The festival itself also draws occasional anti-gay protests, some of whom take to the streets with bullhorns to preach against it.
The City Council tried to curb such protests with an "aggressive solicitation" ordinance forbidding the pushing of "any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise" on Bourbon Street, but voted to end that ban this year amid court challenges.
The Police Department, meanwhile, is under scrutiny for alleged bias in its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. A 2011 report by the Justice Department took the scandal-plagued department to task on several fronts, including alleged discrimination against LGBT people.
Wesley Ware, director of BreakOUT, an organization of LGBT advocates, said the problems were numerous, and that transgender people were stopped frequently and searched inappropriately. Officers patted people down to try to determine their biological sex, Ware said.
Police say that's changing.
"We have been doing extensive yearly training during in-service that touches not only on the new 'bias- based policing' policy and procedure, but also delves a bit into the history of difficulties that existed in the relationship between law enforcement and the New Orleans LGBT community," police Sgt. Nicole Barbe wrote in an email. "Sensitivity training focuses on recent efforts to improve that relationship."
Gay and straight officers attend gay pride events throughout the year and two LGBT liaisons are among the officers assigned to the event, 8th Police District commander Jeff Walls said in an email.
Ware said BreakOUT has begun surveying its members to see the effects of the new policies.
Hill said Forum for Equality officials working with Justice Department lawyers also heard evidence of mistreatment of transgender women by police officers and noted that is addressed in a federal reform plan for police. "But that's a very small part of what's going on," Hill said. "Generally, there's a very good relationship between the New Orleans Police Department and the LGBT community."
And, he notes, that relationship extends to the mayor's office and City Council.
"New Orleans is, basically, a very gay-friendly city in a state that is not gay friendly," he said.
Louisiana voters statewide overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.