In New Orleans on a warm Sunday afternoon in June 24, 1973 an afternoon arson attack on a gay bar called the Upstairs Lounge resulted in the deaths of 32 people. The UpStairs Lounge fire is the deadliest fire in New Orleans history and now the second largest mass murder of LGBT people ever in the United States after the Florida Pulse Massacre.
News coverage at that time, both print and television, made every effort to omit the fact that the fire had anything to do with homosexuals in the community, even though a gay bar and members of a gay church congregation had been involved. The stories that appeared included quotes from local citizens that can only be described as ignorant, such as a cab driver who said “I hoped the fire burned their dresses off,” and one woman who opined that “the Lord … cooked them.” Local talk radio hosts were making jokes such as, “What do they bury the ashes of queers in?” The answer: “Fruit jars.”
Of the 32 victims four of the bodies were buried by authorities in an unmarked grave in the local “potter’s field”. Sadly, a record of exactly where those bodies were buried was lost during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy of 2005. Now, officials in the city have announced that they plan to renew efforts to find the victims in the unmarked grave.
Last Thursday, NOLA city council passed a motion promising to renew efforts to find the lost bodies. Doing so opens up the possibility of carrying out DNA testing to identify those not previously named. It also means they can receive a proper burialafter all these decades..
“The City’s callous and deeply inadequate response … rooted in pervasive anti-gay sentiment” made suffering worse for victims´ families and friends” states the motion written by Councilmember Jean-Paul “JP” Morrell.
The motion says the city has a moral obligation to do all it can to aid “the recovery and dignified interment of the victims of the UpStairs Lounge massacre.”
Born in Hawaii on July 13, 1943, Danny Lockin was a talented actor and dancer who appeared on stage, television, and film. He was best known for his portrayal of the character Barnaby Tucker in the 1969 film Hello, Dolly!.
Danny Lockin was also a victim of one the most brutal gay murders in Hollywood and Broadway history
In 1965 Danny Lockin replaced Jerry Dodge in the role of Barnaby Tucker in Hello, Dolly! and went across the United States on six traveling productions. Several actresses playing Dolly Levi he performed with included: Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden, Dorothy Lamour and Anne Russell. He remained in the role for the movie version of Hello, Dolly! after enduring an audition and 13 callbacks before finally getting the role. When filming for movie ended, Lockin continued the role on Broadway again where he worked with both Ethel Merman and Phyllis Diller until it closed on Dec. 27, 1970. One of the actresses that Locin mixed feelings about was Carol Channing as Dolly, about whom he once said: “Carol Channing is rather disconcerting. You’ll notice her looking at you with those big baby-stare eyes. Then eventually it dawns on you that the person behind those eyes is, in show business terms, about 200 years old.” He also later expressed unhappiness with the way audiences reacted to Merman in the role of Dolly Levi, and how this changed the show. “She wasn’t Dolly up there, she was Ethel Merman in Dolly clothes. … The audiences came, of course; they came to see the Ethel Merman version. But it wasn’t Hello, Dolly! any more, it was her show. … Channing or Streisand, they were part of a cast, trying to act out a character. But with Ethel Merman—and not just her fault, with the audience, she was such an institution—the rest of us felt like just her chorus boys or her chorus line.
On the night of August 21, 1977 Danny Lockin went to a gay bar The Mug, in Garden Grove, California. He left the bar with a slight, 34-year-old unemployed medical clerk, Charles Leslie Hopkins (who already had a police record and was on probation at the time). Several hours later, Hopkins called police to say that a man had entered his apartment and tried to rob him. Upon arrival, police found Lockin’s body on the floor of Hopkin’s apartment. He had been stabbed ovwe 100 times, and bled to death. Lockin’s body had also been mutilated after death. Hopkins claimed he had no idea how the dead body got in his apartment.
Hopkins was arrested immediately.
