With the aid of rapid HIV tests, gay bars in New Orleans have become a crucial point of contact between the community and public health services. But what happens if the bars go out of business?
By RHODES MURPHY
NEW ORLEANS—On any given night in New Orleans, a diverse swath of LGBTQ patrons gathers at Good Friends, slouching over the massive mahogany bar and enjoying strong drinks poured under the dim, Technicolor glow of neon signage and pop music videos on loop. A two-story complex in the heart of the French Quarter, Good Friends’ first floor resembles an old pirate bar, if the pirates had all been fans of Kylie Minogue and frozen cocktails with names like “The Separator” (because it separates you from your friends, good or otherwise). Upstairs, in a room known as the “Queen’s Head Pub,” the bar looks like it was decorated by a 19th-century brothel madame, complete with heavy purple drapery and chaise lounges. Since 1988, Good Friends has stood as a safe space in the Quarter for New Orleans’ diverse queer community to meet, dress up, and dance.
GGBA Board Director, Aaron Lander, weighs in on how local, state and the federal government can help small businesses with funding for providing HIV prevention resources and services for those living with HIV.
Photo: Alison Green