NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATES FOR GLBT ELDERS

TRAILBLAZER

award winner

2016

Roberts

Batson

With the Pride Tourism Network and the Gay Heritage Tour, Emmy nominee Roberts Batson draws upon his wide experience as writer, performer, tour guide, teacher, political strategist, and community activist

 

For over thirty, years, he has worked to build a strong LGBT community. In the 70s, he provided the leadership to build the foundations of gay politics in Louisiana, becoming Founding Co-Chair of LAGPAC in 1980, and to create the Louisiana State Gay Conference in 1981. Shortly afterwards, he was a founding member of the NO/AIDS Task Force. Over the years he has raised money for all of those organizations, as well as for the Crescent City Coalition, New Orleans Pride, ACLU, PFLAG, AIDSLaw, the LGBT Center of New Orleans, and a number of political candidates.

To help fund local HIV/AIDS and LGBT community organizations in post-Katrina New Orleans, he founded DecaFest, an entertainment festival presented at Labor Day. 

Batson was an organizer of the effort to pass a New Orleans gay rights ordinance. He was elected as an openly gay member of the Orleans Parish Democratic Committee and as an openly gay delegate to three Louisiana State Democratic Conventions. His achievements have been recognized with the Outstanding Service in Politics Award from the Louisiana Counil for Equal Rights in 1991, the LAGPAC Founders Commendation in 1995, and the Community Spirit Award in 2006. He was named Honored Citizen by IMPACT News in 1997. That year he was chosen Grand Marshal for the Pride Parade and was voted Man of the Year by the Gay Appreciation Awards.

His knowledge of civil rights and minority culture is manifest in his participation in the restoration of the tomb of civil rights pioneer Homer Plessey in New Orleans St. Louis Cemetery #1, and in his prominence as a writer and lecturer on the essential role of Afro-Caribbean culture in New Orleans history.

Batson began his New Orleans tourism career in 1981 as operations director for Meeting New Orleans, a destination management company. While executive director of a tour company in 1984, he became a licensed tour guide. As Assistand Director of Continuing Education at the University of New Orleans, he designed a professional tour guide certification program and wrote the New Orleans history curriculum for their taxi drivers training program.

He is the author of more than 400 published articles on New Orleans history, contemporary culture, and theatre for publications such as Impace News, Time Out, After Dark, Outlines, Gambit Weekly, Around the Clock, Southern Voice, The Louisiana Weekly, Whiz, New Orleans Magazine, Preservation in Print, and glbtq.com. He has received Sigma Delta Chi and Vice Versa journalism awards and the Marigny Bywater Current named him Notable Writer in 2003. The Louisiana Civil Court system has designated him an expert on New Orleans history, an expertise demonstrated in his appearance in a series of documentaries produced by WYES-TV.

 

Batson's theatrical credits number over a hundred productions as actor, director, writer, producer, and designer. He appeared in the film "Three in the Attic," and on national television in the U.S., Canada, and France. His Louisiana Scandals Tour was filmed by the BBC and was seen throughout the world - from Singapore to the Sahara. 

 

Theater administration experience includes apointments as Director of Theatre at Southeastern Louisiana University and as Manager of the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium. In 2001, he became a voting member of the Big Easy Awards Theatre Selection Committee. 

 

His record-breaking show, Amazing Place, this New Orleans is the city's longest-running one-man play. His performance in the show received a regional Emmy nomination in 2007.

 

Batson received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master's Degrees in theatre and communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pursuid additional advanced training at Southern Methodis University and LSU-Baton Rouge. He taught at Southeastern Louisiana University and Phillips Junior College, where he also served as Associate Dean.

 

In 1996, he founded the Bienville Foundation and serves as its president. In 2015 he created the Pride Tourism Network, a cultural tourism project of the Foundation, whose mission is the promote LGBT tourism.

NOAGE is proud to honor Mr. Batson with the first Trailblazer Award for his life-ton service to the LGBT community in New Orleans.

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