HomoCulture Logo - New

Pride Events In The Southern States: Southern Decadence Is The Place To Be!

by | Sep 6, 2023

Ah, the Southern States. They conjure up images of mouth-watering BBQs, sultry jazz tunes, and languid summer evenings. But the South isn’t just about rich history and deep-fried delights. There’s a vibrant pulse beating right in Louisiana, especially for the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s called Southern Decadence.

A gay bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

The enchanting streets of New Orleans are adorned with vibrant rainbows and shimmering sequins. Music and laughter echoing off historic facades. Crowds of jubilant visitors and locals alike swaying to rhythmic beats, celebrating love, freedom, and the beauty of self-expression.

A group of friends celebrating Southern Decadence with a Pride flag in the background.

It’s a spectacle unlike any other. Southern Decadence is not just another event on the calendar; it’s a radiant declaration of gay pride amidst the backdrop of the Deep South’s traditional charm.

But what makes Southern Decadence one of the best pride events in the southern states?

What awaits those eager to partake in this unique, spirited celebration? Dive in as we take you on a journey through the cobblestone streets of New Orleans, unveiling the magic of the most fabulous pride event the South has to offer.  

It’s a glamorous ride!

History of Southern Decadence: one of the best pride events in southern states of America

Born from a themed tea party gathering in August 1972, Southern Decadence has transformed from a cozy get-together of 40-50 friends into one of the largest LGBTQ events in the United States. In its early days, guests were invited to embody the theme “Come as Your Favorite Southern Decadent,” which inspired the event’s name and essence. Embracing the fabulous and the decadent, attendees dressed to impress, bringing flamboyance and flair to the heart of New Orleans.

Fast forward to today, Southern Decadence beckons an estimated 250,000 attendees, making it one of the most significant pride events in the southern states of the USA.

For nearly half a century, this event has united an international community, immersing them in the rich foods, music, and culture of Cajun Louisiana.

Friends enjoying brunch aboard the Creole Queen in New Orleans.

The essence?

No rules, no strict schedules. Attendees are encouraged to explore, connect, and define their own Decadence experience, making it a unique, make-it-your-own weekend in the Cajun Capital.

Celebrating Southern Decadence in 2023

As always, the 2023 edition of Southern Decadence was brimming with vibrant activities. From savoring mouth-watering Cajun and Creole dishes to getting lost in the rhythms of jazz, attendees indulged in a variety of experiences. Tours offering a peek into history, culture, and even the supernatural were a hit. Meanwhile, beignets and cocktails like the hurricane and Sazerac became the go-to refreshments as participants navigated the festivities.

A handsome man standing in a cemetery in New Orleans.

The heart of the event remained the lively gay bars, teeming with activity throughout the Labor Day weekend. Attendees had their pick from pool parties, drag shows, parades, and even late-night escapades in strip clubs. And with New Orleans’ bars open round-the-clock, the party never really stopped. As guests floated from one venue to another, the streets buzzed with excitement and camaraderie.

The Bourbon Pub and Parade gay bar during Southern Decadence.

However, it’s essential to understand the core of Southern Decadence. While it may share some similarities with gay pride events, they are fundamentally different. Southern Decadence is known for its mature, free-spirited ambiance, drawing an older crowd keen on dancing, partying, and, yes, a bit of mischief.

A male dancer performing on stage at the Bourbon Pub and Parade during Southern Decadence.

A bit risqué, a touch wild, but always authentically NOLA.

Highlights of Southern Decadence 2023

Southern Decadence 2023 in New Orleans was nothing short of a dazzling display of vibrancy, unity, and celebration. As one of the premier LGBTQ+ pride events in the southern states, this year’s festivities, encapsulated under the theme “Wicked, wild, and wet,” attracted thousands from all corners of the globe.

A New Orleans small business proudly flying a Pride flag during Souther Decadence 2023.

From intimate gatherings in the historic French Quarter to flamboyant parades under the Louisiana sun, the weekend was a testament to the strength and beauty of the community. If this was the exuberance of 2023, one can only imagine the splendor awaiting in 2024.

How was Southern Decadence 2023?

For those eager to immerse themselves in a sensory explosion, 2023’s Southern Decadence in New Orleans was the place to be.

