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Village gai

A view of Montreal's Village gai, with Beaudry metro station at left
Le Village gai is the gay village of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is located on rue Sainte-Catherine downtown, centred on Beaudry metro station, in the Ville-Marie borough of the city. The Village runs approximately from rue Saint-Hubert to av. Papineau, a distance of nearly two kilometres, making it the largest in North America.

Formerly a poor working-class neighbourhood, part of the Centre-Sud area of the city, the area was occupied by the gay and lesbian community after the expulsion of gay businesses from an area closer to boul. Saint-Laurent. The area has been considerably brightened up, thanks in part to recent investment from the various levels of government.

Indeed, despite repression as late as the early 1990s, recent government support of the Village cannot be overemphasized. All three levels of government are aggressively promoting the Village, the accepting climate of Quebec, and gay life in Montreal as a tourist attraction. In recognition of the Village's importance to the city, the borough of Ville-Marie recently hung a rainbow flag in its council chambers, to say nothing of the recently rebuilt entrance to Beaudry metro, decorated with rainbow pillars. The Village is specifically marked on official city maps. Finally, the governments lent their support in securing the Gay Games for 2006. However, the city government came under criticism recently for cutting funding to the Divers-Cité pride celebrations.

Gays and lesbians live all over the highly accepting city, so their residential density in the Village is only slightly higher than elsewhere. However, the Village contains a variety of shops and services targetting the community, and so serves as an entertainment and tourism epicentre rather than as a gay neighbourhood strictly speaking.

The Village contains a wide variety of nightlife: bars and discotheques catering to all tastes (Montreal has more gay bars and discotheques than Paris, and as many as San Francisco or New York), including three very large entertainment complexes, one of which is the largest of its kind in the world. There are also a wide range of boutiques, restaurants, cafés, bed-and-breakfasts, and hotels. The city also contains a number of gay establishments outside the Village proper.

The Association des commerçants et Professionels du Village (Village Businesspersons and Professionals Association) represents the businesspeople of the Village. The Centre communautaire des gais et lesbiennes de Montréal (Montreal Gay and Lesbian Community Centre) is currently constructing a new office space in the Village.

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