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Homonormative Architecture & Queer Space:
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal

A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements


for the degree of Master of Architecture (post-professional).

Olivier Vallerand
Cultural Mediations & Technology Program
School of Architecture, McGill University
Montréal. August 2010.
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - i

Abstract
Because sexual orientation cannot be identified through any particular physical signs, lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgendered people (LGBT) are often identified through the spaces they
visit. Bars, as important social meeting places, thus have a particular significance in LGBT
histories. Even if popular culture has long linked architecture/space and sexual orientation,
gay bars, perceived as everyday or vernacular, are rarely discussed by architectural historians
and theorists.
This project does not attempt to analyse gay bars by comparing them to straight bars, but
instead argues that it is essential to study and document this public architecture, as bars are
among the few physical traces of gay communities. Gay bars, as built artefacts from LGBT
minorities, embody and shape the evolution of the relation between LGBT people and society
at large and also in the struggles of these minorities. They also present an interesting case
study to better understand queer space. This project presents an overview of queer theory’s
potential for a rethinking of architectural history and theory. It is then followed by an analysis
of the evolution of LGBT spaces in Montréal that focuses on two bars from different
generations, Complexe Bourbon and Parking.

Résumé
Puisque l’orientation sexuelle d’une personne n’est marquée par aucun signe physique
particulier, l’identification des personnes lesbiennes, gaies, bisexuelles ou transgenres (LGBT)
se fait souvent par le biais des endroits qu’elles fréquentent. Les bars, en tant qu’importants
espaces de socialisation, ont ainsi une signification particulière dans l’histoire des minorités
LGBT. Malgré les liens faits depuis longtemps par les cultures populaires entre
l’architecture/l’espace et l’orientation sexuelle, les bars gais, de par leur statut d’architecture
ordinaire ou vernaculaire, ont rarement été discutés par les théoriciens et historiens
d’architecture.
Ce projet ne propose pas d’analyser les bars gais en les comparant aux bars hétérosexuels,
mais suggère plutôt qu’il est essentiel d’étudier et d’archiver l’architecture de ces espaces
publics, car ils représentent quelques-unes des seules traces physiques des communautés
gaies. Il devient ainsi essentiel de se questionner sur les implications des caractéristiques
architecturales des bars gais sur les luttes des minorités LGBT et sur les transformations des
relations entre la société dans son ensemble et les personnes LGBT. Les bars gais
représentent aussi d’intéressantes études de cas pour mieux comprendre l’idée d’espace
queer. Ce projet présente un survol du potentiel de la théorie queer pour repenser la théorie et
l’histoire de l’architecture, suivi d’une analyse de l’évolution des espaces LGBT à Montréal se
concentrant sur deux bars de générations différentes, le Complexe Bourbon et le Parking.
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - ii
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - iii

Acknowledgements
This project would not have been possible without my colleagues and professors at McGill
School of Architecture, most importantly Annmarie Adams and Torben Berns who guided us
through the new and exciting Cultural Mediations & Technology program. This year would
have also been much less interesting without the cultured, mediated and/or technological
Frederika Eilers, Nathan Fong, Douglas Moffat, Philam Nguyen and Matt Wiviott; thanks for
sharing many discussions and great ideas.

Un grand merci aux gens que je côtoie depuis dix ans dans de merveilleux organismes
communautaires LGBT. Votre dévouement m’inspire quotidiennement et vos efforts ont guidé
plusieurs des réflexions qui suivent. Un merci aussi aux chercheurs, historiens et théoriciens
qui ont, depuis malheureusement trop peu de temps, permis de reconnaître l’importance des
communautés gaies, lesbiennes, bisexuelles, transsexuelles et queers dans notre société (je
ne les nommerai pas, mais un grand nombre se retrouve en bibliographie de ce présent texte).
Merci aussi à Simon Coquoz et Pascal Lefebvre pour leur généreuse participation à ma
recherche, ainsi qu’aux Archives gaies du Québec pour leurs ressources inestimables et le
travail essentiel de leurs bénévoles.

Des heures et des heures de plaisir et de magie me sont venues de mes collaborations avec
mes amis de 1x1x1 qui m’ont rafraichi l’esprit et m’ont permis de garder la forme pour
développer à leur plein potentiel mes idées universitaires.

Finalement, tous ces efforts ne seraient possibles sans mes amis (particulièrement les
encouragements rapprochés de mes colocataires) et ma famille. Beaucoup d’amour pour
Paul-André qui accepte de me perdre beaucoup trop souvent pour poursuivre ma vie parallèle
montréalaise.

Merci & thank you.

Babylon, where bricks of mortared diamonds tower, sailors lust and swagger, blazing in the moon's beams.
whose laser gaze penetrates this sparkling theatre of excess and strobe lights. Painted whores, sexual
gladiators, fiercely old party children, all wake from their slumber to debut the bacchanal. Come to the light,
enter the light, the invisible light.
-Sir Ian McKellen & Scissor Sisters, Invisible Light

Previous page
Figure 1. Humourous fake news article of a newly "out" bar (The Onion, 2008.)
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - iv

Contents
1.  What can you say about gay-bars architecture? Tracing the Physical
Evidence of LGBT Histories, an Introduction .................................................................................. 1 
2.  Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories ................................................................................... 4 
What Is “Queer”: Identity, Movement, or Theory?.......................................................................... 4 
Queer Research and Pedagogy ............................................................................................................. 8 
What Are Queer Space(s)? ................................................................................................................... 9 
John Paul Ricco’s “Queer Sex Space Theory” ................................................................................... 13 
Queering Architectural Theory ............................................................................................................ 17 
3.  Queer Spaces in Straight Places: Forgotten Architectures of the Night ................................. 19 
4.  Becoming Visible: the Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village ...................................................26 
Gay and Lesbian Life in Montréal before the Village ..................................................................... 27 
The Emergence of the Village.............................................................................................................. 28 
A Queer Village?..................................................................................................................................... 30 
Welcome to our Village: a “Straight” Colonisation ......................................................................... 31 
5.  “Retour vers l’original”: Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon .............................................. 35 
From La Taverne du Village to Complexe Bourbon ....................................................................... 35 
Gay architecture or queer space: a conflicted understanding .................................................... 42 
6.  Going Back Underground: Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars .................................... 47 
7.  Out And Out: Adventures in “Straight” Land ............................................................................... 54 
Guerrilla Gay Bar: “We're here, we're queer, we want a beer!” .................................................. 54 
Meow Mix, Faggity Ass Fridays, Mec Plus Ultra: Temporary Queer Nights ........................... 58 
Queer Users in “Straight” Bars ............................................................................................................60 
8.  Are Gay Bars Queer Space or Gay Architecture? a Conclusion ............................................... 61 
Bibliography................................................................................................................................................ 64 
Illustrations................................................................................................................................................. 70 
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 1

1. What can you say about gay-bars architecture?


Tracing the Physical Evidence of LGBT Histories, an Introduction
Because sexual orientation cannot be identified through any particular physical signs, lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgendered people (LGBT)1 are often identified through the spaces they
visit. Major events in recent LGBT history, for example, are often and appropriately linked to
bars or named after them. Most famously, the gay liberation movement really gained
momentum and public visibility after the Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969, named after New
York’s Stonewall Inn bar. Gay pride celebrations are still today mostly held in June throughout
the world to commemorate the fight against governmental persecution of sexual minorities
symbolised by the police raids on gay bars such as Stonewall. In Montréal, similar raids on
Truxx (in 1977) and Sex Garage (in 1990) (Figure 2) led to demonstrations, amendments to
the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and ultimately to the first edition of Divers/Cité,
Montréal’s original gay pride celebration.2 This underlines the importance of bars as social
meeting space for LGBT people. Even if popular culture has long linked architecture/space
and sexual orientation3, gay bars, perceived as everyday or vernacular, are rarely discussed by
architectural historians and theorists. Geographers, sociologists and anthropologists have
more often investigated them to draw up geographies of homosexuality, but have focussed
mostly on consumption and displays of sexuality. Fortunately, a growing body of work from
within architectural history has recently emerged to explore queer domestic spaces.4

1
Part Two of this project will further define some of the terms used here. Generally, “gay” or “lesbian” will be used to refer specifically to male
homosexuality and female homosexuality respectively. In descriptions of bars, although these establishments sometimes welcome mixed
crowds or people not self-identifying as gay or lesbian, the terms “gay bars” (or clubs, spaces, etc.) and “lesbian bars” will be preferred as
they clearly mark the bars’ specific welcoming of homosexuality. “LGBT” or “queer” will be used, and preferred to the other common form
LGBTQ, to refer to all sexual minorities as a perceived entity, ignoring their inside differences. Some exceptions will be made for accepted
expressions such as “Gay Pride” or “Gay Village” that usually refer to understandings broader than only male homosexuality, although their
degree of openness to non-mal homosexuality is sometimes contested. However, when analysing space or architecture, a distinction will
be made between “LGBT-oriented” and “queer” space to avoid confusion around broad political and theoretical understandings of queer
space (see Part Two). Finally, “straight” will be used to refer to all other spaces understood or perceived as not designed for or used by
specifically LGBT people.
2
Richard Burnett, "Montreal's Sex Garage Raid: A Watershed Moment," Xtra!, October 23 2009.
3
See for example the satirical article reproduced on page II of this project ("Local Bars Comes out as Gay," The Onion, May 9 2008.) or
television shows such as Queer As Folk (Sarah Harding, Charles McDougall, and Menhaj Huda, "Queer as Folk," (United Kingdom1999-
2000); Michael DeCarlo et al., "Queer as Folk," (United States2000-2005).)
4
Analysis of domestic queer space and their presence in architectural history and media can be found in Henry Urbach, "Peeking at Gay
Interiors," Design book review: DBR 25(1992); Alice T. Friedman, "People Who Live in Glass Houses: Edith Farnsworth, Ludwig Mies Van Der
Rohe, and Philip Johnson," in Women and the Making of the Modern House : A Social and Architectural History (New York: Harry N. Abrams,
1998); Katarina Bonnevier, "A Queer Analysis of Eileen Gray's E.1027," in Negotiating Domesticity: Spatial Productions of Gender in Modern
Architecture, ed. Hilde Heynen and Gulsum Baydar (London & New York: Routledge, 2005); Annmarie Adams, "Sex and the Single Building:
The Weston Havens House, 1941-2001," Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum 17, no. 1 (2010). See also the
Assemblage issue devoted to the Wexner Center House Rules exhibition curated by Mark Robbins that questioned suburban living through
different lenses, including queerness (Michael Moon and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, "Queers in (Single-Family) Space: Michael Moon and Eve
Kosofsky Sedgwick [Interview], Benjamin Gianni and Scott Weir," Assemblage 24(1994); Henry Urbach, John Randolph, and Bruce Tomb,
"In Medias Res," Assemblage, no. 24 (1994).). and a reply to a New York Times review of the show in Benjamin Gianni, "Queering (Single
Family) Space," Sites 26(1995).
1. Introduction The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 2

“What can you say about gay-bars architecture?” is the unavoidable question that
immediately follows any disclosure of my Master’s topic. “Are they so different from straight
bars? Are there any specific design elements that characterise gay bars?”5 I understand these
sceptical questions and somewhat agree with the irrelevance of most of them. Instead of
analysing gay bars by comparing them to straight bars, I argue that it is essential to study and
document LGBT-oriented public architecture, even if it is commercial space such as bars,
saunas, or sex shops, because these spaces are some of the only physical, and most
importantly visible and public, traces of gay communities6 and their history (Figure 3).
Montréal anthropologist Ross Higgins notes that LGBT histories are built from the ground up.
There are no heroic figures; today’s gains come from the cumulative efforts of thousands of
everyday men and women who quietly fought to be who they are, to express themselves, to
break free from heteronormativity.7 Understanding how the characteristics of physical space
affect these struggles and transformations is essential.

With an increasingly important body of work behind us pointing out the importance of a
gendered history of architecture, in both “high” and vernacular architecture, it is crucial to
acknowledge that sexuality also matters and that scholarly discourses have often supported a
heterosexist cultural project by ignoring sexuality.8 As such, and clearly so in Montréal, gay
bars, as built artefacts from these communities, embody and shape the evolution of the
relation between LGBT people and society at large. They also present interesting case studies
to better understand different understandings of queer space. Although Montréal’s lesbian
spaces have had a rich history, even if they are today much less visible9, limitations of space

5
It is interesting to note that questions about gay bars and gay “ghettos” also abound in high school and elementary school workshops I
participate in with the community organisation GRIS. This clearly reflects the public visibility, and curiosity directed towards them, of gay
bars and of the Village in Montréal.
6
The term “community” has rightly been identified as problematical when used to describe sexual diversity. (Marianne Blidon, "Jalons Pour
Une Géographie Des Homosexualités," Espace géographique 37, no. 2 (2008).) It is instead often replaced with the notion of LGBT
minorities to point out the discrimination and oppression lived by them, instead of a shared culture identification assumed by the word
“community”. I will, however, use “community” in this paper, usually in plural form, to describe some of the subcultures associated with
LGBT minorities that shape bars and clubs.
7
Ross Higgins, De La Clandestinité À L'affirmation: Pour Une Histoire De La Communauté Gaie Montréalaise (Montréal: Comeau & Nadeau, 1999),
9-10.
8
Adams, "Sex and the Single Building: The Weston Havens House, 1941-2001," 83. Although feminist studies have pointed out the
importance of acknowledging the problem of an architectural history that does not include a gendered perspective, the issue of sexuality
and sexual minorities is still often left out, as shown in a recent Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians article commenting on the
necessity to include “the powerless voices left out because of gender as well as race, ethnicity, and class”, but ignoring sexuality. (Meredith
L. Clausen, "The Ecole Des Beaux-Arts: Towards a Gendered History," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 69, no. 2 (2010).)
9
Please refer to Line Chamberland, "Remembering Lesbian Bars: Montreal, 1955-1975," in Gay Studies from the French Cultures: Voices from
France, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the Netherlands, ed. Rommer Mendès-Leite and Pierre-Olivier de Busscher, Research on Homosexuality
(New York, London, & Norwood (Australia): The Haworth Press, 1993). and Julie A. Podmore, "Gone ‘Underground’? Lesbian Visibility and
the Consolidation of Queer Space in Montréal," Social & Cultural Geography 7, no. 4 (2006). for very engaging discussions of the evolution
and rich history of lesbian bars and social spaces in Montréal.
1. Introduction The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 3

and time force me to concentrate on gay bars. This bias should not be perceived, however, as
a lack of interest in lesbian history, but more as an attempt to avoid often made conflations of
lesbian and gay spaces that ignore the specific qualities and characteristics of both.

This project begins with an overview of queer theory’s potential for a rethinking of
architectural history and theory, including notions of performativity, relationality and queer
space. It then continues with some background information on gay-bar evolution through
time, before turning to the history of gay and lesbian public space in Montréal, culminating
with the emergence of the Village. At the heart of the project is an analysis of two Village bars
from different generations, Complexe Bourbon and Parking, followed by a discussion of recent
temporary queer nights outside of the Village.

Figure 2. Sex Garage police raid, July 16, 1990. (Photographs by Linda Dawn Hammond)

Figure 3. West Street, New York, 1977. Gay men occupying the edges of downtown area. (National Archive of Lesbian and
Gay History, in Aaron Betsky. Queer Space. and Joel Sanders. Stud: Architectures of Masculinity.)
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 4

2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories


This research project uses gay bars to investigate how queer theory can inform our approach
to the relation of architecture, users and context. Crucial to this is a transformation of
discourses of architectural history and theory. Discussions of the possible interactions of
queer theory and architectural history have been few; as a point of entry, this project seeks
inspiration in art and architecture theorist John Paul Ricco’s use of sources in architectural
theory, cultural and urban geography, and gender and queer theory to propose a “queer sex
space theory”. To clarify different understandings and nuances around the terms “queer” and
“queer space”, this section begins with an overview of different understandings of these
concepts. It then focuses on Ricco’s engagement with queer theory and queer pedagogy’s
notion of relationality and more specifically his use of the “queer voice”, before engaging his
mapping of queer theory and art and architecture theory to propose a theoretical approach to
LGBT-oriented public spaces.

What Is “Queer”: Identity, Movement, or Theory?


Discussions of queer space must begin with an understanding of different uses of the word
“queer”: queer as an identity category, queer as activism/movement/politics and queer as
theory. The differences and similarities between these uses underlie often divergent
discussions of queer space. The first use, and most generalized in popular discourse, is queer
as an umbrella term for a variety of identity categories understood in opposition to
heterosexually normative identities. It includes, among others, gay, lesbian, bisexual,
transsexual, and transgender1. (To avoid confusion, this understanding of queer in relation to
space will be referred in this paper as LGBT-oriented architecture. Gay- or lesbian-oriented
will also be used to describe spaces designed for a specific gender.) This understanding is
apparent in mainstream architectural discourse, for example in Architecture magazine’s choice
of photographs focussing on users to document a feature on the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center2 (Figure 4). A historically negatively charged
term, “queer” is reappropriated positively since the 1980s by those who were previously

1
“Queer” is also sometimes used as an additional term in this grouping to refer to people who do not want to identify with these categories, in
the spirit of queer theory’s critique of heteronormativity. The term “genderqueer” is sometimes used to further define people who do not
identify with a gender, physically or mentally.
2
Jacob Ward, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?," Architecture 2002, 72-81.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 5

targeted by its pejorative usage, in an example of what Judith Butler calls “critically queer”3 to
facilitate and underline the more radical aspects of gay and lesbian visibility. Although the
mainstream use of the term attempts to position itself beyond traditional identity categories,
it does not encompass the same breadth of meanings that queer theorists and activists
attribute to it.

