a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Black, Gay and Jewish in New Orleans?

Posted on: January 8, 2013

I’ve just returned from New Orleans, where M had an interview. On the first day, while she interviewed, I wandered around the French Quarter looking for lunch and a drink. On suggestion from the desk at the cute, rustic boutique hotel we stayed in, I went to a place called Stanley’s in Jackson Square for their Stanley’s Eggs-which was Eggs Benedict topped with Nawlins fried oysters.

Oh yeah, it was a treif trip. More on what I ate later.

After my treiftastic eggs, coffee and mimosa I wandered around the Quarter and the surrounding neighborhoods by myself. While I understand that judging New Orleans based on the Quarter is like judging NYC based on Times Square, it still had a warm feeling. As I walked on the outskirts of the Quarter on the quieter streets I felt at ease, I felt comfortable, I felt like I could live there.

Around 2 PM M returned to our hotel and we both agreed we could live here.

We spent the next few days walking around the neighborhoods of New Orleans, looking at real estate prices, and researching the Jewish community. And while the Jewish community seems to be small, but mighty, the idea of being a black, gay Jewish woman in New Orleans is frankly incredibly scary. Especially when you’re a black, gay Jewish woman who wants to start a family.

For starters, New Orleans is the only city in Louisiana that has same-sex domestic partnerships…and that’s it. Nothing else happening down there. They don’t recognize same-sex marrriages from other states. Hell, you can get fired in the state based on sexual orientation. There’s no second-parent adoption, and no rights for LGBTQ individuals.  The list goes on and on…and on and on.

So why are we thinking about it? First, there are greater opportunities (big fish, small pond). It’s more affordable, year-round gardening, small-town feel, and the idea that we can really make an impact are all really attractive. Schools are also a lot more affordable and I’m thinking about returning to school as well. Oh, did I mention how affordable it is?

So are we moving to New Orleans? I’ll follow up in February.

4 Responses to "Black, Gay and Jewish in New Orleans?"

I’m from Louisiana but I’m living in Boston for college. I didn’t ever live in New Orleans, but when I was younger I’d go down there with my family a couple of times per year to see family/go to Mardi Gras (it’s not crazy everywhere…there are a few reasonably kid-friendly places if you know your way around.) But yes, the cost of living in Louisiana is definitely lower. Didn’t know that New Orleans recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships — that’s news to me. As far as the Jewish community goes, I don’t know much about it. I’m pretty sure there are a few Reform synagogues, one Conservative, and one or two Orthodox. There was a Limmud New Orleans this past year, also. And however small the Jewish community is, there is a sizable Jewish college student population — Tulane is nicknamed “Jewlane” because its undergrad population is 1/3 Jewish.

Thanks Caroline-Your assessment of the Jewish community seems to be pretty accurate, based on my research!

As a queer Jew in Louisiana, also involved in the queer Jewish scene in NOLA, I totally support moving here. We need more active and dedicated queer Jews of color voices!

Thanks, Nathan! We shall see! We’ll know at the end of February, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

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