Police found a book of pornographic pictures in Hopkins’ apartment which showed men being tortured during sexual orgies. Prosecutors initially intended to seek a first degree murder conviction, and to use the book to prove that Hopkins had planned the murder. Hopkins’ trial began in May 1978, but endured a two-month delay. During the delay, the Supreme Court of the United States held in United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1 (1977), that police may not engage in warrantless searches of an individual’s property in the absence of an exigency. On July 31, the trial court ruled the pornographic book inadmissible as evidence. On August 8, the trial court judge held that the death penalty could not be applied to Hopkins due to lack of evidence of premeditation.
On September 28, 1978, Hopkins was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a three-year prison term. Since the court was permitted to consider suppressed evidence if the evidence was not seized merely to obtain a lengthier prison sentence and it did not “shock the conscience of the court,” the trial judge increased Hopkins’ sentence from the usual three years to four years. Hopkin’s was released in just over two years. Many believe that due to the “homosexual nature” of the case and societal prejudice at the time, justice was not served. After being released from prison, Hopkins married. It has been reported that Hopkins “died an unusually slow and painful death from cancer.”
Danny Lockin was buried in Westminster Memorial Park cemetery in Orange County. His grave is in Block 29, Section 219, Grave 4 with a simple stone that calls him “Beloved Son”.
It’s being reported that Iran executed ten people on Wednesday, including a gay man, in Karaj, the capital of the Alborz Province, just outside of Tehran.
According to Human Rights Activists News Agency, the identity of Iman Safari Rad and Mehdi Khalgoldi, have been verified by HRANA. Iman Safavi Rad had previously been sentenced to death on charges of “sodomy by rape”
British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell stated: “Yet again another man has been executed on a charge of sodomy, which he may or may not have committed, with or without consent. What is certain is that this man almost certainly did not receive a fair trial under the notoriously biased Iranian judicial system. Defendants are routinely denied access to lawyers and defence witnesses. They can be sentenced after brief ‘trials’ lasting as little as 20 minutes, with lawyers provided only shortly before the court hearing starts. People can be found guilty without corroborating evidence. This execution is consistent with Iran’s state policy of the death penalty for same-sex relations.”
According to a 2008 British WikiLeaks diplomatic cable, Iran’s regime has executed between 4,000-6,000 gays and lesbians since the nation’s Islamic revolution in 1979.
A gunman opened fire in Oslo’s night-life district early Saturday, killing two people and leaving 10 seriously wounded in what police are investigating as a possible terrorist attack during the Norwegian capital’s annual Pride festival.
The shootings happened around 1 a.m. local time, sending panicked revelers fleeing into the streets or trying to hide from the gunman. Investigators said the suspect, identified as a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, was arrested after opening fire at three locations in downtown Oslo.
Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting. “”I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK. “First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”
Organizers of Oslo Pride canceled a parade that was set for Saturday as the highlight of a weeklong festival. One of the shootings happened outside the London Pub, a bar popular with the city’s LGBTQ community, just hours before the parade was set to begin.
WARNING: The video below may cause some distress. Please view at your own caution,
A brutal murder that took place over 45 years ago in San Francisco just a few days before it’s annual PRIDE celebration shocked and catalyzed that city’s gay community and resulted in exposing the mostly hidden to the public- eye violence against gay people.
On the night of June 21, 1977, Robert Hillsborough, and his roommate, Jerry Taylor, went out to a disco for a night of dancing. They left sometime after midnight and stopped for a bite to eat at the Whiz Burger a few blocks from their apartment in the Mission District. When they left the burger joint, they were accosted by a gang of young men shouting anti-gay slurs at them. Hillsborough and Taylor ran into Hillsborough’s car as several of the attackers climbed onto the car’s roof and hood. Hillsborough drove off, and thought that he left his troubles behind him. What he didn’t know was that they were following him in another car. Hillsborough parked just four blocks away from their apartment. When they got out of the car four men jumped out the other car and attacked them again. Jerry Taylor was beaten, but he managed to escape. Robert Hillsborough wasn’t so lucky.
