Queerty is better as a member
OMG!… I am 53, I love learning about LGBT history, and this is the first I have heard of this tragedy.
Very well written article about an unknown atrocious event in our common history. I would want to see the person responsible discovered and brought to justice, even 40 years later.
I’m with BigWoody…
(pause for laughter)
… in that this is the first I’ve heard of this tragedy before. it was a good article and informative. So thank you for this.
I read about this in a big article the Advocate published just before I came out. Very disturbing, especially the photos that were published. The victims of the fire were given particularly evil treatment in the New Orleans press. What is usually not mentioned is that the local MCC church was using the bar for services at the time the arson occurred. So this probably was not only an attack on the bar but on the church as well, as many of their members were killed.
I hadn’t heard of this horrible event either until a visit to New Orleans recently, but I’ve read elsewhere that there had been a dispute earlier in the day and everyone was pretty sure who did it: Rogder Dale Nunez, who actually was arrested for it but escaped the hospital, later admitted the crime and committed suicide.
The first place I heard about this story was on Queerty. I was absolutely shocked. This is such important history.
I also remember that back during the 1970s there were a number of arson attacks on the Metropolitan Community Churches around the country. The MCC was just beginning to establish itself then. The ‘Christians’ at that time regarded homosexual Christians as heresy and churches that had a predominately homosexual congregation as the ultimate in heresy.
Since I first learned of the fire in New Orleans in the late 1980s from survivors I have tried to bring this to the attention of anyone who would listen. I’m sad to report that most gay groups — thinking me far too radical (We never heard of it, it can’t exist, they told me, and there was no internet with the few sites that exist about it, my own included) — didn’t give a damn either.
It is nice that maybe someone will give a damn and do something after 40 years. I’m not sure a musical is the way to memorialize America’s largest unsolved mass slaughter, but that’s the way things are done now, I guess. It is, however, not just an “LGBT event” — there was no LGBT in those days — there were gay men, and a few lesbians. And again, it is this nation’s biggest slaughter never solved of anyone by anyone.
and, by the way, if you check your archives, and emails — it was I who brought it to your attention in the past two years — Queerty didn’t seem to know about it at that time.
But like I say — ’bout time it’s getting notice.
Jim, I published some info about this on my web site some years ago and was contacted by a guy who had written extensively about this on his blog. I’m not sure if you were the one. I’d have to go through my old email to see if I can find out. I agree with you that there seems to be an attitude now to blend in as much as possible, have no identity and every thing will be happy wonderful, plus history doesn’t matter because it’s over and done with. Except life doesn’t work that way.
Just read how the German Jews felt after they had been rounded up by the Nazis and sent to the camps. Oh wait, we can’t read how they felt because they were all gassed – though I can imagine they weren’t too happy, even those who tried to assimilate as much as possible.
It’s also true about the way things were with gay men. Today’s alphabet soup collection wants to include everybody including some who are very anti-gay, I’ve gotten some blistering attacks from some who just don’t like my sexual orientation. I find that very ironic. In fact, I get the impression that some in the alphabet collection seem to think it’s cool to put down gay men, they want to hang with the ‘community’ but just don’t like that homo stuff.
I lived in New Orleans at the time and was 10 years old and to this day can remember the breaking news story as it happened. Although it “remains unsolved” the theory is that it was started by a patron of the bar who had been tossed out, not specifically an outside person or group that was targeting gays.
@Jim Hlavac: We actually covered it on Queerty back in October 2011 and it got a lot of attention then.
I’m glad we are revisiting it today.
Sad, but makes no sense why this isn’t a better known event in the gay world.
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