JVL History

JVL History

Lesbian Visibility Day

The first Lesbian Visibility Day, sometimes called today by the acronym JVL, premiered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in March 1982.

Thereafter, until 1992, the Day will be held in October of each year. After 1992, it will take place on March 8, International Women’s Day.

In 2004, the lesbian visibility committee of Gai Écoute (now Interligne) was created with the aim of increasing the visibility of lesbians in society (Vaillancourt, 2009).

Since 2019, it has been organized annually, in Quebec, the first weekend of June, by the Quebec Lesbian Network.

This day, which aims to highlight “lesbian” visibility, aims to highlight the issues of women of sexual diversity, those who identify as LGBTQ +. It’s a way to bring forward their own issues, which are often invisible to various local and international LGBTQ + events.

Genesis and historical context

Gilford School. The basement of this disused primary school was, for almost ten years, the only place, besides bars, where lesbians could meet. It was at the same time a space of work, reflections, analyzes and a creative laboratory for several artists, activists and artisans. Every year, a Lesbian Visibility Day was held there.

In 1982, the first Lesbian Visibility Day was held in Montreal in March, under the theme “lesbians and solidarity”. Building on its success, the day was resumed in October 1982 under the theme “lesbians visible to each other”. This will give rise to Lesbian Visibility Day in October of each year, until 1992.

In 1993, the closure of Gilford School was a blow to the Montreal lesbian community, thereby depriving women of a meaningful place of belonging. This context will depend in particular on the creation of the RLQ, a few years later, in 1996.

Ensure the sustainability of the day

At various times, Lesbian Visibility Day will be organized by various organizations.

In 2004, the lesbian visibility committee of Gai Écoute was created with the aim of organizing annual seminars on lesbian visibility (Vaillancourt, 2009).

The committee will bring to light an important symposium for lesbian visibility, the first of which will take place on March 8, 2005 on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Gai Écoute (now Interligne) will take charge of the event until the end of the first decade of the 2000s, temporarily handing over the torch to GRIS-Montreal in 2008.

Moreover, in 2008 the first contribution to the visibility of lesbians will be awarded to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) (AlterHéros, 2008).

It is necessarily in this historical lineage that the Quebec Lesbian Network, together with the Lesbian Solidarity Center (CSL), will organize annually, later in the 2000s, the Lesbian Visibility Day.

Since 2019, Lesbian Visibility Day has been organized by the Quebec Lesbian Network.

Lesbian visibility days held in Montreal in the 2000s


March 8, 2005 “Lesbians Go Out! Symposium on lesbian visibility in Quebec society followed by a short artistic evening at the Center Saint-Pierre in Montreal (Gai Écoute, 2005).


March 2, 2006: Being visible, yesterday and today Symposium organized by Gai Écoute at Sala Rossa, 4848, boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal

The committee is proposing, for the second year in a row, a conference on lesbian visibility. This year, the chosen theme is visibility, yesterday and today. “Many lesbians in their prime have a lot to teach younger people about their experiences, their struggles and the reality of being a lesbian in broad daylight at a time when everything had to be invented. The youngest also have things to say about their realities, their dreams, their fears. Together we will engage in an intergenerational and intercultural dialogue to be stronger and more visible in our society ”, explains Ms. Magali Deleuze, vice-president of Gai Écoute (CDEACF, 2006).


March 8, 2007 under the theme “visibilité lesbienne” at the Drugstore bar, during Women’s Day. “On March 8, the lesbian conference was held, which is held every year on Women’s Day. This year, the theme was “lesbian visibility”. In past years, the organization Gai Écoute organized this conference, but GRIS Montreal took over this year.

Monik Audet from the Human Rights Commission came to present a recent report on the social equality of lesbians and gays. A booth hosted by Amy Skinner from the Mad’Âme boutique. The magazine Treize, specifically for lesbians, presented the new edition of its quarterly magazine. Johanne Gaudreault, Vice-President of the Quebec Gay and Lesbian Coalition and member of the EGALE Canada Board of Directors, was on hand to inform us about these two organizations. The Loisirs Sacré-Cœur had a full kiosk and invited us to register to participate in activities between women. For young people, a booth of Jeunesse Lambda and its subsidiary Athena for young lesbians brought a breath of fresh air through the person of Alice Brassard, a promising young queer woman (Brousseau, 2007).


On March 8, 2008, what promises to be the 4th symposium on lesbian visibility is taking place under the theme The place of lesbians in the media at the Center Saint-Pierre.

