23 candidates are vying for the chance to take Ray Nagin’s place and become New Orleans’ next mayor.
Among them are two openly gay men, James Arey and Leo Watermeier.
James Arey, a classical-music disc jockey and music manager for the local National Public Radio station: “Lesbians saved my neighborhood. That is absolutely true. I had to evacuate to Atlanta because our WWNO studios were unavailable. We broadcast via a PBS satellite from Atlanta. Lesbians snuck back into my neighborhood after hours and before hours. They harassed FEMA representatives, they stopped Red Cross trucks and got food and water for workers, they brought in supplies and gas masks, they stayed on Entergy [the gas and electric company]. They got into everyone’s house, with permission. They got out on the Web with the first pictures from the neighborhood. Anybody in that area that needed assistance, they were there to provide it.”
Leo Watermeier, a former state representative and founding cochair of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans: “On the Web site it says I was co-chair of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center. But, like in life, people get to know you, and then as they get to know more about you, they learn more about you. So that was the kind of approach we took with the whole gay thing. Let people get to know me as a candidate … and then it would become, like, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s gay,’ and it’s just another part of learning about him.”