Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

David Sehat

Second Advisor

John McMillian

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Trask


The modern gay New Orleans community was born on the neglected streets of the historic French Quarter neighborhood during the 1920s. Despite a century of harassment at the hands of local officials and the police department, this vulnerable community developed strong communal bonds in and around the French Quarter, ultimately transforming it into one of the preeminent gay neighborhoods in the United States. This study examines how a vibrant gay community thrived in the socially conservative South, shifting traditional narratives of twentieth century gay life primarily existing on the East and West Coasts. To survive, gay men and lesbians were forced to create alternative social spaces, often coopting and exploiting the traditions of heteronormative New Orleans culture. Drawing upon archival sources and personal interviews, this dissertation challenges assumptions about the apolitical nature of the gay New Orleans community. Ultimately, this is a story of how a gay community became politically active while navigating the challenges of the socially conservative Deep South.


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