43 years ago a horrendous event happened at a gay bar in New Orleans: The Upstairs Lounge. Lets dedicate this dish and remember the victims of that horrible night. Be sure to read the quick write-up on The Upstairs Lounge following the recipe.
Even at first, the media responses to the fire were not sympathetic.
Some family members who knew, refused to claim the remains (little more than ashes). That would be admitting someone in their family was “queer”. The un-identified were buried in an unmarked mass grave. Radio commentators joked the remains could always be buried in FRUIT jars. The press ran quotes like: "I hope the fire burned their dresses off."
The States-Item described the scene this way: "workers stood knee deep in bodies. The heat had been so intense, many were cooked together."
Detective Major Henry Morris, of the New Orleans Police Department said, "Some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar."
The news coverage was mean. At best, the police response could be described as “uncaring”. However the reaction from religious organizations of New Orleans was a disgrace! One after another of the churches and cathedrals refused to hold memorial services.
Finally, on the first of July a full service was held at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. Reverend Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, officiated along with Methodist Bishop Finis Crutchfield.
According to the official story and popular histories: a troubled street hustler who was thrown out of the bar earlier was quickly blamed. He passed a lie detector test and he was never charged, nothing was ever proved. He had been in psychiatric custody for awhile, but had gotten out long before the incident. He was the perfect scapegoat. Was he guilty? He is said to have committed “suicide” the following year.