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Queer spaces and their beauties

by Youmna El Halabi February 25, 2020
Queer spaces and their beauties

Why I feel safer in spaces dubbed as “queer”

I am grumbling and cursing in multiple languages as I make my way to La Sala Rossa on St. Laurent Blvd.

Where the flipping hell is this place?

I spot a few people smoking outside what could be the place I was searching for.

“Excuse me,” I calmly called.

“Yes, honey boo-boo?” one of them said, cheekily.

“Do you know where I could find La Sala Rossa?” I asked, a small smile playing on the corners of my mouth.

“It’s over here, baby girl! And let me just say, your eyeliner could kill a man! Work it, girl!” another one said.

I find myself smiling even wider. What a wonderful way to say hello. Suddenly, my mood is elevated. I stay outside for a while, sharing a smoke with this group of wonderful people before walking into La Sala Rossa, where the Massimadi’s Launch Soirée for the 12th Afro LGBTQ+ Film & Arts Fest was happening, Bo Johnson ready to take the stage.

Bo Johnson. Photo by Britanny Clarke.

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting to find, but I did not expect to feel so loved and accepted in a place where I knew no one.

“Non à la discrimination!,” someone on stage yelled. That seemed to be the founding theme the night. Everywhere I turned, people of all shapes, sizes, colours and genders were socializing with each other.

“Condoms? Can’t be too safe! Take ‘em, they’re free,” a person shouted at me over the music, with a big smile on their face.

I laughed wholeheartedly—and I was even more impressed by the fact that I didn’t feel uneasy at their comment. It was almost like they were offering me gum. It was that normalized.

Afro-beats and soulful music galore, la Sala Rossa was booming with love that night. And I think it is because it was a celebration of queerness and love.

I find that whenever I am in a space where queerness is not accepted, or is, but minorities aren’t, I feel uneasy and weird, as if I don’t belong.

But whenever a place is dubbed “queer,” I feel relieved. I feel safe. As if anyone and anything is accepted. And I believe this is why it is important to preserve these spaces, and not only that, but advertise them constantly. There is no better feeling than complete acceptance from the other, whether you are a person of colour, of a different religion, queer or straight. Everyone should adopt Lady Gaga’s philosophy!


The 12th edition of Massimadi, Montreal’s Afro LGBTQ+ film and arts festival is taking place now until Feb. 29. With panels, film screenings and dance parties, the festival celebrates local and international afroqueer artists and personalities, closing off with an extra-special dance party for Nuit Blanche.

Feb. 25

Massimadi: Virtual Reality, presented in collaboration with the McCord Museum and Gris Montreal, “Another Dream brings the gripping, true love story of an Egyptian lesbian couple to life. Faced with a post-revolution backlash against the LGBTQ community, they escape Cairo to seek asylum and acceptance in the Netherlands.” Experience afrofuturism at its most risqué. 


McCord Museum

Alternating times, for more information visit https://www.facebook.com/events/226222868388057/ 

Feb. 26

Massimadi x Cinema Moderne screening of two films, Fabulous, directed by Audrey Jean-Baptiste and Badassery, directed by Sarafina McIntosh and Sunita Miya-Muganza, with special vogueing-guest, Lasseindra Ninja.

Suggested rate of 12$ 

Cinema Moderne 

7 p.m. 

Feb. 27 

Massimadi x Initiative for Indigenous Futures x AbTeC: Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace Panel: Intersections in Futurity, with Quentin VerCetty, Dayna Danger and Maize Longboat, moderated by Anastasia Erickson. Where Afrofuturist and Indigenous Futurist creators meet.


EV 11.705

6 p.m. 

Feb. 28 

Massimadi presents, Transfuturisk: two more film screenings, Negrum3 (Blackn3ss) and Transfinite, followed by a panel discussion on Afrofuturism as an Artistic Process, with Concordia Simone de Beauvoir Institute alum, artist, writer and creative director, Nènè Myriam Konaté.

Suggested rate of 12$ 

McCord Museum

7 p.m. 

Feb. 29 

Tour exhibition, A Hazy Collision at Never Apart with local artist Gaëlle Elma. 


Never Apart, 7049 rue Saint-Urbain

2 p.m. 

Feb. 29

Nuit Blanche closing party with Backxwash and PureMulaTo. 


La Sala Rossa, 4848 blvd Saint-Laurent 

10:30 p.m.


Feature photo by Owllix. Massimadi Opening Collection by Kevin Calixte.

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