In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and it’s Oldest Gay Bar – Frank Perez and Jeffrey Palmquist (LL Publications)
Buy it direct from LL Publications
What can one say about their first love. It lingers with you long after you say good-bye. This is how I feel about The French Quarter and the city of New Orleans. There is something magical about that place, she seduces you and never lets you go.
For me, it’s the smell of Bourbon Street in the heat of the day, the hustle and bustle of the crowds at night, and the peaceful calm of the quarter the morning after. It’s not just the French Quarter, however everywhere you turn the mysteries of the city tugs at you, the culture, the food, the music, and the people. There is no other place like it.
This past May while visiting New Orleans for the annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival I picked up Frank and Jeffrey’s new book appropriately entitled, In Exile and fell in love all over again with not only my favorite city, but my favorite gay bar, Café Lafitte’s in Exile. As one person describes it…
“This bar is different … No one feels the need to pretend to be someone they’re not. Lafitte’s is
my gay Cheers. Lafitte’s helped me decide who I didn’t want to be and molded who I became.
Lafitte’s is like New Orleans itself-always a character around, someone to talk to, always
something to learn.”
People read about all the gay history and early activism in places like San Francisco and New York but rarely do you hear about the gay history of New Orleans. It’s not always a happy story, but its one that desperately needed to be told. Frank and Jeffrey have given the world, especially the gay world a small piece of our history back, one that we should have known and one we should always keep with us.
I’ve read reviews about this book in which the reviewers state that the book jumps around too much, that it’s not linear enough for them, personally I think they just didn’t care enough about the story that was being told. The history of New Orleans, much like the city is today is not linear (not much in life is). This book was so intriguing that I had finished it by the time I landed in Boston coming back from Saints and Sinners, and anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fast reader, but I literally could not put this book down.
Jeffrey and Frank deserve a huge round of applause for their tireless efforts in tracking down this mostly forgotten history in a city that deserves not to be ignored.
If you love New Orleans, and love what the city means to you, then you’ll love this book. It’s a must for anyone who has ever stepped foot onto the sacred, tantalizing streets of this historical city.
Reviewed by William Holden