Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Montreal filmmaker and Cannes Film Festival sensation Xavier Dolan has been awarded the Montreal Fondation Emergence's 2011 Fight Against Homophobia Award on the occasion of the ninth International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) on May 17.

The 22-year-old director and co-star of the award-winning films J’ai tué ma mere (I Killed My Mother) and Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats) was chosen, Fondation Emergence said in a press statement, "because his films have undeniably contributed to the fight against homophobia. His films are not “gay films” but instead films in which being gay is just a part of life. We know that, in order to combat homophobia, we need to tackle negative attitudes. Xavier Dolan’s films, which reach a very broad audience [and] encourage people to adopt positive attitudes."

Xavier Dolan and Bugs
When I interviewed Dolan after he returned from his first trip to Cannes in 2009, both he and I were momentarily stunned to discover Dolan was born the very same day that Montreal Dawson College student and gay activist Joe Rose was stabbed to death by homophobic thugs on a Montreal city bus, on March 20, 1989.

It’s remarkable because the tragic murder of Rose helped shape gay activism in Montreal for years. The city's Queer Nation chapter was even renamed Queer Nation Rose after the slain 18-year-old student. About the gay-bashing scene in his film J’ai tué ma mere, Dolan told me, "Some people complained that the scene came out of nowhere, but it is the best-filmed scene in the movie because that’s how gay-bashings happen – out of the blue. A friend of mine was gay-bashed at three o’clock in the afternoon on Jean-Talon Boulevard! There is still danger today for gay people, even in broad daylight."

Meanwhile, pop superstar Lady Gaga will be global guest-editor-in-chief for all May 17 editions of Metro newspaper - which publishes free dailies across North America in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, etc. - ahead of her Born This Way worldwide album release on May 23. What Metro says the gay icon will actually do seems unlikely to me, but Metro insists, "Lady Gaga will edit Metro’s editions in 20 countries from the London office of Metro World News, Metro’s central news desk."

While giving awards and promoting guest editors surely raises the profile of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the real work  in the trenches on this day is being done by activists in cities and small towns around the globe. In Montreal and across Canada, Fondation Emergence has a full slate of events and activities planned for May 17, and six ethnic LGBT groups (AGIR, Arc-en-ciel d'Afrique, Au-delà de l'Arc-en-ciel, Ethnoculture, GLAM and Helem) have joined forces to organize the first Ethno Congres LGBT conference, May 13-17 at UQAM. There will be film screenings, panels on racism, religion and gender, and admission to all of it is free!

Louis-Georges Tin and Bugs
Meanwhile, a couple summers ago I met French black gay activist Louis-Georges Tin who is famed for starting International Day Against Homophobia in France in 2005, an initiative that was actually begun by Montreal’s Fondation Emergence in 2003. So I’m happy to report that Tin now acknowledges Montreal’s role creating and popularizing IDAHO, which this year will be marked by hundreds of events across all continents.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

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