New Orleans Pride
started in the 1970s in Washington Square Park, and this year it will return to its roots to celebrate its fifth consecutive year in action since Hurricane Katrina.
There will be events across the city all weekend to celebrate, beginning June 18, but on Saturday, June 20 Pridefest at Washington Square Park will feature more than 50 vendors, including local food, crafts, drinks and information, with an aim to appeal to families and people from all communities within New Orleans. Christopher Leonard, a representative of New Orleans Pride, says this year will be the biggest festival yet.
"This year we have worked to include events that reach out to all communities; whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, you will feel comfortable at our events," Leonard says. "...New Orleans Pride is different than other cities because we work to promote unity in New Orleans. New Orleans Pride Festival is composed of a weekend of events that are centered around not only the LGBT community, but also its allies."
Saturday's Pridefest will include an all-faith prayer service from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and a relationship blessing at 2 p.m., as well as a host of activities and local music for kids and adults alike.
On Friday, June 19, a kick-off party at Harrah's Hotel Ballroom will focus on celebrating the transgender community, with keynote speakers talking about transitioning and the struggles and support that have marked their journeys. Leonard says this year the kick-off is committed to opening the celebration up to young people. "It is important that we open this event to a younger audience so that those that are contemplating coming out as gay or lesbian or even transgender know that it does get better and they have plenty of people who will support them in their decisions," he says.
Shows, dance parties and a parade all dot the schedule, which is available both on the event's Facebook page
and its website
, where you can also sign up to volunteer and become a vendor.