New Orleans has one of the best gay scenes in the South. It’s one of America’s most liberal cities, not to mention one of the most hedonistic. New Orleans has long been associated with decadence.
From Mardi Gras to Anne Rice’s vampire novels, it’s a place of excess. You just have to visit Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras! Drinking on the street is legal in New Orleans, unlike most American cities.
As well as excess, New Orleans is also a major cultural destination. It’s the home of voodoo, jazz and ghosts. Many of the historic buildings are said to be haunted. This is our gay guide to the Big Easy.
New Orleans is fairly compact so the nightlife is easy to navigate. Many of New Orleans best gay bars can be found in the French Quarter. The main hub of New Orleans party scene, not to mention music scene, can be found along Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Pub and Parade is one of our favorite gay bars in New Orleans. It’s a good place to see a drag show and it’s rather camp. The cocktails are named after legendary divas. We often go for for The Liza! You can join in the show tunes sing-alongs as you sip your cocktail. Liza would no doubt do the same.
Cafe Lafitte in Exile is a must. It’s one of the oldest gay bars in America. It’s been an established LGBT+ venue since 1953. The balcony is a good spot for people watching. Golden Lantern is another historic New Orleans gay bar. It’s been going since 1964 and it has a classic New Orleans vibe.
If you’re in the French Quarter, The Corner Pocket is a fun gay bar to explore. The go go dancers are quite eye catching.
By far the biggest gay event in New Orleans, Southern Decadence is a six day party extravaganza. It takes place over Labor Day Weekend. Shirts will come off and some of the finest specimens in the Americas will be in attendance. It’s a destination event. You’ll want to book in advance as hotels will fill up with gays.
You’ll see many members of the fetish community, particularly leather enthusiasts and bears. There will be block parties, such as the Phoenix Block Party. The Sunday Parade through the French Quarter is one of the key events of Southern Decadence.
Mardi Gras is not a gay event but it’s very camp and it draws a long of LGBT+ visitors. It’s by far the most iconic event in New Orleans. Southern Decadence is arguably the second biggest party event in town. Read More: Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Jake Shears favorite New Orleans venues
Famed as the lead singer of the Scissor Sisters, Jake Shears now operates as a solo artist and he lives in New Orleans. He’s long been associated with nightlife so his insider tips are worth exploring. His New Orleans gay bar of choice is The Phoenix, an old-school leather bar that opens 24 hours a day – we told you this city was decadent.
He also recommends One Eyed Jacks, a very popular music venue. New Orleans is, of course, one of America’s great music cities. One Eyed Jacks hosts a wide array of bands and some drag performers. One of the most popular cocktails is called the Helen Fucking Mirren.
For a touristy experience, he recommends Preservation Hall for a jazz show. For a moment of calm, he recommends Crescent Park on the Mississippi River.
Gay history in New Orleans
Tennessee Williams wrote A Street Car Named Desire when he lived in New Orleans. His heroes were often tragic southern belles, and they were in no small part an expression of his own complex identity. Truman Capote, another queer southern writer, had his first – and by no means last drink! – at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone.
The Fat Monday Luncheon began in New Orleans in 1949 and it’s the longest running gay event in America. All in all, New Orleans is one of the queerest cities in the world, in every sense of the word.
by Alex | On: Gay New Orleans