News Network- CHNN NOLA correspondent, Paula Higginson

On this beautiful “Sundi Gras” two days before Mardi Gras, the French Quarter is graciously hosting enthusiastic tourists who are here to enjoy our annual celebration.  Instead of the usual soulful sounds of our local jazz musicians, artists and fortune tellers who show up every other day  in Jackson Square,  we were subjected to the  hate filled blast of bible thumpers screeching their uncivilized brand of religious hate- specifically targeting our gay community.  The only harmonious tune was the woeful chant of  “don’t hate” from a dignified gay community member with his own fog horn.

What an ugly thing for the tourists to see.  What in insult to the locals.  People who come to New Orleans expect to witness our cultural diversity and tolerant moral code.

These fanatics carry a multitude of large hideous banners depicting various messages of Hell, Fire and Damnation; further savaging the grace of this beautiful historic  place.  In New Orleans, the gay community is overwhelmingly respected and valued.  They saved many of the historic homes and buildings in the French Quarter  and  adjoining neighborhoods.   They invested in these deteriorating, historically incomparable neighborhoods; starting in the 70’s and continuing through the hard work of recovery after the Katrina nightmare.  They are business owners and concerned citizens supporting New Orleans in every way.

How can we allow this hate crime in Jackson Square?  It is an outrageous insult and sinfully disloyal to the heritage of New Orleans.  This is a city that has always lived with a unique air of  great tolerance.   From the early 1700’s New Orleans was different from the puritanical English settlements north and east of here.   New Orleans welcomed people from all over the world with generous hospitality and tolerance.   It is this willingness to accept and adopt cultural differences that cradled the invention of jazz and our famous creole cuisine.  It is precisely this air of acceptance that evolved New Orleans into a place unlike any other in the United States.

Furthermore, we have a wealth of  diverse spirituality here.  Dignified and historic religious traditions from the Catholic, Jewish, Christian, Voodoo and Wiccan communities are all practiced and celebrated in New Orleans.   All brands of  believers and nonbelievers live  shoulder to shoulder in New Orleans and there is a true spirit of “live and let live”.

Religious hate and in your face protesting should not be tolerated anywhere and it is especially out of place and inappropriate on the streets of New Orleans.    This is the finest place to live for those who have felt out of place in other communities in this country – except on Mardi Gras weekend in Jackson Square.

18 Comments

  1. cocktailhag says:

    Hey, Cousin… Glad to see your post up. I see you’re still editing; we do a lot of that here at CHNN. You get the post up, then you go back….
    It seems to have worked just right, though. All hail Chad, my webmaster.

  2. bystander says:

    They saved many of the historic homes and buildings … They invested in these deteriorating, historically incomparable neighborhoods … continuing through the hard work of recovery after the Katrina nightmare. They are business owners and concerned citizens …

    No good deed goes unpunished, does it?

    Are these religious hypocrites locals, or did they bus themselves in for the benefit of one and all during the festivities? One could only imagine their response if called to pray with a New Orleans voodoo priestess. Or, is that an acceptable variant to the bible thumpers? These folks nearly cry out for some unsolicited Guerilla Theatre accompaniment.

  3. Paula NOLA says:

    What I know for sure is they are not part of the fabric of the city and contribute nothing of benefit. I suspect they are from the fringe- perhaps from the West bank of the Mississippi or from the other parishes (counties) of Louisiana. New Orleans is an oasis amid a very unenlightened red state.

    • Bill says:

      I’m aware of the Thumper presence in the Quarter for MG and, basically it’s pretty much harmless (albeit a pain in the ass) because most people there either pay them no mind or treat them as freaks at a side-show (which is what they are if you understand that the center ring of the circus that is Mardi Gras, are the people having fun and letting themselves go for a day or two). The thumpers are lead by a fundy from the West Bank who uses the gay/lesbian community as a source of fund raising – much like David Duke uses blacks and Jews. However, tolerance must include tolerance for those who are assholes as well as those we don’t find fault with. Banning them would just get them more publicity. Besides, it’s fun to throw beads and try to make “ringers” on their crosses. ;-) One can even coax them into using the Lord’s name in vain if one is good at it.

      Mardi Gras is a time where people like Jebbie can dress up as a nun (complete with combat boots and a big fat cigar) and come back the next day dressed in nothing except a pair of roller skates as he pretends to be a pull-toy. Well, truthfully, Jebbie never went as a pull-toy but he was tempted one year a long time ago and after a few hurricanes more than was necessary to give him a nice glow. Or maybe it was the weed.

      Having said that, IMO, being a flaming pain in the ass isn’t cause for denying 1st amendment rights even to assholes with big wooden crosses. During the several years that I went as a nun (complete with habit), I used to get my picture taken by the tourists while sneaking a kiss on those assholes with the crosses. They hated me! Fuck em if they can’t take a joke. Nowadays, with my health as precarious as it is, I do not venture into the Quarter during Mardi Gras. I suspect this might be my last one unless something changes drastically.

      There is one thing about recent Mardi Gras celebrations that is different than it was even 15 years ago and that is the presence of full contact sex being performed (is that the right word) on the balconies by both hetero and homosexual couples or groups of 3-5. IMO, that’s pretty much uncalled for, especially during the daylight hours when kids might be down there on the streets. There’s no reason for it (of course, exhibitionists might disagree).

      Anyone traveling to N’awlins must try the brunch at Petunias (once Mardi Gras is over). It’s a small restaurant located just off Bourbon Street which is owned and operated by gays. They have the absolutely best crepes ever and the service is quaint but noticeably good. Quaint? Yes, quaint. I don’t know how else to describe it.

