Montreal, August 8th 2019 – On the 4th of July, Laurent McCutcheon, an important figure of Quebec’s gay and lesbian activism left us. Interligne wishes to honour the memory of the man who led the organization, then called Gai Écoute, from 1982 to 2013. Creator of Fondation Émergence and originator of Quebec Coalition for the Recognition of Same-Sex Couples, we also owe him the development of what became International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Both for his community involvement and for his numerous interventions in parliamentary committees, Laurent McCutcheon was a pioneer and an ardent defender of the community. Seen as a true driver of change in mentalities, he knew how to take advantage of his position in the senior public services in the name of the fight for the rights and well-being of Quebec’s gays and lesbians.
Early in the month of July, Laurent McCutcheon left to mourn his husband, Pierre Sheridan, whom he had shared his life with since 1972. Suffering from cancer since 2016, he died after resorting to medical assistance in dying. His funerals were held on July 13th at St-Pierre Apôtre Church, where a hundred people, including the public figures Dany Turcotte, Sonia Lebel, Chantal Rouleau, Gilles Duceppe, Réal Ménard, Yves Jacques and Monique Giroux, gathered.
A Brilliant Career Man
Laurent McCutcheon has a long career behind him. He starts off in education before becoming executive in the senior civil service, consecutively as the Regional Director of Social Assistance in Estrie, as General Director of the Childcare Services Office, as vice-president and administrative judge of the Commission d’appel en matière de lésions professionnelles and as the president of the Conseil de la justice administrative.
A Key Figure in Quebec’s Gay Activism
Amongst the oldest services specifically intended for Montreal’s LGBT community, Gai Écoute was developed by volunteers in 1980. In the beginning, the organization was so tiny that it was located in a room as small as a closet. Laurent McCutcheon became president in 1982, and then the organization started to expand. Gai Écoute was incorporated in 1986, which opened the door to important funding, allowing the organization to offer its services every night. As a well-known and visible advocate of the gay and lesbian cause, McCutcheon will remain president for 31 years. Under his influence, Gai Écoute will grow to become an essential resource for the community. Whether through his search for funding or for premises, through developing awareness campaigns or through his ability to encourage gay or lesbian public figures to take the floor in the name of the cause, Lauren McCutcheon brought the government authorities to acknowledge Gai Écoute as a relevant organization. He also was an important actor in promoting a positive image of homosexuality, at a time where prejudice was very strong.
In closing, the whole Interligne team wishes to express their deep condolences to Pierre Sheridan, Laurent McCutcheon’s husband, as well as to the rest of his family and to the members of our communities who have lost a leader, an ally, a friend.