“For the fourth consecutive year, Gai Écoute will organize, in collaboration with GRIS-Montreal, a milestone event to promote lesbian visibility on International Women’s Day, on Saturday March 8, 2008. Under the theme“ Strong, proud, influential and plural ”, a conference, which will take shape around two round tables, will launch a reflection on the place of lesbians in the media” (Cyr, 2008).

About fifty people attended the debate on the visibility of lesbians in the media in which Catherine Bélanger, Julie Vaillancourt, Nathalie di Palma, Monique Audet, Laure Neuville, Gloria Escomel and Line Chamberland took part.

Ironically, it was in a total blackout (due to a power failure) that the 4th Symposium on Lesbian Visibility ended the day. In the middle of the 2nd round table where three journalists invited by Gai Écoute and Gris-Montréal suggested ways that could be taken to increase lesbian visibility in the media, the audience was plunged into darkness!

The panel of journalists, a few minutes before the blackout: Julie-Maude Beauchesne (AlterHéros), Magali Deleuze (Gai Écoute), Denis-Daniel Boullé (Le Fugues), Laure Neuville (Treize).

Presentation of the first contribution to the visibility of lesbians at the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) by the mayor of the Ville-Marie borough, Benoît Labonté, on behalf of Gai Écoute. “I cannot be accused of accepting invitations in order to be exposed to the general public,” he joked, in the dark, in the light of a few flashes of cameras immortalizing the scene , before presenting the prize to Monik Audet, from the CDPDJ.

By awarding this prize, Gai Écoute wishes to highlight the Commission’s work to fight, in particular against discrimination against lesbians in their work environment, which last year produced the report From legal equality to social equality. , towards a national strategy against homophobia.

Presentation of the 2008 Lesbian Visibility Award for Gai Listening by the Mayor of the Ville-Marie Borough Benoît Labonté to Monique Audet of the CDPDJ. In the center, Magali Deleuze, Vice-President of Gai Écoute.


8 March 2009 : « les communautés ethnoculturelles et autochtones » au Cégep Maisonneuve. 

“The ethnoculturalism of this fifth symposium on lesbian visibility is reminiscent of the recent hypermedia surrounding reasonable accommodation. However, since its creation in 2004, the lesbian visibility committee of Gai Écoute had already reached a consensus on the question: “During the first conference that we held 5 years ago, we established why we were invisible and in which sectors we were more. Several themes emerged such as media, work, family and ethnocultural communities. Every year we tried to deal with one of these themes, but we weren’t ready to talk about lesbo-culturalism two or three years ago. ” explains Magali Deleuze, vice-president of Gai Écoute and responsible for the conference (Vaillancourt, 2009).

Several guests took the floor, including journalist Denis-Daniel Boullé, to discuss the issues facing lesbians in the face of immigration, refugee status and their integration into the host society. If he was invited last year to discuss the media, flattered and embarrassed, he questions his presence. He will entitle his article published in the Fugues of February 23, 2009 “Why you are concerned by the Lesbian Visibility Day …” (Boullé, 2009)


October 1st 2011 : Lesbiennes… tolérées ou acceptées ? a lieu à la Maison des Familles de Mercier-Est, 700, rue Georges Bizet, à Montréal. 

Lesbian Visibility Day, which moves this year to October 1, questions a very relevant subject: are lesbians tolerated or accepted? “We believe that because the laws have changed, we have our place. However, just because we have legal recognition doesn’t mean we have social recognition! ” Suzie Bordeleau, co-organizer and worker at the Lesbian Solidarity Center.

Mona Greenbaum will present a first workshop on homoparental families. The second workshop will reach young lesbians, while the third, led by Oldirne Jules (Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique), will examine the ethnocultural side and acceptance and tolerance within the various communities. cultural.

Ends with an evening of dancing in collaboration with the Ladies of the Heart (Vaillancourt, 2011).


October 5th 2013 : theme “from one generation to the next” at the Center Saint-Pierre in Montreal.

Conference on homoparentality, with Kim Griffin and Francine Laporte. The second lecture, dealing with ethnocultural realities, was presented by three lesbians of different ages and backgrounds (Florence François, Patricia Jean, and Alein Ortegon). Monik Audet, moderator of the conferences, explained the difficulty of the organizing committee to find lesbians in their fifties from cultural communities: “All refused”, she specified.

The third and final lecture focused on lesbian bars and nightlife. Three speakers came to raise their glasses on the subject: first, geographer Julie Podmore came to present a map of lesbian bars in Montreal. Then, two owners of lesbian bars, from different eras, came to testify about their experiences, starting with Danielle Villeneuve, owner of the O’Side bar, on rue Saint-Denis, from 1994 to 1999. Then Laurence Berkani came. discuss how she came to get involved in the Royal Phoenix Bar with her co-owners.

