|Picture from: http://www.bilerico.com/2012/02/new_orleans_inferno_the_upstairs_lounge_fire.php|
On June 24, 1973, thirty-two people were burned alive in The Upstairs Lounge in the French Quarter. Why? It was a gay bar. Because some inhumane schmuck decided to throw a flammable liquid on the stairway and light it. It took the fire approximately twenty minutes to completely engulf the building.
The windows were covered with burglar bars through which only the smallest of men could pass through. Witnesses helplessly watched as men jammed up to the windows, arms flailing through the bars, burned alive. Four bodies were found under the piano. Four men huddled in fear under the piano helpless to do anything to save themselves. It was the deadliest fire in New Orleans' history.
Today, I'd like to think this city would react better, but then, in 1973, many bodies weren't claimed because of the stigma of being gay. Many churches refused to hold services for the victims because they were gay. Worse, the city's population felt like these men and one woman got what they deserved. J. remembers the incident and remembers the general feeling that these people deserved to burn alive.
I could post about my birthday, or my cats, or my weight, but I think that remembering these people today is important. No one claimed them back in 1973, so today I'll claim them.
In memory of:
JOE WILLIAM BAILEYCLARENCE JOSEPH McCLOSKEY, JR.DUANE GEORGE MITCHELLLOUIS HORACE BROUSSARD.MRS. WILLIE INEZ WARREN.EDDIE HOSEA WARREN, son.JAMES CURTIS WARREN, son.REV. WILLIAM R. LARSON.DR. PERRY LANE WATERS, JR.DOUGLAS MAXWELL WILLIAMS.LEON RICHARD MAPLES.GEORGE STEVEN MATYI.LARRY STRATTON.REGINALD ADAMS, JR.JAMES WALLS HAMBRICK.HORACE GETCHELL.JOSEPH HENRY ADAMS.HERBERT DEAN COOLEY, bartender.DAVID STUART GARY, pianist.GUY D. ANDERSON.LUTHER BOGGS.DONALD WALTER DUNBAR.JOHN THOMAS GOLDING, SR.ADAM ROLAND FONTENOT.GERALD HOYT GORDON.KENNETH PAUL HARRINGTON.GLENN RICHARD GREEN.ROBERT LUMPKIN.FERRIS LeBLANC.Three Unidentified White Males. (Names from: http://www3.gendisasters.com/louisiana/1484/new-orleans,-la-cocktail-lounge-fire,-june-1973)