Gay and Lesbian New Orleans: Urban Homosexuality in the American South

Saturday, January 5, 2013: 11:50 AM
Chamber Ballroom II (Roosevelt New Orleans)
Richard Clark, U.S. Air Force
In 1951, Chairman Richard Foster of the Mayor's Special Citizens Committee on the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) complained that, "It almost seems as if youngsters who develop homosexual tendencies in other southern cities are put on a train and sent to New Orleans."  A decade later, author Thomas Griffin wrote in his guide to New Orleans that "there is a pervasive sense of sexuality in the city of New Orleans, and the most visible form is the homosexual of the French Quarter."  As these observations suggest, by the middle of the twentieth century New Orleans was a haven and a home for homosexuals in the American South.  This paper examines how New Orleans became a center of same-sex desire in the South, how city officials responded to this development, and why New Orleans is important in the study of same-sex desire in the United States.