Quebec Studies

Forgetting Montreal’s Gay Downtown: The Popular Gay Geographic Imagination and a Miş-mash History of the Present

Quebec Studies (2016), 61, (1), 165–186.

Abstract

Forgetting Montreal’s Gay Downtown: The Popular Gay Geographic Imagination and a Miş-mash History of the Present Jason B. Crawford Champlain College, Saint-Lambert Forgetting Montreal’s Gay Downtown In this paper I argue for a critical and experimental method of writing queer social history in order to resist the production of dominant historical narratives present in the popular gay and lesbian press. I take the common narrative of the development of Montreal’s gay Village as a case study, noting primarily that both the geographical site and the locale in the popular geographic imagination are based in part on the forgetting of Montreal’s (earlier) gay downtown bars. To make this point and to offer an example of an alternative queer social history I constructed a nonlinear and multivocal play script inspired by Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, and Allan Pred. Doing the history of the present in this way allows us to question what is to be made of Montreal’s gay downtown as an unclaimed memory-site. The experimental play script suggests both a disruption of dominant narrative styles of writing queer social history and resistance to the social organization of forgetting of Montreal’s gay downtown history and its meanings for the present. Dans cet article, je propose une méthode critique et expérimentale d’écrire l’histoire queer afin de résister à la production des récits historiques dominants présents dans l’imaginaire géographique gai. Je prends le récit populaire du développement du Village gai de Montréal comme une étude de cas, en notant principalement que le site physique et la localisation dans l’imaginaire géographique populaire sont fondés en partie sur l’oubli des anciens bars du centre-ville gai de Montréal. Pour offrir un exemple d’une histoire alternative queer, je construis un script non linéaire et plurivocal inspiré par Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, et Allan Pred. Ce script nous permet de nous interroger sur la signification du centre-ville gai de Montréal comme site de mémoire non réclamé. Ainsi il subvertit les styles narratifs de l’historiographie sociale gaie et résiste à l’organisation sociale de l’oubli de l’histoire du centreville gai et de sa signification pour le présent. Québec Studies, 61 doi:10.3828/qs.2016.10

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Crawford, Jason B.