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.
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.