Lafayette’s reputation as a front in culture war has gone national. Struggles for recognition and most recently a decision to scrap Pride Month book displays at the public library have earned Lafayette unwanted recognition for exclusion, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community.
But advocates see reason for optimism. This year, Acadiana Queer Collective hosts the second annual Pride Acadiana festival in Downtown Lafayette. The festival has a simple message to Lafayette’s queer community and anyone fighting for a seat at the table: You belong.
“We know there are gay people in Acadiana. We know they’re spread out. We just want to bring everybody together,” says Monet David, a counselor and founding member of Acadiana Queer Collective.
Bringing everybody together is the point. And there are plenty of ways to show up and show pride, during Pride Month and year round. Here’s how to get involved.
Show up and show Pride
Pride Festival always needs volunteers. And an easy and fun way to get involved is to help grow the event and make it a success.
You can sign up for two-hour slots to help with the health and wellness fair, the children’s art tent, the film showcase, the Pride parade and more.
The message here is show up — because you belong. There are lots of ways to advocate or get involved. Start with what interests you. RSVP for Pride Acadiana on Saturday, June 11.
“Advocacy is such a multifaceted thing,” says Peyton Rose Michelle of Louisiana Trans Advocates. “Just find ones you enjoy.”
Local organizations you can support
Lafayette has several organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community and allies. There’s a lot of overlap, and Monet recommends finding a place that suits you.
Acadiana Queer Collective was formed in 2022 and strives to be a resource for families and LGTBQ+ people of all ages. The collective is also the nonprofit that organizes the Pride Acadiana festival. You can support the organization by donating, joining or volunteering. Learn More | Follow | Donate
PFLAG is the oldest national organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Lafayette’s chapter was revived in 2019 as activism flared around Drag Queen Story Time. Today, it continues to meet regularly and to advocate for inclusive policies locally. Learn More | Follow | Donate
Acadiana Cares provides health care and housing support and was founded during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Today Cares is a primary provider of PrEP treatment and is a key resource for emergency and transitional housing for anyone suffering from substance abuse and poverty. Learn More | Follow | Donate
Human Rights Campaign boasts 3 million members and has fought for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion since 1980. Its local chapters have the backing of one of the nation’s largest civil rights organizations. Louisiana’s steering committee is based in New Orleans. Learn More | Follow | Donate
Trevor Project provides free crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ teens and young adults. Volunteers can commit to a weekly three-hour shift for a minimum of one year. Learn More | Follow | Donate
Louisiana Trans Advocates is a grassroots organization supporting trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people in Louisiana. Learn More | Follow | Donate
Tell us about your organization here, and we’ll add it to the list.
Public policy in Louisiana has a big impact on the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Louisiana banned transgender athletes from competing in youth sports.
While unsuccessful in lobbying against passage of the trans athletes ban, Michelle says Louisiana Trans Advocates got further than ever before with legislation outlawing conversion therapy and enacting housing protections. LTA was instrumental in blocking Louisiana’s version of what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill restricting discussion of sexuality and gender identity in schools.
“It might be really easy for queer people and LGBTQ+ people and our allies to feel like we don’t belong here,” she says. “But we got further than we’ve ever gotten. We can succeed. We are succeeding.”
At the state level, you can support LTA directly with donations or volunteerism. And there are opportunities to impact local public policy, too.
The Human Rights Campaign rates Lafayette near the bottom on its index of local protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
Ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination and housing discrimation could improve Lafayette’s score. So could public support for health care and housing.
That means raising awareness on these issues with your representatives on the City Council or Parish Council. Find your city or parish council person’s contact information here and here.
Contacting your council rep is an easy way to show up.