Friends and Lovers—Coming Out in Montreal in the 70s

Sunil Gupta

In this exhibition, Sunil Gupta reaches into his image archive to describe his assimilation into Canada via an early embrace of Montreal’s gay liberation movement and the development of a new family—an extended gay family. In the 1970s, Gupta’s apartment was coincidentally located near the roots of the Gay McGill movement, so it became an informal hub where people gathered to hang out and talk openly. Gupta began to make pictures for the fledgling newspaper GayZette—capturing the aftermath of the Aquarius Sauna fire, the façades of bars, early gay liberation marches, and other significant moments. His photographic hobby had suddenly gained a purpose by documenting the people and places around him. Gupta’s slightly bemused parents visited almost daily, but they did not understand his situation and assumed their son was in a temporary phase. It wasn’t a phase; he never went to live with them, and never “settled down” in their eyes as a proper Indian son. Instead, he followed his lover farther and farther away; first to New York, then to London, with his expanding gay family everywhere.