Sunday, April 16, 2017

French Quarter Easter parades (slideshow)

Posted By on Sun, Apr 16, 2017 at 10:45 PM

Is there any holiday New Orleans can't turn into a bewigged, costumed, mascara-d, glittery bacchanal? One hopes not. Sunday's afternoon parades — the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade and the Gay Easter Parade — were true to typical form, with riders in delightfully immoderate hats stacked with a Hobby Lobby's worth of plastic eggs, faux butterflies, bird's nests, carrots, stuffed bunnies and more. There also were plenty of rabbit ears, yards of seersucker and armloads of fake diamonds worn by riders in drag, which winked in the last rays of sunlight as the day became more overcast.

A few photos from Sunday are above.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Report: Louisianans support anti-discrimination protections for transgender people, but not bathroom access

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM

A rally in Jackson Square following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
  • A rally in Jackson Square following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

The results of a survey of more than 1,000 Louisianans illustrates the continuing, deep divide among people who believe LGBT people deserve protections from discrimination and those who do not.

The Louisiana Survey from LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication found that a majority of respondents believe transgender people deserve protections from discrimination in the workplace — but don’t believe transgender people should be able to use bathrooms according to their gender identity.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents agreed transgender people should be protected from workplace discrimination, a move supported by an executive order from Gov. John Bel Edwards which mandates that state contracts include language that prohibits discrimination against LGBT employees. That order — prompted by the state Legislature’s inability to pass similar measures to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people — was tossed out by state courts following a lawsuit from frequent Edwards opponent and Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Respondents who agreed to workplace protections for LGBT people included 83 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Variety show and film screening April 14 highlight trans rights

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 10:01 AM

A performer at last year's "Freaks of a Feather" show. - COURTESY TSSHAG
  • A performer at last year's "Freaks of a Feather" show.

Two events in New Orleans April 14 spotlight transgender rights, an increasingly high-profile issue in the city and nationwide.

Tulane Society for Sexuality, Health and Gender hosts a variety show at Cafe Istanbul to benefit BreakOUT!, the advocacy group for LGBTQ youth of color. "Freaks of a Feather" offers drag, burlesque, comedy and cabaret acts; admission is based on a sliding scale but participants are encouraged to donate generously. The show begins at 7 p.m.

At 9:15 p.m., BreakOUT! sponsors a screening of Free CeCe!, a documentary about transgender prison-reform activist CeCe McDonald. McDonald and director Jacqueline Gares also attend the screening at the Broad Theater in association with PATOIS: New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival. Tickets are $8-$10.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

LGBT health care symposium April 10 highlights community's unique needs

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 9:37 AM


A symposium hosted by LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine April 10 will call attention to health care issues for people who identify as LGBT. A panel, which includes doctors, an attorney and LGBT Community Center director Sebastian Rey, will touch on topics including transgender medicine, reproductive care for LGBT couples and expectations for providers.

In a city with one of the nation's highest percentages of (self-identified) LGBT folks, New Orleans organizations recently have been making strides toward community resource-building. The LGBT Community Center staged a grand reopening in February, and LGBT elder care network NOAGE kicked off a health care provider network to help both seniors and doctors work with the community. NOPD recently designated a liaison for LGBT outreach, and a heavily attended town hall highlighted policy suggestions from transgender women to New Orleans City Council members.

The health care symposium begins at 6:30 p.m. at the medical school's Medical Education Building (1901 Perdido St.). It's open to the public and free to attend.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Books roundup: Six literary events in New Orleans in April

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 12:08 PM


"April is the cruellest month," wrote T.S. Eliot in his inscrutable modernist masterpiece "The Waste Land." (Personally, I've always preferred "Preludes.") New Orleanians probably disagree — April means festival season, gleeful crawfish gluttony and those last nice sunshiny days before humidity turns the city into the interior of an unplugged refrigerator for six months.

If you can squeeze a reading or two onto your crowded festival calendar, here are a few picks for literary happenings around town.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tough talk with 2tender4house, a new New Orleans independent poetry festival

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 12:35 PM

Left to right: Laura Theobald, Prairie M. Faul, Zoë Blair-Schlagenhauf, Jo Gehringer, El Pearson — organizers of 2tender4house
  • Left to right: Laura Theobald, Prairie M. Faul, Zoë Blair-Schlagenhauf, Jo Gehringer, El Pearson — organizers of 2tender4house

A new independent poetry festival will take place across town on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 24-26. 2tender4house (or just "fest," as its founders refer to it) is a collaboration between two poetry ventures, the online journal tenderness, yea and the publisher/journal 2fast4house. I spoke with some of the festival's organizers about the festival, its components, and its underlying aims, which are to showcase local queer, trans, and POC poets and to foster a more inclusive New Orleans poetry community.

