Morgan Bell
Morgan Bell
October 20, 2020

Fredericton to Open First LGBTQ+ Community Centre

Photo by Jules Keenan

Boom! Nightclub, previously located in the heart of Fredericton’s downtown, was a staple for the LGBTQ+ community for the last 15 years.

Due to financial losses caused by COVID-19, the popular nightclub had no choice but to close its doors forever through a Facebook announcement on June 26, 2020.  

For Diane Wilson, Boom! was her second home. The military wife and mother of two was brought to tears when hearing of its closure.

“I was close to 300 lbs when I started going to Boom! 11 years ago; I was very self-conscious. Going there made me feel comfortable with my body,” said Wilson. She felt free to wear what she wanted and show how she truly felt without getting shamed. 

The staff and other regulars soon became her family. She found herself at the nightclub three to four nights a week. 

“I would take everyone on as my own child, they knew they could confide in me when having a bad day.” 

People who knew Wilson from Boom! knew her as “Queer Mama.”

“My first thought when hearing about Boom! was that I needed to reopen it.”  

She talked to the community and close friends about the idea and was overwhelmed with support.

Embodying her title as Queer Mama, she felt obligated to help her friends and loved ones by bringing them a safe space. That is how Monarch came into the picture. 

All summer long, ideas and decisions had been tossed around and, in August, it became official that Monarch would become Fredericton’s new LGBTQ+ bar.

“The monarch butterfly represents rebirth and coming into one’s self, so our logo is the monarch butterfly using the inclusion flag as the colour of its wings.” 

Not only will Monarch be a fun place to party, it will also be a welcoming community center during the day. 

“The community has only had spaces in Fredericton that involved liquor and partying; I kept on hearing people talk about how it’d be nice to have an alcohol-free place to come together.”

This safe space will be available seven days a week, with the community centre being open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The bar will run with regular bar hours.

The community centre will be a place to hang out and meet new people. As well, it will offer educational classes such as Drag 101 and sexual health courses.

The centre will offer events for all ages, and Wilson is planning on shutting down the bar once a month to have an all-ages dance. 

“I plan on having my kids attend all of the all-aged events.”

Due to overwhelming demands, she has decided to hand over the community centre to Jonathan Blanchard and Mitchell Goodine who are also known as “Venom Devine” and “Amour Love.” The two have been avid goers to Boom! and have dazzled crowds with their drag performances.  

The bar is receiving a total transformation with freshly painted walls, new floors, and an altered floor plan. The dance floor will be twice its original size, and bathrooms will be more accessible.  

The bar will continue to offer its famous drag shows, dance parties, and karaoke nights.

Wilson’s hope is to have Monarch opened by late October or early November, but nothing is secure at this time. Once the lease has been signed and renovations begin, Wilson and her team will be posting regularly on social media to keep the public informed. 

Wilson’s goal as a first-time business owner is to eventually have a Monarch in each major city of New Brunswick. 

“I can’t wait for it to come to life, it’s been a long summer and that building needs life back in it.”

Editor's Note: A correction was issued for this story on September 23rd. It previously stated that the centre would host classes led by AIDS New Brunswick, which is not the case. AIDS New Brunswick has no affiliation with the Monarch.

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