new orleans

NOLA scores an ‘A-,’ Baton Rouge an ‘F’ for gay-friendliness

The right for gay people to live and pursue happiness freely in the United States has new adversaries.  So-called religious freedom laws, bathroom bills, and deep GOP support for child abuse in the form of “conversion therapy” attempt to criminalize and de-humanize us.  However, with the right policies and people in place, our local city governments have the power to become staunch allies for LGBTQ residents, shielding us from discrimination and unnecessary harm.  By taking steps such as providing services for the LGBTQ elderly, passing workplace non-discrimination ordinances, and appointing openly gay local leaders, our cities can become true havens for our community.

To assess the extent to which American cities protect our community, the Human Rights Campaign devised a survey called the Municipal Equality Index (MEI).  This tool evaluates how well cities across the nation support their LGBTQ communities in five categories: non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement, and relationship with the LGBTQ community.  Cities are scored from 0-100.

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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:
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gayborhoods, guns, and the mainstream homosexual

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which guaranteed the right of all same sex couples in the nation to marry.  While many viewed this as the victorious culmination of a movement which began on Christopher Street nearly fifty years ago, others criticized the single-mindedness with which our community pursed this one goal: gay marriage.  Some believed that funneling our resources towards the right to marry came at the expense of other, more pressing concerns in our community such as equal protection for transgender people, or promoting HIV/AIDS awareness.  Gay political powerhouses like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) became targets for those who believed that the capital-G Gay civil rights movement had diluted what was once a vibrant queer identity in exchange for a more white-washed and palatable one, often leaving our most vulnerable behind.  Even Bernie Sanders once labeled the HRC as “establishment.”  It was as if white, middle class gay men had transformed our movement from “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” to “We’re just like everyone else.”

$1,700 / month, 1 bedroom

Down here in New Orleans, as memories from the dark days of Hurricane Katrina recede with increasing velocity into the past, the city barrels toward its new normal.   (more…)

queer place-making in new orleans; part 2

Click here for part 1

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“When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.”

-Tennessee Williams

Its 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  I’m sitting at my desk checking emails, browsing the latest election year vitriol, and wishing I hadn’t eaten so much Chinese food for lunch.  My phone vibrates and there is a text from Jeremy Novy:

“Painting a rainbow crosswalk tonight hopefully.  The sidewalk in the neutral grounds between the Phoenix and Mags.”

The article I wrote a few months back had begun taking on a small life of its own.  What began as a conversation on vigilante urbanism was quickly evolving from theory into practice.  My food coma starts to recede.

“I’ll see you there,” I text back.

It’s 9 PM and I’m shuffling across Elysian Fields Avenue with my camera, a vodka soda, and a Bud Lite for Jeremy.   (more…)

queer place-making in New Orleans; part 1

“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.”  David Harvey, The Right to the City

The recent debate surrounding the Confederate monuments in New Orleans has me thinking about public spaces, how they speak about our values, and the concept of placemaking.  Placemaking is something we talk a lot about as wide-eyed urban planning students in grad school, but less so during the grind of actual practice.

According to the Project for Public Spaces, placemaking is an active approach to “strengthening the connection between people and the places they share,” and “a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm.”  The folks at MIT are more succinct in their description, suggesting simply that placemaking empowers local communities to create a sense of “belonging” through place.  (quotes theirs) (more…)

Requiem for The Country Club

Once upon a time, an intoxicated orgy at The Country Club which you struggled to piece together the following day was the sign of a highly successful visit.  Not anymore.

WWL-TV proudly announced on Tuesday that – thanks to its sleuthing! – The Country Club was ending its well-known “clothing optional” policy following allegations that a woman was drugged and sexually assaulted by men at the iconic Bywater pool.  The Country Club once attracted an almost exclusively gay (and very frisky) clientele.  When it reopened under new ownership following Hurricane Katrina, the crowd grew increasingly straight while the neighborhood around it gentrified.  Along with more heterosexuals came more rules, more regulations, and a slow death of the “anything goes” culture that its gay clientele enjoyed. (more…)