It is also an opportunity for various organizations to present their services, with the fair at the kiosks, which presented many initiatives and lesbian organizations including, Le center de solidarité lesbienne (CSL), GRIS-Montréal / Mauricie / Center-du- Quebec, Gai Écoute / Fondation Émergence, the Quebec Lesbian Network, the Lesbian Archives of Quebec, the Verdun Women’s Center, the CJMLH, LSTW, Lez Elles, Arc-en-Ciel d’Afrique, the Simone de Beauvoir, the Research Chair in Homophobia (Vaillancourt, 2013).

A great example of success can be seen during Lesbian Visibility Day, organized by the Lesbian Solidarity Center (CSL) and LSTW, which featured speakers of all ages. (Vaillancourt, 2013).


Under the theme “diversified for women”, this day of October 4, 2014 takes place at the Quebec film library and is organized by the Lesbian Solidarity Center (CSL) and GRIS Montreal and is intended to be “An opportunity to discover associations, establishments, businesses, artists, artisans and women who get involved and innovate in our feminine diversity. In addition, it is an opportunity to soak up the battles fought, to also discover the realities of various lesbians and to celebrate the successes of the women of our community ” (Fugues, 2014)

There was presented a lecture on history proposed by Line Chamberland, with testimonies by Nicole Lacelle and Marie-Michelle Godbout. At the beginning of the afternoon, women in couples will come to testify about their experiences, namely Marie-Ève Baron-Giroudeau and Claire Giroudeau-Baron as well as Geneviève Proulx and Jessica Richard. They will tell their stories and discuss how they identify with the lesbian community. This will set the stage for a discussion open to all the women present during the day, i.e. a plenary in the form of a debate, which will question the very name of the day in order to be more inclusive to the multiple realities of lesbian visibility ( bisexual, trans, queer women, etc.), explains Monik Audet, who will host the day in question.

A benefit evening in support of Lesbian Visibility Day will be organized by Lez Spread The Word at Porte Rouge on September 26, 2014 (Vaillancourt, 2014).

Four speakers of the day : Jessica Richard, Geneviève Proulx, Marie-Eve Baron and Claire Giroudeau Baron, accompagnées de Rosalie.


In 2016, Lesbian Visibility Day is held on May 14, at the Ecomusée du Fier Monde. It is under the questioning theme of “Who am I?” “, What is this day which seeks the inclusion of all lesbian realities. “The proliferation of sex labels gives rise to several debates and tends to divide our community. We are proud to present this new edition with Pride Montreal as our main partner. We are committed to being more inclusive for women who love women and thus rallying as many people as possible. “Mention the Facebook event (CSL & RLQ, 2016).

Organized by the Lesbian Solidarity Center (CSL), in collaboration with the Réseau des Lesbiennes du Québec (RLQ), then in partnership with Fierté Montréal, the day is intended to be “as inclusive as possible for women who love women, so the Who am I? won, “explains Marjolaine Landry, CSL project manager at the outset.

As in previous years, booths from organizations from the Quebec LGBTQ + community are present throughout the day, including the Research Chair against homophobia, GRIS Montreal, RLQ, CSL, LSTW, the Quebec LGBT Council, Image + Nation, etc. (Vaillancourt, 2016).


May 13, 2017: myths or realities?

The Lesbian Visibility Day is being held on May 13, 2017, at the Écomusée du fier monde, under a theme of demystification. Organized in collaboration with the Quebec Lesbian Network and the Lesbian Solidarity Center. “Under the theme Myths or realities ?, we will demystify everything related to interpersonal relationships, as much at the level of the couple, of friendship as of sexual relations, without forgetting the realities of the elders”, explains at the outset Jessie Bordeleau, president of the Quebec Lesbian Network.

The day begins with the conference entitled “And after 60 years? », Which explores this reality both at the level of the couple and of celibacy. The second conference deals with “Sexual health: what you need to know”, then the last conference will be under the theme “From one relationship to another” with 6 panelists, ie “a couple, a homoparental family and a former couple who became friends ”, explains Jessie (Vaillancourt, 2017).

Illustrator Josiane Boulet created the drawing exposing the theme of the day for 2017: “Myths or realities?”

In a video produced by the Quebec Lesbian Network, Jessie Bordeleau, the president of the organization at the time, takes a look back at Lesbian Visibility Day on May 13, 2017, held in Montreal, at the Écomusée du fier world. The video presents an overview and relevant questions related to the lesbian community.