Robert was brutally beaten and stabbed 15 times by 19-year-old John Cordova who was yelling, “Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!” Witnesses also reported that Cordoba yelled, “This one’s for Anita!” Neighbors were awakened by the commotion, and one woman screamed that she was calling the police, which prompted the four attackers to flee. Neighbors rushed to Hillsborough’s aid, but it was too late. Hillsborough died 45 minutes later at Mission Emergency Hospital. Cordoba and the three other assailants were arrested later that morning.
Because Hillsborough was employed as a city gardener, Mayor George Moscone followed longstanding practice and ordered flags at City Hall and other city properties to be lowered to half-mast. He also directed his anger to Anita Bryant and California State Sen. John Briggs, who was running for governor and an anti-gay platform. Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in Miami which resulted in the defeat of a gay rights ordinance three weeks earlier had inspired Briggs to hold a new conference in front of city hall the week before Hillsborough’s death to announce a campaign to remove gays and lesbians from teaching. Moscone called Briggs an anti-homosexual “demagogue” and held him responsible for “inciting trouble by walking right into San Francisco, knowing the emotional state of his community. He stirred people into action. He will have to live with his conscience.”
Hillsborough’s death also struck a deep nerve in the gay community. ”We live in a paranoid state,” said Harvey Milk, who was preparing his run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, “and the death of Robert is only the culmination of a lot of violence that’s been directed at us.” San Francisco’s Pride celebration, which took place just a few days later, attracted a record-breaking 300,000 people, and it became an impromptu memorial march as participants erected a makeshift shrine at City Hall.
Cordova was charged with a single count of murder, along with Thomas J. Spooner, 21. The other two passengers in the car were not charged.
Cordova was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to only 10 years in prison. Charges were later dropped against Spooner.
The parents of Robert Hillsborough filed a $5 million lawsuit accusing Anita Bryant of conducting a hate campaign against homosexuals. Hillsborough’s parents claimed and rightfully so that Miss Bryant’s public comments constituted “a campaign of hate, bigotry, ignorance, fear, intimidation and prejudice” against their son and other homosexuals. This, they said, amounted to a conspiracy to deprive Hillsborough of his civil rights.
U.S. District Judge Stanley A. Weigel dismissed the case saying that he lacked jurisdiction because Miss Bryant lives in Florida.
40+ years later the violence against LGBT americans continues to this day. We must never forget those who lost their lives to hatred and bigotry.
Robert L. Hillsborough Born: March 10, 1944 Died: June 22, 1977
Matthew Rettenmund of Boy Culture is reporting that Daniel Enriques, a 48-year-old Goldman Sachs employee, was shot at point-blank range and killed by a random stranger on a Q train in NYC. The victim was gay and simply heading to brunch.
At the time of this reporting the murder has not been identified as a hate crime.
If you have any info. PLEASE contact the NYPD at the number listed below.
UPDATED at 3:00pm
NYPD sources said they were looking to talk to Andrew Abdullah, who has 19 prior arrests, in connection to the cold-blooded killing of a man headed to brunch in Manhattan on the Q train around 11:40 a.m. Sunday.
On May 6, 1933, less than six months after Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had come to power, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organized attack on the Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research
The works of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Jewish doctor and sexual reformer were hardly in line with Aryan ideas about the nation’s sex life: his model of intermediate sexual stages allowed room for homosexuality as well as for hermaphrodites or transvestites. He welcomed racial mixing as an enrichment of the diversity of human life. The Nazi reaction was unequivocal: “We will not have our people demoralized, so burn, Magnus Hirschfeld!”
