A queer queer street? Reading Ottawa’s Le/The Village

Presented at: Queer Research Colloquium 2016, McGill University. Montreal QC.

Abstract: In 2011, “Ottawa’s main street” was officially recognized and rebranded as “The/Le Village”. Discretely marked by a few placards, rainbow stickers, and handful of LGBTQ services, the six blocks of “Le/The Village” is strangely integrated into the landscape of the urban business core. Queer geographies provide important perspectives on how the gay village has become a normalized typology while also disrupting norms and providing important spaces of difference. “The/Le Village” reveals the tension between the physical and symbolic need for spaces of belonging, and the mainstreaming—in this case mainstreeting—of marginalized identity through territorial delineations and visible markers. This paper interrogates histories and analyses of the “traditional gay village” through a reading of both the visible urban landscape and media narratives of “Le/The Village” and the ways in which it conforms and deviates from a queerly normative typology.

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