Friday, 24 January 2014


Le Journal de Montreal's front-page coverage of the police raid on Truxx and Le Mystique

The historic Montreal police raid on gay leather bar Truxx in the wee morning hours of October 22, 1977, was the largest mass arrest in Canada since the War Measures Act. Police charged 146 men with being found-ins in a common bawdyhouse. Police also simultaneously raid the neighbouring gay bar le Mystique.

“More than 50 uniformed and plainclothes police from the divisional morality, mobile and technical squads carried off the raid” in the early morning hours of Oct 22, The Body Politic reported. “The heavily armed members of the technical squad entered with bullet-proof vests and at least two machine guns.”

The 146 men arrested were held for up to 15 hours at police headquarters “while ‘compulsory’ VD tests were administered.”
Andy Warhol's portrait of Conrad Black

The next night over 2,000 LGBT people blocked the corner of Ste-Catherine and Stanley in protest, and a few weeks later, on December 15, 1977, Quebec’s National Assembly passed Bill 88, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The law also made Quebec the second jurisdiction in the world (after Denmark) to forbid discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation

Truxx was also the site where my first mentor, the late Nick Auf der Maur — famed Montreal boulvardier, former Montreal city councillor, columnist for the Montreal Gazette and the father of Melissa Auf der Maur (rock star with Hole and Smashing Pumpkins) — brought his old friend Conrad Black, the conservative Canadian-born former newspaper publisher, historian, author, columnist and convicted felon (in the United States, for fraud).

Nick gleefully recounted to me for my Three Dollar Bill column the time he bumped into Black in downtown Montreal one day in 1978, not long after the Truxx police raid.

“Let’s go for a drink,” Black suggested.

January 22, 2014: The façade of the historic Stanley

Street building that used to house Le Mystique,

Truxx and the Stanley Pub, has been torn up.

Inside the building has been gutted.

(Photo by Richard Burnett)
“I know just the place,” Nick replied., then mischievously led his old friend to the Truxx leather cruising bar above the Stanley Tavern when Montreal’s gay district was still downtown.

“Are you taking me to Sodom and Gomorrah?” Black snapped. “Let’s go to the Ritz!”

Just then a bouncer slid open the peephole and eyed Black in his pinstriped suit. “You can’t come in here,” the bouncer spat.

Nick laughed. “Then Conrad slipped into civil libertarian mode and said, ‘What do you mean I can’t come in here!’ So I pulled out my city councillor’s card and got us in,” Nick told me. “After a drink I offered to go to the Ritz, but Conrad said, ‘No! Let’s have another drink here!’

“He hates it when I tell that story,” Nick added.

Which is why it is worth repeating again and again.

Click here for CBC TV video footage of the Truxx raid and aftermath.

Follow me on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment