New Orleans is a city with its arms open wide; it’s diverse, welcoming, and knows how to have a good time. After all, “The Big Easy” has no strict open container laws or rules and regulations when it comes to opening hours.
The LGBT community here is thriving and, staying true to their Southern roots, they’re a hospitable bunch. Festivals and parades happen year-round, with seasonal celebrations like Halloween and Easter being a particularly big deal, so no matter when you visit, you’re sure to find some fantastic events. With buzzing LGBT bars, pop-ups and city tours to enjoy, here’s our guide to the best of LGBT New Orleans.
Love to dance? Then hustle on over to Oz on Bourbon Street. Winner of the coveted “Dance Club of the Year” award at the 2014 Gay Appreciation Awards (and plenty of other awards besides) and loved by locals and visitors alike, Oz is one of the best gay dance clubs in the city.
Bourbon Pub & Parade
Dancing “˜til dawn is not only possible, it’s actively encouraged at Bourbon Pub & Parade – another Bourbon Street favourite. Open 24/7, Bourbon Pub & Parade is the place to go for wild karaoke nights, cabaret shows, shameless people watching and, of course, a spin around the dance floor.
Café Lafitte in Exile
This next spot has more than one claim to fame on the LGBT New Orleans scene. Café Lafitte in Exile is not only one of the oldest gay bars in North America, but it’s also the former drinking den of none other than Tennessee Williams. Fun, friendly, and popular among locals as well as tourists, Lafitte’s has a wallet-friendly happy hour every day and a great neighbourhood vibe.
Lesbian and queer pop-up bar GrrlSpot draws a fun-loving crowd to its regular events, which take place at locations all around the city. You never know quite what or who you’re going to find at one of GrrlSpot’s events, but that’s just part of the fun. Check their event calendar to see what’s coming up during your visit.
Beads, beads, and more beads; that’s the name of the game at Mardi Gras. On the day itself, also known as Fat Tuesday, you can expect plenty of dancing, drinks, DJ sets and, of course, the wild and wonderful Bourbon Street Awards for the best costume.
Southern Decadence and Dykeadence
No guide to LGBT New Orleans would be complete with a nod to Southern Decadence. Held over Labour Day weekend every year (September), it’s the largest gay festival in the city and one helluva party with parades, extravaganzas and contests taking place at all hours of the day and night. And while you’re at it, check out Dykeadence (happening the same weekend) for more LGBT events.
Saints and Sinners Literary Festival
Held every spring, the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival brings together big names in the world of LGBT writing in the US and abroad. A must for literature fans, the programme of events includes talks and panel discussions with publishers and authors as well as a selection of master classes.
Gay Heritage Tours of the City
For those looking to experience LGBT New Orleans during the daylight hours, a walking tour of the city is a great way to do it. Join knowledgeable local guide Glenn De Villier on his “The Twirl, a Gay Heritage and Drinks Tour“ for some fantastic storytelling and a fair few cocktails along the way. Robert Batson, historian of gay culture in New Orleans, also offers a top-notch tour of the French Quarter (by appointment only, +1 504-945-6789).
Thanks to our partnership with Delta, visiting New Orleans has never been easier. Check out these LGBT events next time you’re in town.
Have you explored LGBT New Orleans? What were some of your favourite places and events? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Giverny Tattersfield