Figure 4. Photographs from a feature on the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, Architecture, April 2002.

Queer activists, also known as the radical queer movement, are active since the mid 1980s,
emerging in parallel to the critical reclamation of the term queer. Reacting to a perceived
weakening of the 1970s homosexual liberation and lesbian feminist movements, the queer
movement is also fuelled by critiques of both governmental and media handlings of the AIDS
epidemic and conservative and normative gay thinking. Their agenda revolves around the
socio-political reclamative power of the term “queer” to focus on a rejection of traditional
gender identities. Their belief in challenging oppressive normativity push most queer activists
towards a broadening from mere gender issues to an anti-capitalist, anti-oppression position.
Early manifestations of the movement evolved from the short-lived Queer Nation
organisation, founded in 1990 by New York AIDS activists4, that still inspire similar groups
and actions today; in Montréal, Queer Nation Rose, Les Panthères Roses and most recently
Politi-Q/Queers Solidaires have developed positions and actions linked to the legacy of the

3
Butler’s “critically queer” refers for example to the semantical reclamation by activists of the word queer as a term of self-identification after
being used for decades as a derogatory adjective for gays and lesbians. The word is used as a term of defiant pride to overcome limiting
identities. (Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter : On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (New York: Routledge, 1993), 223-42.)
4
Susan Stryker, "Queer Nation," in glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture, ed. Claude J. Summers
(Chicago: glbtq, Inc., 2004).
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 6

radical queer movement. Queer activists try to move beyond a politics of spatial
concentration, of physical gay spaces, to challenge the heterosexist assumption in a diversity
of locations, promoting an idea of community based on “we are everywhere”.5

Queer theory6 also emerges in the late 1980s from gender studies and gay and lesbian studies
around philosophers, literary theorists and historians such as Butler, Eve Sedgwick, and David
Halperin, all inspired by Michel Foucault’s work on sexuality7. The name itself is coined
byTeresa De Lauretis around 1990 in her introductory essay to the "Queer Theory: Lesbian
and Gay Sexualities" issue of the feminist journal Differences8 to describe a radical
reconsidering of sexuality outside the prevailing dichotomy of the heterosexual matrix, to use
Butler’s term. The influence of Foucault, most importantly his work after the first volume of
The History of Sexuality9, is of particular importance for queer theory in its attempt to think
beyond identities - understood as categories of individuals - and acts - in this case sexual
practices - towards unspecified and unspecifiable forms of relationality10. Queer theory is thus
less a discourse around an identity than a critique of identity. This political and ethical tension
creates queer theory as more than a school of thought, “as an unavowable community of
thought, but as one that is always coming never arriving, just as much as it is a matter of being
both out in and out of the academy at once.”11

The development of queer theory and the actions of queer activists underline the concept of
heteronormativity. It refers to the structuration of society along a male/female gender model
through norms that enshrine heterosexuality as normal and place non-heterosexuals or non-
5
Tim Davis, "The Diversity of Queer Politics and the Redefinition of Sexual Identity and Community in Urban Spaces," in Mapping Desire:
Geographies of Sexualities, ed. David Bell and Gill Valentine (London & New York: Routledge, 1995), 293.
6
For a deeper introduction to queer theory, refer to Annamarie Jagose, Queer Theory : An Introduction (New York: New York University Press,
1996). The potential of queer theory is immense; however, some queer theorists’ critique of binary assumptions needs to be problematised.
Although they attempt to demonstrate and challenge how identities are constructed as binaries through a heterosexual matrix of gender,
they often rely themselves on binary assumptions and categories without questioning them. This is especially true in Butler’s writings,
clearly embedded in her Hegelian understanding of subjectivity. It is also exemplified by the title of Diana Fuss’ influential collection of
essays on lesbian and gay studies, Inside/Out (Diana Fuss, Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories (New York and London: Routledge,
1991).), to which Butler contributed “Imitation and Gender Insubordination”. In the context of architecture, this title is also problematic in
spatial terms. It echoes a recurring discourse around space that constructs in oppositional terms: inside/outside, public/private,
monumental/domestic, vernacular/high architecture. Beyond this problem, I believe queer theory has a potential to rethink these
assumptions in more nuanced ways and to offer renewed discussion of space within a relational approach.
7
Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 1st ed. (New York and London: Routledge, 1990); Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990); David M. Halperin, Saint Foucault:
Towards a Gay Hagiography (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). inspired by Michel Foucault, Histoire De La Sexualité, 3
vols., Bibliothèque Des Histoires (Paris: Gallimard, 1976-1984). and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men : English Literature and Male
Homosocial Desire, Gender and Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985).
8
Teresa de Lauretis, "Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Studies: An Introduction.," differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 3, no. 2
(1991).
9
Although recent scholarship has argued that the whole of Foucault’s career has inspired the ideas fundamental to queer theory. See Lynne
Huffer, Mad for Foucault : Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).
10
John Paul Ricco, The Logic of the Lure (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002), 18.
11
Ibid., 141.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 7

gender-conforming people as Other. This concept is, however, sometimes criticized for its
tendency to conflate all heterosexual identities in a single simplified category and to mask the
differences within sexual dissidents identities. As Jon Binnie notes, “it can sometimes appear
that heterosexual identities are uniformly normative and socially conservative, while non-
heterosexuals or sexual dissidents are constructed as radical, progressive or outside of social
norms.”12 Theorists from diverse backgrounds are challenging these assumptions. How do we
know what “being straight” or “being gay” is? How do other aspects of identity (class, gender,
race, etc.) intersect with these “normative identities”? How do assumptions about “radical
dissident” identities account for the mainstreaming of lesbian and gay politics associated with
the more recent idea of homonormativity13? How does the increasing visibility of affluent
white gay men in mainstream public view contribute to a marginalisation of lesbian feminism
and sexual radicalism and highlight exclusions within queer communities on the basis of race,
class, gender, and disabilities14.

Queer theorists David L. Eng, Judith Halberstam and José Esteban Muñoz point out in their
introduction to a special issue of Social Text the utility of queer as an engaged mode of critical
enquiry that encompasses some of the most innovative and risky work on globalization,
neoliberalism, cultural politics, subjectivity, identity, family, and kinship15. Their claim that
considerations of empire, race, migration, geography, subaltern communities, activism, and
class are central to the continuing critique of queerness, sexuality, sexual subcultures, desire,
and recognition16 is however challenged by Binnie who points out that, significantly, all sixteen
essays in the issue are by US-based scholars in the humanities17. Although Binnie’s claim
needs to be situated in his attempt to reassess the importance of geography in the study of
sexuality from his own UK-based point of view, his call for a more intersectional queer
academic approach, taking into account the background of the researcher and of the object of
study, is important. At its best, queer theory challenges both hetero- and homonormativity.

12
Jon Binnie, "Sexuality, the Erotic and Geography: Epistemology, Methodology and Pedagogy," in Geographies of Sexualities: Theory, Practices
and Politics, ed. Kath Browne, Jason Lim, and Gavin Brown (Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate, 2007), 33.
13
The concept of homonormativity has been used widely since Lisa Duggan elaborated it in her influential 2002 essay. Lisa Duggan, "The
New Homonormativity: The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism," in Materializing Democracy : Toward a Revitalized Cultural Politics, ed. Russ
Castronovo and Dana D Nelson (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002).
14
Binnie, "Sexuality, the Erotic and Geography: Epistemology, Methodology and Pedagogy," 34.
15
David L. Eng, Judith Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz, "What's Queer About Queer Studies Now?," Social Text 23, no. 3/4 (2005): 2.
16
Ibid.
17
Binnie, "Sexuality, the Erotic and Geography: Epistemology, Methodology and Pedagogy," 34.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 8

Queer Research and Pedagogy


Emerging from literary theory, queer theory has since informed research in a wide range of
fields. In discussions of art and architecture history, William Haver’s theory of queer research
and pedagogy18 can be useful inspiration. Haver himself develops from queer theory’s notion
of performativity. He refers specifically to Butler, but I also wish to point out the importance of
Eve Sedgwick as I believe her writing is more performative, whereas Butler more abstractly
theorises about performativity. In her introduction to Performativity and Performance, cowritten
with Andrew Parker19, Sedgwick writes in relation to earlier theorists, rather than in opposition
to them, using a looping technique that acknowledges the presence of the reader. Sedgwick
and Parker question how their readers understand the words/ideas they are using and
suggest answers through examples from both theory and everyday life. They build on J. L.
Austin’s ideas using other theorists and their own ideas to “transform the interdisciplinary
performativity/performance conversation in powerfully new and usefully unpredictable
ways.”20

Haver’s reading of queer theory shows the capacity and limitations of discursively constituted
notions of subjectivity and how they can be disrupted. It implies that subjectivity is always
constituted relationally, that performativity can only exist in relation to others, and to a
specific context. Both Haver and Butler focus on speech acts and hardly acknowledge the
equal importance of the visual and the embodied in this relational subjectivity. Unfortunately,
this “queer voice” approach and its emphasis on the text as voice is also present in the
writings of art and architecture historians informed by queer theory, most often at the
expense of the spatial and the visual.21 Ricco constructs his Logic of the Lure through four
chapters divided by epilogues that call into question the writing that constitutes the principal
text. Architecture theorist Katarina Bonnevier similarly organises her Behind Straight Curtains:
Towards a queer feminist theory of architecture as three staged theatrical lectures followed by

18
William Haver, "Queer Research; or, How to Practise Invention to the Brink of Intelligibility," in The Eight Technologies of Otherness, ed. Sue
Golding (New York and London: Routledge, 1997).
19
Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, "Performativity and Performance," in Performativity and Performance, ed. Andrew Parker and Eve
Kosofsky Sedgwick, Essays from the English Institute (New York: Routledge, 1993), 1-18.
20
Ibid., 16.
21
Gillian Rose presents an engaging critique of masculinist voices in geography that echoes the queer voice approach and acknowledges the
difficulties linked to its relation with the visual. (Gillian Rose, "As If the Mirrors Had Bled : Masculine Dwelling, Masculinist Theory and
Feminist Masquerade," in Bodyspace : Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality, ed. Nancy Duncan (London and New York:
Routledge, 1996).)
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 9

entr’actes questioning the different voices22. Queer voices wish to challenge normative
discourses, but also to emphasise the persistence and relationality of the text, in Ricco’s
words. I believe, however, that this understanding can be broadened by taking into account
the interaction of both the user and the researcher to the space studied. This paper thus
attempts to avoid an emphasis on text by thinking about how different protagonists perceive
and create LGBT-oriented architecture and queer space, instead of focusing on trying to
express their different voices in text.

Ricco points out that the politics of theoretical practice are fundamentally spatial as they
travel between theory and social and cultural context.23 He values this relation where “it is less
a matter of theory for theory’s sake, than it is an effort to ceaselessly explore the multivalent
capacities of theoretical production across social and cultural terrains.”24 To examine the
politics of theoretical production, he borrows from Katie King’s notion of “theory in press” “in
which reified ‘theory’ in the academy depends upon communities theorizing”25 – networks of
theorizing which dissolve false distinctions between theory and practice: “active thinking,
speaking, conversation, action grounded in theory, action producing theory, action suggesting
theory, drafts, letters, unpublished manuscripts, stories in writing, poems said and written, art
events, readings, enactments, zap actions, incomplete theorizing, sporadic suggestiveness,
generalizations correct and incorrect, inadequate theory, images and actions inciting
theoretical interventions.”26 Without denying their place within communities, academic voices
are therefore understood as not all, but only some of the nodes in networks of theoretical
production. A queer relationality supersedes theory.

What Are Queer Space(s)?


Definitions and discussions of the term “queer” and its use in academia and activism can help
us better understand and discuss the idea of queer space. Here I am using a combination of
different sources that have attempted to classify diverse approaches to the notion of queer

22
Katarina Bonnevier, Behind Straight Curtains : Towards a Queer Feminist Theory of Architecture (Stockholm: Axl Books, 2007).
23
Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 143.
24
Ibid., 142.
25
Katie King, "Producing Sex ,Theory, and Culture: Gay/Straight Remappings in Contemporary Feminism," in Conflicts in Feminism, ed.
Marianne Hirsch and Evelyn Fox Keller (New York and London: Routledge, 1990), 91. quoted in Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 142.
26
King, "Producing Sex ,Theory, and Culture: Gay/Straight Remappings in Contemporary Feminism," 92. quoted in Ricco, The Logic of the Lure,
142.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 10

space27, most of them coming from outside architectural theory and history, however, as
relatively few scholars have explored the theme. The first understanding presents queer space
as gay or lesbian territory demarcated from heteronormative territory, as the physical
manifestation of a gay community. It is the earliest approach at studying queer space, with
probably the most cited example being Manuel Castells’ study of the Castro district in San
Francisco28. This approach is useful to describe and analyse LGBT districts’ evolution, as
suggested by Alan Collins’s geographical and economical model, further developed by Brad
Ruting29; it has, however, been rightly criticized for not considering that queer space existed
before gay or lesbian neighbourhoods appeared, as noted in the descriptions of early
twentieth century “gay life” by historians George Chauncey, for New York30, and Matt
Houlbrook, for London31. It also does not challenge the assumptions that most other places are
fully straight and that queer space can only exist within gay enclaves. This approach is
sometimes broadened by considering queer space as the contested “other” between lesbian
or gay space and straight space32, using queer as a broader vision of non-heteronormative
identities. This extended understanding focuses on the boundary, the interface, and the
adversarial ownership of place, in a vision tainted by Hegelian dialectics, without however
questioning the normativity of these boundaries.
27
Although this classification covers various sources, it was initially inspired by Richard Borbridge, "Sexuality and the City: Exploring
Gaybourhoods and the Urban Village Form in Vancouver, Bc." (University of Manitoba, 2007). A partial bibliography of queer space
discourse and theory in architecture and geography includes Urbach, "Peeking at Gay Interiors."; Henry Urbach, "Spatial Rubbing: The
Zone," Sites, no. 25 (1993); John Paul Ricco, "Coming Together: Jack-Off Rooms as Minor Architecture," A/R/C, architecture, research,
criticism 1, no. 5 (1994); David Bell and Gill Valentine, eds., Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities (London: Routledge,1995); Elizabeth
Grosz, Space, Time, and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies (New York: Routledge, 1995); Christopher Reed, "Imminent Domain: Queer
Space in the Built Environment," Art Journal 55, no. 4 (1996); Henry Urbach, "Closets, Clothes, Disclosure," Assemblage, no. 30 (1996);
sections of Joel Sanders, ed. Stud: Architectures of Masculinity, First ed. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press,1996); Aaron Betsky, Queer
Space: Architecture and Same-Sex Desire, 1st ed. (New York: William Morrow, 1997); Gordon Brent Ingram, Anne-Marie Bouthillette, and
Yolanda Retter, eds., Queers in Space: Communities | Public Places | Sites of Resistance (Seattle: Bay Press,1997); John Paul Ricco, "Fag-O-Sites:
Minor Architecture and Geopolitics of Queer Everyday Life" (Dissertation, University of Chicago, 1998); David Bell, Jon Binnie, and Ruth
Holliday, Pleasure Zones: Bodies, Cities, Spaces, 1st ed., Space, Place, and Society (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2001); Ricco, The
Logic of the Lure; Bonnevier, Behind Straight Curtains : Towards a Queer Feminist Theory of Architecture; Blidon, "Jalons Pour Une Géographie
Des Homosexualités."; Adams, "Sex and the Single Building: The Weston Havens House, 1941-2001." Recent challenges to earlier queer
space research are summarised in Kath Browne, "Challenging Queer Geographies," Antipode 38, no. 5 (2006); Kath Browne, Jason Lim, and
Gavin Brown, Geographies of Sexualities: Theory, Practices and Politics (Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate, 2007); Natalie Oswin, "Critical
Geographies and the Uses of Sexuality: Deconstructing Queer Space," Progress in Human Geography 32, no. 1 (2008).
28
Manuel Castells, The City and the Grassroots : A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1983).
29
Alan Collins, "Sexual Dissidence, Enterprise and Assimilation: Bedfellows in Urban Regeneration," Urban Stud 41, no. 9 (2004); Brad Ruting,
"Economic Transformations of Gay Urban Spaces: Revisiting Collins' Evolutionary Gay District Model," Australian Geographer 39(2008):
264. Collins identifies four stages of evolution: “preconditions”, “emergence”, “expansion and diversification”, and “integration”.
30
George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (New York: Basic Books, 1994).
An interesting discussion by Kevin J. Mumford of interracial relations in interaction with homosexuality complements Chauncey’s study in
New York and adds turn of the twentieth century Chicago (Kevin J. Mumford, "Interracial Intersections: Homosexuality and Black/White
Relations," in Interzones : Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1997).).
31
Matt Houlbrook, Queer London : Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957, The Chicago Series on Sexuality, History, and Society
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
32
See for examples chapters 6 to 9 of Stephen Whittle, ed. The Margins of the City: Gay Men's Urban Lives, Popular Cultural Studies (Aldershot:
Arena,1994). and Moira Kenney, Mapping Gay L.A. : The Intersection of Place and Politics, American Subjects (Philadelphia: Temple University
Press, 2001).
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 11

Another understanding positions queer space as overtly sexualised space. It focuses on sexual
acts and tension, not sexual identity or ownership, where the sex act defines the construction
and dissolution of queer space. Queer space is thus understood as inherently ephemeral. This
approach is present importantly in geographers’ early enthusiasm with Butler’s performativity
theory33, positioning the visibility of queer sex acts, both gay and lesbian, as creating queer
space. It is a useful approach, but it limits the perception of the impacts of the social
community. As geographer Kath Browne writes: “queer geographies are different to (but can
include) geographies of sexualities … the form and substance of queer geographies needs
continual and critical exploration”34. It does, however, rightly note the importance of sexuality
in most understandings of queer space, in relation with queer’s evolution from gay and lesbian
studies, inherently linked to sexuality.

