louisiana flagPost submitted by Bo Suh, HRC Digital Media Intern

In the 41 years that have passed since the UpStairs Lounge arson attack in New Orleans, the South continues to be a hostile region for LGBT people. HRC has worked hard to change attitudes in the South, but the attack serves as a reminder of how much still needs to be done in certain regions of the U.S. 

In 1973, the UpStairs Lounge was a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The recently founded Metropolitan Community Church, the nation’s first gay church, used the UpStairs Lounge as its temporary home and the bar was often described as a refuge for the LGBT community and for MCC in New Orleans, where gay life and culture remained largely underground. 

On June 24 of that year, the last Sunday of the month and the final day of Pride weekend, a group of over 60 gay men and members of MCC gathered for their weekly meeting when an unidentified person set fire to the only staircase and exit. The whole bar went up in flames, killing a total of 32 men. No one was ever prosecuted and the details of the night were quickly wiped from the radar and forgotten.

The attack was the deadliest attack on LGBT people in history and perhaps one of the least talked about in LGBT history. 

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