Why it’s still not safe for same-sex couples in Montreal
The streets were filled with people from all walks of life as they waved their rainbow flags on a balmy Sunday afternoon. The city of Montreal had gathered along a long stretch of the downtown core to celebrate the annual Pride parade.
The environment felt safe and welcoming, with politicians, companies, and LGBT+ organizations marching to commemorate the struggles the community has endured over the last fifty years. It was a rare opportunity to see many couples from the community embracing one another in broad daylight. Although we live in Montreal, one of the most accepting and diverse cities in North America, there are still instances of homophobia that occur every year.
I find it extremely rare to see same-sex couples showing signs of affection in public in Montreal. I think this is because many couples still encounter homophobia on a daily basis, and are thus afraid to express their love publicly.
This past spring, a same-sex couple reported to the police that they had been physically assaulted at Chez Francoise, a bar in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, according to the CBC. There were multiple assailants and the couple was also subjected to a volley of cruel and derogatory insults. A kiss-in—a symbolic act of protest where LGBT+ couples gathered to embrace and display affection out in the open—took place a few days later in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. It was extremely symbolic in itself because it was seen as a radical sign of protest that challenged the lack of PDA seen on our streets. The event shed light on the fact these incidents still do, in fact, occur.
A few months ago, I was on the metro travelling with my partner at the time. As he reached out to hold my hand, I immediately felt the atmosphere in the metro car become hostile and uncomfortable. People began to stare and analyze, as if we were a rarely-seen species that they’ve never encountered. Perhaps I was overanalyzing the situation, but I can’t deny that in that moment, I definitely felt more vulnerable to an attack.
I decided to discuss this issue with one of my closest friends, Danielle—who’s in a long-term, same-sex relationship. To my horror, she told me that she often encounters homophobia and vicious catcalling by men on the street. It happened just the other day when she was holding hands with her girlfriend in the old port, and men constantly invaded their personal space and attempted to probe them with inappropriate questions and comments about the nature of their relationship.
Thankfully, there are safe spaces in many establishments and communities where same-sex couples feel comfortable enough to express their love for one another. It deeply saddens me that homophobia still exists in this day and age, and as a society, we definitely have our work cut out for us. Love is love, and the general population needs to become desensitized to this completely normal expression of it.