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GoNOLA Guide to New Orleans Pride

Pride Parade New Orleans
Pride Parade (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Like almost everything in New Orleans, NOLA Pride has a rich history. A history that helps tell a fascinating story, and one that shaped the event into the grandiose celebration it has become today. Whether you’ve been celebrating Pride in our city for years, or are thinking about getting your feet wet for the first time this year, I encourage you to join us and honor the LGBT community at 2019 Pride.

Pride History

New Orleans Gay Pride began back in February 1971, when the newly formed Gay Liberation Front of New Orleans presented a “Gay In” picnic in City Park. From this important milestone, it took about nine years for the first street parade to be held in 1980. Then, in 1981, the event moved to Armstrong Park and was emceed by New Orleans native Ellen DeGeneres. By the 1990s, the event continued to grow and “Pridefest” was being sponsored by the New Orleans Alliance of Pride.

Pride Parade. (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Pride continued to morph over time and didn’t take on its modern form until just a few short years ago. In 2017, the New Orleans Pride Parade officially became Louisiana’s Largest LGBT Parade with nearly 3,000 participants. Then in 2018, the event size nearly tripled from the year before as more than 30 events took place over the three-day weekend, attracting people from all walks of life and a whopping 82,000 spectators. There’s no doubt we’re in for something even bigger and better this year!

Friday, June 7

This year, Pride commences with the second annual LGBT Pride Baby Cakes Game. Grab your family, or a group of friends, and make your way to the Shrine on Airline and watch NOLA’s baseball team take on the Sacramento River Cats. The event will feature a special guest who will throw the opening pitch and a colorful display of fireworks to celebrate Pride month.

Pro tip: This is the perfect event for families looking to get involved in Pride celebrations.

Looking for the perfect girl’s night out? Well, look no further than GrrlSpot’s JNGL event, which takes place at Santos Bar in the French Quarter. This is a great party for many reasons, but one thing that distinguishes it is that the upstairs is for ladies only. Don’t worry boys, you can still participate downstairs where you’ll catch local drag queens and other queer awesomeness.

Pro tip: Santos Bar was the last lesbian bar located in New Orleans and for this one night, that magic will come back to life.

Phoenix Bar. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Saturday, June 8

On the Saturday of Pride, The New Orleans Phoenix Bar will be hosting PrideFest. PrideFest is a fantastic outdoor event where members of the community come out to drink and socialize with LGBT community members. The Phoenix is one of two leather bars in the city, so expect to see some participants decked out in their favorite harnesses, but everyone is welcome. This year we are really in for a treat as Big Freedia – in all her glory – will be performing live! Best part: it’s all free.

Pro tip: Before or during PrideFest, take a little stroll around the Marigny neighborhood to explore famous NOLA architecture and the beautiful homes in the area.

The Pride Parade route.

Directly following PrideFest, make your way from the Marigny to the French Quarter to watch the Pride parade. The 2019 parade will feature more than 60 distinct groups decked out in their best Pride costumes parading through the French Quarter and 24 incredible Mardi Gras style floats. The parade begins at 7:30 p.m. and passes St Louis Cathedral, The French Market, and most of the gay bars in the French Quarter, so there isn’t a bad place to watch. Finally, if you’re looking to step up your Pride plans this year, I would consider registering to be a part of the parade yourself by going here (registration closes May 31).

Pro tip: One of my favorite spots to catch the event is on the Good Friend’s balcony. Just make sure to arrive early to get a good viewing spot.

Sunday, June 9

Top off your Pride weekend with the Close Out Party at Oz – one of the best dance clubs in the city. Oz is a multi-floored dance venue, equipped with four bar areas and an incredible French Quarter Balcony. This will be the place to party with your friends, meet some drag queens, and have one final hurrah.

Pro tip: Come decked out in your favorite rainbow outfit or costume – everyone else will be doing the same!

2019 Pride is poised to be one for the record books. If a whole weekend filled with parties isn’t your ideal scene, NOLA Pride is still a great way to celebrate LGBT culture as the city will be beaming rainbow. See all of the great ways to explore the city during Pride weekend with our sample itinerary here.

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