Fierte Canada: 5 highlights from the first Canada Pride in Montreal

Stefan Arestis

“It's an event which reminds us that we are all part of the same community”

Justin Trudeau – as if the charming, dreamy, Disney-Prince-Eric-Aladdin Canadian Prime Minister couldn't get any more perfect, he turns up at a gay pride event, gives an inspiring speech about the importance of inclusivity and diversity in society, then leads the parade through the streets of Montreal, waving a transgender flag and shouting:

“Happy Pride! Bonne Fierté!”

Justin Trudeau in the parade of Fierte Canada Montreal
The handsome Justin Trudeau leads the parade at Fierte Canada in Montreal

In August 2017, Montreal hosted the first ever Fierte Canada Pride, an 11 days festival of parties, performances by artists like Nelly Furtado and Ru Paul drag race superstars, then culminating with a large parade on the final day, led by Justin.

We were so proud to be a part of it and like the Puerto Vallarta Pride in Mexico, it ranks as one of our favourite gay pride events. Here's our 5 favourite moments from the very first Fierte Canada Pride in Montreal.

Justin! Justin! Justin!

Maybe we're more Justin obsessed than we should be – his perfect bubble butt broke the internet afterall – but we can't think of any other country in the world where its leader turns up, speaks about how important the LGBTQ community is, then leads the entire parade through the busy streets. In fact, Canada is the only country in the world that we know of, which has its own national gay pride event.

And if it couldn't get anymore awesome, Justin was joined by another world leader: Leo Varadkar, the gay Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), who marched by his side, with his husband to hand.

After travelling in countries where being gay is illegal and can even lead to a death sentence, it is so inspiring and significant for us to be in a country where the government not only gives such strong visibility to the LGBTQ community, but openly embraces and celebrates us – just like Justin did.

 

The Moment of Silence

Every Montreal Pride parade has a tradition to stop at 1:30pm for a 1 minute Moment of Silence. This is to pay homage to LGBTQ pioneers who have fought to give us the freedoms we enjoy today.

For us this was a very powerful moment, which made our hairs stand on end.

When we halted for the Moment of Silence to start, it came in a wave: the music from the floats stopped in a sort of ripple effect across the entire procession. Together, we all stood in silence. You could hear a pin drop.

We looked from one face to another, every single person: gay, ally, child, drag artist, Justin…everyone – just completely silent, sombre and united in solidarity. We felt part of a large special family, and that's an incredible feeling to have!

Once the Moment of Silence finished, the music and the cheering from the crowds started up again and the parade procession continued as normal.

We loved this moment during the Fierte Canada Pride because as well as feeling a strong sense of togetherness with our LGBTQ family, it reminded us of the significance of what gay pride is all about.

Parade at Fierte Canada Pride in Montreal
Seby during the parade at Fierte Canada Pride in Montreal

The atmosphere in the Gay Village

Every day of the Fierte Canada Pride culminated in the large Gay Village of Montreal. This is the only city we know which has an official gay village as a district on official maps and also appears in location tags in social media posts.

Le Village Gai as it is known locally, is the largest gay village in North America in terms of area. During the warm months May-September, the main street, the mile long St Catherine Street is pedestrianised, allowing all the cafes, bars and restaurants to spread across the pavement outside, creating rows of outdoor terraces. Overhead, a large display of 180,000 pink balls is installed along the entire street, which are changed to the colours of the rainbow during Pride. There's even a rainbow crossing painted at the entrance of the gay village during Pride.

There's nothing quite like the atmosphere in Montreal's gay village during the Fierte Canada Pride, where the entire city seems to congregate here to enjoy the fun outdoor party vibe.

The Gay Village during Fierte Canada in Montreal
Selfies above the huge display of balls covering Montreal's Gay Village

Colourful drag queens: meeting Yara Sofia (and Tatianna)

As soon as we found out some of the Ru Paul drag race stars were going to perform at the Fierte Canada Pride in Montreal, we knew we had to try to meet our favourite, Yara Sofia. Remember her from Season 3 / All Stars Season 1? She's the hilarious, crazy, spicy Latina from Puerto Rico, full of personality and completely barking mad!

We managed to have our moment with Yara Sofia after her performance. She's as nutty in person as she appears on screen: completely loveable, without any attitude. At one point she asked us if we're swingers (!)

Yara Sofia was totally unlike her fellow contestant, Tatiana, who was full of attitude and rudely shooed Seby away when he asked her for a selfie.

There were other Ru Paul drag race superstars performing at the Fierte Canada Pride in Montreal, like Chad Michaels, Raja, Roxxie, Sasha, Peppermint, Nina Flowers and Derrick Berry. In addition, there were many other local drag queens attending and performing, including Montreal's very own Mado who has her own gay bar in the Gay Village called Cabaret Chez Mado.

 

Hanging out with Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado performed at Fierte Canada Pride and she rocked!

If you also grew up with hits like “Maneater”, “I'm Like a Bird” or “Turn Off The Light” then you will completely understand our excitement at getting to see her perform live in Montreal.

And as if it couldn't get any better, we got the chance to meet and hang out with Nelly Furtado during the gay pride week, where a drunk Stefan declared his love for her and told her I'm Like A Bird was his coming out song. Thankfully she's a patient and humble person, despite being so famous.

We found Nelly to be as awesome in person as she appears on stage and we're dead ecstatic we got the chance to meet her.

Nelly Furtado selfie at Fierte Canada Pride in Montreal
Hanging out with Nelly Furtado at Fierte Canada Pride

As far as gay pride events go, Montreal absolutely nailed it. We had such an incredible time here that we definitely want to return to see more of it. Montreal is a place we could certainly consider living in, and highly recommend it to all gay travellers.

For more, check out our vlog from the Fierte Montreal Pride right here:

 

Happy travels are safe travels

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Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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