Rebuilding a City: The Future of Gay New Orleans

The predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) denomination was among the first groups to start a gay-focused relief fund for Hurricane Katrina victims, raising $40,000 in its first four days, said Executive Director Reverend Cindi Love.

In Dallas, TX, the group AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Arms has been posting fliers and running newspaper ads, offering free anti-HIV medications to HIV-positive evacuees.

“Getting survivors their HIV and AIDS medications is a serious problem,” said health official Tim Young.

Among the organizations helping in the relief effort is The Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge through Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality. They may be reached at 917-449-8918.

The gay and lesbian survivors of Hurricane Katrina are vowing to return to New Orleans and make it more fabulous than ever.

Thousands of other gay men and lesbians say they owe it to the city to return. For more than a century this has been their town.

“I will be seeking a way to help the city come back,” says novelist Martin Pousson, 39.

Pousson says New Orleans may seem vulnerable and weak at the moment but he compares it to a phoenix rising from the ashes – again and again.

“It’s a 300-year-old city,” he said.

Ron Marlow, a member of the New Orleans Gay Men’s Chorus, is already planning the group’s Christmas show.

Jean Burke and her girlfriend, university professor J.E. Cowden, are also trying to look ahead after absorbing the shock of Katrina.

“New Orleans is an accepting city where my friends and my support system are,” said Burke.

In the week after the tragedy as evacuees fought to flee the city from their rooftops, the convention center, and the Superdome, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) survivors had their own specific concerns.

There are many artists who helped make the Big Easy a gay oasis like poet Walt Whitman who once wrote: “Once I passed through a populous city, imprinting my brain, for future use, with its shows, architecture, customs, and traditions.”

An overview of disaster-related research developed by the Institute for Advancement of Social Work Research can be found on the National Association of Social Workers research website.

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