The last understanding of queer space includes the above-mentioned ideas and enlarges them
to define queer space as challenging and imminent. It is reflective of queer theory’s challenges
to normative views and envisions queer space as continually in the process of being
constructed in opposition to heteronormativity, but also to broader prescriptive norms. As
such, queer space is sometimes understood as encompassing any architecture that is odd or
different.35 “Queer space is characterized by a kind of social practice accepting the existence
of categories, power and valuation, but also attempting to conceptualize them not in a fixed,
but rather in a continually changing way. The point is not being different (static and dualistic),
but the aim of becoming different (process).”36 It is fluid and subversive, a place of freedom,
and multiplicity. Queer space is thus not only a category patchwork, but it also changes the
depth of each category; in queer space, identity becomes the sum of numerous categories.37
Queer space is performative; it is built out of relationality and temporality, existing not only in
the physical space, but in the intersubjectivity of the relations through verbal, non-verbal, and
physical interactions with others. “Queer politics is about relations rather than identity. In
queer space there are multiple identities that are constructed from these relations. It is a

33
See for example the foundational texts in David Bell et al., "All Hyped up and No Place to Go," Gender, place & culture: a journal of feminist
geography 1, no. 1 (1994); Bell and Valentine, eds., Mapping Desire.
34
Browne, "Challenging Queer Geographies," 891.
35
Adams, "Sex and the Single Building: The Weston Havens House, 1941-2001," 82.
36
"A Kind of Queer Geography/Räume Durchqueeren: The Doreen Massey Reading Weekends," Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist
Geography 13, no. 2 (2006): 177.
37
Ibid.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 12

politics of relating rather than claiming rights.”38 Christopher Reed further argues that “no
space is totally queer or completely unqueerable [...]. Queer space is imminent: queer space is
space in the process of, literally, taking place, of claiming territory.”39

But if queer space is defined mostly by its relationality, what is it physically? In what
conditions does queer space exist? Can any space become queer? Are gay bars or gay
cruising grounds queer? Are they still queer when not occupied? Some answers might reside
in Katarina Bonnevier’s search for a critically queer architecture. She attempts “to find
strategies for resistance to, and transgression of normative orders. It does not mean that
queerness is an essentialist core of some buildings, and not others – the queer perspective is,
just like seemingly neutral observations, an interpretation – but the cultural production that
surrounds us is not as straight as heteronormativity makes it appear. Queer implies inter-
changeability and excess; the possibility to move, make several interpretations, slide over, or
reposition limits. To understand buildings as queer performative acts, and not static
preconditions, opens architecture to interpretation and makes it less confined within
normative constraints. It is a key both to accomplish a shift in how architecture can be
understood or analyzed and to [her] ambition to contribute to a transformation in future
building; thereby presenting in a broader sense, enactments of architecture.”40 Queer space
theory is thus far from being limited to gay- and lesbian-oriented architecture, but instead
suggests that lessons learned from critically queer occupation of space by LGBT people could
be of use to rethink how our environments are designed, used, and analysed.

Attempts to answer some of these questions have appeared in “queer space” projects, many
of them gathered in early 1990s art shows such as 1994 Queer Space41 at the Storefront for Art
and Architecture in New York or 1996 disappeared42 at the Randolph Street Gallery in Chicago.
Among the projects exhibited at the Queer Space show, an installation by the Repohistory

38
Ibid.: 178-79.
39
Reed, "Imminent Domain: Queer Space in the Built Environment," 64.
40
Bonnevier, Behind Straight Curtains : Towards a Queer Feminist Theory of Architecture, 22.
41
Curated by Beatriz Colomina, Dennis Dollens, Cindi Patton, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Henry Urbach, and Mark Wigley. The Storefront
website emphasizes the political aspects of the show: “Propelled by the urgent necessity to rethink the politics of space, Queer
Space sought to uncover various definitions of the terms “queer” and “space” and the conceptual bonds that unite them. The exhibition
was centered around a set of crucial interrogatives that defined the spatial politics of the early '90s: How can minorities define their rights
to occupy spaces within the city? How can such space be legitimized, given a history and a future? Is it even physical space that is in
question, or is it the space of discursive practices, texts, codes of behavior and the regulatory norms that organize social life? The
installations, interventions and proposals at Storefront and at other locations around the city were an attempt to generate new ways of
thinking about the social politics of space in the city.” ("Past Exhibition: Queer Space," Storefront for Art and Architecture,
http://www.storefrontnews.org/archive_dete.php?objID=83.)
42
Curated by John Paul Ricco. Many of the works exhibited are discussed in Ricco’s Logic of the Lure.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 13

Collective43 points out the temporality of queer space (Figure 5). Consisting of of pink triangle
signs presenting moments in queer history, it showcases the politically queer use of space in
both expected and unexpected places. A more permanent example is the Homomonument in
Amsterdam, described by art historian Christopher Reed as a prominent example of queer
space44 (Figure 6). What convinces Reed of the queerness of this monument is the
impossibility of perceiving the space as a whole. Both invisible and overwhelming, the
unrecognizability of the sculpture links it to other vernacular queer spaces that keep traces of
queer use even when not active45. It echoes examples such as the queer gardens of Chicago’s
Lincoln Park that acknowledge the gay uses of some beaches, even when they are not
occupied. The presence is felt and visible if the viewer knows the “right” context, and the
significance of these gardens46.

Figure 5. REPOhistory Collective, Queer Spaces, New York, 1994. Figure 6. Karin Daan, Homomonument, Amsterdam,
1979-87.

John Paul Ricco’s “Queer Sex Space Theory”


Although Ricco’s ideas are close to our last definition of queer space, he attempts to position
himself outside of “queer space” by promoting, instead, the idea of a “queer sex space theory”.
Inspired by Butler, Ricco posits that “queer space gains its epistemological authority through
the designation of its object of inquiry; yet, the object of inquiry is purely a product of

43
REPOhistory Collective, "Queer Spaces," (New York1994); Betti-Sue Hertz, Ed Eisenberg, and Lisa Maya Knauer, "Queer Spaces in New
York City: Places of Struggle/Places of Strength," in Queers in Space: Communities | Public Places | Sites of Resistance, ed. Gordon Brent
Ingram, Anne-Marie Bouthillette, and Yolanda Retter (Seattle: Bay Press, 1997); REPOhistory Collective, "Queer Spaces," REPOhistory
Collective, http://www.repohistory.org/queer_spaces/index.php3.
44
Reed, "Imminent Domain: Queer Space in the Built Environment," 65.
45
Ibid.: 65-66.
46
Ibid.: 66.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 14

discourse which is in turn named by it.”47 Both approaches may be understood as


performative, but Ricco argues that queer space attempts to leave unremarked the fact of its
discursivity. On the other hand, his queer sex space theory “foregrounds its discursivity and
configures itself as one materialization of queer sexual insurgency and erotics”48. Queer sex
space theory is thus anti-normative or queer, by “citing that which forever eludes capacities of
identities, representation, and objectification”49, that which is difficult and nearly impossible to
cite and site50.

Ricco’s understanding of theory in relation to history is informed by Foucault’s theory of


discourse and power. Ricco borrows from Butler’s reading of Foucault that “discourse has a
history, that not only precedes but conditions its contemporary usages”51 to suggest that a
discourse of queer sex space theory is not simply located in history, but has a particular role to
play in the materialization of history.52 It is, in part, that knowledge of its own discursivity and
role in history that differentiates “queer sex space theory” from an apparently more inclusive
“queer space”. It is inscribed in debates over the place of sexuality within movement politics
and theoretical production that surrounded the parallel emergence of queer studies and
theory in the academy and of neoconservative gay discourses. Borrowing from Foucault, Ricco
understands the housing of more radical queer theoretical practice within the academy as a
means for containment and control53. “Dedicated to thinking post-identity social-sexual
politics and to fabricating queer counter-publics”54, a queer sex space theory crosses from
peer-reviewed journals to popular magazines, overcoming the academic containment.

Ricco approaches erotics as part of an understanding of queer space. He is joined in this


interest by geographer Binnie’s call for a better understanding of the connection between acts,
practices and identities through a turn towards erotic practices. “Focussing on the erotic
rather than the category of sexuality may be fruitful in helping us to get the materiality and
physicality of sex as opposed to identities and communities [...] (although this is, of course, an
artificial distinction as erotic connection may be seen as the foundation of sociality – even

47
Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 148.
48
Ibid., 149.
49
Ibid.
50
Ibid.
51
Butler, Bodies That Matter, 13. cited in Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 148.
52
Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 148.
53
Ibid., 143-45.
54
Ibid., 142.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 15

community – within some sexual dissident communities). [...] I must reiterate that I am not
simply calling for a celebration of the erotic for eroticism’s sake, but rather to acknowledge the
politics of erotics in knowledge creation.”55 The idea of the political implications of sexuality and
its materiality is also pointed out by Binnie through a reference to Michael Bronski’s idea that
“the explosion of private sexual fantasy into public view is a powerful political statement”56.
Their acknowledgement of the political potential of queer public spaces is, I believe, useful for
understanding how queer-oriented public architecture has appeared and evolved. Bars,
saunas and public cruising spaces, as sexualised spaces, offer a powerful entry point to larger
discussions of queer space.

Aaron Betsky’s Queer Space is, if only by its name, the first reference that comes to mind when
discussing queer architecture. For Ricco, however, Betsky’s essay is an easily criticisable
attempt to totalize the field with a historicizing logic. It presents a reformist history of
architecture through an exploration of same-sex desire. Although Betsky frames his “From
Cruising to Community” chapter on cruising grounds, bars and public gay-oriented spaces
with two queer sex space theory essays, written by Ricco and Henry Urbach57 on the inventive
sexual persistence of spaces and users, he neutralizes them with a “queer space” discourse.
From Ricco’s point of view, Betsky’s structuralist approach understands the “parts and pieces”
as the constituent elements of a cruising network, and in turn, as communicative/signifying
networks for the expression and coalescence of identity and community. For Ricco, Betsky
appears to be suggesting that queer erotic is in the past, that it is a ruin upon which queer
communities and queer spaces are being built58.

Ricco presents different examples to illustrate his alternative theory. Most of them are art
installations (such as Figure 7), but he also discusses built spaces such as gay sex clubs in
both The Logic of the Lure and earlier essays published in academic journals and queer’zines,
sex movement publications. If both the art installations and spaces share a necessary physical
implication from the visitor through an unexpected path of thresholds, they are also linked by

55
Binnie, "Sexuality, the Erotic and Geography: Epistemology, Methodology and Pedagogy," 32.
56
Michael Bronski, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: Notes on the Materialization of Sexual Fantasy," in Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People,
Politics, and Practice, ed. Mark Thompson (Boston: Alyson, 1991), 64. cited in Jon Binnie, "The Erotic Possibilities of the City," in Pleasure
Zones: Bodies, Cities, Spaces, ed. David Bell, Jon Binnie, and Ruth Holliday, Space, Place, and Society (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press,
2001), 109.
57
Ricco, "Coming Together: Jack-Off Rooms as Minor Architecture."; Urbach, "Spatial Rubbing: The Zone."
58
Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 150.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 16

their inscription in public discussions and debates over gender and sexual differences, media
representation, etc.

Figure 7. Tom Burr. Subterranean Park Rest Room Clip, 1997.

Towards a minor architecture


Queer theory’s notion of performativity can only exist in relation with context. Ricco extends
this idea and borrows from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s readings of Franz Kafka’s
writings59 their idea of a minor literature to suggest a minor architecture. Such a minor
architecture understands queer space as an architecture which overcomes the binary reading
of public and private by being situated within what he calls the majority, rather than outside of
it. A minor architecture is neither the inside of architecture nor the outside of architecture, but
architecture outside of architecture – the architectural Outside.60 Ricco posits this Outside in
relation to Elizabeth Grosz’s interrogation: “Can architecture be thought, no longer as a whole,
a complex unity, but as a set of and site for becomings of all kinds.”61 Such a minor
architecture thus becomes queer space when using architecture tropes from the majority to
contest its relation with the majority within which it resides. Ricco uses the example of the gay

59
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Pour Une Littérature Mineure, Critique (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1975).
60
Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 6. Ricco acknowledge the earlier work of Jennifer Bloomer on the notion of “minor architecture” (Jennifer
Bloomer, "A Lay a Stone a Patch a Post a Pen the Ruddyrun: Minor Architectural Possibilities," in Strategies in Architectural Thinking, ed.
Jeffrey Kipnis, John Whiteman, and Richard Burdett (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 1992).). More recently, Joan Ockman has also
used the idea in her discussion of everyday architecture (Joan Ockman, "Toward a Theory of Normative Architecture," in Architecture of the
Everyday, ed. Steven Harris and Deborah Berke, Yale Publications on Architecture (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997).).
61
Grosz, Space, Time, and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies, 135. quoted in Ricco, The Logic of the Lure, 6.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 17

sex club which creates a network of relations within itself, but obtains its “minor” status when
appearing in public display in major networks such as newspapers, and televisions.62

Exploring the ante-closet


The queer theory approach, exemplified by Ricco’s analysis, is a useful way to understand
architecture and space as relational and performative. It also points out the importance of
context in how people experience space. Context in performativity is not only understood as
the physical context, but more importantly in terms of when and how space is encountered,
through which earlier experiences, and by whom, taking into account issues of gender, race,
class, sexuality. Walking by the closed door of a gay bar in the middle of the day is a
completely different experience than entering it in the middle of the night or seeing it on
television, even if these experiences take place in the same physical space. This importance of
context echoes Urbach’s discussion of the architectural significance of the “closet” metaphor,
at once a mean to hide and reveal. Urbach is particularly drawn to the ante-closet, the space
before the closet, the space of changing. For him, “the ante-closet is an effect of
reappropriations and resignifications without end. It resists the violence of fixed identities by
allowing spaces to fold, unfold, and fold again. [...] Working with and against closet and room,
the ante-closet dismantles their tired architecture to sustain the possibility of other
arrangements.”63 Identity in relation to architecture thus cannot be reduced to the users’ or
designer’s identity, it is constantly becoming performed through its uses.

Queering Architectural Theory


Building upon feminism and gay and lesbian studies, queer theory critiques identity
categorization. Without necessarily disposing of categories, it calls for an understanding and
critique of their constructedness, even for categories such as sex that have been imagined as
essential. More recently, it has also opened up to an intersectionality recognising the diverse
elements that form identity. Queer theory can thus help us move away from earlier
understandings of queer space as strictly gay-oriented spaces towards a more inclusive
approach that understands queer space as performative, as depending importantly on context
and relationality in its challenge to both hetero- and homonormativity. Space is queer not by

62
Ricco, "Coming Together: Jack-Off Rooms as Minor Architecture."
63
Urbach, "Closets, Clothes, Disclosure," 72.
2. Mapping Queer and Architectural Theories The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 18

itself, but in relation to a subject, to an other. Queer theory also reminds us of the importance
of looking beyond the formal to understand space and architecture as an element among
others in the construction of identity. Extending queer theory’s lessons to a study of space can
furthermore underline the political importance of the built environment in identity building.
We must always be reminded that “tolerance of sexual oppression requires room. [...] Many
physical aspects of our communities reflect only incomplete adaptations of spatial
archaeologies of repression.”64 Architecture can not only be linked to a physical
representation of (bodily) identities, but also to the potential repression of these identities.

John Paul Ricco’s notion of a “queer sex space theory” challenges queer theory’s place in the
academic world; it calls for both a consideration of the physicality of space and for a
rethinking of the role of theory through the queer voice. It does not only point out the
normativity of discourses, but also underlines the relationality and subjectivity of academic
discourses often perceived as either neutral or already above constructed discursivity. Ricco’s
insistence on the eroticization of theory through a crossover unto social, political and cultural
context signals the importance of links between theory and politics. Although his “queer sex
space theory” might be unnecessarily polemical, it rightfully reminds us of the difficulties
associated with the diverse ideas of “queer space”. The fluidity of queer space must be
understood politically, in relation with Ricco’s “minor architecture” and Urbach’s “ante-
closet”. The political power of a queer architecture comes from its relation with others, from
its challenging reappropriations and resignifications of the “majority”.

64
Gordon Brent Ingram, Anne-Marie Bouthillette, and Yoalanda Retter, "Strategies for (Re)Constructing Queer Communities," in Queers in
Space: Communities | Public Places | Sites of Resistance, ed. Gordon Brent Ingram, Anne-Marie Bouthillette, and Yoalanda Retter (Seattle: Bay
Press, 1997).
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 19

3. Queer Spaces in Straight Places: Forgotten Architectures of the Night


The repression of homosexuality has complicated the study of the evolution of gay spaces,
both public and private. Historians such as Chauncey, John D’Emilio and Elizabeth Lapovsky
Kenne1 have relied on oral histories and judiciary reports to reconstruct a landscape of gay and
lesbian meeting spaces. Combined with the ephemeral and changing qualities of bars and
other “night” architectures, attempts to trace a history of gay-bars architecture become
difficult. Traditionally ignored by architectural history, like retail architecture or vernacular
domestic architecture, night architectures of the past have mostly disappeared without traces.
Unfortunately, in the case of LGBT communities, bars represent some of the only traces of
public social places. This section presents an overview of the evolution of gay bars and clubs
based on the limited literature that exists; it mostly relies on descriptions of bars, as
photographs and plans are almost impossible to find.

