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social sciences

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New Orleans  
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Also in 1978, the Pink Triangle Alliance commemorated the first anniversary of the Bryant protest with another June rally in Jackson Square. This effort led to Gayfest, which produced its first Pride celebration in 1979. Soon the emerging community included a wide range of social, service, religious, and sports organizations, as well as the Louisiana Gay Political Action Caucus, an annual state gay conference, an active PFLAG Chapter, and a Gay Men's Chorus. In 1983 the NO/AIDS Task Force consolidated health efforts initiated by other groups.

Gay political accomplishments, however, did not equal New Orleans's rich social and cultural heritage until the 1990s. By that time activists had forged a positive relationship with police and city government. Gay political gains came about principally through the leadership of African-American politicians, especially Mayors Ernest N. Morial, Sidney J. Barthelemy, and Marc H. Morial, and City Council members Johnny Jackson and Dorothy Taylor.

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After twice refusing to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance, in 1991 the City Council finally passed the proposal to include "sexual orientation" as a protected category. A domestic partnership ordinance followed in 1993. In 1998 the Council amended the 1991 statute to add "gender identity" as a recognized, protected class. New Orleans was one of the first American cities to do so.

In 1999, the city announced an outreach program to attract gay men and lesbians, along with artists and entrepreneurs, to relocate to New Orleans, an initiative that recognized the many contributions glbtq people have made to the city, especially as urban pioneers in revitalizing areas such as the French Quarter and, later, the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater.

In 2001, Mayor Marc H. Morial appointed Larry Bagneris, Jr, an openly gay African-American man, Executive Director of the City's Human Relations Commission.

The largest city in a conservative Southern state, New Orleans exists as an island of tolerance in an area that often seems virulently anti-gay, as witnessed by the Louisiana Legislature's stubborn refusal to repeal its sodomy law. (On the other hand, Louisiana is the only Southern state to pass a hate-crimes law that includes sexual orientation.) Not surprisingly, New Orleans has often served as a beacon, attracting glbtq people from the small towns and rural areas of the South.

By the millennium New Orleans had, at last, produced a good gay gumbo, as rich and multifaceted as the city itself.

Hurricane Katrina and the Future of New Orleans

On August 29, 2005 the city and its entire population suffered the most disastrous engineering failure in American history. In the early hours on that date, Katrina, a high Category 3 hurricane, landed just east of New Orleans. The levee system, designed to protect the city from such a storm by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, failed, flooding most of the city and destroying hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin had ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city, but thousands of residents refused or were unable to leave. Those who survived the storm and the subsequent flooding were eventually relocated to shelters across the country. Residents were not allowed to return for over a month. Like the population in general, glbtq people suffered enormous loss, which, in many cases, included their homes and their livelihoods.

Some also endured unique humiliations. For example, Arpollo Vicks, a twenty-year-old transgendered woman also known as Sharli'e Dominique, was arrested by the Texas A&M University Police for using the women's shower facility at the evacuation shelter where she was deposited. She was charged with criminal trespassing and was held in the Brazos County jail for five days under a prohibitively high bail. After the incident received wide notice and she was released without charges, the Montrose Counseling Center in Houston arranged to house her and her family.

Among the many casualties was Rosemary "Mama" Pino, who owned and operated five bars during the 1970s and 1980s. The beloved community leader was 83 years old. She died of undetermined causes in a nursing home that was not evacuated in advance of the storm.

Community organizations were also damaged. Activists and other personnel were scattered across the country. Facilities and equipment were destroyed. With the city's economy shattered, the financial ability of supporters to rebuild the infrastructure of the glbtq community was also severely diminished.

Many glbtq individuals and organizations around the country responded with aid to the beleaguered city, notably the National Youth Advocacy Coalition who provided grants for youths in need.

Recovery from the devastation will be slow and painful. Fortunately, however, some of the neighborhoods most heavily populated by members of the glbtq community--including the French Quarter, the Faubourg Marigny, Bywater, and the Garden District--were spared the worst of the flooding and may be among the first areas of the city to rebound.

