Think NYC Pride is outrageous? Welcome to New Orleans, where 'Southern Decadence' reigns.

Southern Decadence bucked all expectations, and no city does satire better than New Orleans.

The year was 1972, and New Orleans was having the quintessential queer party.

The theme was Southern Decadence. Partygoers were expected to dress up as their favorite “decadent” Southern elite.

The more outrageous the better of course.


40 or 50 friends gathered just outside the French Quarter at a rundown cottage house called Belle Reve, drinking, smoking, and lounging beneath a big fig tree, dressed to the nines.

It was meant to serve as an epic send-off for a friend leaving New Orleans, but it soon became much more than that.

The following year, they gathered again in a French Quarter bar, showing off their costumes and then walking along Esplanade Avenue.

From that point on, the “parade,” as it was later named, became an annual tradition — a very queer, very Southern tradition that is now recognized around the world as the Gay Mardi Gras of New Orleans, which over 200,000 people attended last year.

Paul Broussard and NewOrleansOnline.com

Southern Decadence now spans an entire weekend full of events celebrating queer culture and everything that makes New Orleans unique.

Southern Decadence bucked all expectations, and that's largely because no city does satire better than New Orleans.

That's how SarahJane Guidry sees it, at least.

“Satire is one of the best ways marginalized people can have an impact on public conversations," explained Guidry, the executive director of Forum for Equality, a statewide human rights organization. “It publicly celebrates outrageous and fun personal expression."

Image via Derek Bridges/Flickr.

Being visible as queer, transgender, or gender-nonconforming is already a powerful form of resistance, and at a time when LGBTQ people were expected to cower in the closet, such an outward celebration of Southern queer culture became so much more than a party.

New Orleans has always been considered a home for queer outcasts, no matter where "home" actually is.

Paul Broussard and NewOrleansOnline.com

That's partly why there is an amazing history of queer creatives and artists in New Orleans, Guidry explains.

From the Gay Mardi Gras Krewes of the ‘50s to bounce music made popular by queer artists like Big Freedia and Katey Red, the queer community brings a kind of energy to New Orleans that’s unlike anything else.

“The LGBTQ community in New Orleans is as unique as the city itself and has always taken the best of what we have and made it better,” Guidry said.

And the party's unique spirit remains.

The Southern Decadence of today is a nod to that “outsider” feel, evolving from a bar crawl to a full-blown weekend-long event, complete with a parade that anyone can join. The music, costumes, and dancing are all an invitation, a “come as you are” to every person who’s ever felt a little bit (or a lot) different.

Image via Infrogmation of New Orleans/Wikimedia Commons.

As people continue to gather for the parade every year, Southern Decadence is perhaps as political as it is whimsical.

Southern Decadence saw some of its biggest crowds on Labor Day weekend, markedly claiming the public space so often denied LGBTQ people, particularly trans and gender-nonconforming people.

Paul Broussard and NewOrleansOnline.com

And while there is always still more work to be done, real progress is happening.

Beyond the meticulously crafted costumes and dazzling music in the streets, Louisianians are making real strides. Just recently, the governor signed a fully inclusive executive order protecting LGBTQ state employees — hopefully a sign of things to come.

“New Orleans stands as a beacon for equality in the South and can throw a hell of a party,” Guidry said. “So, we celebrate these victories."

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

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Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

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