      I believe this is the first Mardi Gras since Ruthie the Duck Lady passed away (it might be the second – time flies both when you’re having fun and when you start getting old.

      Ruthie was one of those people that every town has at least one of. She used to roller skate around the Quarter in a wedding dress with a duck on a leash. It’s said that she was left at the alter as a young woman and she just snapped – her mind went someplace else – to another area code. She didn’t work and, as far as I know, never begged for money but folks took care of her needs. She was a fixture down there for a couple or three decades. She even looked like a duck. RIP Ruthie the Duck Lady.

      To get a real taste of N’awlins, read Confederacy of Dunces. It’s pretty accurate even down to the Lucky Dog venders.

      What a town!

      • bystander says:

        Okay. You’ve recommended that book at least 3 times. It’s now in my Amazon shopping cart.

        Besides, it’s fun to throw beads and try to make “ringers” on their crosses. … During the several years that I went as a nun (complete with habit), I used to get my picture taken by the tourists while sneaking a kiss on those assholes with the crosses.

        Yep. Precisely the unsolicited Guerilla Theatre I was imagining.

        Er, I suspect this might be my last one unless something changes drastically. What you be sayin’ here, compadre?

  4. Bill says:

    http://www.mitchellspublications.com/cs/1/pe/index.htm

    Damn! If you use teh gooogle for Ruthie the Duck Lady, you get more hits than Frank Sinatra.

  5. Jim Montague says:

    Thanks for posting this poignant view of modern New Orleans. I remember a different New Orleans, my first trip was in 1964, when I was a just a junior, planning a summer vacation from a Southern California high school. Two fast friends and myself, decided to see the country before we graduated, and with loving support from our parents, I was able to supply the money, while one friend supplied the car, and the other paid for the gas. We arrived in New Orleans the second week of that very hot July, and promptly got lost somewhere in the 9th ward. We pulled to the curb near a rundown neighborhood market, and I got out to ask an elderly black man for directions.
    I wasn’t prepared for the reaction I got from simply asking for the way to Canal Street. The old fellow must have thought I was going to high jack him to a Klan meeting, and had plans to offer him up for the next lynching. I have never been so humbled in my life. I was just a 17 year old high school punk, and this man was reduced to near tears for me approaching him. Most of what I remember from that encounter was simply no suh, no suh, yas suh, and a determined will to refuse to look me in the eye.
    I returned to the car shaking, and I remember doing my best to validate my very existence to a fragile old man who feared me from the bottom of his soul. I did not succeed, and it was then that I realized that this battle for equality would never end.
    And so it goes, as long as there is hate and intolerance there is a job to be done to extinguish it. New Orleans can hold its head higher than most cities now, but hate lurks in the background always willingly prepared to rear its ugly head.

  6. timothy3 says:

    Nice, CH.
    Who was that fat ass who railed against the gay community in NOLA? I think (I may be wrong–probably am) it was that guy in Texas that speaks at length about the End Times (TM).
    Hagee?
    Now, I’ve never been to New Orleans but I do know of a couple who’ve gone to some lengths to save/restore their home after Katrina. They’ve spoken of the trials and tribulations we’re all familiar with. It’s a real shame.
    Anyway, just my meandering thinking on the matter at 10:50 p.m.

    • cocktailhag says:

      T3… I don’t know who the exact group was, maybe Paula does. I do know how quickly the fundies blamed teh ghey for Katrina; “Southern Decadence” was just around the corner, and God was pissed off.

      • Bill says:

        Southern Decadence was to take place at about the same time Katrina hit and yes, the Fundies were all over that also.

        It’s funny. I live in a very conservative area north of New Orleans (St. Tammany Parish) and they are now fighting an attempt to put in a resort (with Casino) over in Slidell….

        …and yet, the only nudist camp in the state (and the entire Gulf Coast, as far as I know) is located in…you guessed it…Slidell.

        Of course, I wouldn’t know what it looks like. LOL

  7. Paula NOLA says:

    As to the group causing such a foul atmosphere, I do not know- However, there were MANY sects out around the French Quarter. I focused on the one which most offended my sensibilities.

    I think freedom of speach should be subject to public refusal in certain areas- unfortunately it seems when it comes to religion, a crowd of people/sheep hesitate to exclaim “BULLSHIT”

    To Jim- Much has changed since your visit. That gentleman you spoke of: If you passed him on the street today he would not walk by without a “How you doin!” and given with a warm smile! Thanks for the look back.

  8. Bill says:

    “I think freedom of speach should be subject to public refusal in certain areas- unfortunately it seems when it comes to religion, a crowd of people/sheep hesitate to exclaim “BULLSHIT” ”

    There is freedom of speach to, as you say, exclaim BULLSHIT!. It would be a hell of a lot easier to get together with some friends and do so, than it would be to ban the Thumpers.

    In the meantime… http://www.webdsi.com/Jebbie/escalator.html

    Enjoy.

    • cocktailhag says:

      And it’s more fun, too, Bill. Well, it is here anyway, because the fundies are always overmatched 100 to 1. I certainly understand, though, Paula’s being both offended and embarrassed by the display…. particularly by outsiders. It’s a tough conundrum; part of being a cosmopolitan place is being demonized by religious nuts, who also deserve free speech.
      Interesting, though, that we’re talking about their free speech, when ours has been shunted off to tightening “zones,” with considerably less fanfare.

  9. Meremark says:

    Hear fahreeking hear!

    les bonne temps … ai-ko ai-ko ai-kay … Jackomo fino anane

    La Courvoisier Hag, vrai?

  10. Keira James says:

    once a week i use a roller skate as my exercise ;:-

  11. roller skating is my sport, this sport is very enjoyable and is a form of exercise too.,,