Montreal is often praised for its lively and diverse queer scene. And it should be, as Montreal is home to a vast array of events and projects that cater to all strains of the LGBTQ+ community.
But often overshadowed by the parties, initiatives, and venues created for the queer community (and all of Montreal) are the talented individuals who make it all a reality.
So, to shine some light on some of the many queer Montrealers who make the city such an amazing place to live, we've compiled a list of ten who are masters of their respective domain. Some were even kind enough to offer their thoughts and feelings on Montreal, as both a city and a haven for the LGBTQ+ community.
Montreal-based DJ and event promoter Frankie Teardrop is the creative force behind Slut Island (with co-creator Ethel Eugene, pictured on the right) and LIP, both notably popular and incredibly fun queer events.
Frankie hosts events that showcase queer, female-identified/gender fluid musicians and DJs and also strives to create safer and more welcoming party/show spaces where people can feel comfortable to express themselves however they want, all while having fun.
"Montreal is definitely in need of more queer events and accessible spaces. However, with the small number of queer events healed within the city they seriously have something going for them unlike any other parties...I can see the look on people's faces as they dance and see that they are enjoying themselves and it warms my cold freaky heart."
Breaking out into the queer scene with PINK28, a popular monthly 6à9 event outside of the village for gay professional women, Dina Habib is now the head producer behind Die Young Die Happy Productions (DYDH), an independent artistic-fashion production company.
Founded alongside Danik Yopp in 2012, DYDH was founded on the principal of disrupting the norms upheld by the fashion industry.
In DYDH's infancy, Habib and Yopp organized the once held the popular monthly fashion event MEWS at the Royal Phoenix (RIP), a platform that allowed young artists and designer to showcase their work.
DYDH has since organized shows for Montreal's Festival De La Mode & Design and New York’s Fashion Week, along with other collaborative underground events in NYC and Montreal, and is only growing more popular with time.
Habib still holds ties to the Montreal nightlife scene as well, having been the past manager of the Royal Phoenix and, up until last month, was the manager of Felix. Needless to say, Dina Habib keeps herself busy doing what she loves, a claim a lot of us can't live up to.
Michael J. McCarthy
Together with Julie Paquet, Michael J. McCarthy helps Montrealers bare their souls (and some skin) every month at Cafe Cleopatra for the monthly Baraoke event, better known as "strip karaoke."
A truly one-of-a-kind experience, Baraoke brings together the magic of song and stripping in a safe-space environment that welcomes all individuals and body types. I can't relate through words how enjoyable the event is... you just need to attend for yourself.
Michael is also the creative director and video editor of Glam Gam, a Montreal-based performance collective he founded alongside Sarah Murphy and Julie Paquet. Having debuted in 2009, Glam Gam has since become a staple of the city's burlesque community, frequently putting on hilariously raunchy productions, including shows for the Montreal Fringe Festival.
"The most awesome thing about Montreal for me is the sense of community you find here. It's like one giant family, only you get to pick your siblings... This city embraces weirdos like me and it's because of this that I have been able to do what I do for the past 7 years."
A nationally recognized journalist and columnist, Richard "Bugs" Burnett has been a prominent voice in the Montreal queer community for years, and still is.
Famous for his self-syndicated Three Dollar Bill column, the first-ever (and perhaps last) syndicated LGBT column in Canadian publishing history for 15 years, a publication that helped to shape Canadian queer culture as we know it.
Burnett is also a co-founder of the Montreal chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and continues to influence the Montreal nightlife and entertainment scene in his role as a Montreal Gazette columnist and Pop Tart blogger.
"In the summer of 1990 we were still in the Jurassic era: Montreal police violently raided Sex Garage, now widely-considered to be Montreal’s Stonewall. Twenty-five years later Montreal has transitioned into one of the world’s choice LGBT meccas. But Montreal’s Gay Village is going through tough cyclical changes once again, as LGBT establishments struggle to survive. I think gay men need to get off their damn phones. There is more to life than Grindr and Scruff. We must all remember that in this increasingly post-gay world, we still need our Gay Village, still the only neighbourhood where we are in the majority. Yes, we do live in a queer-positive city, but never forget that outside our queer spaces, tolerance is not acceptance, it is hypocrisy.”
Known in the Montreal music scene for his electric performances and emotionally charged melodies, always accompanied by an infectious rhythm, Wiz Kilo is a self-produced musician whose sound defies genres.
Having performed at LGBTQ+ events throughout the city from small to large, including POMPe, DYDH, Pride, and Fashion Week, Wiz Kilo has grown into a queer icon of the Montreal indy music scene.
