In its heyday, the Up Stairs Lounge was an egalitarian gay space that functioned, in many ways, as a forerunner to modern queer safe havens. From October 1970 to June 1973, the bar toasted Black as well as white gay customers in an era of brazen racial discrimination on nearby Bourbon Street. We will gather at this summit to mark half a century since the destruction of the Up Stairs Lounge and to preserve the memory of what occurred. We will consider what progress has been made since that time period and also how far we have to go. We will join in dialogue to contend with the newly resurgent, international awareness of this once-neglected past. Lastly, we will recognize and eulogize the lives of the 31 men and one woman who perished on a random Sunday through no choice or fault of their own.
Kick-off the Up Stairs Lounge Fire 50th Anniversary Commemoration Weekend at The Historic New Orleans Collection. In the Keynote Speech, authors Johnny Townsend, Robert Fieseler, and Clayton Delery will discuss the tragedy and its complex legacy. The keynote will be followed by a community reception.