Gay bars have only recently become visible (again) in the public realm. After a brief period in
the early twentieth century where restaurants, bars, and clubs in large cities entertained a
relatively large number of openly gay and lesbian patrons2, gay and lesbian meeting places
went back into hiding starting in the 1930s as a negative climate grew stronger around
homosexuality3. As late as 1994, activist Pat Califia describes “gay ghettoes” as “hidden
markets” unrecognizable if visited at the wrong time of day4. She is not the only one to do so.
Other classic studies of gay spaces, such as Barbara Weightman’s “Gay Bars as Private
Places” or Betsky’s Queer Space, describe a “secret geography of unsigned, inconspicuous,
anonymous backstreet bars and clubs”5 (Figure 8). They formed a “gay world” 6, not invisible,
but part of a coded experience that could only be fully understood by those aware, gay men.
Gay bars were not announced on any map. They were underground men’s clubs, secluded

1
Chauncey, Gay New York; John D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-
1970, 2nd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983); Elizabeth Lapovsky Kenne, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a
Lesbian Community (1993).
2
Chauncey, Gay New York.
3
Ibid., 331-60. and D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities, 9-53.
4
Cited in David Bell, "Fragments for a Queer City," in Pleasure Zones: Bodies, Cities, Spaces, ed. David Bell, Jon Binnie, and Ruth Holliday, Space,
Place, and Society (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2001), 85.
5
Ibid. referring to Barbara A. Weightman, "Gay Bars as Private Places," Landscape 24, no. 1 (1980). and Betsky, Queer Space.
6
Here, I borrow Chauncey’s expression “gay world”. However, it is important to note that he uses it to describe a very visible network of drag
and faeries subcultures that flourished in New York from the 1890s to the 1940s. Repression later forced this world into secrecy, but
similar underground networks still existed for both gays and lesbians, as described among others by D’Emilio and Lapovsky Kenne. Julie
Podmore has also discussed the more recent networks of lesbians in Montréal, which developed as an alternative to the 1980s lesbian
“golden age” of rue Saint-Denis and the mixing of gays and lesbians in the 1990s Village. See Podmore, "Gone ‘Underground’? Lesbian
Visibility and the Consolidation of Queer Space in Montréal."; Julie A. Podmore, "Lesbians in the Crowd: Gender, Sexuality and Visibility
Along Montreal's Boul. St-Laurent," Gender, Place and Culture - A Journal of Feminist Geography 8(2001).
3. Forgotten Architectures of the Night The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 20

spaces where one needed an introduction to enter. This insider/outsider dichotomy clearly
separated gay networks from the public view, keeping them out of reach from homosexuals
not yet part of the “gay world” and from the heterosexual majority simultaneously. They thus
reinforced both the invisibility of queers and the stereotypes associating homosexuals to
underground networks of criminality.7

Figure 8. Two examples of late 1970s gay bars. The left one, situated near a railroad station and a junk yard, has boarded
windows on the more travelled street for privacy. On the right, a gay bar occupies the lower floor of an isolated
and dilapidated building in an industrial zone. Its doors are unmarked. (Photographs by Barbara Weightman
from “Gay Bars as Private Places”)

Bars initially emerged as formalised institutions in a gay network of cruising. Betsky argues
that they originally were attempts to “turn the ephemeral world of cruising into something
more durable and identifiable”8. They were, and are arguably still today, points of
condensation within an urban network of homoerotic flows, artefacts of a luminal, nomadic
queer culture9. However, Betsky laments that, when becoming defined physical entities, they
threaten to “lose the lonely beauty of earlier spaces for something much more commercial,
useful, and thus rather limiting”10. Referencing the public experience of cruising, early bars
developed labyrinthine spaces of darkness and barriers. Located in anonymous structures on
the edges of town (Figure 8) or in non-identified basements or upstairs spaces, they isolated
and protected their patrons. No exterior characteristics, except sometimes the bar’s name on
7
D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities, 51-52; Frank W. Remiggi, "Homosexualité Et Espace Urbain: Une Analyse Critique Du Cas De
Montréal," Téoros 19, no. 2 (2000): 30.
8
Betsky, Queer Space, 156.
9
Urbach, "Spatial Rubbing: The Zone," 90.
10
Betsky, Queer Space, 156.
3. Forgotten Architectures of the Night The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 21

a sign, distinguished these bars from straight


taverns, their anonymity often amplified by
an entrance located in a back alley. Even
when a bar occupied a ground-floor space
with windows, plants or unclean windows
would often mask the inside use and mark
the space as cut off or protected from public
view (Figure 10).11 Once inside, most gay
bars were similar to straight ones, with the
same crowd of men; space was sometimes
shared with lesbian women, but men and
women did not necessarily mix.12 However,
subtle design elements differentiated gay
bars from straight ones: the provision of
mirrors and “runway space” facilitated the
display of bodies, bringing the rituals of
public cruising inside a defined space13, while
“defense mechanisms” such as steps,
corridors, nooks, dark interiors or partitions
protected patrons’ privacy from straight
“intrusions” (Figure 9).14 If these anonymous Figure 9. Plan of a typical early gay bar. (Drawing by
Barbara Weightman from "Gay Bars as Private
bars are today less present in large North Places")
American and European cities with defined LGBT enclaves, there are many smaller cities and
towns where gay bars are still close to that early model. Even a Canadian provincial capital
such as Winnipeg has few gay bars, mostly hidden in back streets of downtown (Figure 11).

11
Weightman, "Gay Bars as Private Places," 13; Rostom Mesli and Brian Whitener, "Sunshine, This Is Mr. Horowitz”: The Flame, the Gay Bar
of Ann Arbor, Mi, 1949-1998," http://www.outhistory.org/wiki/The_Flame,_the_Gay_Bar_of_Ann_Arbor,_MI,_1949-1998.
12
Mesli and Whitener, "Sunshine, This Is Mr. Horowitz”: The Flame, the Gay Bar of Ann Arbor, Mi, 1949-1998."
13
Betsky, Queer Space, 159.
14
Weightman, "Gay Bars as Private Places," 14-15.
3. Forgotten Architectures of the Night The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 22

Figure 10. Bushes screening a late 1970s gay bar. (Photograph by Barbara Weightman from "Gay Bars as Private Places")

Figure 11. Gio's, Winnipeg, 2010.


3. Forgotten Architectures of the Night The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 23

The June 1969 riots that followed the police raid on Stonewall Inn gave momentum to the Gay
Liberation Movement that had emerged in the mid-1960s from the efforts of homophile
activists that had been working since the 1950s.15 Although the political movements were
often separated from the social scene, the growing visibility of queers opened a space for a
larger number of bars that could respond more specifically to different subcommunities. The
1970s thus saw two distinct, but not unrelated, mutations of gay spaces: derelict dance halls
or unoccupied industrial spaces (Figure 12) evolved into gay discos obsessed with
technological environments, while smaller bars pushed role-playing as far as possible. For
example, many restricted access only to patrons embodying myths of cowboys or policemen
(Figure 13) or radicalised into exclusively gay male sex clubs where everything is possible16, at
the edge of public and private spaces. Discos became environments with no bounds, no
solidity, no reality, echoing the “edge” bars and taverns of the previous era. The labyrinthine
world of early bars thus evolved into a dissolved world, a “place of seeming freedom” created
by exaggerated male bodies17.

Discos and smaller bars were quite different physically, but they shared a use of disorienting
effects that echoed early bars’ disconnection from networks of public life. Although discos
colonised large empty spaces, lights, mirrors, and sounds were combined to produce an
experience completely removed from everyday life, as told by Betsky: “The Saint, one of the
most expensive and elaborate discos in New York, represented the type. Located on the
margins of the Village on a rather rough stretch of street, the building presented nothing but
black doors to the outside world. Past the entrance, you found steel-mesh frames that
contained the coat check. Here you shed your street identity in almost complete darkness.
After this ritual preparation, you headed up one of two ramps framing a completely empty
space. [...] Finally, you arrived at your destination: a geodesic dome of translucent fabric. This
was both a dance floor and a planetarium, a globe that summed up an abstracted world where
everything, including straight walls, disappeared in a mosaic of continually changing rhythms
of light and sound.”18 The much smaller spaces of role-playing bars were similarly divided and
planned with labyrinthine corridors and dark corners where people could both observe and
hide. The more extreme of these spaces evolved into sex clubs and “back rooms” where it was
15
D'Emilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities.
16
Betsky, Queer Space, 162.
17
Ibid., 160.
18
Ibid., 161.
3. Forgotten Architectures of the Night The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 24

so dark that people could not perceive the dimensions of the space.19 Even in less extreme
bars, sexuality influenced the design, and often still does. For example, many gay bars’
restrooms are very elaborate and planned to facilitate cruising and displays of body, often
taking away separations between urinals or clustering urinals around a central space.

Figure 12. Paradise Garage disco in a former parking garage, New York, 1976-1987. Left, 2009. Right, 1981. (Photographs
from unauthored Internet sources)

The popularity of the discos, fuelled by their appearance of freedom and exuberance,
reopened the doors of the gay clubs to a heterosexual crowd. It was a return to the spirit of
the exuberant and openly visible dance halls and cabarets of early twentieth-century New
York that celebrated artifice and gender parodies until authorities forced them to move out of
sight after the Second World War20. Beginning in the disco years, large gay clubs were once
again public, and thus potentially straight, places21. Beginning in the early 1980s, the AIDS
epidemic has simultaneously fuelled homophobia and pushed gays and lesbians fully back into
public view. These two opposite transformations have prompted a sudden transformation of
an era of over sexualised gay space, pushing sexuality back in exclusive sex clubs or
increasingly on online networks22.

19
Ibid., 162.
20
Chauncey, Gay New York.
21
Bell, "Fragments for a Queer City," 88.
22
Ricco, "Coming Together: Jack-Off Rooms as Minor Architecture."; Urbach, "Spatial Rubbing: The Zone."
3. Forgotten Architectures of the Night The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 25

Figure 13. SOMA leather bar, San Francisco, 1978. (Photograph by Crawford Barton, Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of
Northern California)

The moving back and forth, one could even say coexistence, between visibility/acceptance
and invisibility/repression places gay bars in a paradoxical space. Cultural geographer David
Bell describes their current visibility as alternating between angry, as a desire to fight erasure,
and voyeuristic, as a mean to provoke censure23, with political implications similar to Ricco’s
theory of a minor architecture.24 In this sense, gay bars create spaces with a potential for both
straight colonization and queer occupation, alternating between a queer use of previously
heteronormative space and a mixing straights and queers in queer-oriented spaces.

23
Bell, "Fragments for a Queer City," 85.
24
Ricco, "Coming Together: Jack-Off Rooms as Minor Architecture."; ———, The Logic of the Lure.
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 26

4. Becoming Visible: the Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village


Most LGBT-oriented spaces in Montréal today are concentrated in the “Village”. Located
between René-Lévesque Boulevard, Ontario, Saint-Hubert, and Papineau Streets (Figure 14),
with most commercial activity on Sainte-Catherine Street, Montréal’s Gay Village’s emerges
in the early 1980s. Its growth is well-documented in both academic research and popular
magazines. In contrast to many other gay and lesbian enclaves, such as New York’s
Greenwich Village1 or Toronto’s Gay Village at Church and Wellesley2, Montréal’s Village
appears only recently in the city’s network of identity-based neighbourhoods, at a time when
non-heterosexual people are becoming increasingly visible in public life. Initially mostly gay
male space, the Village starts in the mid-1990s to house a growing number of mixed
establishments. Its situation in Montréal, known for its bilingual identity and widely perceived
embrace of sin and sleaziness, taints the Village’s development and arguably contributs to the
construction of a clearly defined and publicised enclave. Understanding how the Village
appeared and evolved supports an informed discussion of specific buildings and helps
envision the context in which today’s Montréal’s LGBT institutions were designed.

UQAM TVA
A
Télé-Québec
B

Radio-Canada
Figure 14. Village map. A: Bourbon. B: Parking Nightclub (Société de développement commercial du Village, 2010)

1
Chauncey, Gay New York.
2
Catherine Jean Nash, "Toronto's Gay Village (1969-1982): Plotting the Politics of Gay Identity," Canadian Geographer/Le Gégraphe canadien
50, no. 1 (2006). However, the future of Toronto’s Gay Village now seems uncertain as younger generations no longer feel attracted to it
and other neighbourhoods, such as Cabbagetown and St.James, have started to develop fairly large LGBT communities. Anne-Marie
Bouthillette, "Gentifrication by Gay Male Communities: A Case Study of Toronto's Cabbagetown," in The Margins of the City: Gay Men's
Urban Lives, ed. Stephen Whittle, Popular Cultural Studies (Aldershot: Arena, 1994).
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 27

Gay and Lesbian Life in Montréal before the Village


The work of urban historians, sociologists and geographers in recent years has brought
forward a long and rich history of gay and lesbian life in Montréal. They show that gay men
and lesbians rarely shared space before the creation of the Village and had a different relation
to public space and life. Anthropologist Ross Higgins describes in details the extent of
Montréal’s gay downtown around Peel and Stanley Streets, finding traces of gay occupation as
far back as the 1920s.3 Line Chamberland presents a portrait of lesbian spaces in Montreal
more closely linked to social and political movements, while Julie Podmore chronicles the
decline of the lesbian scene in Montréal.4

Geographer Frank Remiggi draws from these histories and his own research to propose a
history of gay and lesbian occupation in Montréal to understand today’s Village. He divides
the history of gay and lesbian public spaces in Montréal into three stages: appropriation of
place, appropriation of space, and inscription in the urban landscape.5 The first stage, lasting
from the 1920s to the 1960s, sees the growth of a more or less underground network of
establishments mostly located either in the heart of downtown, most importantly on Peel and
Stanley Streets, or on Saint-Laurent Boulevard close to Sainte-Catherine Street.6 Initially
consisting of heterosexual bars and taverns where homosexuals are tolerated, exclusively gay
establishments start to appear in the 1950s. Although these spaces stay popular enough to
survive until the beginning of the 1980s, the anonymity desired by a majority of homosexuals
at the time hold back these establishments from creating a visible gay public space in
Montréal. This relative invisibility, however, does not mean that these spaces are apolitical; as
Higgins reminds us, the simple fact of being in a gay-identified bar is, at the time, a sign of
revolt against heteronormative norms.7

3
Higgins, De La Clandestinité À L'affirmation: Pour Une Histoire De La Communauté Gaie Montréalaise; Ross Higgins, "A Sense of Belonging: Pre-
Liberation Space, Symbolics, and Leadership in Gay Montreal" (PhD dissertation, McGill University, 1997).
4
Chamberland, "Remembering Lesbian Bars: Montreal, 1955-1975."; Line Chamberland, "La Conquête D'un Espace Public: Les Bars
Fréquentés Par Les Lesbiennes," in Sortir De L'ombre: Histoires Des Communautés Lesbienne Et Gaie De Montréal, ed. Irène Demczuk and Frank
W. Remiggi, Des Hommes Et Des Femmes En Changement (Montréal: VLB Éditeur, 1998); Podmore, "Lesbians in the Crowd: Gender, Sexuality
and Visibility Along Montreal's Boul. St-Laurent."; ———, "Gone ‘Underground’? Lesbian Visibility and the Consolidation of Queer Space in
Montréal."
5
Remiggi, "Homosexualité Et Espace Urbain: Une Analyse Critique Du Cas De Montréal," 30-31.
6
Remiggi refers extensively to describe this period to Higgins, De La Clandestinité À L'affirmation: Pour Une Histoire De La Communauté Gaie
Montréalaise.
7
Ibid., 9.
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 28

Spaces for lesbian women appear later, and differently, in part because access to public space
is still relatively restricted for women for a part of the twentieth century.8 Social spaces for
lesbians start to appear around the Second World War. Unlike gay spaces, these early lesbian
establishments are patronised mostly by working class women and concentrated in the Red
Light district, which gives them a reputation of being rough and dangerous places.

The second stage begins in parallel to changes in the social and political landscape in the late
1960s and early 1970s. It is during this period that many gay men start to see a value in being
visible. This visibility, however, manifests itself more in an increased presence of “out” gays
and lesbians and a larger number of establishments than in any physical changes in the
relationship between bars and the street.9 Changes are even stronger for lesbians during this
period. New bars appear around Bishop Street with a more socially mixed crowd than previous
Red Light establishments. These bars are often strictly forbidden to men, including gay men,
creating a safer space for women. In parallel, a relatively large number of lesbian community
organisations emerge around Saint-Laurent Boulevard, north of Sherbrooke Street, close to
McGill University. Unlike the dispersed gay community organisations, these spaces constitute
an important pole of socialisation and visibility for lesbians. After 1975, both lesbian bars and
community spaces move in the Plateau, on Saint-Denis Street between Roy Street and Mont-
Royal Avenue. Extremely effervescent, this “golden age” period lasts until the 1990s. The
increased social visibility attained during this period for both gays and lesbians profoundly
affects the development of the Village and the physical characteristics of new bars.