With his second album titled "Nocturnal" about to drop, which he wrote, produced, recorded, and altogether created himself, Wiz Kilo will no doubt engage and expand Montrealers' senses in ways we've never experienced.
"Montreal gave me the inspiration, the drive, the strength, and the motivation to be who I am without shame or judgement, because of its openness and its acceptance for the queer art community, as well as its always talented, vibrant and creative atmosphere. Variety is key to growth in this beautiful city!"
A man of many talents, Puelo Deir is a playwright, producer, publicist, and is the co-founder of Divers/Cité, Montreal's original LGBTQ+ parade and queer arts festival. Despite having ended its tenure in 2015, Divers/Cité's legacy lives on today, having placed Montreal on the international LGBTQ+ map.
An organizer of countless Montreal events, many of which had a philanthropic edge, such as "Concert in the Park," a fundraiser to pay for the legal fees for those arrested at the 1990 Sex Garage raid, Deir has always been, and continues to be a strong influence within the Montreal queer community.
Involved in a rather long list of well-known productions including "Holy Tranity!" for the Montreal Fringe Festival (one of the biggest box office successes in the festival's history, which he wrote), Deir is currently working on "i.am.rentboy" a semi-autobiographical play discussing the "oppressive laws and unfair stigmas attached to male sex work."
"Montreal is so rich in history, so fascinating politically, so intriguing culturally and the queer community is a huge part of Montreal's stature as a great place to live. Some jump on the city for its economic slowness compared to the biz behemoth we call Toronto. But in my humble opinion we're still the best day-to-day or night-to-night party town in the country
Perhaps better known as DJ Like The Wolf, Laura Boo is one half of the creative force behind POMPe Thursdays, a monthly queer electro/punk DJ-live music and performance art event held in Montreal.
Recently moved from Katacombes to Felix, POMPe is a staple in the queer party scene, founded on the now well-known slogan "Queers were the original punks."
Recently celebrating its 5-year anniversary, POMPe has not lost any of its energy, still playing home to energizing musical performances of varying genres and functioning as a space for queer Montrealers to let loose and dance.
Many may not know that POMPe is actually one event under the umbrella of Laura Boo's "The Heart Is A Pump/Le Coeur est une Pompe" event production organization. Consistently "making crazy ideas work in the real world," Laura Boo's POMPe projects are always something to behold and showcase her own unique style as an event organizer.
Formerly a soloist for the Paris Opera and principle ballerina for Les Ballets Grandiva, Billy L'Amour now stands as one of the most popular drag queens in Montreal, and she's only getting started.
Having performed at Juste Pour Rire, The Wiggle Room, and the Phi Centre, L'Amour is a "triple-threat drag performer" (meaning she can act, sing, and dance) who has worked hard to attain a place among the top-tier drag queens in the city.
With plans to move to hollywood in 2016, and with the potential to become a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race, Billy L'Amour is a rising star who you should definitely see perform in person, before she jets from the city for bigger and better things.
In an interview with Richard Burnett, here's what L'Amour had to say on the mechanics of drag:
"I love that drag subverts the masculine and celebrates the feminine. We live in this absurd patriarchal system that tells us that the masculine is superior and that femininity is a sin when all the evidence is telling us something else. Drag gets that and drag mocks that. That’s why drag can be so polarizing for people. Interesting how sometimes you have to put on a mask to remove a mask."
Formerly a co-owner of Notre Dame des Quilles, the much-adored, sorta-queer bar on Beaubien, Zoe Couisneau is now one of the restauranteurs behind Fortune, a popular Mexican eatery on Saint Laurent street.
Modern with some old-school charm, Cousineau, along with Aleksey Cameron (of the Phoenix 1 food truck) and Kim Martel-Gilbert, opened Fortune a little over a year ago and continues to please customers of every sort.
With a simple approach, focusing on quality foods with some creative edge, Cousineau and her co-founders have made Fortune into a into a trendy taco spot that doesn't skimp on service and flavour, one that will please all of your senses.
Sara of Head and Hands
For those who don't know, Head & Hands is an organization devoted to improving the physical and mental health of Montreal's youth, in operation since 1970. Sara plays a rather vital role within Head and Hands, acting as the head of the street work outreach program.
Rebuilt and relaunched by Sara in 2013, the street work program focuses on aiding Montreal youth and drug-users in NDG in a non-judgmental, confidential, and holistic way.
Acting as a guide and confidant for those with health concerns, problems with addiction, domestic abuse, and all manner of other issues, Sara's talent to help others is unparalleled, as is her devotion to those in need.