NOLA Pride vs. Southern Decadence

While nursing my hangover from the New Orleans Pride Parade last summer, I wrote this little article as a response to criticisms I heard frequently about our Pride celebration from friends within the community.

As we gear up to honor the victims of Orlando in what may be the most important Pride celebration of our lifetimes, below is a brief rebuttal to the negative comments I heard most often:

Dallas / Atlanta / etc. has a Pride that is bigger and better than ours

Do not judge the success of an event in New Orleans by comparing it to an event in a city that’s five times our size.  NOLA Pride is still a small, local event, and that’s what makes it wonderful.  It is as an opportunity to get to know the folks in our colorful community a little bit better.

New Orleanians just aren’t very political

Of all the things we cherish in New Orleans, our laissez-faire, live-and-let-live attitude is high on the list.  However, some folks believe this laid-back disposition is incompatible with activism.  You might believe in that important social cause, but it gets so hot outside.  And that purple drank is so good.

The reality is (once more, with feeling!) that we are leading the nation in HIV, leading the world in incarceration, and ignorance and fear persist; our work is not yet done.  There is a balance we can strike between “just do your thang,” and taking a stand for what is just.

NOLA Pride is poorly organized / marketed / executed / etc.

Volunteer your time and skills to make next year’s Pride even better.  Meetings are held every month at the New Orleans Metropolitan Community Church.

Southern Decadence

southern-decadence-new-orleans-united-states-c5f2-832480.jpg

The most common anti-Pride sentiment I hear is that New Orleans does not need a Pride celebration because we have Southern Decadence instead.  This is a false comparison, as the two events have nothing to do with one another.

Pride is the celebration of our community, our history, and our civil rights movement – the triumph of love over fear.  Southern Decadence is our wild summer party; the kind that only New Orleans can throw.  In the middle of the endless calendar of summer festivals (oysters, tomatoes, strawberries…), I think its good for our collective soul to take just a moment to reflect on how much we have, how far we’ve come, and the work we have yet to do.  New Orleans deserves both a Pride and a Southern Decadence.

Each Pride weekend, I make it a point to grab three gay kids by the scruff of the neck and ask them if they know what Pride is all about.  If they answer “no,” I’ll buy them a drink and lecture them about Stonewall.  We are the custodians of our own story.

I had a tremendous time marching with Team Friendly last year, and, like all of you, my heart is full of joy, sadness, and fearlessness as we prepare for next weekend.  I can’t wait to see you there.

 

7 comments

    1. Scott, I did not have a chance to participate in Endless Gaycation this year, but the little bit I have heard about it sounds very cool. Will there be other events in the future?

      Like

  1. Very well written and all so true. I do have issue with the “post-katrina fumbles” though. First I’m curious if this is something you’ve been told or something you know from experience because I don’t recognize your name and I was infact the chairman of the Pride organization in 2005 and 2006. Do you know that we inherited a PRIDE organization that was in the red to tune of some $15,000+ from the 2004 washout at Armstrong Park and in less than a year we had fundraiser after fundraiser to eventually get back to black and were able to put on an all inclusive PRIDEfest with entertainment by the likes of Charmaine Neville, the Revealers and Lisa Lynn all locally renowned talents, and feed everyone in attendance free fried chicken. Did you know that I got McDonalds Corp. and Harrah’s as sponsors ( I think the first time Harrah’s became involved with our community) and that McDonalds along with PFLAG ran a kids tent for the families. Did you know that we had another success in 2007. Just saying, all this information is public and available. I believe it was in 2008 when the group that voted me out ran through the $9,000.+ bank account I left and went belly up in bankruptcy. As I understand that’s where it ended until the current group took on the task in 2010 with more success and growth every year. I like your comparison of PRIDE and Decadence and the things that you encountered are the same as they’ve always been. I was also on the board of PRIDE in 1992, 1993 and 1994 and the resistance to NOLA Pride was the same then. I wrote a column in Ambush 06 and 07 that chronicled our journey and addressed all the same issues and practically had to beg people to become involved. The column was titled “Pride Corner”. I guess I’m just saying that I like your piece but I don’t like that you said “I” stumbled for we did not stumble. And that is why some won’t become involved now, you praise and criticize at the same time and your criticism is unfounded. Please post my response.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Todd, thank you very much for that. I am not currently, nor have I ever been, formally involved with Pride in New Orleans – I speak only from my experience either spectating or marching with a group. Several years ago, before the current group took over, I remember hearing that New Orleans Pride was “cancelled,” only to be salvaged at the last minute in the form of several booths set up along Frenchman Street near the CAN Office. This was the “fumble” to which I was referring. I have also heard “rumors” that a competing organization claims to be “New Orleans Pride,” which muddies things further. I did not intend to criticize anyone’s past efforts, and very much appreciate the details and backstory you shared. I only meant to illustrate that Pride in New Orleans, regardless of who is in charge, appears to be moving solidly forward.

      Like

  2. Thanks for the blog, Adam. Yes, we do have the highest rate of incarceration- and so many of them are LGBTQ youth of color! In fact, new data shows that at least 20% of youth detained in Orleans and Jefferson Parish juvenile detention centers are LGBTQ-identified. That’s why BreakOUT! works to end the criminalization of LGBTQ youth! Check us out at http://www.youthbreakout.org

    Like

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s