Storefront rainbow flag stickers send resounding message to the LGBTQ+ community that they are welcomed and respected in New Orleans; businesses take a pledge of inclusiveness not only in theory, but in day-to-day operations
NEW ORLEANS – June 13, 2023 – New Orleans & Company, the city’s official destination sales and marketing organization, in partnership with the New Orleans LGBTQ Hospitality Alliance (NOLHA), is re-launching the 2019 “Everyone’s Welcome Here” campaign and asking local businesses to take a pledge to actively welcome LGBTQ+ visitors and people of all backgrounds and identities into our community.
Rainbow flag stickers are appearing in storefronts of local businesses proclaiming, “Everyone’s Welcome Here.” However, the campaign goes far beyond stickers. There is a training program in place, so that businesses know exactly how to make inclusion a part of their day-to-day business and making guests feel welcome and respected. A video is available here.
Walter J. Leger, III, President and CEO of New Orleans & Company said, “New Orleans has long been known as a place where everyone is welcome to enjoy our incredible culture, but the ‘Everyone’s Welcome Here’ program makes that clear and provides businesses that join the program with educational support to enhance inclusivity in their day to day operations. It’s more than just a sticker, it sends an important message to visitors, whether they be here for leisure, convention customers and those making decisions on where special events will be held in a competitive marketplace that inclusion is a part of who we are and how we operate. For generations, New Orleans has been celebrated as a welcoming, inclusive destination for all and host to iconic LGBTQ+ events such as Southern Decadence. Our unique beauty comes not just from our diversity of cultures but also in the blending of those cultures to create something uniquely our own. In New Orleans, EVERYONE is welcome and diversity is celebrated. New Orleans has a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s MEI Scorecard, which measures inclusivity based on factors such as municipal services and LGBTQ leadership. This is not just a temporary campaign during Pride month ... inclusion is in our DNA.”
Dustin Woehrmann, President and Creative Director of Communify, a New Orleans strategic marketing agency, and a volunteer leader of the New Orleans LGBTQ Hospitality Alliance said, “According to SAP CONCUR, 97 percent of the LGBTQ+ community are worried about their safety and discrimination when traveling. We know New Orleans has always been a welcoming city, so our top priority is making sure LGBTQ+ travelers feel safe, respected, supported and free to be themselves. Displaying an ‘Everyone’s Welcome Here' sticker at your business is doing exactly that.”
“Whether as a community organizer, a City Councilmember or as Mayor, I have been steadfast in my commitment to serve all people regardless of who they are, or who they love,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. "New Orleans is a welcoming city that openly celebrates and embraces diversity, as it is what makes up the beautiful fabric of our great city. As a true ally who has led the charge and been on the frontlines with our community partners and organizations, everyone will always be loved and accepted here in New Orleans, and I will continue to do my part to make New Orleans a place that is more inclusive, more equitable, and more diverse as a whole."
In addition to being Pride month, June marks the 50th anniversary of the Up Stairs Lounge arson, which happened in 1973 at a small gay bar at 604 Iberville Street in New Orleans French Quarter. Thirty-two people perished in the fire, but at the time, local police did not consider the tragedy a top priority. The arson at the Up Stairs Lounge remains officially unsolved despite being the deadliest crime against LGBTQ+ people in US history until the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. The 50th anniversary commemoration, June 23-25, 2023, will document and share this overlooked event with the community and honor the victims and their families.
New Orleans now has become a shining example of what inclusivity should look like because of a commitment to championing freedom and safety for marginalized communities. Everything from New Orleans’ history to businesses and bars is a testament to the fundamental and lasting impact our queer community has made on New Orleans’ collective culture.
If you are a business owner who would like to join Everyone’s Welcome Here, or for more information, visit www.neworleans.com/welcoming.
About New Orleans & Company
New Orleans & Company is the tourism and hospitality industry’s official destination sales, marketing and trade organization, responsible for driving over $10 billion of diverse annual business to the regional cultural economy. We attract leisure and cultural travel, business meetings, conventions, weddings, festivals, sporting and special events to New Orleans in a highly competitive global environment. Founded in 1960, New Orleans & Company is committed to celebrating the richness of our culture while creating jobs, building careers, and enhancing the quality of life for every New Orleanian. For more information, visit neworleans.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @VisitNewOrleans.
The New Orleans LGBTQ Hospitality Alliance (NOLHA) was assembled in an effort to unite local LGBTQ+ community leaders and allies, grow attendance for local events, and increase LGBTQ+ visitation to New Orleans. Under the joint efforts of all key LGBT figures and allies, this group acts as a platform that helps educate and support one another – through which, each respective organization grows and strengthens.