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Photo by Marcela Correa

Metrosource discusses New Orleans' relationship with the LGBTQ community and highlights the city's tradition of hospitality and acceptance. "Unlike much of the South, which has kept the LGBTQ community at arm’s distance, New Orleans has a history of embracing LGBTQ people as family."

by Mark Thompson

New Orleans’ French Quarter is a Year-Round Mardi Gras for LGBT Tourists

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Throughout 2018, New Orleans celebrated its tricentennial with a citywide party known as NOLA Tricentennial (1718-2018), which was marked by redevelopment and major infrastructure projects — not to mention the city’s 135 annual festivals. One of the city’s most vibrant post-Katrina neighborhoods is Arts District New Orleans (ADNO) which transformed a neglected warehouse neighborhood into a thrumming hub of creativity.  A short walk from NOPSI, ADNO is anchored by the brand-new campus of The National WWII Museum and its cultural neighbors, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center. Bucolic Julia Street has become the backbone of a neighborhood notable for its galleries, cafés, restaurants, bars, and boutiques.

Given the city’s glorious gumbo of disparate cultures, it’s easy to understand how hospitality became the hallmark of New Orleans Parish. After all, one of the city’s most famous fictitious heroines declared, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” a sentiment with which Tennessee Williams was familiar from nights spent in the French Quarter at Café Lafitte in Exile (arguably the oldest gay bar in the States — and still open all day and night).

Unlike much of the South, which has kept the LGBTQ community at arm’s distance, New Orleans has a history of embracing LGBTQ people as family. The first gay Mardi Gras krewe appeared in 1958, followed by two more gay krewes in 1961 and 1969. For more than 30 years, Halloween New Orleans has been raising funds for Project Lazarus, an assisted-living home for those with HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, over in the Tremé neighborhood, a small annual house party in the early 1970s grew into Southern Decadence, which has become one of New Orleans’ top five tourist events (along with Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest) with an annual economic impact of more than $250 million and attendance exceeding 200,000.

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