The Year in LGBT+ Scholarship
This is an exciting time for LGBT+ history enthusiasts. Consider the following Christmas presents: Out for Queer Blood
Out for Queer Blood: The Murder of Fernando Rios and the Failure of New Orleans Justice by Clayton Delery was recently published by Exposit, an imprint of McFarland & Co. Fernando Rios was a tour guide from Mexico City visiting New Orleans in 1958. After shepherding a group of doctors and their wives around the city, Rios went to Café Lafitte in Exile for a drink where he was met by a Tulane student named John Farrell. The two left the bar together and minutes later, Rios was savagely beaten in Pirate’s Alley by Farrell and two other Tulane undergraduates. Rios ultimately died from the attack and the three students were arrested and tried for murder. Not surprisingly, given the homophobic climate of the time, the three young men were acquitted.
Out for Queer Blood is an important book for a number of reasons. Not only does it recall and shed light on a profound human tragedy, it also provides a glimpse into the homophobic climate of the times. The book will also include an interview with the son of John Farrell, who only recently learned of his father’s involvement in the murder.
Upstairs Inferno: the DVD
Documentary filmmaker Robert Camina’s Upstairs Inferno has been released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Both formats are packed with Bonus Features including: “Behind-the-Scenes: The Making of Upstairs Inferno” and a “Present Day Tour of the ‘Up Stairs Lounge.”
With unique access (exclusive on-camera interviews from survivors, witnesses and friends/families of victims) and a fresh perspective (incorporating long lost artifacts, newsreel footage and photographs that haven’t been seen in decades), Upstairs Inferno vividly examines this often forgotten story and is considered the most comprehensive and authoritative film about the tragedy and its aftermath.
Narrated by New Orleans’ own New York Times best-selling author Christopher Rice, Upstairs Inferno is a mesmerizing mix of crime drama and human connections that captures the heartbreaking feelings of unconditional love and overwhelming loss. An unsettling snapshot of what was, until the early hours of June 12, 2016, the deadliest single event to affect the gay community in American history, Upstairs Inferno gets inside the hearts and minds of a handful of vibrant people who experienced one of the most important and underreported moments in LGBT History.
Dr. Prechter’s Dissertation
In 2013, the 40th anniversary of the Up Stairs arson inspired Ryan Prechter, then a graduate student, to write a dissertation on New Orleans gay history.
In a recent interview, Dr. Prechter noted, “My dissertation adds to recent scholarship which argues against the historical understanding of gay life in America as existing primarily on the East and West Coast. I argue against the belief that LGBT youths during the twentieth century fled entirely from the Midwest and Deep South for gay-friendly neighborhoods in New York and California. I have concluded that the New Orleans gay community has expanded since the end of World War I, and in fact LGBT transplants have been flocking to the city for various reasons for the last century. Ultimately, the history of gay New Orleans is important if one seeks to understand gay history nationwide.
The Stewart Butler Papers
The vast collection of Stewart Butler papers, which Tulane University acquired in 2016, has been processed and archived and is now available to the public. Leon Miller, head of research at the Louisiana Research Collection notes, “This is one of the most important archival collections for Louisiana LGBT politics.”
Butler, who has a passion for securing equal rights for the LGBTQ community, started his career in activism by organizing voter registration drives in the New Orleans area in the 1970s. A decade later he helped found the gay rights advocacy group Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus. The acquired papers include committee reports, minutes from board meetings and LGBTQ organization brochures. Butler has also served on the board of several organizations dedicated to LGBTQ equality, and received two awards from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.
The LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana recently launched an Oral History Initiative. The aim is to capture personal stories and memories before they are lost forever. To participate in the Oral History Project, visit the Archive Project’s website at https://www. lgbtarchiveslouisiana.org/
The mission of the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana is promoting and encouraging the protection and preservation of materials that chronicle the culture and history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community in Louisiana.
Unveiling the Muse: Gay Carnival in New Orleans
Unveiling the Muse: Gay Carnival in New Orleans by Howard P. Smith will be published next month by the University Press of Mississippi. Howard Smith, of the University of Southern California, has been researching this intriguing history for several years. Smith’s research has been extensive and includes oral interviews, as well as primary source material located in archives and museums. Starting with the ill-fated Krewe of Yuga in 1958 and continuing through the present day, Smith’s book promises to be a fascinating narrative of this truly unique New Orleans phenomenon.
Tinderbox: The Horri c Fire that Exposed a Nation’s Prejudice and Fueled a Civil Rights Movement
Tinderbox: The Horrific Fire that Exposed a Nation’s Prejudice and Fueled a Civil Rights Movement by Robert Fieseler will be published by Liveright, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Co. Fieseler’s book differs from the two previous books on the Upstairs Lounge arson in that it situates the narrative of the fire in a national context.
Robert W. Fieseler a journalist and author. His journalism has appeared in Belt Magazine, Narratively, The Big Roundtable, The Week, and other literary journals.
Southern Decadence in New Orleans
Southern Decadence in New Orleans by Howard Smith and Frank Perez will be published next summer by the LSU Press. The book chronicles the humble origins of Southern Decadence and traces its evolution to one of the largest gay celebrations in the country.