MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a time where anti-LGBTQ legislation is on the rise, one Memphis organization is making sure the Mid-South community is protected.
In the early 60s, gay krewes were created in New Orleans to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community during Mardi Gras, free of police intimidation and mob violence.
“Those krewes became social clubs, became political organizations to champion the rights of the LGBTQ community, even before the first brick at Stonewall was ever thrown,” said Brandon Leslie with the Mystic Krewe of Pegasus Memphis.
The organization continues to fight to create these safe spaces and resources in Memphis. The Mardi Gras Ball is one of the krewe’s biggest fundraisers for this effort.
“Over the past 20 years we’ve raised over $460,000 for local Memphis charities,” said Leslie. “One of the proudest charities that we helped support was the Metamorphosis Project.”
“We provide emergency services through food pantry, transportation services. We have case management services,” said Joshua Hall with OutMemphis.
According to OutMemphis, 8% of the general population identify as LGBTQ+, but 40% of youth in the LGBTQ+ community are on the street nationwide.
“With queer folks, that’s usually the time where people come into their own, coming out, becoming more comfortable with themselves, and unfortunately a lot of times it causes friction with family,” said Hall.
This friction can escalate into domestic violence, which is a big concern within the LGBTQ+ community.
“We’re at four times a greater chance of being victims of that,” said Leslie.
This year, the Pegasus Ball will address this issue, and benefit Love Doesn’t Hurt, to help victims of domestic violence.
“We still believe that there needs to be a physical safe space, especially here in Memphis for members of our community,” said Leslie. “We welcome you, we love you, we want you to be a part of our community.”
Tickets to the 2023 Pegasus Ball can be found here.