JOHN C. KELLY – MICHAEL J. ROSA COLLECTION
Size: 3 linear feet (1 box)
locations: New Orleans, Louisiana
Summary: Ball invitations, programs, and related memorabilia associated with the celebration of the New Orleans Carnival by the city’s gay community.
Source: Gift, December 2006
Access: No restrictions on use in our reading room
Copyright: Physical rights are retained by the Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans
Citation: John C. Kelly – Michael J. Rosa Collection, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans
Although Mardi Gras has been commemorated in New Orleans since at least as early as 1743, it was not until the 1950s that the Carnival traditions of the city’s gay community began to evolve. An active gay social milieu had become more visible after Prohibition ended in 1933, and in 1936 a bar that welcomed gay customers opened on Bourbon Street. In 1958 the first gay Mardi Gras krewe, the Krewe of Yuga, was formed to satirize the straight, haughty Carnival traditions. Yuga’s first ball in 1962—held, unfortunately, at a private school—was raided as soon as the tableau began. Soon, however, the gay community regrouped and new krewes emerged, peaking in the 1980s when dozens of groups flourished and a record eleven krewes staged balls in 1984.
The spread of AIDS diminished the krewes’ ranks and almost destroyed gay Mardi Gras. Again, however, the community persevered; existing krewes increased their membership, and new krewes have formed. In 2008, eight gay Carnival krewes—Amon Ra, Armeinius, Mwindo, Lords of Leather, People of Substance, Petronius, Queenateenas, and Satyricon—are prospering. These krewes, like others that no longer survive, annually host formal, invitation-only balls, memorabilia from which are represented in this collection.
“Gay Mardi Gras History.” http://www.gaymardigras.com/history.htm. Accessed June 26, 2007.
“A Rich Gay Heritage.” http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/glbt/glbt-heritage.html. Accessed June 26, 2008.
Schindler, Henri. Mardi Gras New Orleans. New York: Flammarion, 1997.
343-1 Amon-Ra, Krewe of (formed in 1966)
1982 Program (2 copies)
1984 Invitation (2 copies)
343-2 Armeinius, Krewe of (formed in 1969)
1990 Program (2 copies)
343-3 Mwindo, Krewe of (formed in 1999)
2001 Invitation (2 copies)
343-4 Olympus, Krewe of (formed in 1971)
1974 Invitation (2 copies)
1977 Invitation (3 copies)
343-5 Petronius, Krewe of (formed in 1962)
343-6 Phoenix, Mystic Krewe of
343-7 “Purple Party”
343-8 Scuola Vecchia, La
1993 Admit Card
1994 Invitation (2 copies)
343-9 Société de Ste. Anne, La
343-10 Soiree du Roi
343-11 Twelfth Night
[ca. 2000] Invitation
2001 Invitation (2 copies)
2003 Invitation (2 copies)
2003 Admit Card
2004 Invitation (2 copies)
Krewe of Amon-Ra (Organization)
Krewe of Armeinius (Organization)
Krewe of Mwindus (Organization)
Krewe of Olympus (Organization)
Krewe of Petronius (Organization
La Scuola Vecchia (Organization)
La Société de Ste. Anne (Organization)
Mystic Krewe of Phoenix (Organization)
Soiree du Roi (Organization)
Twelfth Night (Organization)