level, we have been at the forefront of protecting LGBT rights for all Canadians for years. As much as we may take for granted many of our rights and freedoms we also recognize that around the world that LGBT people of all creeds and cultures are being hunted down and persecuted. Its at our demonstrations and Pride festivals where we stand with these people in solidarity and support. We march in our Pride parade because they can’t and we hope that one day that hate they face will turn to understanding.

img_8111Pride has historically been a huge celebration in Montreal but this year upped the ante and our city’s bright rainbow colours shone bright as we danced, sang, ate and vogued our way through the 10 days. We were lucky enough to get behind the scenes of some of Pride’s biggest events and here’s a look at what we saw.

img_7858We started things off with a Vogue Ball over the first weekend of Pride before a series of talks, conferences and shows centring on LBGT issues. We amped things up last Thursday with an epic second edition of Drag Superstars. The show featured 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s most memorable queens including winners Sasha Velour, Chad Michaels and Raja. They were joined by enigmatic host, Rita Baga and Barbada, the winner of 2017 Mx Fierté Canada Pride. You can see our gag worthy collection of photos from that show right here.

img_8011On Friday Nelly Furtado hit the stage at Parc des Faubourg for an eclectic show that attracted over 15,000 spectators. The crowd gathered at the venue which has been used for the first time ever for a show of this magnitude (Drag Superstars also brought in an impressive 15,000) and we have to give credit to the organizers where credit is due. The set-up was perfect and it was refreshing to have shows stretched out across the entire Village. We hope to see more of this next year.

img_8081The weekend kept going with a second Drag show that highlighted our Canadian queens. Hosted by Michel Dorion, Illusion was another huge hit. The weekend continued with T-dances, a special tribute the the 30 year career of the ageless Mado Lamotte and everything came to a head at the parade.

img_8049img_8087img_8140For the first time in my entire life I walked with my partner against the current of the parade to get as many shots as we possibly could. Seeing so many people (including frequent parade guest, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) and groups coming out in support of the LGBT community including The Canadian Armed Forces, Via Rail, GRIS, the ACCM, the Liberal Party of Canada, Mayor Denis Coderre, our straight allies, banks, hotels and so many more, it was hard not to get a little misty eyed.

img_8149img_8119img_8095The moment of silence has always been an emotional moment for many and this year was no different. It was an inspiring 60 seconds that ended in a roar of applause letting the world know that we won’t be silenced out of fear and that we will roar to the defence and anyone persecuted for simply wanting to be themselves.

img_8168img_8184We took a small hydration break at the beautifully renovated Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel on Rene-Levesque Boulevard. They hosted a wonderful Pride party on their private rooftop terrasse that had a birds-eye view of the massive crowd that inched its way slowly towards the city’s east end.

img_8085img_8099img_8191After the parade the city made its way back to the Parc des Faubourg where we danced the night away,  we ate pizza with Nelly Furtado and we hung out with the organizers and the people who made this all happen. If you know anyone who put this together, give them a huge pat on the back because they deserve it. I couldn’t be more proud of the Fierté Montreal team, of my city or my country. I also couldn’t be more proud of the courage many of us have (or have had) in the face of persecution. We’ve all faced it at one time or another at varying degrees and it’s important not to forget that though it gets better for many of us, some still struggle to this day. That is why Pride, it’s many activities and parades are still so relevant, even in Montreal and all across Canada.

Until next year, Happy Pride!

Image credit: David Major-Lapierre