The Emergence of the Village


The third stage in Remiggi’s history endures today. It is marked by the rapid emergence of the
“Nouveau Village de l’Est” that transforms radically the gay scene in Montréal, prompting at
once an almost instantaneous disappearance of the downtown gay bars and the decline of
Red Light institutions on Saint-Laurent10. However, most scholarly accounts of Montréal’s gay

8
Remiggi’s description of lesbian spaces relies on Chamberland, "La Conquête D'un Espace Public: Les Bars Fréquentés Par Les Lesbiennes."
9
The very few written traces of that period and the transformations that have occurred after the 1980s in what used to be Montréal’s gay
district make it difficult to get a clear picture of the space of bars in the 1960s and 1970s. (Higgins, De La Clandestinité À L'affirmation: Pour
Une Histoire De La Communauté Gaie Montréalaise, 97.) A more extensive research should rely on oral history with some of the remaining
survivors of the peak of the AIDS epidemic.
10
Frank Remiggi warns against a Québec nationalist interpretation of the move to the “Village de l’Est”. The new Francophone entrepreneurs
responsible for the Village’s development fuelled this interpretation early on: much more visible than their western counterparts, they
created a biased vision of the shift. Frank W. Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," in Sortir De
L'ombre: Histoires Des Communautés Lesbienne Et Gaie De Montréal, ed. Irène Demczuk and Frank W. Remiggi, Des Hommes Et Des Femmes En
Changement (Montréal: VLB Éditeur, 1998), 278.
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 29

and lesbian urban history, including Remiggi’s, point out that the emergence of the Village, as
it is now known, is not a relocation of previous gay and lesbian spaces. The Village appears as
previous enclaves are still being used, and they coexist for a time, but almost all
establishments simply close down without relocating in the Village. If the downtown gay bars’
disappearance occurs quickly after the emergence of the Village, in the case of lesbian bars
and shops, this coexistence lasts for almost 20 years11.

Although popular perceptions still often attribute the emergence of the Gay Village to both
Québec nationalist objectives12 and police repression ordered by mayor Jean Drapeau13,
Remiggi argues that bar owners are instead attracted by cheap rents and existing
infrastructures dating back to the early twentieth-century when the area was a centre of
French Canadian entertainment14. In stark opposition to the business-oriented downtown
area, the Centre-Sud neighbourhood, where the Village has developed, is a rundown working-
class neighbourhood. Although the Canadian census does not offer information on sexual
orientation, interviews done by Remiggi with owners and managers of some of the earliest
Village establishments suggest that a gay clientele is already present in large numbers in the
neighbourhood in the early 1980s.15 As early as 1975, Priape, a gay-oriented sex shop, opens in
Centre-Sud, but it is not until 1982 that a significant number of bars open on or around Sainte-
Catherine East Street between Amherst and Papineau Streets16. A few large institutions, most
importantly the Max disco and the KOX club, then open their doors and attract a number of
clients sufficient to sustain smaller bars, restaurants and shops.17 The success of these new
bars, combined with rising rents and less visibility in the downtown area, contribute to a rapid
decline of the downtown bars, marked by the closing of its last remaining major bar, Bud’s, in
1984.18

11
Podmore, "Gone ‘Underground’? Lesbian Visibility and the Consolidation of Queer Space in Montréal."; Remiggi, "Homosexualité Et Espace
Urbain: Une Analyse Critique Du Cas De Montréal," 31.
12
From its beginnings, the Village has been entangled in Montréal’s unique Francophone/Anglophone dichotomy. The shift of the gay scene
to the East still fuels rumours about a nationalist conspiracy to move away from the western Anglophone downtown. If it remains true that
Village bars and shops are more often owned by French-speaking people than previous downtown institutions, the new Village has
nonetheless always welcomed a bilingual crowd.
13
However, as Remiggi has shown, police repression happened a few years before the move and therefore links between both cannot really
stand examination. (Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire."; ———, "Homosexualité Et Espace
Urbain: Une Analyse Critique Du Cas De Montréal.")
14
Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," 274-78.
15
Ibid., 279.
16
Initially, an important number of establishments open on streets perpendicular to Sainte-Catherine, but gradually almost all relocate on the
main street. A gradual move towards the west also occurs, although most bars are still concentrated in the eastern part of the Village.
17
Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," 281.
18
Ibid., 281-82.
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 30

A Queer Village?
If the downtown gay institutions quickly disappear in reaction to the competition brought by
the much more visible and varied establishments of the Village, the vibrant lesbian scene
persists until the mid-1990s. Remiggi suggests the disappearance of lesbian institutions in
Montréal follows patterns identified by David Bell and Gill Valentine, in other American and
British cities: “Lesbians create spatially concentrated communities but [...] there are no
lesbian bars, stores or businesses in these neighbourhoods [...]”.19 Although Podmore
supports the notion that lesbian visibility in the public space needs to be understood and seen
in a different light than traditional understandings of visibility (lesbians are visible for who
want to see them)20, she presents an alternative, and more extensive, explanation to the
disappearance of exclusively lesbian spaces in Montréal21. A first hypothesis suggests that
economic reasons similar to the ones behind the decline of downtown gay bars play an
important role. Although Centre-Sud and the Plateau have both gone through gentrification
processes during the 1980s and 1990s, lesbians are only a small part of the counter-cultural
social upgrading occurring in the Plateau, whereas the Village is mainly gay-led. At the same
time, in the early 1990s, lesbian bars and mixed spaces open in the Village; their competition
probably has a similar effect to the one early Village bars have had on downtown institutions
in the early 1980s. Another consequence of the opening of lesbian bars in the Village
constitutes Podmore’s second hypothesis. She argues that the younger generation of lesbians
is less prone to patronise women-only spaces and identifies more with queer politics. As new
alliances emerge between lesbians and gay men, a queer community becomes territorialised
in the Village as the 1990s progress. This situation remains problematic, however, as lesbians
are most often limited to appropriating space in large complexes while gay men
simultaneously continue to access these complexes and retain their own more exclusive
bars.22 This problematic sharing of space is not only a matter of social presence, but also of
physical space. Women-exclusive bars and shops are designed to respond to their specific
clientele and to place them in safe spaces removed from the traditionally male-gendered

19
Bell and Valentine, eds., Mapping Desire, 6. cited in Remiggi, "Homosexualité Et Espace Urbain: Une Analyse Critique Du Cas De Montréal,"
31.
20
Podmore, "Lesbians in the Crowd: Gender, Sexuality and Visibility Along Montreal's Boul. St-Laurent."
21
———, "Gone ‘Underground’? Lesbian Visibility and the Consolidation of Queer Space in Montréal."
22
Ibid.: 616.
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 31

construction of bars and pubs23. “Queer” mixed spaces, on the other hand, are in most cases
transformations of originally gay male-oriented spaces, and are thus inherently masculine in
their design and use; whereas lesbian bars offer spaces to “entertain, create, hear, and nourish
themselves”24, in gay bars, even once they become mixed, the focus remains on body display.
Vincent André Doyle has argued that the relative exclusion of lesbians, bisexuals and
transgenders from “official” gay community discourses is reflected in the constitution of the
Village as a primarily gay space. It is a space of “differences”, but it articulates itself according
to capitalist logic, which favors differences which allow for maximum return on investments.25
Gay men generally hold more economic power, and as such, the Village has evolved to serve
primarily their needs.

The problematic integration of lesbian women in the previously mainly gay male oriented
Village echoes other issues brought forward by queer activists and community organisations
around the existence of the Village. Remiggi discusses the repeated critique that the Village is
a consumer and sexuality oriented ghetto26. He also points out how the Village, far from being
a safe space, can become a space of exploitation, harassment, and homophobia because of its
concentration of LGBT-identified people.27 The queer movement also raises questions about
for whom the Village is made. What is the place of non-white, poor, or young people? What
values does the public and visible built environment of the Village embody? Are the Village
establishments creating a new “homonormativity”?

Welcome to our Village: a “Straight” Colonisation


In parallel to changes “from the inside”, commanded by an increasingly queer community, the
Village also increasingly creates space for heterosexual patrons. Centered on Sainte-
Catherine Street, Montréal’s traditional shopping and entertainment street, and next to
Université du Québec à Montréal’s main campus and to three of the four major Québec
television networks headquarters (Figure 14), the Village is fully integrated in the city.
Although 1970s downtown gay bars and clubs, most particularly discos, are already

23
Elspeth Probyn, "The Spatial Imperative of Subjectivity," in Handbook of Cultural Geography, ed. Kay Anderson, et al. (Thousand Oaks: Sage,
2003), 294.
24
Podmore, "Gone ‘Underground’? Lesbian Visibility and the Consolidation of Queer Space in Montréal," 609.
25
Vincent André Doyle, "Coming into Site: Identity, Community and the Production of Gay Space in Montréal" (Thesis, McGill University,
1996), 81.
26
Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," 282; ———, "Homosexualité Et Espace Urbain: Une Analyse
Critique Du Cas De Montréal," 33.
27
Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," 283.
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 32

sometimes “colonised” by straight users28, they do not present explicitly their “difference” on
the street. Unlike the Village, traces of the users’ sexual orientation are hardly visible during
the day and thus do not reach towards an unknowing public. The new Village establishments,
clearly visible and with many presenting clear windows to the street, enter in direct
relationship with the public. Probably the strongest early example of this newfound visibility is
Complexe Bourbon, presented in the following chapter. It is also important to note that
Montréal’s most recent, and successful, attempt at closing off a street to cars has been going
on in the Village since 2008. Driven by commercial imperatives, the pedestrian Sainte-
Catherine Street also reflects the contemporary quest for visibility of Montréal’s LGBT
community (Figure 15 & Figure 17). This new visibility does not, however, automatically create
safer space; police harassment continued until the mid-1990s29 and homophobic violence still
happens, the known presence of LGBT people creating a clear target.30

Figure 15. Rainbow redesign of Beaudry metro station (left) and unmondeunvillage.com publicity campaign (right),
summer 2008. (Photographs by JB in Pacifica on flickr.com)

28
The famous Limelight disco, for example, welcomed a mix of gays and straight. (Yvon Lafrance, "Lime Light : Historique," Limelight
Montréal, http://www.limelightmontreal.com/.) Montréal’s situation in 1970s is similar to other contemporary cities, see Bell, "Fragments
for a Queer City," 88.
29
Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," 268.
30
André C. Passiour, "Les Agressions, En Hausse Dans Le Village?," Fugues, Février 2010 2010.
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 33

After initial resistance by city officials to


recognise its existence, the Village is now
commonly used to define Montréal as a tourist
destination by both provincial and municipal
tourism offices (Figure 16).31 In parallel to other
cities32, Montréal’s Village is constructed as
similar to an ethnic neighbourhood, where
homosexuals and other sexual minorities can
share experiences with similar people, but are
also offered as “others” to the “heterosexual”
tourist.33 Popular images of gay neighbourhoods
linked to culture and consumerism contribute
to a “cool” and “cosmopolitan” city branding.
As Rushbrook points out, however, unlike
attributes of race and ethnicity that are more
easily portable, “the deliberate consumption of
queerness [...] almost necessarily takes place in Figure 16. Tourisme Montréal's publicity aimed at the
gay and lesbian market, 2000. (from
place, where queerness is performed and visible Bellerose and Perrier, "Le Tourisme Gai, Un
Marché Porteur Pour Montréal")
but where it is not always evident who is the
consumer and who is the consumed, and where the consumer regulates production in ways
that are difficult to discern.”34

A ghetto?
The emergence of the Village, as with other LGBT enclaves around the world, prompts
criticisms of “ghettoization”, from both the LGBT communities and the general public. The
reactions, however, vary greatly, from embracement to ambivalence to hostility. Doyle

31
See for example Tourisme Québec/Bell Canada, "Bonjour Québec: Voyager Gai," http://www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-fr/voyagergai.html;
———, "Bonjour Québec: Montréal, Ville Arc-En-Ciel," http://www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-fr/05avr_village.html. or the Gay & Lesbian
template of the Tourisme Montréal website (Tourisme Montréal, "À La Montréal: Gai Ou Lesbienne," http://www.tourisme-
montreal.org/Touristes/Gais-et-Lesbiennes.) and, for an overview of gay tourism in Montréal, see Yves Lafontaine, "Montréal Ville
Ouverte... Au Tourisme Gai," Fugues, http://www.fugues.com/main.cfm?l=fr&p=100_article&Article_ID=32&rubrique_ID=67; Pierre
Bellerose and Jean-François Perrier, "Le Tourisme Gai, Un Marché Porteur Pour Montréal," Téoros 19, no. 2 (2000); Jean Bouffard and Fair
Gordon, "La Promotion D'une Destination Auprès De La Clientèle Gaie : L'expérience Du Québec," Téoros 19, no. 2 (2000).
32
Dereka Rushbrook, "Cities, Queer Space, and the Cosmopolitan Tourist," GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8, no. 1-2 (2002).
33
Ibid.: 184. Remiggi also insists that parallels between ethnic neighbourhoods and LGBT districts should be brought forward when studying
the geography and history of these spaces. (Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," 269.)
34
Rushbrook, "Cities, Queer Space, and the Cosmopolitan Tourist," 198.
4. The Emergence of Montréal’s Gay Village The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 34

suggests some explanations to these reactions.35 He underlines that “attitudes towards


sexuality in the mainstream are such that it is impossible to escape the notion that a
community formed in relation to erotic dispositions is somehow less valid than a community
constituted by other more “acceptable” characteristics such as race, ethnicity or class.”36 The
suspicion from the “outside” world consequently is reflected in certain attitudes on the inside.
This is further amplified by the exploitative nature of homophobia that tends to be reflected
within LGBT minorities: people concerned with being portrayed as “just like everyone else”
perceive gay enclaves as exceedingly visible displays of difference. Doyle finally shows how
gender, class, ethnicity and economic power taint perceptions of a potential “ghettoization”:
not all queers are served equally by these enclaves.37 Despite these criticisms and fears, the
Village and other gay enclaves are ultimately recognised as spaces where queers can be
themselves safely, at least most of the time, and find support in a community of peers.

The evolution of Montréal LGBT spaces, and more recently of the Village, is closely linked to
changes in Québec society’s attitudes towards sexual minorities. These changes are not only
present socially and geographically, but also in physical and architectural transformations to
LGBT meeting places such as bars, as will be discussed in the next sections.

Figure 17. Pedestrian Sainte-Catherine street in the Village, summer 2010.

35
Doyle, "Coming into Site: Identity, Community and the Production of Gay Space in Montréal", 14-16.
36
Ibid., 14.
37
Ibid., 15-16.
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 35

5. “Retour vers l’original”: Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon


Most of the initial bars and clubs that opened in the early 1980s in the Village no longer exist.
A second generation of establishments, marked by large-scale and multifunctional
developments from the early 1990s1, does exist, however. Purpose-built as gay institutions,
they represent a complete transformation from the early ad hoc taverns that had previously
been colonized by gay patrons. Of those, one of the most visible and characteristic is
Complexe Bourbon. At first glance, one could see the Complexe as a typical multipurpose
institution that not only provides traditional gay spaces (bars, dance clubs, saunas), but also
clearly shapes a themed tourist-oriented definition of the Village. However, closer study
shows a complex, atypical and somewhat contradictory example of gay architecture. Owned
and designed by heterosexuals, the Bourbon is the brainchild of Normand Chamberland, an
imaginative entrepreneur who found himself almost by accident amongst a gay clientele and
used the opportunity to create a setting that resonates with queer living. This is not done
without many tensions and contradictions, many of them caused by the obvious commercial
goals of the venture. This section questions the position of Complexe Bourbon in relation to
the Village context and to its developer’s intentions. These relationships expose tensions
between the queer and normative aspects of the complex.

From La Taverne du Village to Complexe Bourbon


By promoting Complexe Bourbon’s flagship restaurant Le Club Sandwich with the catchphrase
Retour vers l’original, Chamberland positions himself at the centre of the Village’s history and
emphasizes, not completely truthfully, his role as a Village pioneer. As other gay institutions in
Montréal, Complexe Bourbon develops as gradual extensions to a small tavern that ultimately
is metamorphosed into a highly visible inflated multipurpose complex. However, it presents an
openness to public life rarely seen before in gay-oriented spaces. In 1985, Chamberland2 buys
a small tavern on Sainte-Catherine Street. In a similar fashion to early taverns frequented by
gay men and owned by friendly heterosexuals, Chamberland only realises his customers are

1
In 1996, Doyle describes three complexes, of which Station C has today disappeared. “Station C contains a large dance club, a leather bar, an
alternative “queer” bar, and a spacious medieval-themed bar/dance space (formerly integrated with the leather bar). The La Track
complex features a hotel, a lounge bar, a cabaret performance space, a sauna, a large dance club, and three restaurants. Sky club is
currently undergoing an ambitious expansion that will result in a dance club on two floors, an “alternative” bar, a performance space, and
two restaurants.” (Ibid., 73.)
2
All information on Normand Chamberland, Le Drugstore and Complexe Bourbon comes from an interview of Simon Coquoz by the author,
November 19, 2009.; Normand Chamberland, "Complexe-Hôtel Bourbon: Projet D'agrandissement Et De Rénovation," (Montréal2002).;
Denis-Daniel Boullé and André C. Passiour, "Décès D'un Visionnaire," Fugues, Nov. 2008.
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 36

mainly gay men after a few months of ownership. He apparently connects immediately and
sees in them the perfect patrons for the transformations he has in mind. Following the success
of the tavern, renamed La Taverne du Village, he opens a bar further east on Sainte-Catherine
Street (Figure 14), La Track, in 1986. From then on, he develops La Track into Complexe
Bourbon, while the Taverne soon becomes Le Drugstore. Architect Simon Coquoz, also
heterosexual, starts his association with Chamberland around 1990 and works on both
projects until Chamberland sells them. While the Drugstore stays a more typical large club,
although catering to an increasingly important lesbian clientele, Complexe Bourbon evolves
over fifteen years into a multifunctional complex
occupying a complete city block (Figure 19),
including the ownership of rue Gareau (Figure 18),
an alley between the complex and a park. It
combines under one roof a 40-room hotel, five
restaurants, three bars, a sauna, a leather shop,
an ice cream parlour, a chapel, and numerous
terraces. By clustering many smaller gay spaces,
it makes the whole much more visible than
before. Constantly expanding and transforming
the complex, Chamberland is proud to assert he
reinvents the complex at least every two years,
until health and financial problems forces him to
sell the Bourbon in 2005. Since then, the new
owners have been much less visible on the Village
Figure 18. Rue Gareau (Photograph by Normand
Chamberland) scene.

