Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Largest Mass Murder of GLBT People in HIstory: 40 years ago.

This  horrific event in our history may be unknown to you, but story continues to haunt many, including Troy Perry the founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches. (click the plaque image to embiggen.) As usual in those day, as now, there was little press coverage and many families of the deceased refused to claim the bodies.  Unfortunately, some things haven't changed, even 40 years on.  The perpetrator(s) were never found. Sad, that.

On June 24th, 1973 a popular gay bar, The Upstairs Lounge, was brimming with patrons even though it was a Sunday. It was the last day of Pride week. A Time Magazine article described the bar as a,
 “safe haven for gays in 1973. Every Sunday night from 5pm to 7pm, the second-floor bar held its weekly “beer bust”—all you can drink drafts for $1. It was a refuge where patrons could laugh, love, and even worship without fear. The Metropolitan Community Church, the only denomination at the time that welcomed gays and lesbians, often held services in the bar’s back-room theater.”

On that night one man, Luther Boggs, ran down the stairs to answer the doorbell. What he did not know was the man at the door had doused the steps in lighter fluid and set it alight. The next 20 minutes were complete chaos; 35 quickly made it to safety, 15 got out injured but alive, 29 died immediately in the fire, and 3 died later due to injuries.

The Upstairs Lounge was on the second floor of a three-story building, and was only two blocks away from the fire station.  Firefighters were slowed down by stalled vehicles in the street and crowds of drunken bar goers. By the time the first responders arrived on scene, flames were shooting from the building.

The story of the Upstairs Lounge Fire from the Times Picayune. 

I tried posting this yesterday, but the damned links wouldn't cooperate.  Better late than never.

And so it goes.
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2 comments:

  1. I remember this; I was in college at the time. thanks for posting a reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I never heard of this before. I was only 14 at the time and not from that area.
    It rates right up there with the Birmingham black church bombings in my mind.
    So sorrowful....

    ReplyDelete

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