Remembering the UpStairs Lounge: The U.S.A.’s Largest LGBT Massacre Happened 40 Years Ago Today

I’ve never heard of this of this horrible story. 40 years ago today, on the last day of Pride weekend in 1973, the deadliest fire in New Orleans history & the largest massacre of gay people in the U.S. took place in the Upstairs Lounge, a “secret location” where gay people met to socialize. The police didn’t do much to investigate, they denied it, there was no impact on the news, talk radio hosts made fun of the event, due to shame lots of the bodies were never claimed & church after church refused to memorialize or bury the dead. It’s a disturbing read, but this is why we need to keep up the fight. Pride means a lot more to some people than just marching in a parade & going out to party. Many before us fought more than we ever had to, and lost their lives just for being themselves. This comes on the heels of my last post about not feeling guilty for being yourself. It’s OK to be gay. We are valid & ordained by the divine! We have permission to be ourselves. They’ll try, but they can’t take that away from us. I remember a time at Journal Square train station in early 1994, it was cold, and my very first boyfriend (Danny) & I were waiting for my train to come. He lived in Jersey City. I got up to get my train & I kissed him goodbye on the platform. I’ll never forget the look that older black man gave me. He was so shocked & looked a bit frightened at what I had just done, looking around. He made me a bit nervous, then, he smiled so brightly & said, “Wow, you’re a very brave man for doing what you just did.” I just said “thanks” but didn’t think much about it since I was just being myself. I have never felt guilty for being who I am. I’ve had the luxury of never having to to hide or lie to anyone about my sexuality & who I love, and I sure as hell am not gonna start now. Gay Rights are Human Rights! We all deserve to live an equal life! And as I’m writing this last line, “Same Love” by Macklemore is starting to play.

Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up



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