Roberts Batson

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arts >> Batt, Bryan

Actor and designer Bryan Batt achieved fame playing a closeted advertising executive on television, but in his own life he has been active in affirming the naturalness of homosexuality.

social sciences >> Bryant, Anita

Former beauty queen, popular singer, and orange juice pitchwoman, Anita Bryant became the poster-girl for homophobia in the late 1970s; her name continues to be a byword for bigotry.

literature >> Capote, Truman

Truman Capote's fiction and autobiographical works helped establish what might be called the quintessential homosexual writing style of the 1950s and 1960s.

social sciences >> Daughters of Bilitis

The first national lesbian political and social organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis was a significant part of the pre-Stonewall lesbian and gay rights movement.

arts >> Dureau, George

New Orleans artist George Dureau is best known for his male figure studies and narrative paintings in oil and charcoal and for his black-and-white photographs, which often feature street youths, dwarfs, and amputees.

arts >> Harter, J. B.

Mississippi-born artist and museum curator J. B. Harter drew and painted throughout his life, but only began showing his homoerotic work soon before he was murdered.

arts >> Johnston, Frances Benjamin

Pioneering photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston served as the official White House photographer during several administrations and earned fame as a photojournalist and documentary photographer.

arts >> Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, or Carnival, as it is often called, is a festival known for wild abandon, sexual promiscuity, feasting, drinking, dancing, parading, and elaborate masquerade.

social sciences >> New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes

In New Orleans gay krewes are a familiar part of Mardi Gras and their balls a center of glbtq social life in the city.

social sciences >> Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), an American organization of some 460 affiliated chapters and 80,000 members, works to support glbtq people and their loved ones.

social sciences >> Pink Triangle

Originally a mark of criminalization and persecution under the Nazis, the pink triangle was later reclaimed by gays both as a memorial and as a celebration of sexual identity.

literature >> Redmann, J. M.

J. M. Redmann, the Lambda Award-winning creator of the New Orleans mystery series featuring Micky Knight, writes richly textured novels focused on issues of power and family.

arts >> Robinson, Jack

Photographer Jack Robinson came to prominence as a result of the stunning fashion and celebrity photographs he shot for magazines in the 1960s, but he also created significant images that document the gay subculture of New Orleans in the 1950s.

literature >> Saints and Sinners Literary Festival

The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, an annual glbtq-themed literary festival held each May in New Orleans, has become one of the world's most influential alternative literary festivals.

literature >> Saxon, Lyle Chambers

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social sciences >> Shaw, Clay

Because of his vulnerability as a homosexual, Clay Shaw was falsely accused and tried for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison to further the latter's political ambitions.

literature >> Toole, John Kennedy

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literature >> Vidal, Gore

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literature >> Williams, Tennessee

Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.


Asbury, Herbert. The French Quarter. New York: Knopf, 1936.

Calhoun, Milburn, ed. Louisiana Almanac. Gretna, La.: Pelican, 2002.

Clarke, Gerald. Capote. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Garvey, Joan, and Mary Lou Widmer. Beautiful Crescent: A History of New Orleans. New Orleans: Garmer Press, 1982.

Gehman, Mary, and Nancy Ries. Women and New Orleans. New Orleans: Margaret Media, 1988.

Katz, Jonathan Ned. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. New York: Meridian, 1992.

Kirkwood, James. American Grotesque: An Account of the Clay Shaw-Jim Garrison Affair in the City of New Orleans. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970.

Leverich, Lyle. Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams. New York: Crown, 1995.

Rose, Al. Storyville, New Orleans. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1974.

Saxon, Lyle. The Friends of Joe Gilmore. New York: Hastings House, 1948.

Taylor, Joe Gray. Louisiana: A History. New York: Norton, 1976.

Thomas, James W. Lyle Saxon: A Critical Biography. Birmingham, Ala.: Summa Publications, 1991.

Windham, Donald, ed. Tennessee Williams' Letters to Donald Windham, 1940-1965. New York: Holt, 1977.

Zweig, Paul. Walt Whitman: The Making of a Poet. New York: Basic, 1984.


    Citation Information
    Author: Batson, Roberts  
    Entry Title: New Orleans  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated February 24, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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