UpStairs Lounge Arson 45th Anniversary

Wednesday, June 13 – Benefit at Bourre at Boucherie
From 5:00-9:00 p.m. during the Daiquiri Day’s of Summer, join Bourrée, in connection with LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana & St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, New Orleans as we remember The Upstairs Lounge Fire. All proceeds from their Daiquiri Sales that evening will be donated to help finance the Second Line Memorial for the 45th anniversary. Come support the community, listen to great live local music, have a daiquiri (alcoholic or not!), eat some boudin, and spread the love.

Saturday, June 23 – UpStairs Inferno Screening and Panel
5:00 p.m. at The Broad Theater (636 N. Broad St.) The UPSTAIRS INFERNO special screening will be held on the eve of the anniversary, June 23 at 5pm at The Broad Theater (636 N Broad St, New Orleans, LA 70119). Buy your tickets TODAY at Director Robert L. Camina returns to host a discussion immediately after the film. He will be joined by special guests, Marilyn LeBlanc-Downey and Skip Bailey (sister and nephew of Ferris LeBlanc, one of the arson victims buried in the Pauper’s Cemetery).

Sunday, June 24 – Service at St. Mark’s
An ecumenical service will be held at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church (1130 N. Rampart Street) at 5:00 p.m., followed by a Second Line parade to the site of the fire where a solemn reading of the names of the victims will be held.

Wednesday, June 27 – Panel Discussion
This event will take place at 6:00 p.m. at the Williams Street Research Center at 410 Chartres Street. The LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana and the Historic New Orleans Collection will host a panel discussion of historians and witnesses to the event discussing how it shaped the community locally and nationally. Participants on the panel include Royd Anderson, director of the documentary The UpStairs Lounge Fire (2013); Clayton Delery, award-winning author of The UpStairs Lounge Arson (2014); Clancy DuBos, the journalist whose story “Blood, Moans: Charity Scene” ran on the front page of the Times-Picayune the morning after the fire; and Robert W. Fieseler. The panel discussion will be moderated by Frank Perez, president of the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana and co-author of the forthcoming book, Southern Decadence in New Orleans (LSU Press). The event will also feature a reading and book-signing for Fieseler’s new book.

Upstairs Lounge massacre June 24, 1973

On Sunday, June 24, 1973, the largest LGBTQ massacre in the history of the United States occurred at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, LA. It was the final day of a Pride Weekend celebration, and dozens from at the Metropolitan Community Church, the first gay church founded in the US, went to the Lounge. The attacker coated the stairs with lighter fluid, which made way for an exploding fireball throughout the building and took the lives of 32 people. Despite being the deadliest fire in New Orleans history, few news organizations respectably covered the tragedy.

After UpStairs Lounge fire, gay and straight New Orleans changed: Frank Perez |


The deadliest fire in New Orleans history occurred on June 24, 1973. On that night, an unruly patron was thrown out of the UpStairs Lounge, which was located at the corner of Iberville and Chartres streets. About 30 minutes after being ejected from the bar, the patron returned and deliberately set the stairwell on fire. Thirty-two people died as a result of the arson.

The police and fire department responses were nonchalant and no arrest was made in the case, even though authorities knew who set the fire. Mayor Moon Landrieu, nor any other government official, had anything to say about the tragedy. Churches were either silent or subtly suggested the victims deserved what they got. Today, the fire remains largely forgotten.

After UpStairs Lounge fire, gay and straight New Orleans changed: Frank Perez |

’73 Upstairs Lounge fire ‘worst mass murder of gays in U.S. history’

I wrote about this before on this blog and appreciate that some of our media at least bothers to note this date of this terrible event. Recently, I saw a husband/wife set of tourists stop and read the plaque that was only recently put there to note the spot. Maybe if more people were aware of this crime and the lack of concern at that point by city officials-and the churches that refused to have services for the dead- we can begin to understand why we need to push human rights issues forward in every generation.

'73 Upstairs Lounge fire 'worst mass murder of gays in U.S. history' | New Orleans.