On the night of May 10th. Hitler Youth and right-wing students in 34 university towns across Germany marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit” and called for Nazi officials, university faculty and chaplains, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. Then, singing songs and taking “fire oaths” as band music played, in large open-air bonfires, the students burned thousands of “un-German books,” taken in raids on public and university libraries, private collections, and bookstores. The events also received widespread media attention – not only newspaper coverage, but also “live” radio broadcasts of the songs and speeches.
The seemingly “spontaneous” demonstrations in Berlin were actually carefully orchestrated by Nazi leader Josef Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, as part of the Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung (“synchronization”), which sought to align all elements of German society, polity, and culture with Nazi ideology by purging them of Jews and those considered “politically suspect” and by defining their work as “degenerate.” 40,000 people gathered in the square at the State Opera to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.”
The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path…The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death – this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed – a deed which should document the following for the world to know – Here the intellectual foundation of the November Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.— Joseph Goebbels, Speech to the students in Berlin
“It is a quarter past midnight and I have just finished packing. In eight hours I am going to leave Berlin, perhaps for ever……. I have already made the journey several times in my head, composed funny postcards to all my friends. And now the day which seemed too good, too bad to be true, the day when I should leave Germany, has arrived, and I only know about the future that, however often and however variously I have imagined it to myself, the reality will be quite different.”
By the time of the book burning, Hirschfeld had left Germany for a speaking tour that took him around the world; he never returned to Germany.
On his 67th birthday, 14 May 1935, Hirschfeld died of a heart attack in his apartment at the Gloria Mansions I building at 63 Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
76 years after the destruction of Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research in 2011, the Federal Cabinet of Germany granted 10 million euros to establish the Magnus Hirschfeld National Foundation (Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld), a foundation to support research and education about the life and work of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, German LGBT culture and community, and ways to counteract prejudice against LGBT people.
Netflix has just released another volume new true crime series, Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes, which recounts the true story of the serial killer through new tapes and recordings.
Gacy an aspiring politician, beloved local contractor, and part-time clown-for-hire who murdered 33 young men (that is known of) between 1972 and 1976 in the Chicago, Illinois area. Burying most of them under the crawlspace of his house.
Known as the “Killer Clown”, because of his job dressing up for birthdays and occasions. He also worked as a local contractor, and hired many young men to help him – many of which were never heard of again.
Gacy would lure his victims to his home and subject them to periods of rape and torture before killing them. And in the 1970’s and 80’s with so many runaways in the country those victims who were reported missing were routinely dismissed by the Chicago PD. And if the missing person happened to be gay. There would be no movement on the report/cases at all because of the homophobia that was running rampart in our country at the time. And indeed many suggest that Gacy himself was a deeply homophobic, self loathing bi-man.
John Wayne Gacy was convicted of murdering at least 33 people and sentenced to death in 1980. He was executed by lethal injection and died in 1994.
The Dover Hotel was a rundown five-story brick building located in downtown Los Angeles. The hotel operated as an early version of the soon to become popular bathhouse scene. Gay men checked in, removed their clothing, and laid on their beds with the doors ajar waiting for others to walk by in the hopes of meeting someone.
The Dover not surprisingly, was also the scene of a number of raids by the LAPD’s Vice Squad and was known to them as an easy bust for “faggots”.
During a raid by the Vice Squad on March 9th, 1969, just 4 months shy of the Stonewall riots in NYC, Howard Efland, a male nurse who checked into the hotel under the pseudonym of J. McCann. By the end of that day Efland would be brutally beaten outside the hotel by police in front of numerous witnesses and would later die.
LA vice officers Lemuel Chauncey and Richard Halligan claimed that Efland groped them so they arrested him, dragged him naked, bleeding and screaming down a flight of stairs by his feet and into the street. In front of several witnesses the two police officers who were well over 6’2 inches started beating the slightly built, unarmed and and non-resisting gay man to death while he screamed “Help me! My God, someone help me!” The two police officers kicked him repeatedly, did knee drops onto his stomach, and savagely beat him.