Moreover, in 2017, regarding lesbian visibility, Julie Antoine, Executive Director of the Quebec Lesbian Network concluded on this subject that lesbians “are not visible enough and tend to isolate themselves” (Vaillancourt, 2017).


May 6, 2018: “Annales lesbiennes”

In 2018, Lesbian Visibility Day takes place at the Écomusée du fier monde and is organized in partnership with the Quebec Lesbian Network (RLQ) and the Lesbian Solidarity Center (CSL).

Several conferences will be presented, including that of Line Chamberland, sociologist, professor and holder of the Research Chair on Homophobia at UQAM, who will discuss the history of the lesbian movement, drawing in particular from her book Mémoires lesbians, published by Editions du remue-household in 1996 (ACFAS) (Fédérations des maisons d’hébergements pour femmes, 2018).

“The organizing committee of the day wanted to address the political history of women, while addressing sexuality. Annales being a synonym of history, it also allowed to underline a more taboo character of female sexuality. There is something provocative about the term, but sexuality will be approached in a positive way while offering demystification workshops on the subject, without forgetting prevention, awareness and education ”. Thus, in order to underline this “double meaning” of the theme, two workshops on anal sex will be given by Marie-Édith Vigneau, in a safe environment (Vaillancourt, 2018).

Gabrielle Bouchard, president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ) was the guest of honor on this day “because she represents women at the level of the FFQ. It is an opportunity to present it, to talk about inclusion and to discuss feminist struggles, which are not over and the JVL is a meeting place to discuss current issues ”, explains Julie Antoine, general manager of the RLQ , member of the organizing committee of the JVL (Vaillancourt, 2018).


New formula

In 2019, the JVL is exclusively organized by the RLQ, with the Lesbian Solidarity Center (CSL) and Lez Spread The Word (LSTW) as media partners.

The feminist bookstore L’Euguélionne and the sportswear store Lululemon – Le local, join the JVL as partners in the activities. It takes place at Never Apart in Montreal, with financial support from TD Bank.

The day takes place on Saturday June 1st. A series of activities are offered (yoga, family reading workshop, 5-7 festive), in particular an intergenerational panel, with activists from the start: Myriam Fougère (to whom we owe the feminist “road movie” Feminista), Laura Yaros (who was part of various LGBT Jewish groups in Montreal), Monique Lavoie (social worker, journalist and novelist from Uruguay) and Johanne Coulombe (activist).

The feminist bookstore L’Euguélionne and the sportswear store Lululemon – Le local, join the JVL as partners in the activities. It takes place at Never Apart in Montreal, with financial support from TD Bank.

Ton petit look

Lez spread the word

With the presentation of the JVL Prizes, the Quebec Lesbian Network wishes to underline the contribution, the implication and the work of important women who did not hesitate to appear to put forward the issues of the women of our community. Journalist Judith Lussier wins the Lesbian Visibility Award, while Line Chamberland, holder of the Research Chair in Homophobia and professor at UQAM, wins the Tribute Award, for all of her work.

The 2019 edition also marks the arrival of a new formula, with a spokesperson for the event, Quebec singer-songwriter Safia Nolin, who is openly lesbian. It was tough then, and it continues to be today, she adds. “Just the title appeals to me: because you lack visibility. It’s a label that is not obvious for everyone to wear (…) [The lesbian label], it took me years to wear it… ”.


La presse

If the genesis of this day dates back to 1982, the Network was created in 1996. “Despite their decades of existence, these two initiatives remain, however, little known. Normal. We rarely talk about lesbians in the mainstream media. (…) And when lesbian invisibility passes under the sign of visibility, the price to pay can be high for those who come out of the shadows. Safia Nolin knows something about it. Explain Julie Vaillancourt and Julie Antoine in an open letter published in the daily La Presse and supported by several signatories, including Safia Nolin herself.

The fact of becoming visible on this day will earn Safia Nolin a number of lesbophobic comments. This is to highlight the importance of a Day like this (Antoine & Vaillancourt, 2019).


Lesbian Visibility Day, online!

Due to the health crisis linked to COVID-19 which is preventing gatherings in Quebec, the Quebec Lesbian Network has decided to maintain Lesbian Visibility Day 2020 next June, in the form of online programming! Because it is more important than ever to give visibility to women of sexual diversity, and also, because physical distancing does not mean social distancing.

This year, Lesbian Visibility Day will take place online over 2 days, June 6 and 7. The physical event that was supposed to take place is postponed to a later date.

Artist Safia Nolin joins for a second consecutive year as spokesperson for the event, with TD Bank and Never Apart as partners.