The long battle against homophobia

In the early 1990s, 17 gay men were murdered in Montreal. The murders were committed over a period of approximately four years. He frequents most bars in the gay village. While some were killed in the gardens, others died in their apartment or hotel rooms.

Posted at 6:00 AM

The corpses were often mutilated. Thirty, forty, or even fifty stabs or screwdrivers showed that the killers were relentless and that they did what is called “overkill.” These sadists obviously wanted to kill their victim, but they also wanted to kill the shame in their depths.

And then there were those who were just killed for the fun of “being androgynous.” The murder of Joe Rose, in March 1989, shocked the imagination. This gay activist was beaten and stabbed by four young men while riding a STCUM night bus.

This sad period, which deeply marked the LGBTQ+ community, is the starting point for the podcast Village: murders, fights, pride offered by OHdio starting Tuesday. I watched all seven episodes excessively on a Sunday afternoon. This is a very good radio!

Photo courtesy of Ohdio

Village: murders, fights, pride

We owe this extraordinary document to journalist Marie-Yves Tremblay and director Philippe Marois. I say exceptional, because they have the intelligence to build a series by combining the story of 17 murders with the story of the Gay Village and the struggle for better recognition of gay and lesbian rights.

I’m telling you right away, from episode four, you won’t want to take your headphones off.

The starting point for this series comes from CBC, which has produced two podcasts so far titled the village. Toronto’s gay community is known to have suffered a horrific tragedy between 2010 and 2017 when serial killer Bruce MacArthur, a landscape gardener, murdered eight gay men before burying their remains in the gardens of some clients.

Marie-Yves Tremblay accepted the challenge of telling what happened in Montreal in her own way. Portions of his podcast will now be used by fellow CBC colleagues.

One of the strengths of Quebec’s production is the high quality of the cast.

We hear three of the four activists who alerted the public and shook the government at the time so that the police finally do their job properly and that the rights of gays hard hit by the scourge of AIDS are recognized and protected in various areas, such as work or health.

Those activists who deserve a public place in their honor are Roger Leclerc, Michael Hendricks, Claudine Metcalf, and Douglas Buckley Covert. The latter is now missing.

Michael Hendrix was the first to notice that the victims were gay and were not presented as such by the police and the media. They also devoted paragraphs to the first murders.

It took several deaths before things were properly named: homophobia was at its deadliest horror.

The reactionary attitude of the police at that time occupies a large space in the series. It relates to several raids that have been carried out, including those that took place at the Sex Garage Evening and Cox’s Bar. The chief of police is going to change things, and that’s Jack Duchesneau. It was introduced in the last episode.

The episode in which the activists recounted how they managed to get to meet the then-Justice Minister, Jill Remillard, was amazing. During a press conference, they raised the specter of a “picnic”. And for this, they invited two young men who had sex with an influential member of the government.

The result: Three days later, the militants got an appointment with Minister Rimmillard, who ignored their requests for months.

This led to human rights commission hearings in 1993 and, six months later, to the activists’ happiest report. Its content has taken giant strides in combating prejudice and discrimination.

Marie-Yves Tremblay has had no trouble convincing the dozens of people we hear on podcasts to speak up. But with the families of the victims, it was something else. “It was very difficult to contact them,” she said. Thirty years later, the wound is still there. And I understand them. »

You should know that most of the victims hid their homosexuality from their families. “Parents often learned that their son was gay when he died of AIDS,” says Marie-Eve Tremblay. It’s incredible! »

Gabriel Ether, brother of Gaetan Ether, one of the victims, agreed to speak. “When I told him that his brother’s death somehow moved things forward, he just couldn’t believe it,” Mary Eve Tremblay told me.

Indeed, when the reporter at the end of the series reads the names of the seventeen victims, this horrific sacrifice is what we think of.

Thirty years later, a few murderers have been identified and punished. At least two victims perished under the blade of a serial killer. But many of the murders have yet to be solved.

The village is not what it used to be. It was a place of celebration, a refuge, an environment in which everyone claimed the right to be who they were. But it was also a coffin for some. It should not be forgotten.

Village: murders, fights, prideavailable on OHdio.



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