While several witnesses claimed that Howard Efland died at the scene. Chauncy and Halligan stated that Elfland was alive as they “threw” the body into the back of the police wagon. The claimed that halfway down to the station from where they had arrested him that Efland had kicked open the door and fell out onto the Hollywood Freeway.
The Admissions Officer who was on duty at County General Hospital testified at the Coroner’s inquest that when they received Efland, they tied him down to the bed and he was in bad shape. The Nurse testified that she went into the other room with the cop because the guy had bitten his finger. Forty minutes later while she’s still working on the cop (?) another nurse came and said ‘hey, the guy in the other room died.’
The L.A.P.D. first informed Efland’s parents that their son had merely died of a heart attack. Later the L.A. County Coroner ruled Elfland’s death an “excusable homicide” and the story was withheld from the mainstream media. However the once great gay newspaper the Advocate picked up the story and responded strongly by calling the L.A.P.D. “psychotics”
The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church would lead 120 marchers in a rally to the the site of Dover to commemorate Efland’s fatal beating and murder.
“I had told my congregation over and over that our church was built on a three-prong gospel: the gospel of Christian salvation, the gospel of Christian community and the gospel of Christian social action. Absolutely: Christian social action. We are meant to go out and bring deliverance to people. So I told them ‘I want you to come and march with me’. Perry said.
In the end no one was ever held accountable for the murder of Howard Efland.
After publishing this story in 2014 the nephew of Howard Eflland contacted Back2Stonewall.com Being very young when it happened he was never told the true nature of his Uncle’s death.
Back2Stonewall has attempted to call the L.A.P.D. numerous times in the hopes of getting an apology for Howard Elfland’s surviving family.
There has never been an official response to any of them.
Jonathan Schmitz was 24-years-old when his acquaintance Scott Amedure revealed he was romantically interested in him during the March 5th, 1995 taping of “The Jenny Jones Show,’ on secret admirers.
Schmitz, who said he wasn’t gay, later fatally shot Amedure in Lake Orion. Michigan three days later.
Schmitz turned himself in to police, saying he killed Amedure because he was embarrassed on national television.
Schmitz stated that he went on the show out of curiosity, and he later claimed that the producers implied that his admirer was a woman, although the producers of the show claim that they did tell Schmitz that the admirer could be male or female.
According to footage of the murder trial, it was later stated by a friend of Amedure’s that Amedure and Schmitz went out drinking together the night of the taping and an alleged sexual encounter occurred. According to the testimony at the murder trial, three days after the taping, Amedure left a “suggestive” note at Schmitz’s house. After finding the note, Schmitz withdrew money from the bank, purchased a shotgun, and then went to Amedure’s mobile home. He questioned Amedure about the note. Schmitz then returned to his car, took his gun, and returned to Amedure’s trailer. He then shot Amedure twice in the chest, killing him.
Schmitz was sentenced 25 to 50 years for second-degree murder.
Schmitz, now 47, was granted parole after a March 2017 hearing and was released from Parnall Correctional Institution after serving 22 years.
Scott Amedure’s older brother, Frank Amedure Jr. said he’s troubled by the parole decision and that he’s unsure Schmitz ‘learned what he should have’ in prison.
‘I wanted assurance that the (parole board’s) decision was not based on just good behavior in prison,’ he said.
‘I’d like to know that he learned something, that he’s a changed man, is no longer homophobic and has gotten psychological care.’
In 1999, the Amedure family sued The Jenny Jones Show, Telepictures, and Warner Bros. for the ambush tactics and, as the Amedure family saw it, their supposedly negligent role that led to Amedure’s death. In May of that year, the jury awarded the Amedures $25 million dollars. The jury found that The Jenny Jones Show was both irresponsible and negligent, contending that the show intentionally created an explosive situation without due concern for the possible consequences.
The judgment was later overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals in a 2-to-1 decision. The Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
The episode was never publicly aired in it’s entirety until many years after the incident.