It was Pride Week in New Orleans. The parade had just ended. I spent the evening getting blitzed under a balcony, stepping through polyrhythms in tandem with seventy thousand other men and women. Afterward, the audience broke off, in various stages of undress, to porches and curbsides throughout the French Quarter, until the road was strewn with beads and condoms and go-cups.
It happens every year. New Orleans has a ton of queer households on the census. It’s a pretty colorful city. And inevitably, those colors deepen in June, when Pride Week comes around: the clubs host parties funded by globalized sex apps, tiny drunken congregations bloom all over the Quarter, and the week climaxes with a march the final evening. And then brunch, or, depending on your persuasion, maybe a little more.
But even if the city moonlights as a Babylon of the South, it can also be a dangerous place to go out. Loads of murders go unsolved annually in New Orleans. At least two this year have involved transgender women of color. Assaults in the loop of gay bars by Bourbon Street are hardly unheard of, and the city isn’t at all removed from the South’s virulent thread of hatred. But when the parade turned the corner of Conti Street, those facts hardly diminished its tremors; and, in a town that isn’t terribly diverse, you were suddenly as likely to find yourself grinding on some Canadian kid as a flock of Iranian bears. Read More