Picture this: mouth-watering Cajun and Creole dishes tantalizing your taste buds, the soulful notes of jazz serenading you down the streets, and history coming alive. The aroma of freshly fried beignets wafted through the air, only to be rivalled by the tangy allure of hurricanes and Sazerac cocktails.

Bourbon Street decorated with Pride flags during Southern Decadence 2023.

Throughout the French Quarter, LGBTQ+ establishments were the heartbeat of the event, each reverberating with energy and laughter. From sunlit pool parties and drag brunches to moonlit parades and circuit parties, there was no shortage of festivities that stretched into the dawn. And here’s a NOLA fun fact: bars there never take a break, allowing revelers to move freely between venues with their favorite drink in hand.

A group of friends at Southern Decadence in New Orleans, standing below a Pride flag, mooning the camera,

Yet, for newcomers, here’s a golden nugget: Southern Decadence is its own unique beast. It’s not your typical gay pride fest. Think of it as a sultrier, six-day soirée where the LGBTQ+ community, especially a mature crowd, comes together not just to party, but to celebrate, connect, and of course, dance the night away. For some, it might remind them of San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair, but with that unmistakable Southern twist.

All in all, Southern Decadence is whatever you wish to make of it. Whether you’re there to reunite with old pals, make new memories, or just soak in the vibrant ambiance, it promises an experience like no other.

Anticipation and Arrival

Dubbed the Gay Mardi Gras weekend, the Southern Decadence of 2023 came alive under the vibrant theme: “Wicked, wild, and wet.” As attendees began to arrive in NOLA by Wednesday and Thursday, the anticipation was palpable, with many gearing up to soak in the festivities throughout the extended weekend.

A group of friends enjoying the nightlife during Souther Decadence 2023.

Epicenter of Celebrations

The beating heart of these events was undoubtedly the French Quarter, especially at the renowned junction of Bourbon Street and St. Ann’s Street, fondly referred to as the most “gay-centric” corner. It was here that attendees and locals alike reveled in the spirited ambiance.

Friday Night Fever

As Friday rolled in, the city simmered in excitement. The gay end of the French Quarter pulsed with energy, as bars filled up, dance floors vibrated, and merrymakers immersed themselves in the night.

A guy takes a shot of liquor on stage, surrounded by drag queens.

Diverse Weekend Festivities

Diverse events painted the weekend’s canvas. From tantalizing burlesque shows, lively beer bashes, audacious big-dick competitions, to amateur strip nights. It was a feast not just for the partygoers but also for the keen observers, with celebrities from the LGBTQ+ community gracing the occasion.

A group of amateur dancers performing on stage during Southern Decadence 2023.

Saturday Specials

A novelty to the weekend, the Mermaid Parade on Saturday evening became an instant crowd-puller. Earlier in the day, the delightful tradition of ‘Boys in Dresses’ celebrated its fifth year, with men elegantly draped in dresses parading from bar-to-bar throughout the French Quarter.

A large group of boys in dresses posing for a photo in the French Quarter during Souther Decadence 2023.

Sunday’s Grand Showcase

Sunday’s heat was matched by the fervor of the annual Southern Decadence Grand Marshal Parade. A spectacle to behold, the streets were lined with enthusiastic onlookers eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the Grand Marshals – Nicole Dubois, Jimmy Gale, and Monica Synclaire Kennedy. 

The Sunday Grand Marshal parade during Souther Decadence 2023.

Following the parade, the bead-tossing tradition at the nexus of St. Anne and Bourbon Street took center stage with playful banter and daring displays as people from balconies shouted, ‘show me your dick’, and showered individuals below with beads as they participated in the activities. 

Evening Retreats

As the evening unfolded, many found solace in The Blacksmith Shop, sipping on its iconic Purple Drink. Despite the evident merriment, a regulatory shadow loomed, stemming from a 2019 crackdown on public and in-bar sexual activities. Yet, the spirit remained undeterred, with most attendees thoroughly enjoying the ambiance. Signs of affection could be seen in the streets to the dark shadows of the dance floors. 

The Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Souther Decadence.

Breathers and Bonds

In between events, some sought refuge from the heat in their chilled hotel rooms. Others opted for a historic retreat aboard the street cars. At a mere $1.25, these street cars offered a breezy escape into history and an opportunity to continue bonding with friends.

