The Big Easy got hard (pun intended) over the Labor Day holiday weekend with the spectacular – and sexually charged – display of pride and camaraderie that was Southern Decadence 2023. With this year’s theme Wicked, Wild, & Wet, the event was all that and more…
Started more than 50 years ago, Southern Decadence has since blossomed into one of New Orleans‘ most significant events, drawing upwards of 250,000 mostly gay men with a smattering of lesbians and other queer participants each year.
“There is no event like Southern Decadence anywhere else in the world. What began as an intimate bar crawl with friends, has grown to be one of the largest LGBTQ+ events in the world,” explained Jimmy Gale, a New Orleans LGBTQ+ activist who served as one of this year’s three Southern Decadence parade grand marshals.
“Southern Decadence is a celebration of the resilience of New Orleans, our diverse and colorful communities, and the freedom to be who we are without apology. New Orleans finds inspiration in adversity and any excuse to celebrate is all we need.”
The Sunday afternoon foot parade through New Orleans’ notorious French Quarter is Southern Decadence’s signature event. Roughly 60 different groups—ranging from NOLA Pups and Handlers and The Big Easy Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to Mrs. Roper Romp and the Crescent City Rougaroux—participated in this year’s parade.
Beyond the parade there were dozens of parties with top DJs and hot go-go dancers, drag shows and brunches, and bar hopping throughout the multi-day celebration.
Among the many noteworthy happens was the Decadence Welcome Party at American Townhouse sponsored by Absolut and featuring drag queens Terri S. Aqui, Lexie Redd D’Ville, and Laveau Caontraire. In addition, for the 8th straight year, London’s famed Horse Meat Disco crossed the pond for its Southern Decadence edition held at New Orleans’ legendary live music venue, The Fillmore.
The Mystic Krewe of the Lords of Leather also held its annual Mr. Louisiana Leather contest, which has become a Southern Decadence must-do. This year’s contest drew nine contestants from Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast region, who showed off their best bar wear, jockstraps, and kink gear.
Following some “stiff” (oh, how the puns keep coming) competition, Gale added Mr. Louisiana Leather 2024 to his Southern Decadence Grand Marshal title.
The dates for Southern Decadence 2024 are Thursday, Aug. 29, through Monday, Sept. 2.