The scale of the complex confirms early on its place as a visible and central institution for the
Village. However, the Bourbon is also remarkable and unique as a themed environment.
Fascinated by Disney’s fantasy recreation of a nostalgic America, Chamberland uses the
frame provided by his architect to offer homage to New Orleans’ terraces and the experience
of the American South. He shares with Simon Coquoz a vision of New Orleans as a place of
celebration of life, exterior pleasure, and dreams, which, for them, is synonymous with gay
men’s life, and thus appropriate for a gay men-oriented architecture. In the bilingual context of
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 37

Montréal, it is also an apt reference to both a Nouvelle-France past and a fascination with a
mythical image of America (Figure 20). The architectural references are also part of a larger
marketing of the Bourbon, as reflected in the names used to identify the different parts of the
complex: Hotel Bourbon, Mississippi Club, Bar Cajun, La Track (which had a railway track
going through the bar), Body Shop, Club Sandwich.3 Although never explicitly stated as a
conscious influence, these references are coherent with mainstream gay culture’s obsession
with images of masculinity, often linked to the pioneer tradition, such as the Village People
cowboy or Tom of Finland drawings of hypermasculine lumberjacks.

Figure 19. Complexe Bourbon, 1570-1592 Sainte-Catherine Est, Montréal.

Figure 20. The Club Sandwich.

3
In Montréal’s bilingual context, it is fitting to note that most names used in the complex, in a similar way to many other Village bars,
restaurants, and shops, are either English (Track, Body Shop...) or reference place names understood by all languages (Bourbon,
Mississippi...). This might be understood as an attempt to reconcile the French and English heritage of Montréal through a fascination with
the United States, similar to the architectural references used.
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 38

Compared to other contemporary complexes in the Village, such as Sky and Station C, the
Bourbon is physically open to the street, creating what Simon Coquoz calls “non-
architecture”4. Whereas others hide their terraces on rooftops or backsides, Chamberland
aspires to a complex without walls, a world of terraces blurring the separation of interior and
exterior (Figure 21). This is, however, not easy to achieve: the history of the development of
the Bourbon presents itself as a series of legal fights with the city administration to pursue
Chamberland’s ideal of a deconstructed building colonizing public space. The most visible
results of this struggle are the opened corner of Sainte-Catherine and Alexandre-de-Sève
(Figure 21) and the integral use of the back alley (Figure 18), purchased by Chamberland in the
mid-1990s, which allows a complete opening of the backside of the complex. A planned final
expansion, never realised, would have linked Sainte-Catherine and Gareau through an always-
open majestic hotel lobby taking inspiration from European gallerias (Figure 22). Numerous
anecdotes support this obsession with the blurring of public and private limits. One summer,
Chamberland decides to leave open the walls of an uncompleted expansion and pays half-
dressed handsome men to colourfully paint the structure throughout the whole summer. The
Bourbon becomes the talk of the town, attracting both homosexuals and heterosexuals,
nearby workers5 and tourists. However commercial this initiative is, it still creates a blurring of

Figure 21. Gay Pride at the Bourbon. (Photograph by Normand Chamberland)


4
Simon Coquoz, interviewed by the author, November 19, 2009.
5
Although Centre-Sud is mostly a residential neighbourhood, it is also home to numerous businesses, including the provincial headquarters
of three major television networks, Télé-Québec, Radio-Canada and TVA, the latter situated right across the Complexe Bourbon.
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 39

the former walls separating gay space from the public. As Michael Bronski notes, “the
explosion of private sexual fantasy into public view is a powerful political statement”6.
Juxtaposing the hidden world of gay bars and saunas with the public world of restaurants and
terraces, that attract a large number of presumably heterosexual people, transforms the
Bourbon in a political tool.

Figure 22. Hotel hall of the unbuilt final expansion. (Drawing by Simon Coquoz)

Analysis of the complex’s plans (Figure 26) reveals a web of public and private spaces that
links interior and exterior spaces. As in early gay bars, a visit to the complex feels like going
through a labyrinth that acts as a filter between sexualized private and public spaces; it is,
however, much more permeable than in earlier bars where this filter created a protective
barrier. At first glance, the restaurants and bars are mostly located on the ground floor and
basement, while the hotel occupies the upper floors. The actual separation between the
different parts is, however, not as clear. Stairs and corridors connect the hotel rooms to the
dining and cruising spaces, while the public terraces are connected to a courtyard onto which
hotel rooms have access. At all times, passage between all parts of the complex is possible.

6
Michael Bronski, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: Notes on the Materialization of Sexual Fantasy," in Leatherfolk: Radical Sex, People,
Politics, and Practice, ed. Mark Thompson (Boston: Alyson, 1991), 64. cited in Binnie, "The Erotic Possibilities of the City," 109.
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 40

The terraces also permit different levels of privacy as they wrap up the building from public
Sainte-Catherine Street to private Gareau Street.

Coquoz considers his work on Complexe Bourbon to be only a supporting act. A comparison
between Figure 19 and Figure 23 shows how his original project creates a framework for
Chamberland to personalise, to create what Coquoz calls “a popular architecture, where
everyone could add something”7. The building thus becomes a background for its owner’s
fantasies, but also for the personal expression of its gay male clientele. At the height of the
Complexe’s popularity, Chamberland employs men 365 days a year ready to transform
everything; he even builds a workshop in the basement to support a carpenter who designs
and builds the expansive woodwork covering the building. He also finds and uses unexpected
materials such as bricks from the Jacques-Cartier Bridge or columns from a demolished
downtown historic hotel8. Although new and purpose-built, the complex is thought of as part
of a spirit of renovation. Chamberland’s actions are typical of what Christopher Reed identifies
as queer space’s engagement with “the transformation of what the dominant culture has
abandoned so that old and new are in explicit juxtaposition.”9 It thus connects with camp, a
nostalgic reclamation of “what has been devalued in a way that exposes (often through
exaggeration and incongruity) the structure of assumptions undergirding normative values.”10
Provocative and kitsch, it represents a constant fight against conformity that Chamberland
shared with queer culture.

The Bourbon is camp, surreal; a popular architecture apparently inspired by Disney, but also
completely opposed to it. Disney’s themed environments are spaces of control where visitors
voluntarily enter a world of make-believe and become actors in a script where everything is
planned, however much is done to give an appearance of control by the visitors. They provide
an instant journey into a world where the sense of threat usually present in the city is
obliterated11. In contrast, Chamberland’s themed complex is a multicoloured, improvised,

7
Simon Coquoz, interviewed by the author, November 19, 2009.
8
Unfortunately, Simon Coquoz could not remember the exact name of this hotel.
9
Reed, "Imminent Domain: Queer Space in the Built Environment," 67. Alice Friedman has applied similar remarks to domestic environments
in her discussion of the use of camp “devices” in the design, occupation, and publication of Philip Johnson’s Glass House. See Alice T.
Friedman, Women and the Making of the Modern House : A Social and Architectural History (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998).
10
Reed, "Imminent Domain: Queer Space in the Built Environment," 67.
11
Discussions of the relation of Disney’s themed environments with control and power can be found in Karal Ann Marling, ed. Designing
Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance (Paris; New York: Flammarion,1997); Michael Sorkin, "See You in Disneyland," in
Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, ed. Michael Sorkin (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992); Sharon
Zukin, Landscapes of Power: From Detroit to Disney World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); John M. Findlay, Magic Lands:
Western Cityscapes and American Culture after 1940 (Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 1992).
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 41

happily kitsch and convivial experience where people are invited to enjoy themselves and play
a game of provocation. It is still a deliberate journey, but into a celebration of pleasure more
akin to the slightly dangerous and perverse Las Vegas experience. However, the Bourbon and
themed environments share a screening of visitors. If everyone with money is welcomed in the
restaurants and hotel, the enactment of gay sexual fantasies in the bars naturally restrict its
potential for straight users.

Figure 23. Final phase perspective. (Drawing by Simon Coquoz)

The opening of space pursued by Chamberland allows the Complexe to be used differently at
different times by different people, thus approaching the temporal nature of queer spaces12.
The juxtaposition of fantasy themed spaces can also be understood in the same spirit of
detachment from reality exhibited by the gay discos described by Betsky. Furthermore, it
pushes formerly private sexuality into the public realm: while having lunch on the terrace, one
is still in the same building, and potentially in contact with, where someone else is cruising for
sex in the hotel’s sauna. By constantly responding to the desires of his clientele and putting
their fantasies into the public view, Chamberland shaped a queer political statement. After he
sells the Bourbon in the early 2000s, the queer fantasy no longer has an interlocutor and the
Complexe quickly declines.

12
Binnie, "The Erotic Possibilities of the City," 113.
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 42

Gay architecture or queer space: a conflicted understanding


A queer analysis of Complexe Bourbon cannot be complete without looking at the tensions
and contradictions inherent in its mix of commercial venture and self-interested pleasure.
Although Chamberland apparently goes to great lengths to entertain and satisfy both his
patrons and his own desires, he still needs to make money to keep his “big boat”13 afloat. The
Bourbon is thus part of processes typical of similar gay enclaves that have been described by
urban geographers at length.14

The Bourbon’s sense of freedom is integral to Chamberland’s vision of a successful public


space. It also constitutes, from the beginning, its major selling point from a commercial point
of view. Its dream-like qualities make the Bourbon a flagship for the construction of Montréal
as a gay destination. Full-page advertisements in gay magazines proclaim it as “the largest gay
complex in North America or the world, we’re not sure yet”15 (Figure 24). Surreal events, such
as the “painting summer”, and continual reinventions also ensure it becomes a must-see stop
for tour buses. While driven by heterosexuals, the Bourbon still typifies at least three of the
elements that Benjamin Forest identifies as symbols of gay male identity: creativity, aesthetic
sensibility, and an affinity with entertainment and consumption.16 The Bourbon is thus clearly
positioned in a rethinking of the gay scene as part of a pink economy, targeting both wealthy
gay men and curious heterosexuals, locals and foreigners. Furthermore, by clearly affirming its
importance in Montréal’s gay community, it expresses itself as an example of normative
commercial architecture; as a major community place centered on consumption, it rejects in
the process the social importance of groups with less money or no interest in the bar scene.

13
Simon Coquoz, interviewed by the author, November 19, 2009.
14
See for example David Forrest, "'We're Here, We're Queer, and We're Not Going Shopping': Changing Gay Male Identities in
Contemporary Britain," in Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies, ed. Andrea Cornwall and Nancy Lindisfarne, Male Orders
(London & New York: Routledge, 1994); Jon Binnie, "Trading Places: Consumption, Sexuality and the Production of Queer Space," in
Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities, ed. David Bell and Gill Valentine (London & New York: Routledge, 1995); Stephen Quilley,
"Constructing Manchester's "New Urban Village": Gay Space in the Entrepreneurial City," in Queers in Space: Communities | Public Places |
Sites of Resistance, ed. Gordon Brent Ingram, Anne-Marie Bouthillette, and Yolanda Retter (Seattle: Bay Press, 1997); Remiggi,
"Homosexualité Et Espace Urbain: Une Analyse Critique Du Cas De Montréal."; David Bell and Jon Binnie, "Authenticating Queer Space:
Citizenship, Urbanism and Governance," Urban Studies 41, no. 9 (2004); Collins, "Sexual Dissidence, Enterprise and Assimilation:
Bedfellows in Urban Regeneration."; Marianne Blidon, "Les Commerces Gays Entre Logique Économique Et Logique Communautaire," in Le
Choix De L'homosexualité : Recherches Inédites Sur La Question Gay Et Lesbienne, ed. Bruno Perreau (Paris: EPEL, 2007); Oswin, "Critical
Geographies and the Uses of Sexuality: Deconstructing Queer Space."; Ruting, "Economic Transformations of Gay Urban Spaces: Revisiting
Collins' Evolutionary Gay District Model."
15
The Guide, Feb. 1998, 147.
16
Benjamin Forest, "West Hollywood as Symbol: The Significance of Place in the Construction of a Gay Identity," Environment and Planning D:
Society and Space 13, no. 2 (1995).
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 43

Figure 24. Advertising in The Guide, 1993-1997

The Bourbon’s relationship with its neighbours is also typical of other gay venues. The
nighttime activities are at odds with juxtaposed residential functions; however, most residents
agree that they attract investment that upgrades the neighbourhood and, it could be argued,
makes it a safer and more interesting place to live. However, in the Bourbon’s case, these
tensions are relatively minor compared to the long-time struggle between the city and
Chamberland over the blurring of built and open space, public and private spaces. His desire
to open up the complex and build what is essentially only a background for exterior terraces in
a continuous space with the streets and alley is completely at odds with the city’s vision. In a
sense, he is thus supporting a queer stance against conformity and the normative dichotomy
of public and private.

Tellingly, since Chamberland has been forced out of the Bourbon, the new owners have
downplayed the thematic associations and moved closer to the gay sex clubs described by
Ricco at the beginning of the 1990s17. The former Mississippi Club is now transformed into
Club Tools (Figure 25), where for a short period of time a “playroom” – an euphemism for sex
club - in the basement is juxtaposed to a more traditional dance floor bar. As Ricco points out,
these sex clubs are spaces accessed through thresholds, through other spaces. They are
integrally connected to the bar, and thus hard to define as separated spaces of desires and

17
Ricco, "Coming Together: Jack-Off Rooms as Minor Architecture."
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 44

representation18. In some ways, this playroom continues the experiences of celebration


created by Chamberland, but at the same time, it pushes queer spaces underground, away
from the public eye. In parallel, a web terminal with direct connection to a gay cruising web
site is now permanently installed in the bar. The same website also sponsors the club’s Friday
nights events. These are both attempts to respond to a transformation brought forward by the
increasing importance of the Internet as cruising space19. Although web cruising, in particular,
mirrors earlier networks of cruising spaces, it inhibits direct embodied sexual practices and
promotes isolation and individualism, an approach at odds with the sense of coming together
of the earlier Bourbon experience.

Figure 25. Club Tools, 2009.

These tensions and contradictions emphasize that concurrent understandings of queer space
exist. Designed as a background stage for queer opportunities to “take place”, the Bourbon
acts as a queerable space. However, its prominent position in normative networks linked to
tourism, gay capital and segregated specialized activities remove it from a variety of
experiences longed for by a larger queer “community”.

18
Ibid.
19
Ricco points out very early the changes that the Internet brings to cruising in Ibid. See also Robert Payne, "Gay Scene, Queer Grid" (paper
presented at the Queer Space: Centres and Peripheries, University of Technology Sydney, 2007).
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 45

Chamberland and Coquoz, two heterosexual men, succeed, at least partially, in creating a
queer space by designing a gay-oriented, and normative, architecture that paradoxically acts
as a background for queer opportunities to “take place”. Without them, the new owners fail to
keep the camp, the provocation, the sexual fantasy visible in the public. A “gay” architecture
still exists - it can still be located - but it has lost its queer power. The current manager of the
complex’s bars argues that the Bourbon is only gay by geographical location20, while Simon
Coquoz claims that he designed a building that could respond to the desires of the gay
community. For him, gays want to be open to the life of the city, to meet together, to be
surrounded by surprises, to have a life of good times, against conformity and tradition, to
provoke, to reach their dreams in a world of freedom, without closed doors, where everything
is possible. He succeeds in making those situations possible by creating a background for the
ephemeral, for a transformative and evolving space, a space of taking place.21 Ultimately, the
Bourbon as queer space is summarized in what Simon Coquoz initially told me: “To
understand the Bourbon architecture, we need to understand Normand Chamberland.”22
Chamberland’s desire to experiment and break away from conformity is taking place in the
Bourbon, is creating opportunities for queer space to appear.

20
Luc Généreux, interviewed by the author, November 20, 2009.
21
Reed, "Imminent Domain: Queer Space in the Built Environment," 64; Binnie, "The Erotic Possibilities of the City," 107.
22
Simon Coquoz, interviewed by the author, November 19, 2009.
5. Creating a Queer Myth at the Bourbon The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 46

Roof

Second floor

First floor

Ground floor

Basement

Figure 26. Plans for the planned complete


project. In grey, exterior spaces.
Hatched, private spaces. (Simon
Coquoz, modified by author)
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 47

6. Going Back Underground: Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars


If Complexe Bourbon exemplifies a generation of purpose-built mixed-use LGBT spaces in
Montréal, of which Complexe Sky1 still exists, more recent clubs have shifted their focus to
look back at early gay bar culture. The Parking nightclub is one of the most recent and popular
of these clubs2 (Figure 27). No longer combining diverse functions, instead concentrating on
its dance floor, the Parking is much less visible from the street. It also, quite successfully,
maintains a dual personality, catering to both a mixed and a predominantly male clientele on
different nights. Its advertisement, often marketed around internationally-known DJs, reaches
out for a wide crowd to fill its large 1000-person space. Various thematic nights also attract
specific groups of clients.

Although the club’s owners, Greg Thibault and Pascal Lefebvre, hired an architect and a
designer to help them with technical drawings and finishing choices, they insist they were the
ones who made all decisions in the planning and design of the club.3 To them, designing a club
is a complex design problem informed by years of experience in the club circuit and cannot be
successfully realised solely by an outside design consultant.

Figure 27. Parking Nightclub entrance on Amherst Street.

