Finding oneself, displacing others: Young adult migrations to Montreal’s Anglo-queer gentrification frontier

Authors: Julie Podmore*, John Abbott College
Topics: Sexuality, Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: queer-friendly neighbourhoods, LGBTQ generations, emotional geographies, Montreal
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Balcony L, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The recent literature in geographies of sexualities portrays queer-friendly neighbourhoods as relational and generational alternatives to established gay villages. Increasing social acceptance – brought by equalities legislations –, gay village gentrification and generational disidentification with the socio-spatial politics of gay villages has led young LGBT-identified adults to build queer communities and scenes in other inner-city neighbourhoods. However, these specifically queer-identified neighbourhoods are no less fraught with the politics of displacement and often position young queers directly on the gentrification frontier. To examine this dynamic, I draw upon 40 qualitative interviews conducted with young LGBT adults who live in Montreal’s Queer Mile End and its surrounding districts. Signalling Bourdieu, I argue that migrating to this district and adopting it as a queer ‘home’ in Canada involves entering a field that revolves around a particular set of spatialized emotional dispositions. These include a disgust for the exclusions of the gay village, a desire for queer communality in inner-city ‘diversity’, and an ambivalence about the middle-class whiteness of Mile-End’s gentrification frontier. In the case of young queer migrants to inner-city Montreal, these emotional geographies are further modulated by the linguistic binary between English and French that positions the predominantly Francophone gay village as local and parochial and the Anglophone queer Mile End as the site for the importation of a more inclusive and progressive queer urbanism.

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