Gambit: Hi! Can you introduce yourselves to the readers?

ZOË BLAIR-SCHLAGENHAUF: I'm an artist and designer in New Orleans and the cofounder of tenderness, yea.

I'm a trans poet and Cajun native of Louisiana.

I'm also a confounder of tenderness, yea, and still alive somehow.

I cofounded 2Fast2House and just moved to New Orleans like two weeks ago.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Inaugural Disability Pride Festival March 25 is for and by people with disabilities

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 11:41 AM


New Orleans often has lagged behind other cities when it comes to anticipating and accommodating the needs of people with disabilities. In more recent incidents, bus stops failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a renovation to New Orleans Public Library's Nix branch overlooked a ramp for for people who use wheelchairs.

But a new festival has the potential to shine a greater light on people with disabilities, who make up as much as 19 percent of the American population. At Saturday's all-ages Disability Pride Festival, people with disabilities, their friends, families and allies will gather for New Orleans' first celebration of disability pride — a key aspect of the growing disability rights movement.

The festival is divided into two parts. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Advocacy Center of Louisiana (8325 Oak St.), there's a resource fair featuring food, art and social service vendors. Afternoon entertainment follows and includes performances from Irwin Royes (the "world's smallest magician") and an exhibition game from the Rollin' Pelicans wheelchair basketball team. Events are designed to help community members connect and encourage conversations about what it means to be a person with disabilities.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

State legislation proposed to close loophole in domestic violence situations involving same-sex couples

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 4:13 PM


Proposed legislation prefiled for the 2017 Legislature by State Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, aims to close a longstanding loophole in Louisiana’s domestic violence statutes by including same-sex couples.

House Bill 27 would alter the state’s civil and criminal statutes by opening harsher sentencing possibility for abusers in same-sex cohabiting relationships and by providing key public welfare assistance options to same-sex victims.

The bill simply removes the phrase “of opposite sex” from the state’s definition of a household member, a definition that forms a foundation for the domestic abuse battery and domestic aggravated assault charges, as well as support services for victims.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Transgender community offers policy changes to city officials and NOPD

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 9:30 PM

Jada Mercedes Cardona, left, leads a town hall meeting March 10 with New Orleans City Councilmembers Jason Williams and LaToya Canttell with NOPD's LGBT liaison Frank Robertson.
  • Jada Mercedes Cardona, left, leads a town hall meeting March 10 with New Orleans City Councilmembers Jason Williams and LaToya Canttell with NOPD's LGBT liaison Frank Robertson.

Jada Mercedes Cardona knew at 4 years old. "It felt right. I ran to my mom to tell her what I discovered, and what was going to happen now?" Cardona told a crowd at First Unitarian Universalist Church. "Instead of being received with hugs, kisses, understanding and love, I got beaten, and made to proclaim, several times, that I would never repeat those words to anyone again."

Cardona began transitioning at age 35, after living as a gay man, and was tortured by low self-esteem and "a cycle of hate I still struggle with today" — an "internalized oppression," she said, "so much so that you can't see anything good about yourself."

"Living in one's truth isn't easy," Cardona said.  "I lost everything from living in my truth."

Cardona founded the transgender advocacy group Transitions Louisiana, which hosted a town hall meeting March 10 following the recent deaths of three transgender women in Louisiana — including two people in New Orleans — after one of the most deadly years for transgender people in the U.S.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Free HIV training for health care professionals takes place March 11

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 5:50 PM


The Tulane University AIDS Education and Training Center and HIV experts from the Tulane University School of Medicine host a training at Amici Ristorante & Bar Saturday about the basics of HIV care for health care professionals. There are discussions of testing and prevention, the PrEP treatments which can help prevent HIV transmission, adolescent HIV, HIV and sexually transmitted infections and other topics designed to familiarize doctors, nurses and other healers with the evolving needs of people with HIV and AIDS.

A Q&A, lunch and a viewing of the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day parade follows the panels.

It's free to attend for anyone who works in health care, but advance registration is required. Sign-in begins at 9 a.m.

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