Gay Easter Parade 2022

Holly Haney, Arcade Editor

Holly Haney

At this point in my time living in New Orleans, I would like to think very little surprises me. However, I was proved wrong when I learned that on Easter Sunday, the 21st annual Gay Easter Parade marched through the French Quarter. Needless to say, I was immediately intrigued and decided to attend.

This parade was started in 2000 as a way to “showcase the fashion and creativity of the entire LGBT community.” At the parade, there were carriages and walking groups with people in some of the most stunning costumes. For example, in a carriage drawn by a mule, there was a person draped across the side. As they drew close I saw the person, with arms completely outstretched, in what I can only describe as a yassified Jesus costume. They were followed — naturally — by a walking group of people in alien costumes proudly holding up a cross. 

Amidst glitter and costumery, I was struck by this parade as an expression of queer celebration of Christianity and the Resurrection of Jesus. Unfortunately, there is a long and storied history of exclusion and violence against the LGBTQ+ within Christian spaces. Specifically in New Orleans, gay people were excluded from churches in the city. To work against this, queer people would meet up in bars around the French Quarter for “Sunday tea” to celebrate while others were at church services. 

Exclusion was not the most violent retaliation against Christian LGBTQ+ people. On June 24,1973, the Metropolitan Community Church hosted by the Upstairs Lounge — a gay bar on the corner of Chartres Street and Iberville Street in the French Quarter — suffered an arson attack that resulted in the deaths of 32 people. This was the deadliest fire in New Orleans history and was the most deadly attack against LGBTQ+ people until the Pulse Massacre in 2016. 

Yet, despite it all, the LGBTQ+ community still found a way to carve out a space to celebrate not only Easter, but the culture and accomplishments of the community in a joyous and beautiful parade. 

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