On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to the Up Stairs Lounge, a New Orleans bar. The result was the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history. Despite the staggering historical significance, few people know about the tragedy. Thirty-two people were killed and some bodies were never identified.
One-third of the New Orleans Metropolitan Community Church were killed in the blaze. No one was ever charged with the crime. The tragedy did not stop at the loss of lives. There were also the delayed injuries: lost jobs, fear, public ridicule and severed families.
The devastation was compounded by the homophobic reactions and lack of concern by the general public, government and religious leaders. The fire permanently altered lives and was the root of many lifelong struggles.