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Exclusive | Three Gay Days: New Orleans Part Four

Exclusive | Three Gay Days: New Orleans Part Four

Perhaps North America's most irrepressible city, NOLA is a cultural and culinary jewel in the South's crown.

Day 3: The Gayborhoods -- Faubourg Marigny and the Bywater
The Marigny's Feelings Caf? (2600 Chartres St.; 504-945-2222; $13-24.50), housed in plantation buildings dating to 1795, is where the boys go for Sunday brunch.

Rent bikes at Bicycle Michael's (622 Frenchmen St; 504-945-9505) in the Marigny to explore the neighborhood and beyond. The friendly staff will assist cyclists in drawing up their own route or hand out a 25-mile city route taking in a variety of sights.

Right down the street, Faubourg Marigny Arts & Books (600 Frenchman St.; 504-947-3700), the oldest LGBT bookstore in the South, brings in local and visiting writers and showcases resident artists.

When NOLA's temperatures heat up, make a beeline for The Country Club (634 Louisa St.; 504-945-0742), a local gay hideaway in the Bywater neighborhood next to the Marigny. The charming property houses a clothing-optional pool/gay bar/restaurant that gets really festive during holiday weekends.

Sip a martini at the inviting central bar before dining on eclectic seasonal dishes under the high ceiling of The Marigny Brasserie (640 Frenchmen St.; 504-945-4472; $16-28), an off-the-beaten-path gem that's tr?s gay.

Small, laid-back bars populated with locals dot the Marigny, like Big Daddy's (522 Bourbon St.; 504-581-7167) and The Friendly Bar (2301 Chartres St, 504-943-8929), where the motto is "be nice or leave." Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen St.; 504-949-0696) is a great, gay-friendly spot for listening to live music.

Should you require a late-night snack, head back to the Quarter to the small, '50s-style Clover Grill (900 Bourbon St.; 504-598-1010). The gay-owned institution serves breakfast around the clock and their burgers, cooked under a hubcap, have a devoted fan base that keeps the joint jumping by day as well.

Major Gay Events
There are three major gay holidays in New Orleans: Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence and Halloween. Mardi Gras takes place on Fat Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday, at the end of February or early March. It's all that it's cracked up to be. Frenzied and gaudy, lurid and spectacular, almost macabre. Stand streetside and catch beads, "doubloons," and other favors thrown to the crowd from the passing "krewes," or secret societies that organize floats and costumed processions in the parade. Most of the parades go down St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street. The event is preceded by a series of masked balls and other ancillary parades beginning in mid-January; for an insider look at Mardi Gras, pick up a general admission ticket to one of the gay balls.

Southern Decadence occurs annually on Labor Day Weekend. Dubbed "Gay Mardi Gras," this event draws gay men and lesbians from all over the country to the French Quarter for even harder partying than normal, if that's possible. A parade, led by a soused grand marshal (a different person every year chooses the theme, colors and anthem of the parade), begins at the Golden Lantern (1239 Royal St; 504-529-2860) and winds its way down Royal Street, with participants invading every gay bar in its path to knock down a few before charging down the street to the next watering hole. In an effort to add depth to the proceedings, a group of community-minded gay locals launched DecaFest in 2006 as a queer companion piece; events include theater, music, comedy, history tours, and film screenings.

While Halloween in New Orleans might seem redundant, it is still another reason for more masked balls, parades and club parties. This multi-day event benefits Project Lazarus, an AIDS hospice.

Resources
Ambush (504-522-8047) is the Crescent City's biweekly gay publication with local bar and entertainment listings and party pix. Surf www.gayneworleans.com for listings of gay-identified and gay-popular attractions, accommodations, tours, events, dining, and shopping options.

The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau (2020 St. Charles Ave.; 504-566-5011 or 800-672-6124) provides general tourist information.

More New Orleans
New Orleans: Introduction
New Orleans: Where to Stay
New Orleans: Where to Eat
New Orleans: Where to Play

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

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