1
For an analysis of Complexe Sky that covers the 1990s period, a time where Sky is more mixed-use than today, see James Allan, "Sky's the
Limit: The Operations, Renovations and Implications of a Montréal Gay Bar" (Thesis, McGill University, 1997).
2
Club Unity, another major club which opened a few years earlier, in 1997, shares many characteristics with the Parking. However, the
Parking has changed less over its existence than the Unity and is thus easier to describe and analyse.
3
All information on the Parking comes from an interview of Pascal Lefebvre with the author, June 2, 2010.
6. Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 48

Opened in 2000, the Parking hides on Amherst Street, a few meters south of Sainte-Catherine
Street, at the edge of the Village (Figure 14). Initially located in a former Consumers
Distributing warehouse on the ground floor of a
large mixed-use building, it moves a few metres
in 2009 to an empty space in the basement of
the same building, under the 1925 Théâtre
L’Olympia. (Figure 28) Although close to Sainte-
Catherine Street, Montréal’s main commercial
street, its entrance, which serves both the
former and present location, is remote from the
main traffic (Figure 27). It hints at earlier times
and less open communities where LGBT spaces
have to hide. Significantly, the Tunnel, a bar
owned by the same men catering to an
exclusively male clientele that opens in 2009 for
a short time in the space previously occupied by
Figure 28. Olympia Building seen from corner of Sainte-
Catherine and Amherst Streets. The Parking the Parking, uses as its main entrance a
occupied the zone identified between 2000
and 2009. backdoor opening on the adjacent parking lot.

The physical situation of the bars - underground, off the main street - is mirrored in their
names, Parking and Tunnel. In a similar approach to the Bourbon, the club’s image (names,
design, marketing) is coherent with what the owners perceive as their main clientele. As with
the Bourbon, this image references mainstream gay male imagery of exaggerated masculinity
and typically masculine space, but also makes explicit references to both gay cruising space
(Figure 3) and major 1970s New York discotheques in former industrial spaces (Figure 12). If
the owners insist they have not created a specifically “gay” bar and aim for a large and diverse
clientele, they also argue in the same discussion that they designed their dance floor and bar
area with characteristics necessary to attract a “gay male” crowd. For example, Lefebvre
insists that a bar catering to gay men needs a much more expansive dance floor with less
“lounge” areas than in straight bars (Figure 29). The male bathrooms are also much larger
than the female ones.
6. Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 49

Figure 29. Parking plan, 2009. Dance floor hatched. (Drawing by E-Space Design & Parking Nightclub, modified by author)

Lefebvre says the design of the new Parking club is aimed less towards gay men than the
previous space, in an attempt to reach to a wider clientele, while still acknowledging gay
men’s preferences in space configuration and decor elements. The previous space included
visual references to prisons, army barracks and other spaces associated with masculinity that,
in Lefebvre’s view, gay men appreciate. While the new space is much more neutral in its decor
(Figure 30), traces of the old Parking persists in the K-Lub, the men-only sex club attached to
the Parking (Figure 31). The hyper-masculine design is also visible at DK-Dance, a new bar
opened in May 2010 by Thibault and Lefebvre in the former La Track bar at Complexe
Bourbon. Similarly, the labyrinthine layout of the former space, with a large number of corners
and recesses to facilitate cruising, is completely gone from the new large and unobstructed
room, but is still present in the K-Lub.

Figure 30. Dance floor and main bar space of the renovated Parking, 2010.
6. Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 50

Figure 31. K-Lub with decor elements from previous Parking, 2010.

Some of the decisions made for decorative


elements at the Parking are aimed at a
predominantly gay male clientele. The owners
wish to remind their patrons of earlier gay clubs
that often colonised old warehouses or
industrial spaces, as they believe this interest in
reusing old spaces characterises gay men. It also
confirms observations on queer space’s
engagement with the past that Reed associates
with “taking place” and “camp”.4 Pointing out
the obvious metaphor linking renovation with
knocking down barriers and opening up closets,
Reed also notes that it transforms what the
dominant culture has abandoned, in a similar
way to how queers have to rethink their life
Figure 32. Rough finishes from previous occupants left
visible in the Parking hallway, 2010.
4
Reed, "Imminent Domain: Queer Space in the Built Environment," 67-68.
6. Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 51

outside of the normative expectations of heterosexist society. The club retains some of the
unfinished elements left from the space’s previous occupants (Figure 32), while new
decorative elements most often consist of rough industrial-looking materials (Figure 33).
Although the new club space is fairly open and uncluttered, an aspect which Lefebvre argues
is also a legacy of the vast spaces used by early discotheques, clients first have to go through
dark, long and winding corridors before reaching the club itself. These corridors are designed
out of necessity, as the new space had to be reached through the same door as previously; the
owners, however, seem to enjoy the scenario created by the long arrival before getting to the
club space, as it once again recalls older times, although many younger patrons probably do
not realize it.

Figure 33. Rough materials added as decorative elements, Parking “urban” room, 2010.

The Parking’s simpler program and return to an underground location stand in contrast to the
Bourbon and other large complexes’ bold presence on the street. It also differs from smaller or
more specialised spaces in Montréal, such as leather bars, that have had their windows to
6. Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 52

passers-by for many years.5 Even saunas, which are arguably the most private of gay-oriented
public spaces because of their sexualised function, have a large presence on Sainte-Catherine
Street; without having opened windows displaying the private acts inside, many saunas
windows show large displays clearly announcing those activities (Figure 35). Adding to
Lefebvre’s insistence on the idea that the Parking “is not” a gay bar6, one might even question
to what extent this club is “out”. To make that affirmation is, however, somehow unfair, as the
owners’ use of publicity (Figure 34) clearly acknowledge and seek gay men as their primary
patrons. Are they then using their bar as some counter-normative space that tries to blur and
reject the hetero/homo dichotomy? In some ways, Thibault and Lefebvre’s vision for the
current Parking shares with queer aesthetics an attempt to situate itself outside of a
traditional, and normative, segregation of “straight” and LGBT-oriented spaces. The Parking’s
first years as a clearly gay male-oriented space and
Lefebvre’s comments about their current shift
towards a more mixed crowd for fundamentally
commercial reasons suggest that no anti-normative
agenda is at work at the Parking. The shift should
instead be understood as reflective of an increasing
openness in Québec society at large. The continuing
success of its mixed crowd events might also be
one of the reasons behind the increasing number of
bars, both straight and gays, openly advertising
hetero/homo mixed or gay-friendly nights. The
opening of formerly exclusively gay spaces to a
larger mixed clientele is also typical of
contemporary associations of gay subcultures with
cosmopolitanism and a culture of cool.7 Figure 34. Parking publicity, summer 2010. Grindr
is an application that lets users know if
other men looking for men are in their
surroundings.
5
Remiggi, "Le Village Gai De Montréal: Entre Le Ghetto Et L'espace Identitaire," 282. Personal observations and various accounts suggest
that this aspect of Montréal’s Village is not common to all LGBT neighbourhoods, and even quite rare. Most bars and club spaces are still
often hidden behind tainted glass or in basements.
6
A personal experience suggests that Thibault and Lefebvre have partially succeeded in broadening their target audience: learning that this
research project would be on gay bars, a colleague told me he only realised Parking was a gay-oriented club after his third time visiting for
DJ shows, after wondering why the crowd was predominantly male.
7
Rushbrook, "Cities, Queer Space, and the Cosmopolitan Tourist," 188-89. See for example Richard Florida’s controversial theories on the
creative class that includes a “diversity index”, which particularly targets gays (Richard L. Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class : And How It's
Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2004).).
6. Parking, a New Generation of “Gay” Bars The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 53

Figure 35. Sauna display windows in Montréal's Gay Village, 2009. (Photograph by user ClodiMedius on flickr.com)

In the context of a queer look at gay and lesbian neighbourhoods, issues similar to the ones
raised when discussing the Bourbon appear once again around the Parking. As managers of a
fundamentally commercial space, the Parking’s owners specifically detach themselves from
any involvement in the Village community. Whereas the Bourbon gained a political
involvement by being boldly visible in the city, the Parking’s “invisibility” limits its political
potential. It is also open to a queer critique of the club’s openness towards users who do not
correspond to the typical club goer’s image.

Parking represents a paradoxical evolution from the 1990s bars such as Complexe Bourbon.
The limited interaction with the street combined with the owner’s insistence on claiming that
their bar is not a specifically “gay” bar, even though it is largely patronised by gay men and
seen by many as gay space, clearly differs from the bold and visible 1990s gay bars that,
however, offered separate gender-exclusive and mixed spaces. This shift echoes Podmore’s
observation on the decline of lesbian-exclusive spaces caused by an increasingly important
“queer” atmosphere, but it could also be interpreted as a large-scale societal coming out
process, with a less visible “integration” stage following the bold “disclosure” period.
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 54

7. Out And Out: Adventures in “Straight” Land


“Any bar is a gay bar when the bathroom is used properly.”
-Trevor Wayne (Twitter, June 9th, 2010, 9:31 PM)

After the emergence of clearly visible purpose-built LGBT-oriented spaces in Montréal in the
1980s and 1990s, the first decade of the twenty-first century is marked by a shift towards a
queer colonisation of “straight” bars (“straight bars” is used here to refer to all non-specifically
gay or lesbian bars, assumed as being heterosexual spaces). Although queer people have
always been present in straight bars, until recently they most often had to hide their sexual
orientation when visiting them. If homosexual public displays of affection in bars can still be
unsafe, through reactions from either other patrons or management, more and more
initiatives are implemented to “queer” straight spaces for a night. But if queers can now
almost safely use straight bars, are there still differences between LGBT and straight bars? Or
does the only difference reside in how they are used, as the above quote seems to suggest?
This section presents examples of ephemeral attempts at queering space to discuss their
potential implications on architecture.

Guerrilla Gay Bar: “We're here, we're queer, we want a beer!”


Guerrilla Gay Bar (GGB) is a concept that appeared in 2000 in San
Francisco and has since spread across the United States and in a few
other countries, including Canada. In the words of the Los Angeles
GGB’s organisers, GGB is “a combination of flashmob and the French
Revolution, only gayer. (Fewer decapitations.) Once a month, we take
over the coolest straight bar we can find [...]. We don't tell em we're
coming - we just show up - by the hundreds - and make ourselves at
home.”1 A mix of playful queer activism and just plain fun (exemplified
by the unofficial logo in Figure 36 mixing the pink fist of queer activism Figure 36. Guerrilla Gay
Bar unofficial
and a bar wristband), GGB is directly in line with queer thinking, as it logo. (from
www.guerrillag
questions both the homonormativity of gay and lesbian bars and the aybar.com)

heteronormativity of straight bars. Due to their short term and unofficial attributes, GGB
events do not make any physical changes to the bars they take over: whereas gay bars more
1
Guerrilla Gay Bar, "Guerrilla Gay Bar: The Revolution Continues!," http://www.guerrillagaybar.com/.
7. Adventures in “Straight” Land The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 55

or less physically define the experience they offer, GGB experiences present an intriguing
attempt at queering space through simple presence.

No Guerrilla Gay Bar group exists in Montréal; however, local queer activists and queer
student groups have planned GGB events inspired by the movement2. The following
discussion is based on an event organised by Queer McGill (QM) in September 2009 when
around fifty people, members and friends of QM, including myself, took over Peel Pub, a two-
floor sports bar in downtown Montréal known for its cheap food and drinks. Because of its
emphasis on sports culture, strongly associated with heterosexual masculinity, but also
because of its earlier history as a gay meeting spot when the majority of Montréal’s gay bars
were situated in this area3, Peel Pub is a significant choice. Planned with short notice and
without informing the bar’s management, the event aims at a transformation of space through
occupation, not through any physical changes. As such, it uses the importance of temporality
and relationality inherent to queer space to present its critique on bars’ normativity.4

Without any means to physically transform space for an event taking place in a limited
amount of time, QM participants’ actions and positions in relation to both architecture and
other users are of primordial importance. As the evening began with only six QM people in the
bar amongst the packed regular crowd present to watch a hockey game, their choice of table
is of particular significance. Unlike most gay bars where space is left empty to allow for
dancing, moving, and body display, Peel Pub is packed with tables and chairs. The first QM
group refused a table upstairs initially proposed by the doorman and chose instead to join two
tables in front of the bar’s entrance. When asked about this choice, participants expressed a
desire to “look queer” as people were getting in the bar. This “queer look” was visible through

2
See for example, Concordia University’s Reggie Does Archie (Lauren Pettigrew, "Reggie Does Archie," in It's good to be gay (Montréal:
Wordpress, 2009).)
3
Higgins, "A Sense of Belonging: Pre-Liberation Space, Symbolics, and Leadership in Gay Montreal", 274-76. Peel Pub has since changed
location, but its publicity material still advertises its 45 years history, although omitting to mention its gay past.
4
It is important to note that GGB are not universally seen as useful events, as the following exchange from Queer McGill email list suggests:
“As much as I appreciate awareness-building adventures, I've long felt it better for us to spend our money in businesses that form part of
our community and give something back to it. Of course, there is a healthy discussion to be had over whether the bars and clubs in the
Village actually fit that description.“ (Michael Lubetsky to Queer McGill mailing list, September 17, 2009.)
“As much as patronizing bars and clubs that form part of "our community" (which I take it is referring to places in the village) is significant,
I see events like this which deliberately make spaces queer outside of the village incredibly important. The village is home to a particular
sort of largely white gay non-trans male community that not everyone can participate in, and as such isn't much of a community to many
queers, friends and allies. And even if we could all access those spaces, is isolating and ghettoizing queer communities inside the village
from now until time immemorial a good thing? Supporting queer-positive bars is awesome, and I completely approve, but if all the queers
go to the village, then why should bars beyond Berri and Papineau make themselves more inclusive? That is why I'm so excited about this
event - because in taking over a normally straight establishment, we are not only forcibly creating a new, safer space for queers and others
(not just white gay non-trans men) to party, even if it is only for the night, we're challenging some bar somewhere to see that queers exist
and that perhaps consider being that much more inclusive. Well, that and the fact that it should be incredibly fun and hilarious.” (Adam
Wheeler to Queer McGill mailing list, September 17, 2009.)
7. Adventures in “Straight” Land The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 56

a few elements: QM participants dressed slightly differently than most regular patrons, who
almost all sported a clothing item showing their appreciation of the Canadiens hockey team; a
lesbian couple, later joined by other same-sex couples, kissed regularly during the evening;
QM participants did not react or cheer at the hockey game. Although the QM tables were
quite visible, in front of a giant screen transmitting the hockey game, neither the clothes nor
the same-sex kissing seemed to attract reactions from other patrons. However, the non-
reaction to the game was clearly noticed; QM participants later acknowledged this by starting
to mockingly react to the game.

As more QM people arrived, the group expanded in space through the bar’s ground floor. At
first, they moved to neighbouring tables to completely fill the space in front of the entrance.
New customers entering the bar therefore had to walk through the QM tables. The group later
occupied tables at the back of the bar, separated from the first ones, but next to the stairs
going up to the second floor. QM’s colonization of space across the bar generated a strong
reaction from the employees who quickly stopped the group from occupying more tables,
arguing that space had to be kept for other patrons waiting outside. It is not possible to know
if this was a reaction against a queering of the bar or only a commercial strategy to get as
many people inside. However, the QM group was growing steadily, needing a larger number
of chairs than the available ones at the occupied tables, and consuming in large numbers,
which argues against the second hypothesis. Without assuming that the employees were
reacting against the presumed different sexual orientation of the QM members, they were
certainly reacting against a queering of the bar, understood as a situation outside the norm.

Observations and discussions with participants suggest that comfort levels were not as one
would initially expect. Homosexual couples kissing and showing affection did not attract the
reactions the participants were expecting, while some of them expressed their discomfort at
the bar’s ambiance: they felt it discouraged discussion and restrained their free occupation of
space. This mention of the need for a space where discussion is possible goes against the
observations made by Pascal Lefebvre about the necessity to maximise dance floor space at
Parking and other gay clubs. It also shows a discomfort with the rigidity of Peel Pub, with a
space that does not allow for a variety of uses. These comments thus confirm GGB’s success
in its attempt to question the normativity of both gay or lesbian and straight bars.
7. Adventures in “Straight” Land The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 57

The example discussed here takes place in a sports pub. Specific reactions might have been
different in another bar, but unusual use of space by a large group would trigger reactions
anywhere, including in gay/lesbian bars. Could that mean that there are no physical
differences between queer space and straight space? The examples of gay-oriented spaces
studied here, Bourbon and Parking, show that owners and designers of gay bars perceive a
need to physically differentiate their clubs from straight ones, mainly as a way to attract a
male clientele, but also to mark their space as more open and welcoming to different
lifestyles. These elements, however, differ from bar to bar and are even sometimes similar to
design elements in straight bars. Specific physical elements or planning thus do not typically
characterise and differentiate straight and gay or lesbian bars. Queer space clearly needs to
be understood as different from LGBT spaces; it cannot be described physically, but must be
instead found in the use of and relation to space.

