MontrÃ©al's Fractured Pride
Yesterday marked the end of Divers/Cité, Montréal’s annual gay and lesbian Pride festival. Or, at least that’s how I used to describe it. This year, the event organisers designated the event as a “a pluridisciplinary arts festival.” Pride, the traditional symbol of cultural celebration and a protest of those who would make gay people feel ashamed, was a theme curiously absent.
In fact, there was one traditionally beloved event that was missing entirely: the annual Pride parade. It’s still coming, mind you. Sunday August 17th, for those that are interested. But, for the second year in a row it’s not being organised by Divers/Cité. Worse, rumour has it that Divers/Cité has actively thwarted the parade from taking place during the rest of the festivities and has taken no part in clarifying what happened to it.
This bizarre situation started last year when Divers/Cité cancelled the parade outright, citing an internal survey that showed the annual gay rights march negatively affected beer sales. A group called Célébrations de la Fierté quickly formed to save the parade, and after last year’s success have now extended it into a four-day celebration, complete with outdoor shows and sponsored parties. In other words, they’ve basically created a second Divers/Cité, two weeks after the first one.
This has many people understandably confused. During the real Divers/Cité, I’ve been asked about the parade both on the street and via email. One New Yorker even wrote me to say his vacation plans were ruined by the change:
I come all the way from lower New York each year, and have already scheduled my vacation around [the parade] only to find it is now in August. I will not now spend a dime or attend any event this year.
And is it any surprise? Since neither organisation wishes to acknowledge the other, both locals and travellers are scratching their heads as to what exactly is going on.
If you ask me, attendees don’t understand or care about the internal politics of the planning committees. These organisations really ought to take a cue from the gay community in general and unite themselves to celebrate what makes them special. Even if they want to remain seperate entities for organisational reasons, the time split only serves to showcase a bitter fracture.