Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Montreal's Gay Village Looking for Ways to Reinvent Itself Amidst Change

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Montreal's Gay Village Looking for Ways to Reinvent Itself Amidst Change

Article excerpt

Montreal's gay village changing

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MONTREAL - Technological advances and changing lifestyles are forcing Montreal's gay village to reinvent itself, with local businesses having to adapt to the reality that homosexuals feel increasingly comfortable in different corners of the city.

Merchants and gay activists point to mobile dating applications as a key reason for young homosexuals ditching bars and nightclubs as places to find partners.

"The determining factor is the Internet," says Yves Lafontaine, editor-in-chief of Fugues magazine, the largest French-language gay publication in the province.

"Before 2005-06 the only place gay people could meet was in gay establishments. Now, the paysage has changed."

Lafontaine also believes young gay men and women feel more at ease in most parts of the city and don't look only to the village to live, shop and party.

What's left is a neighbourhood in flux as businesses rely more and more on the summer tourist season to stay financially sustainable.

Peter Sergakis, owner of one of the city's largest gay clubs, Sky, says he is certainly feeling the changes and that business in the winter is about one half of what it is in the summer.

"The winter is a disaster," laments Sergakis. "This winter was the worst, and every (winter) is worse than the previous year."

Year-round business, he notes, has dropped considerably since he bought the club in 1999.

Sergakis is thankful the city decided to ban car traffic during summer months on the main thoroughfare in the village, Ste-Catherine Street, giving businesses the opportunity to open patios and to attract families and many gay tourists.

"Thank God for the summer," he said. (Gay tourists) still come to the village, they draw our gay population to go and meet them," he says.

Pascal Lefebvre, owner of competing gay club Apollon, located down the street from Sky, says business has declined by roughly 15 per cent in the past few years, which he estimates is similar to the drop-off for clubs in other entertainment districts of the city. …

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