Mission and history
In the spring of 2007, a group of young people is chased out of a Gay Village restaurant where they are used to ending their evenings. They are told that it is because they do not consume enough. This event makes them aware of the lack of venues in the Village that are open to young people. They mobilize, form a committee, and decide to bring their claims to various public bodies.
In the winter of 2008, four "focus groups" are organized by LGBTQ + youth organizations and a brief is written on the situation of youth of sexual and gender diversity in Montreal. These discussions show that young people want a safer space to socialise that is accessible, different from a bar, and without the need to buy alcohol. Participants also say they are very sensitive to the need for a place that is open to everyone, where everyone feels comfortable and where the activities are conducted in a manner that respects the plurality of sexual orientations, gender identities, and relationships. These young people finally express the desire to take an active part in the development of a space.
Between 2008 and 2010, several options are explored, ranging from a social economy café to a skillshare, and a self-managed space. Meetings with several political and business representatives are held, and various funding applications are filed, without success.
Etcetera from Dawson College and Queer McGill organizes three fundraisers. In the summer of 2008, twelve youth groups walk together at the Pride Parade to demand a safer space. However, it is not until June 2010 that funds are given to the project. True to its reputation as a pioneer in the implementation of innovative projects, the Forum jeunesse de l’île de Montréal (FRIJ) becomes the first funding agency for the project. Quickly, the FRIJ brings together various partners (Project 10, Gai Écoute, GRIS-Montréal, the Conseil Québécois des Gais et Lesbiennes and the Directorate of Social Diversity of the City of Montreal) to draft an action plan, which is adopted by its elected representatives in September 2011. The grant is awarded to the Montreal Coalition Against Homophobia (now the Montreal Coalition of LGBT Youth Groups) in March 2012, and the very first coordinator of the project is hired in July 2012. The year 2011-2012 also marks the signature of agreements with the City of Montreal and the Bureau de lutte contre l’homophobie to finance the project’s development and mobilization.
In the summer of 2013, the team takes possession of their premises and moves to 1575 Amherst Street.
The youth committee formed at the time of the development of the project names the space "L’Asterisk", with reference to the symbol (*) often used to express the inclusion of several entities. L’Asterisk is a contraction of the French and English forms of the word in order to emphasize the bilingual character of the place.
The opening takes place on August 17, 2013. The first programming meeting is held soon after, setting the schedule for upcoming events. The official inauguration of the space takes place one year later, on September 17, 2014, as part of a special 1st anniversary event.
But in the wake of the announcement of the closure of the Regional Youth Forums by the Quebec government in April 2015, the Coalition expresses its concern about the future of the project, which was then largely dependent on the Forum jeunesse de l’île de Montréal to survive.
To raise public and community awareness of the importance of financially supporting L’Asterisk, employees and volunteers from Jeunesse Lambda and the Coalition form a rescue committee. Manon Massé, MNA for Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, as well as community, private, and union partners, all participate in the advocacy and funding of the project.
In December 2015, after many months of uncertainty and management in survival mode, the L’Astérisk rescue committee announces with relief the first financial support from the Secrétariat à la jeunesse (SAJ). A financial support agreement is then signed with the SAJ, as part of the 2016-2021 youth action strategy, which ensures the sustainability of the project.
In November 2016, L’Asterisk welcomes the organization AlterHéros into its space. This organization becomes the third roommate group alongside Project 10 and Jeunesse Lambda.
In the winter of 2016-2017, the Coalition receives financial support from the Secrétariat à la jeunesse, which allows it to hire a Project Officer dedicated entirely to L’Astérisk, and to liberate the roommates from fees associated with rent.