NEW ORLEANS - Today, during its regular meeting, the New Orleans City Council posthumously recognized the 32 victims of the 1973 arson attack on the Up Stairs Lounge. Resolution R-22-308 breaks the precedence of silence set by the City of New Orleans and allows for loved ones of survivors and victims to heal from past traumas.
The Up Stairs Lounge in the French Quarter served as a haven for the LGBTQ+ community in New Orleans at a time when queer individuals were not accepted in society. The fire was the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ individuals of the 20th century and was the deadliest fire in recorded New Orleans history.
"The city we are today is not the city we were then," Councilmember JP Morrell stated. "The City of New Orleans' lack of response to the deadliest fire in our history has kept individuals from mourning their loved ones, but today we took a step in the right direction. Moving forward, my office will be working with the family of Ferris LeBlanc, a WWII veteran who died in the fire, to exhume his remains and properly memorialize him with full military honors. There's still so much left to do to adequately recognize the tragedy of the Up Stairs Lounge arson attack, but today was a good start."
Today's presentation to the Council was led by Up Stairs Lounge historian and author Robert Fieseler, Clancy DuBos, who covered the tragedy as an 18-year-old intern at the Times-Picayune, and local LGBTQ+ historian Frank Perez. Following the presentation, the resolution was presented to 90-year-old Rose Little, whose brother Clarence McCloskey died in the fire.
Tomorrow, June 24, 2022, marks the 49th anniversary of the Up Stairs Lounge arson attack.