The GGB experience supports questions about the relation between (hetero- and homo-)
normativity and space, particularly understood in its physicality. Others theorists point out the
heteronormativity inscribed in the division and organisation of gender-specific restrooms5, for
example, but studying more closely bars show how both straight and non-straight bars
actively create a setting for normative reiterations. In both cases, bars and clubs propose an
open area where hetero- or homo- behaviours are displayed, but whereas gay bars remind
users and reinforce their situation outside of heteronormative patterns, most often through a
camp reclamation of masculinity symbols or normative institutions, straight ones seek to
proclaim similar symbols and institutions in a non-ironic way. But most importantly, as shown
by the GGB example, they support social practices that immediately point out queer acts,
situations against the norm. As such, they are similar to other everyday spaces where power
relations are (re)produced; normally unrecognised, these relations are underlined by the
arrival of a queer element.6

5
See for example the “Bathroom” section in Sanders, ed. Stud: Architectures of Masculinity., particularly the introductory essay (Lee Edelman,
"Men's Room," in Stud: Architectures of Masculinity, ed. Joel Sanders (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996).). Also Bryan
Reynolds, "Sexuality and Appendx: Doorless Toilet Stalls and the Constipation of Desire," Appendx: culture, theory, praxis, no. 1 (1993);
Olivier Vallerand, "La Salle De Toilettes Publique : Gardienne De L’ordre Hétéronormatif ?," Sortie, May 2008; Cristyn Davies, "Queering
the Space of the Public Toilet" (paper presented at the Queer Space: Centres and Peripheries, University of Technology Sydney, 2007);
Robyn Longhurst, "Men's Bodies and Bathrooms," in Bodies: Exploring Fluid Boundaries, Critical Geographies (London & New York: Routledge,
2001).
6
See for example Kath Browne’s thorough analysis of lesbians in restaurant spaces in Kath Browne, "(Re)Making the Other,
Heterosexualising Everyday Space," Environment and Planning A 39, no. 4 (2007).
7. Adventures in “Straight” Land The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 58

Meow Mix, Faggity Ass Fridays, Mec Plus Ultra: Temporary Queer Nights
Guerrilla Gay Bar ephemeral events are paralleled more recurrently in regular queer nights
outside of the Village. These nights, growing in number in the past years, have appeared for
various reasons and have mostly been quite successful7, once again pointing to a shift in the
relation between queers and the “straight” public. Some of these nights are monthly or
weekly, others are more sporadic; some are gender-specific, others are open to all; some are
strictly for fun, others serve as fundraising events; all share a desire to offer an alternative to
the Village. Unlike the improvised and non official Guerilla Gay Bar, however, these events are
planned in collaboration with the hosting clubs. This situation offers opportunities to change
space in more important ways than GGB can.

The oldest such night still active is Meow Mix, an event for lesbians that began in 1997 and
has since colonised various spaces, such as Le Cirque, Jailhouse and Sala Rossa.8 Aimed
primarily at lesbian women, but also opened to their friends, Meow Mix was initially created
by Miriam Ginestier and her then girlfriend in reaction to clubs they felt were not broadly
welcoming, especially women-only lesbian bars, but also gay clubs.9 This corresponds to Julie
Podmore’s analysis of the disappearance of the “Golden Age” lesbian bars of the Plateau in
the 1990s, at a time where lesbian identities, communities and political alliances were
changing by becoming increasingly engaged with queer politics and moving away from the
then very present woman-only lesbian feminist model.10 Meow Mix nights include dance
music, but also artists and performers, most often with a queer edge.

The desire to create a more welcoming and open night event was also a driving force behind
the creation of Faggity Ass Fridays (FAF). Created in October 2007 as a fund raising event for
a sex education project by Head & Hands, a youth-focused organization, FAF have regularly
occupied Friday nights at Main Hall or Playhouse, two Mile End clubs. This event further
implements critiques made by queer activists to Village clubs: no cover fee, only a suggested
donation to avoid keeping poor people out, cheap drinks, gender-neutral washroom,
distribution of free condoms and lube, and sex health information.11 Unlike Meow Mix,

7
To the three examples presented in the following paragraphs could be added Pink28/Tease aimed at professional lesbians), Lipstick, and
gay men nights at Les Bains Douches (Anabelle Nicoud, "Le Village Encore Dans Le Coup?," La Presse, July 26 2010.)
8
Meg Hewings, "Lesbians Party On! ," Hour, October 4 2007; DeAnne Smith, "Montreal Ladies Love Meow Mix," Xtra!, December 4 2008.
9
Hewings, "Lesbians Party On! ."
10
Podmore, "Gone ‘Underground’? Lesbian Visibility and the Consolidation of Queer Space in Montréal," 614.
11
Lauryn Kronick, "Sex Ed's the Cause for a Party," Xtra!, May 16 2008.
7. Adventures in “Straight” Land The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 59

however, FAF clearly reaches out to both genders, true to queer politics gender-inclusiveness,
and regularly gets a 50-50 ratio of men and women.12

The previous examples include elements close to queer politics in their attempts to create
more inclusive options for the LGBT community. Mec Plus Ultra nights, created in November
2008 by Julien de Repentigny, Antoine Bedard and Francois Guimond, are, however,
described by their creators as detached from political considerations. "[Meow Mix and
Faggity Ass Fridays] are more radical and we're looking for something more
professional/career-oriented, there wasn't anything geared towards young professionals that
aren't into that Village vibe with house music and such and we go to a lot of indie rock shows
and things like that."13 Reaching 300 to 600 people every two weeks14, Mec Plus Ultra nights
are hosted by the Belmont, at the corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Mount-Royal Avenue.
Julien de Repentigny says that, “despite the openness of Montreal it was hard to find a venue
because many owners were worried that having a gay night would affect their clientele. It's
funny because the Belmont is one of the straightest bars ever! But they were really into it and
supportive!”15

The ephemeral nature of these events leaves few permanent traces of a recurrent queer
occupation. At Mec Plus Ultra, physical space is used in similar ways to gay bars: the most
important space is a large dance floor. To mark the gay appropriation of space, organisers
select a theme, usually linked to an overtly masculine or campy image, and add a few decor
elements and video projections linked to that theme. It is thus an approach similar to the one
implemented at Parking, where gay male presence is mainly symbolised through visual links to
a tradition of gay male spaces and camp reclamation. Unlike Parking, however, traces of the
original straight use of the bar are visible besides the “gay” traces: most explicitly, walls are
covered with paintings of semi-naked women and photographs and memorabilia of the
Belmont in the 1920s and 1930s, linking the bar to a tradition of heteronormative male-only
taverns. The juxtaposition of visual references to homosexuality and heterosexuality
questions both; the organisers deny any political aims, but their camp reclamation of
masculinity symbols is similar to more politically inclined examples. Both this event and

12
Ibid.
13
Julien de Repentigny, cited in Preet Bhogal, "Montreal's New Once-a-Month Gay Event, Outside the Village," Xtra!, December 26 2008.
14
Ibid.
15
Ibid.
7. Adventures in “Straight” Land The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 60

Meow Mix, although officially open to all, by aiming most directly respectively men or women,
mainly recreate alternative Village bars outside the Village. However, by focussing on the
occupation of interior spaces without much presence on the street, they lack the political
potential offered by public visibility.

Queer Users in “Straight” Bars


Temporary queer nights and the growing
visible presence of queers in bars outside the
Village allows us to ask if gay bars were only
a temporary “typology”? Remiggi has warned
that, like ethnic neighbourhoods, LGBT
enclaves can disappear.16 But does that mean
that gay bars can also disappear (Figure 37)?
As queer users become more visible in
straight bars, can the role played by gay bars’
interaction with public space be replaced by
social interaction and queer displays of Figure 37. Orlando Sentinel’s article on the role of gay bars in
a changing society.
affection in straight bars? Might visible queer
uses of space in straight bars have an even more important political effect than bold LGBT-
oriented architecture through a diffused integration of heteronormative space? It is difficult to
suggest so today as queer displays still seem to be more tolerated than integrated, but the
unexpected presence of queers in straight bars might still, in smaller ways, replicate the
unexpected presence of queer minorities in public space through LGBT-identified architecture.
The next few years should tell us if the current trends will continue, but gay bars might always
keep a community role by creating space of socialisation for younger LGBT people.

16
Frank W. Remiggi, public presentation to the Archives gaies du Québec, May 13, 2010. The situation is not unique to Montréal, as pointed
out for example in Jeff Kunerth, "For a Number of Gay Bars, It's Last Call," Orlando Sentinel, September 17 2007.
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 61

8. Are Gay Bars Queer Space or Gay Architecture? a Conclusion


The architecture of gay bars presents rare public evidence of the evolution of gay
communities and their relationship with society at large, which is usually assumed as
heterosexual. In Montréal’s case, the geographical move from downtown to the Village
paralleled by changing public displays of gay social space through time make it easy to see
stages in this evolution. Even since the relatively recent emergence of the Village, bars have
had different functions and visibilities in public space, embodying, but also shaping society’s
changing relation to sexual diversity.

Early downtown Montréal bars and taverns patronised by gay men were often hidden from
public view and did not offer occasions for the increasingly vocal gay community to be visible.
The emergence of the Village has completely changed this relationship. Its bars and other
commercial establishments proudly and boldly express their “difference”, most often through
explicit references to male sexuality. The 1990s generation of mixed-use complexes,
exemplified by Bourbon and Sky, juxtapose gay male-specific space with public uses, making
homosexuality clearly visible to a heterosexual audience. As such, this architecture gain a
political meaning. With the growth of queer consciousness, Village bars, previously often
male-specific, start to open their doors to women. Women, however, often remain second
class, as spaces are rarely designed expressly for them. Most often, women have to share
space with men or use spaces designed previously for men, while men keep their own male-
only spaces. More recent clubs have scaled back from large mixed-use complexes to
concentrate on their use as bars, while simultaneously stepping back from public view. Their
clientele, however, have been increasingly mixed, men and women, queer and straight, in
parallel with an increasingly important presence of queers in straight bars. I believe these
changes document a shift in Québec society towards a greater acceptance of sexual
minorities.

Gay bars are not queer space by design. Inherently commercial architecture, they respond to
economical needs and often perpetuate a new homonormativity instead of contesting
heteronormativity. However, because of their association with LGBT communities, which are
viewed as “different” by the heterosexual majority, they create numerous opportunities for
space to be queered, that is, where space appears to challenge norms, where queerness
8. Conclusion: Queer Space or Gay Architecture? The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 62

overflows in public view. From a simple colonisation of straight bars by gay men and lesbians,
LGBT architecture has moved towards something similar to what John Paul Ricco calls “minor
architecture”, an architecture that uses tropes of the majority to suggest a political message
of contestation. However, whereas Ricco sees the potential of this minor architecture in its
disruption of major media outlets (TV, newspaper), Montréal’s gay bars instead use this
directly in public space through their high visibility, in large part due to the Village’s location
on Montréal’s main commercial street in a central neighbourhood. This “minor” reclamation is
also visible in the colonisation by LGBT people of spaces previously understood as straight.

In addition to participating in the evolution of the relationship between LGBT communities


and society at large, gay-bars evolution also follows a shift from gay liberation and lesbian
feminist movement towards queer politics. The integration of queer politics is visible in the
Village commercial establishment’s gradual transformation from a gay-male oriented place
towards a broadening and mixing of different clienteles, most importantly inclusive of women.
However, the call for safer space consistently professed by queer activists is still not fully
satisfied and the Village is still today mostly designed for rich, gay, white men; gay teens,
women, transgender people or anyone that does not identify with the core clientele are left
aside. The visual insistence on a certain kind of masculinity in the design and marketing of the
Village and its commercial institutions also creates a new homonormativity that leaves aside
other sexual minorities, such as transsexuals or bisexuals. However, this exaggerated and
provocative insistence on masculinity contributes to a camp reclamation of symbols
associated with heteronormativity, a queer overturn of these symbols. Combined with the
reuse of unoccupied or rundown neighbourhoods and buildings that are not only cheaply
available spaces, but also symbolically charged ones, gay architecture positions itself outside
of the norm, from the inside.

The points of view recorded in this project, ranging from straight owners and designers to
queer users, present divergent and diverse understandings of queer space and gay-oriented
spaces, of their physicality, of their uses and importance. As such they intersect broader
questions that have emerged from queer theory’s challenge to gay and lesbian studies. What
is “being straight” or “being gay”? How do other aspects of identity (class, gender, race, etc.)
intersect with these “normative identities”? How do assumptions about “radical dissident”
8. Conclusion: Queer Space or Gay Architecture? The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 63

identities account for the mainstreaming of lesbian and gay politics associated with the more
recent idea of homonormativity? The cases studied here show that answers to these
questions are far from evident. The amalgamation of consumption and community spaces in
gay bars further complicates the discussion around these questions.

Is LGBT-oriented architecture queer space? Sometimes. The answer is, however, difficult to
settle as definitions of LGBT-oriented architecture and queer space are very divergent. If
“queer” appears more difficult to define than “LGBT” (or its various components taken
separately) because of political meanings and implications, the multiple interpretations of
“queer space” are much clearer, and powerful, in their political, physical and social
implications than any attempts to define “LGBT architecture”. LGBT-oriented architecture
does question heteronormativity, however, in its attempt to respond to the needs and tastes,
perceived or real, of LGBT-identified people. This project, I hope, has shown that its
documentation and analysis is thus essential to a comprehensive history of LGBT minorities.
The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 64

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Illustrations
Figure 1. Humourous fake news article of a newly "out" bar (The Onion, 2008.) ......................... iii 
Figure 2. Sex Garage police raid, July 16, 1990. (Photographs by Linda Dawn Hammond) ........ 3 
Figure 3. West Street, New York, 1977. Gay men occupying the edges of downtown area.
(National Archive of Lesbian and Gay History, in Aaron Betsky. Queer Space. and Joel
Sanders. Stud: Architectures of Masculinity.) ................................................................................ 3 
Figure 4. Photographs from a feature on the San Francisco LGBT Community Center,
Architecture, April 2002. .................................................................................................................. 5 
Figure 5. REPOhistory Collective, Queer Spaces, New York, 1994. .................................................. 13 
Figure 6. Karin Daan, Homomonument, Amsterdam, 1979-87. ........................................................ 13 
Figure 7. Tom Burr. Subterranean Park Rest Room Clip, 1997. .......................................................... 16 
Figure 8. Two examples of late 1970s gay bars. The left one, situated near a railroad station
and a junk yard, has boarded windows on the more travelled street for privacy. On the
right, a gay bar occupies the lower floor of an isolated and dilapidated building in an
industrial zone. Its doors are unmarked. (Photographs by Barbara Weightman from
“Gay Bars as Private Places”) ....................................................................................................... 20 
Figure 9. Plan of a typical early gay bar. (Drawing by Barbara Weightman from "Gay Bars as
Private Places") ................................................................................................................................. 21 
Figure 10. Bushes screening a late 1970s gay bar. (Photograph by Barbara Weightman from
"Gay Bars as Private Places") ....................................................................................................... 22 
Figure 11. Gio's, Winnipeg, 2010................................................................................................................ 22 
Figure 12. Paradise Garage disco in a former parking garage, New York, 1976-1987. Left, 2009.
Right, 1981. (Photographs from unauthored Internet sources) ........................................... 24 
Figure 13. SOMA leather bar, San Francisco, 1978. (Photograph by Crawford Barton, Gay and
Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California) ................................................................. 25 
Figure 14. Village map. A: Bourbon. B: Parking Nightclub (Société de développement
commercial du Village, 2010) ...................................................................................................... 26 
Figure 15. Rainbow redesign of Beaudry metro station (left) and unmondeunvillage.com
publicity campaign (right), summer 2008. (Photographs by JB in Pacifica on flickr.com)
.............................................................................................................................................................. 32 
Figure 16. Tourisme Montréal's publicity aimed at the gay and lesbian market, 2000. (from
Bellerose and Perrier, "Le Tourisme Gai, Un Marché Porteur Pour Montréal") .............. 33 
Figure 17. Pedestrian Sainte-Catherine street in the Village, summer 2010.................................. 34 
Illustrations The Evolution of Gay Bars and Clubs in Montréal - 71

Figure 18. Rue Gareau (Photograph by Normand Chamberland) ..................................................... 36 


Figure 19. Complexe Bourbon, 1570-1592 Sainte-Catherine Est, Montréal. .................................. 37 
Figure 20. The Club Sandwich. .................................................................................................................. 37 
Figure 21. Gay Pride at the Bourbon. (Photograph by Normand Chamberland) ........................... 38 
Figure 22. Hotel hall of the unbuilt final expansion. (Drawing by Simon Coquoz) ...................... 39 
Figure 23. Final phase perspective. (Drawing by Simon Coquoz) .....................................................41 
Figure 24. Advertising in The Guide, 1993-1997 .................................................................................... 43 
Figure 25. Club Tools, 2009. ..................................................................................................................... 44 
Figure 26. Plans for the planned complete project. In grey, exterior spaces. Hatched, private
spaces. (Simon Coquoz, modified by author) ..........................................................................46 
Figure 27. Parking Nightclub entrance on Amherst Street. ................................................................ 47 
Figure 28. Olympia Building seen from corner of Sainte-Catherine and Amherst Streets. The
Parking occupied the zone identified between 2000 and 2009. ........................................48 
Figure 29. Parking plan, 2009. Dance floor hatched. (Drawing by E-Space Design & Parking
Nightclub, modified by author) ....................................................................................................49 
Figure 30. Dance floor and main bar space of the renovated Parking, 2010. ................................49 
Figure 31. K-Lub with decor elements from previous Parking, 2010. ............................................... 50 
Figure 32. Rough finishes from previous occupants left visible in the Parking hallway, 2010... 50 
Figure 33. Rough materials added as decorative elements, Parking “urban” room, 2010........... 51 
Figure 34. Parking publicity, summer 2010. Grindr is an application that lets users know if
other men looking for men are in their surroundings. ............................................................ 52 
Figure 35. Sauna display windows in Montréal's Gay Village, 2009. (Photograph by user
ClodiMedius on flickr.com) ............................................................................................................ 53 
Figure 36. Guerrilla Gay Bar unofficial logo. (from www.guerrillagaybar.com) ............................ 54 
Figure 37. Orlando Sentinel’s article on the role of gay bars in a changing society. ................... 60 

All photographs, drawings and images by author, unless noted.

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