Sunday, December 6, 2009

RIP Vieille Reine


Leon Khalil Zainey, a pioneer in New Orleans Gay Society, has died

ZAINEY Leon Khalil Zainey, age 101 years, died Friday, December 4, 2009 at River Valley Nursing Center in Gainesville, Texas, where he had been residing since Hurricane Katrina. Son of the late Rachel Moghabhgab and Khalil Zainey. Brother of the late Mrs. Paul (Linda) Hickey and Alexander K. Zainey. He is survived by a cousin, Mrs. Jamelia Gubgub of Mosman Park, Western Australia. Mr. Zainey was a native and lifelong resident of New Orleans, LA. A graduate of Warren Easton High School and a World War II Army veteran serving in the Alaskan Defense Command. He was an organizer with the late attorney Alfred Danziger of children's theatre in the late 1920's and published the "Processional", a newspaper giving information about theatre productions in New York and San Francisco. He was the wardrobe and property manager of the New Orleans Opera Association for 43 years and a charter member of Local 840, Electrical Wardrobe Attendants. He was the founder and charter member of the Steamboat Club** of New Orleans. Memorial Services for Mr. Zainey will be announced by THARP-SONTHEIMER FUNERAL HOME of Metairie. Information: (504) 835-2341.

**Steamboat Club

A lively gay social world had long existed, but after Prohibition ended in 1933, it became more public. In 1936, a bar opened at the Lafitte Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street. Although its clientele was a varied group, gay men and women knew they were welcome. But in 1953, the owners lost their lease. They moved to the next corner and reopened as Café Lafitte in Exile – now one of the oldest gay bars in the country.

Private gay socializing flourished in mid-century New Orleans. The oldest continuing gay event, the Fat Monday Luncheon, began in 1949, and the oldest gay social organization, the Steamboat Club, was launched in 1953. The Krewe of Yuga was the first gay Carnival club in 1958, followed by the Krewe of Petronius in 1962.


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