Two street cars pass on the garden line in New Orleans.

Safer Sex 

Southern Decadence is synonymous with hook-up culture. The majority of people who attend will have some kind of sexual encounter throughout the weekend. HomoCulture firmly believes in using a safer sex toolkit. Throughout Southern Decadence this year, HomoCulture ambassadors were handing out HomoCulture condoms, from ONE Condoms. 

A shirtless man holding a handful of ONE Condoms at Southern Decadence 2023.

The HomoCulture condoms were the perfect fit, because Southern Decadence alumni knew where and how to easily get bottles of lube tossed from a balcony at the gay intersection on Bourbon Street. 

The “God Squad” Returns, All Talk and Little Impact

2023 saw the return of the “God squad” protesters at Southern Decadence, albeit in reduced numbers compared to previous years. Despite their vocal attempts, these protesters found themselves largely overshadowed by the spirit of the event.

Instead of getting riled up, many attendees humorously engaged with them, echoing chants, snapping tongue-in-cheek selfies, and even sharing affectionate kisses right in front of the group. A few overzealous Decadence revelers playfully threw drinks at these protesters and managed to push their presence away from the main festivities on Bourbon Street, much to the amusement of the crowds.

A man fingering a group of protesters at Southern Decadence 2023.

It’s almost like clockwork: every year at gay events, this handful of protesters make their appearance, almost as if it’s their own peculiar tradition. For 2023, they wisely chose to set up further down Bourbon Street, limiting the potential for conflicts.

However, when they did venture closer to the epicenter of the celebrations, they were met with playful taunts. Especially memorable was on Sunday before the Grand Marshal Parade, when attendees humorously countered the protesters’ loudspeakers with repetitive shouts of “Blah blah blah”, drowning out the nonsensical rhetoric and ensuring the event’s vibrant mood remained undiminished.

While police were present to ensure order, their intervention wasn’t necessary, as the protesters proved to be more bark than bite.

Plan to attend one of the best pride events in the southern states in 2024

Ready to experience a whirlwind of culture, camaraderie, and carnival spirit? Then it’s time to pencil in Southern Decadence 2024 on your calendar. Every attendee crafts their unique Decadence story, and with friends by your side, the possibilities are endless.

Two gay men kissing under a Pride flag.

Whether you wish to savor every moment slowly or dive into the heart of the festivities, it’s all about embracing the essence of the Cajun Capital in a way that resonates with you.

A group of gay men having fun at a drag show aboard the Creole Queen in New Orleans.

If Southern Decadence isn’t already a tick on your bucket list, it’s high time it found its place there. An event that countless gay men have passionately recommended; many have woven it into the fabric of their annual traditions – and who knows? After one taste, you might just do the same. A little tip from those in the know: Staying in the French Quarter keeps you in the heart of the festivity.

But remember, with the crowds this event attracts, early bookings are the way to go. So, gear up, plan ahead, and prepare to be enchanted.

New Orleans: A Year-Round LGBTQ+ Paradise

New Orleans doesn’t simply host parties – it embodies them. And when it comes to celebrating the vibrant LGBTQ+ community, the city shines brightest. Whether it’s the iconic Southern Decadence or any other day on the calendar, New Orleans extends a warm, inclusive embrace to everyone.

Progressive Pride flag banners line a street in New Orleans.

But there’s more than just the festivities; the city boasts an eclectic mix of LGBTQ+ bars, dining spots, and pulsating dance clubs. Dive deeper, and you’ll uncover a rich tapestry of Cajun and Creole experiences waiting to be explored. Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, let ‘Visit New Orleans‘ be your guide in curating the perfect gaycation in this lively city. Come, let the magic of New Orleans whisk you away!

Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Southern Decadence.

Rate this post

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Brian Webb

Brian Webb


Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award.An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content.Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.

Join our newsletter


Popular Categories

A group of gay men in front of a Sayulita sign.

Travel Guides

Make It Gay, Your Way, Visit Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory

Travel Tips

A man decked out in Pride accessories and a sequin shirt, marching in the 2023 Key West Pride Parade.

Celebrate Pride

Asia O’hara, Kameron Michaels, Kim Chi, and Aquaria Drag Queens (RuPaul Drag Race)

Friends of Homoculture

Join our newsletter