community

What the world can learn from inclusive, LGBTQ-friendly New Orleans

In partnership with Southern Comfort

2021-09-21

Words: Brian Leonard; picture: The spirit of New Orleans was recently celebrated with a boat party on the River Thames (Supplied)

New Orleans, the largest, most vibrant city in Louisiana is known for its celebratory spirit, amazing nightlife and for being home to a melting pot of cultures. To name but a few, the city embraces Cajun, Creole, French, Spanish, German, Latino, Irish and African, to quote the city's official website

Nestled along the Mississippi River, this city of 390,000 is the birthplace of twerking, Southern Comfort and RuPaul's Drag Race star Bianca Del Rio!; meaning there's a party around every corner!

It also boasts a fierce community spirit, as proven when the city was recently hit by Hurricane Ida; the second-most damaging hurricane to hit the state since Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago. However, while 80% of the city was flooded last time, this time it's a different story. The storm caused chaos – from damaged buildings, to power outages – but thanks to a new and improved system of levees, pumps and storm gates, flooding was minimal.



As such, areas like New Orleans' oldest neighbourhood – the buzzing, distinctive French Quarter (pictured above) – will hopefully buzz with energy again soon. Known for its achingly cool jazz bars, voodoo shops and temples and gorgeous Spanish Architecture, it embraces what New Orleans is renowned for.

As the city gets back on its feet, these attributes – that survivalist spirit, freedom of expression, everyone being welcome – have more than a little in common with London. On Saturday 11th September, Southern Comfort brought the spirit of New Orleans Pride (video above) to London with a boat party on the River Thames. The event celebrated Pride in London and was part of Southern Comfort’s support of and donation to the Unity Fund.

With the parade having been cancelled once again due to coronavirus, just like in New Orleans, the party gave guests the opportunity to celebrate Pride with DJs sets from Raven Mandella and All Saints' star Melanie Blatt, as well as were performances from co-hosts Sink the Pink. The two-hour cruise, held aboard a vintage Mississippi paddle steamer boat, captured the essence of the most LGBTQ-friendly city in an otherwise culturally conservative state, once home to the likes of Tennessee William and Ellen DeGeneres... Not to mention the 'Lavender Line' of buzzy queer bars of the raucous Bourbon Street.

From the beads worn by attendees, to the colourful slushies served and the expressive dancing, the event embodied the spirits of London and New Orleans Pride; championing the melting pots of these cities and the freedom to be you.

For more information about the boat party click here.

Photographs: Wiki