Press Release

Montréal Pride Festival: The Six Grand Marshals of the 13th Edition Perfectly Represent Advocacy and Sexual and Gender Diversity

Montréal, July 15, 2019 – The Montréal Pride festival, presented by TD in collaboration with Casino de Montréal, proudly unveiled the names of the six personalities who will act as the Grand Marshals of its 13th edition, to be held next August 8 to 18, at parc des Faubourgs. The choice of the personalities was based on the significant contribution that these activists have made towards the recognition of the rights of the sexual and gender diversity (SGD) communities and with the aim of representing this diversity.

Montréal Pride Festival 2019 Grand Marshals:

  • Anan Bouapha, founder of Proud To Be Us Laos and advocate (Laos);
  • Danny Godbout, activist, leader of the leather community, M. Cuir Montréal 2011, (Canada);
  • Ma-Nee Chacaby, 2Spirit author and advocate for our Indigenous Peoples (Canada);
  • Val Desjardins, LGBTQ+ advocate, entrepreneur, athlete and coach (Canada);
  • Monica Helms, author, creator of the Trans Pride flag and founder of Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) (United States);
  • Wilson Cruz, actor and LGBTQ+ advocate (United States).

Anan Bouapha, founder of Proud To Be Us Laos and advocate (Laos)

Anan Bouapha was born and raised in Vientiane, the capital of the Laos People Democratic Republic. He is considered by many as the leader of his country’s nascent LGBTQ+ movement. In 2012, he founded Proud to Be Us Laos, the nation’s first civil society network promoting equal rights for young people of the sexual and gender diversity (SGD) communities. As President/Founder, he was instrumental in organising the first Pride event in Laos.  Anan was honored with the Asian Pink Awards (Asia LGBTI Rights Awards) in Singapore in 2014 and praised for his work in combating HIV. Anan continues his advocacy efforts throughout Laos and lectures about Proud to be us Laos around the world.

Danny Godbout, activist, leader of the leather community, M. Cuir Montréal 2011 (Canada)

Recognized as the a guardian of Montréal’s fetish history, Danny Godbout has volunteered with our communities since the mid 1980’s when he joined the Montréal Gay and Lesbian Community Centre. As an activist, he participated in both the Montréal Pride and as sponsorship coordinator for Ottawa Pride festival as Sponsorships coordinator. During this time, he worked in bars and other sexual and gender diversity establishments. Wishing to mobilize and generate awareness among men on the acceptance of one’s sexuality issue, he won the M. Cuir Montréal Mr Leather title in 2011. by advocating for RÉZO community organisation in his mandate on behalf of the RÉZO community organization. He then had the idea to create a fetish social club in Montréal and brought five community members together to found what would will become the Montréal Phoenix Leather and Latex Club, open to men and women who love leather and latex. Thanks to his experience, he had the honour and privilege to represent Montréal at the 33rd International Mr. Leather Contest and for the last 8 years, has been working as an assistant manager and kink consultant at Armada by the Men’s Room. He’s also exploring the drag scene with his alter-ego Sally-D.

Ma-Nee Chacaby, author and advocate for the Indigenous Peoples Communities (Canada)

Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humour, and resilience. Her memoir, A Two-Spirit Journey, provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people. As a child, Chacaby learned spiritual and cultural traditions from her Cree grandmother and trapping, hunting, and bush survival skills from her Ojibwa stepfather. At twenty, Chacaby moved to Thunder Bay with her children to escape an abusive marriage. Over the following decades, she achieved sobriety; trained and worked as an alcoholism counsellor; raised her children and fostered many others; learned to live with visual impairment; and came out as a lesbian. In 2013, Chacaby led the first LGBTQ+ pride parade in Thunder Bay.

Val Desjardins, LGBTQ+ advocate, entrepreneur, athlete and coach (Canada)

Val Desjardins currently works as a personal trainer and has been known to collaborate with many high profiles, celebrity clients, such as Jennifer Aniston, Ariane Moffatt and Coeur de Pirate. She is an entrepreneur, athlete, coach and the owner of Pump Fitness MTL. Val was also the owner of the Royal Phoenix, a highly successful bar in the Mile-End, which quickly became staple for members of the LGBTQ+ communities after its inception. The opportunity to open this queer friendly space was brought to her after many years being involved in the revival of the roller derby scene in Montreal as well. Val is well known for embracing the use of imagery of her relationship as a display of a strong, lesbian couple. Furthermore, her embrace of the androgynous aesthetic, paired with her industry success story, has made a great platform for conversations regarding diversity and women empowerment. Her combination of ambition and her concern for the mental and physical health of her clients and her community have made her an advocate and a leader by example.

Monica Helms, author, creator of the Transgender Pride Flag and founder of the Transgender American Veterans Association (United States)

Monica Helms is the creator of the Transgender Pride Flag, which was first flown during the Pride Parade of Phoenix, Arizona, in the year 2000. She founded the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) in 2003, where she remained president until 2013. During her mandate at the organisation, TAVA sponsored the first ever Transgender Veterans March to the Wall. Her political activism includes lobbying state legislators in Arizona and Georgia, and members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Monica made history when she was elected as a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts and was the first trans person elected to a DNC Convention from Georgia and the South.

Wilson Cruz, actor, producer, LGBTQ+ advocate (United States)

Wilson Cruz stars at Dr. Hugh Culber in the CBS All Access series, Star Trek: Discovery, as part of the first gay couple in the Star Trek universe. A first-generation American of Puerto Rican descent, Wilson also played one of TV’s first transgender characters in an Emmy nominated episode of Ally McBeal. He also had series regular roles on Party of Five, where he took home the ALMA Award for Outstanding Emerging Actor. He has also recurred on Shameless, The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, NCIS, American Dad and ER.  On the frontlines of LGBT advocacy, Wilson Cruz took a break from acting to serve as the Director of Entertainment Industry Partnerships and as National Spokesperson for GLAAD. For his activism, he has thus far received, amongst others: the Liberty Award from Lambda Legal, the Visibilidad Award from GLAAD, the Fusion Achievement Award from Outfest, the Latino Spirit Award for Achievement in Entertainment and Advocacy from the California Latino Legislative Caucus, the Harvey Milk Equality Award and the Advocate Award from AdColor and the Point Courage Award from the Point Foundation.

About the Montréal Pride Festival

Since 2007, at the initiative of Montréal’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Montréal Pride Festival has promoted their rights and celebrated their cultural wealth and social advances. The largest gathering of the communities of sexual and gender diversity (SGD) in the Francophone world works locally on a daily basis while serving as a beacon of hope for people living in LGBTQ+ hostile regions of the globe. In 2018, the festival generated a total attendance of 2.1 million visitors. In 2019, the festivities will be held from August 8th to 18th. More information is available on the web page, the Facebook page, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.


For all inquiries:
François Laberge                                                                              
Communications Director
[email protected]
Telephone: 514 903-6193, poste 3523
Cell: 514 779-6134


For interview requests:
Nathalie Roy
Consultant, media relations
[email protected]
514 889-3622

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