The Willow Bar hosts young adult LGBT costume party


Angelika Robertson, sociology sophomore, dressed as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad at The Willow Bar’s “Spectrum LGBT Costume Party” that took place on Oct. 27. Photo credit: Davis Walden

Davis Walden

The Willow, a local college bar, threw a queer-friendly costume party catering to college students.

Begun after years of noticing New Orleans’ lack of available events for younger members of the LGBT community, Kayla Alexis, psychology senior, and Marisa Clogher, English writing junior, created “Cool Queer Kids Being Cool,” a Facebook group reaching out to young members of the LGBT community wanting to coordinate events with one another.

“Everyone’s finding themselves. If you’re some flavor of queer, there’s no way to escape that without outing yourself,” Alexis said. “It’s so hard to find a space. I just want to be a college student and be queer at the same time.”

Jared Mintz, production manager and programing director at The Willow and friend of Alexis, saw the creation of their Facebook group and wondered if there were any LGBT-friendly events for college students. He decided to offer The Willow as a location for that to happen.

“We did a couple (LGBT events) in the spring and then relaunched the concept this fall after deciding that we wanted the event to be regular every Thursday,” Mintz said. “We have been seeing increasing attendance and enthusiasm for the event in the last few weeks since we have officially made it regular.”

The LGBT night takes place every Thursday.

“I feel that it’s great that the LGBT community has someplace to go. We don’t have anything else like this in Uptown,” Kentro Mason, a music senior who works at the bar, said. “I love that it’s a safe place to be.”

The aspect of “safety” is one that Alexis and Clogher, who said they have had their share of bad experiences at LGBT bars, found attractive for college students, particularly ones that are questioning, women or gender non-binary.

“A lot of them are geared towards old white men who are very comfortable in their sexuality,” Clogher said. “It’s great that they’ve gotten to that point, but some people aren’t quite there yet.”

Clogher and Alexis discussed how Southern Decadence’s popularity among gay men led to the creation of “Dykeadence,” an event created by and for women, trans people, people of color and allies to the LGBT community.

“Not only do we want to make it for younger people, but we want to make it a lot more diverse,” Alexis said. “We want to make sure that people know that you don’t even have to be sure in any part of
your sexuality.”

A mission of The Willow events is to promote a comfortable space where a community of young members of the LGBT community can form relationships with one another and the staff at the bar. The team behind the events extends invitations to people who are still in the process of discovering their own sexuality.

“Compared to Oz, personally I would say that this is a lot better experience if you don’t like the high intensity, shoulder to shoulder thing,” Mason said. “You feel a lot of community here.”