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Death in The Village

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Francis Plourde. (Photo courtesy of CBC Media Centre) Podcast sheds light on forgotten murders of gay men in Montreal Christiana Lilly | Special Contributor When you ask about or Google the murders of gay men in Montreal in the 1990s, the answers all lead to the podcast The Village: The Montreal Murders.

LGBT advocates encouraged me to listen to the podcast. And in my online research, only a handful of news stories talked about the murders prior to the release of the CBC’s 2022 podcast hosted by gay French Canadian journalist Francis Plourde. “Since the podcast was released, I got quite a few people who lived in Montreal and were in their early 20s when all that happened, and many of them had no idea this was happening,” Plourde said. “That’s how segregated things were in Montreal.” Over seven episodes, the third season of The Village investigates the murders of 18 gay men in Montreal at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, starting with the murder of 23-year-old gay activist Joe Rose in March 1989.

Rose was known for his pink hair, his “Silence = Death” pin and his snappy comebacks. A friend told Plourde that Rose once said, “If you can’t stand the fruits, get out of the orchard.” Rose was diagnosed with AIDS at age 19 after donating blood.

But he never hid his status, and his goal was to start a chapter of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in Montreal. Sadly, he never got that chance.

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