The New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission (CCSRC) recently issued a report that identified 37 streets named after Confederate generals, politicians, and other sympathizers of “the Lost Cause” and included suggestions for renaming those streets. Noticeably absent in the suggestions for renaming these streets is any LGBTQ+ representation. The exclusion is odd considering the rich LGBTQ+ history of New Orleans. Ultimately, any official name changes will be decided by the City Council, which plans to take up the issue later this year. That means there is still time to submit feedback.
The CCSRC was created in June 2020 by the New Orleans City Council partly in response to the nation-wide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Throughout the fall of last year, the commission held a series of stakeholder engagement sessions across the city and also solicited public feedback on its website. 1,984 public comments were received, and 504 suggestions were submitted via the website.
On November 30, 2020, the CCSRC submitted an initial report to the City Council. The 172-page report identified 37 streets for renaming. Each street contains a brief historical sketch of the person the street is currently named for and is followed by three suggestions for renaming. A brief summary of the person’s life and legacy follows each suggestion. That initial report did contain the name of Storme DeLarverie, the New Orleans born trans activist who participated in the Stonewall rebellion in 1969. DeLarverie’s name, however, was not included in the CCSRC’s final report, which was submitted on March 1, 2021.
Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who represents the French Quarter and who co-authored the ordinance to create the CCSRC, agrees that the LGBT+ community needs to be represented in the street renaming project and welcomes additional feedback. The public is invited to offer suggestions here: https://nolaccsrc.org/feedback/
In addition to Storme DeLarverie, the following LGBT+ figures are also worthy of consideration:
· Tony Jackson—Significant early jazz musician; Patsy Valdelar—Legendary show host at the Dew Drop Inn; James Booker—Musician; W.R. Irby—Early 20th century philanthropist and French Quarter preservationist; Tennessee Williams—Award-winning, internationally renowned playwright and French Quarter resident; Elmo Avet—Businessman and early pioneer of Gay Carnival; Lyle Saxon—French Quarter preservationist and writer; Dixie Fasnacht—Bar owner; Clay Shaw—French Quarter preservationist; John Burton “Burt” Harter—Artist; George Dureau—Artist; Rip & Marsha Naquin-Delaine—Founders, Ambush Magazine; Charlene Schneider—Bar owner and political activist; Stewart Butler—Political activist