Club Gemini (2019)
Drawing from archival press clippings, correspondence, and spirit contact with queer ancestors, Jamie Ross’ sound installation Club Gemini grants a furtive glimpse into the eponymous first social club for lesbian, gay and trans people in Montreal, and its opening, one Saturday night in April 1969, before it was shut down a month later.
Gemini was opened by International Sex Equality Anonymous, Quebec’s answer to the homophile civil rights movement, the international socialist precursor to the gay liberation movements of the ‘70s. Headed by spokesperson Paul Bédard, the group lobbied the Trudeau government for gay tolerance using proceeds from small publishing, nightlife, and organized sex work promoted internationally through Grecian Magazines from California. Although Paul was acquitted of charges of “gross indecency“ and “contributing to juvenile delinquency,“ he disappeared from the queer archive shortly thereafter, leaving an acephalous local branch of a growing international movement; a stillness. A final letter addressed to gay activists in Toronto was discovered, sent from a town 10 hours northeast of Montreal.
In the winter of 1969, a small wolf pack crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River, likely at Lac St. Louis, and established itself on Mount Royal. On one spring night, likely the same night Club Gemini opened at the base of the mountain, shots rang out. Montreal police officers had culled the wolves and removed their bodies from the gay cruising forest.
These nights on the corner of de Maisonneuve and de la Montagne Streets stands a luxury pen boutique and chain dépanneur. The red velvet repaire of feeling has long been sloughed off by the deciduous falling of years to settle unnoticed in the downtown street. It remains as critical now as it was then to chronicle our ongoing suffering, but also to dance and flirt our still-resounding demands and collective declarations of ungovernability. Still, the corner is there, and the alley.
Stereo audio track (00:29:00∞ loop), transparent red gel on window, black velvet cushions and mask