New Orleans City Council to Pay Tribute to Up Stairs Lounge Victims

Located at 141 Chartres Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, on the second floor of this building was the UpStairs Lounge, where the w:Metropolitan Community Church held services. Site of an arson attack in 1973, resulting in the deaths of 32 people. Photo by Deisenbe | Licensed under CC SY BA 4.0

On Thursday, the New Orleans City Council will hear a presentation on the 49th anniversary of the Up Stairs Lounge arson attack that killed 32 people and injured at least 15 on June 24, 1973. The presentation will be made by Robert W. Fieseler, author of  Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation, Clancy Dubos, journalist, Frank Perez, Executive Director of the LGBT Archives Project of Louisiana, and Rose, Bob and Gina Little, relatives of Clarence McCloskey.

Prior to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, the Up Stairs Lounge arson had been the deadliest attack on a gay club in U.S. history. At the time, local media outlets and editorials minimized the impact of the fire on the local LGBT community and even took the opportunity to disparage the victims.

“We don’t even know if these papers belonged to the people we found them on,” said Major Henry Morris in an interview with the States-Item the day following the fire, referring to identification found on the victims. “Some thieves hung out there and you know it was a queer bar.”

Frank Perez is urging any members of the LGBT+ community who can to attend the council meeting on Thursday to pay homage to the victims.

“After 49 years, the City of New Orleans is finally recognizing the 32 victims of the Up Stairs Lounge arson,” Prez said in a Facebook post. “On Thursday, June 23, the City Council will hear a presentation about the fire and pass a resolution acknowledging and honoring the victims. If your schedule allows, please be at the City Council chamber on Thursday at 10:00 am. In 1973, the tragedy was ignored by officials and ridiculed by the media. Those who died that night could have never imagined how far we’ve come. A strong turnout from the community on Thursday will not only show our gratitude but also demonstrate our determination to never go back to those dark days.”

In addition to the city council presentation, a ceremony honoring the victims of the fire will be held at the site of the Up Stairs Lounge at 7:00pm on Friday, June 24.

Here are the names of the 32 victims who lost their lives on June 23, 1973:

  • Willie Inez Warren
  • Eddie Hosea Warren
  • James Curtis Warren
  • Luther Boggs
  • Rev. William R. Larson
  • Dr. Perry Lane Waters, Jr.
  • Horace “Skip” Getchell
  • Leon Richard Maples
  • George Steven “Bud” Matyi
  • James Wall Hambrick
  • Larry Stratton
  • Joe William Bailey
  • Clarence Joseph McCloskey, Jr.
  • Adam Roland Fontenot
  • Ferris LeBlanc
  • Donald Walter Dunbar
  • Kenneth Paul Harrington
  • Gerald Hoyt Gordon
  • John Thomas Golding, Sr.
  • Douglas Maxwell Williams
  • Robert “Bob” Lumpkin
  • David Stuart Gary
  • Guy D. Anderson
  • Duane George “Mitch” Mitchell
  • Louis Horace Broussard
  • Reginald Adams, Jr.
  • Joseph Henry Adams
  • Herbert Dean Cooley
  • Glenn Richard “Dick” Green
  • Larry Norman Frost
  • Unidentified White Male
  • Unidentified White Male

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