Montreal Nightlife and Drag Icon Armand Larrivée Monroe Dies At 88
Famously known as La Monroe, the veteran drag queen was known as a revolutionary in the city’s nightlife scene, dating back to the late '50s.
Trailblazer in the Montreal nightlife and drag scene, Armand Larrivée Monroe, has died at 88. Known as a queer pioneer, Monroe made his debut in 1958 at the Tropical Room, a lounge of the Downbeat Club.
Monroe was one of 13 children and grew up in Saint-Henri in Montreal, he moved to the city at 18.
After his debut, Monroe had continued to make a major impact in the Montreal gay nightlife scene and community. Pivotal moments in Montreal gay history can be attributed to Monroe.
At the beginning, Monroe created spaces for gay men in Montreal, offering evening programs such as movies, bingo and amateur shows.
“He sometimes dresses up as a woman and interprets different characters such as Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich or that of 'the great emancipated madwoman,' one of the public's favorite fictional characters,” the city’s website states.
In 1958, on the day of Monroe’s 24th birthday, Monroe organized the city’s first public dance between gay men at the Tropical Room. This was after Monroe pressured owners of Tropical Room and obtained permission for gay men to dance together.
“La Monroe manages to press enough pressure so that gay men could, for the first time, get legal permission to dance together,” wrote Montreal Pride in a Facebook post. “Armand Monroe — aka La Monroe — not only opened doors to what would one day be called drag queens, but first shattered a glass ceiling for men who simply wanted to love each other in public.”
Between 1957 and 1990, Monroe hosted various drag parties and gay cabarets in Montreal. Monroe also walked at Montreal’s first Pride march in 1979.
The trailblazer was awarded the John Banks Prize in 2022 in recognition of his work within the LGBTQ+ community. Those in Monroe’s life, members of Montreal’s LGBTQ+ community and fans took to social media paying their respects to La Monroe.