It’s not a derogatory name. It’s really called The Gay Village. Or simply, the Village.
The Village runs roughly from the Berri-Uqam to Papineau metro for almost 2 kilometers along Sainte-Catherine Street, making it the largest area of its kind in North America. Here you'll find two very merry kilometers of pride, acceptance, originality, and, yes, exuberance.
It all started in the early 1980s, when businesses along the Saint-Laurent boulevard, including many gay-owned ones, had to move to a more working-class area because of the increasingly skyrocketing rent. It was never a xenophobic affront; life and economic crisis just happened.
Soon rainbow flags started to appear on every house, along with drag queen bars and saunas and a Chippendales-inspired strip club. It wasn’t long before the area was tagged “The Gay Village,” a title gladly accepted by the community and its neighbors.
The City of Montreal put a lot of effort into promoting the Gay Village as a tourist destination, and one of the most appreciated measures is the pedestrianization of Sainte-Catherine Street during summers. Streets are taken over by tourists, yes, but also Montrealers in search of the perfect patio for a pint or a late-night dessert.