Tag Archives: tragedy

Gay History – June 24, 1973: The UpStairs Lounge Fire In New Orleans Kills 32 – VIDEO

Upstairs Lounge

47 years ago on June 24th, 1973 the final day of Pride Weekend, thirty-two lives were lost when an arsonist set fire to the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

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

The gay club was, located on the second floor of a three-story building at the corner of Chartres and Iberville Streets in the French Quarter and L was one of a rare few left in the French Quarter that had a wooden exterior.

That Sunday, dozens of members of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the nation’s first gay church, founded in Los Angeles in 1969, got together there for drinks and conversation and to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Stonewall . The club hosted free beer and dinner for 125 patrons. The atmosphere was evem welcoming enough that two gay brothers, Eddie and Jim Warren, even brought their mom, Inez, and proudly introduced her to the other patrons.

At 7:56pm, a buzzer from downstairs sounded; bartender Buddy Rasmussen asked Luther Boggs to answer the door. To answer it, you had to unlock a steel door that opened onto a flight of stairs leading down to the ground floor.  Boggs opened the door to find the front staircase engulfed in flames, along with the smell of lighter fluid. In the next instant, he found himself in unimaginable pain as the fireball exploded, pushing upward and into the bar.

The ensuing 15 minutes were the most horrific that any of the 65 or so customers had ever endured — full of flames, smoke, panic, breaking glass, and screams.

Metal bars on the UpStairs Lounge windows, meant to keep people from falling out, were just 14 inches apart; while some managed to squeeze through and jump, others got stuck.  Reverend Bill Larson of the MCC clung to the bars of one window until he died.  When police and firefighters surveyed and began clearing the scene, they left Larson fused to the window frame until the next morning.

MCC assistant pastor George “Mitch” Mitchell escaped, but soon returned to try to rescue his boyfriend, Louis Broussard. Both died in the fire, their bodies clinging together in death, like a scene from the aftermath of Pompeii.

Thirty-two people lost their lives that Sunday 45 years ago — Luther Boggs, Inez Warren, and Warren’s sons among them.

A police officer at the time dismissed the French Quarter lounge as a place where “thieves” and “queers” hung out and their was little interest in solving the case.  There were no City Hall press conferences or statements of condolence from the governor, and no civil authorities publicly spoke out about the fire, other than to mumble about needed improvements to the city’s fire code.  The detectives wouldn’t even acknowledge that it was an arson case, saying the cause of the fire was of “undetermined origin.”

News coverage, 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.”

To this day no one was ever officially charged with the crime. The only suspect in the attack was Rogder Dale Nunez, a local hustler and troublemaker who had been tossed out of the bar earlier in the evening.  Nunez escaped from psychiatric custody and was never picked up again by police, despite frequent appearances in the French Quarter. A friend later told investigators that Nunez confessed on at least four occasions to starting the fire. He told the friend that he squirted the bottom steps with Ronsonol lighter fluid bought at a local Walgreens and tossed the match.

#NeverForget

 The List of Victims

Partners, Joe William Bailey & Clarence Joseph McCloskey, Jr. perished together. McCloskey’s sisters and two nieces attended the Memorial Service. His niece, Susan, represented McCloskey in the Jazz Funeral.

Duane George “Mitch” Mitchell, assistance pastor at MCC, died trying to save his partner, Louis Horace Broussard.

Mrs. Willie Inez Warren died with her sons, Eddie Hosea Warren and James Curtis Warren.

Pastor of the MCC, Rev. William R. Larson, formerly a Methodist lay minister.

Dr. Perry Lane Waters, Jr., a Jefferson Parish dentist. Several victims were his patients and were identified by his x-rays.

Douglas Maxwell Williams

Leon Richard Maples, a visitor from Florida.

George Steven (Bud) Matyi, A rising young songwriter, perfumer and singer who had recently appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His Body was Identified and buried through the help of his personal manger and his wife. The Cornman Family of New Orleans.

Larry Stratton

Reginald Adams, Jr., MCC member, formerly a Jesuit Scholastic. Partner of entertainer Regina Adams.

James Walls Hambrick Horace “Skip” Getchell, MCC member.

Joseph Henry Adams

Herbert Dean Cooley, Upstairs Lounge bartender and MCC member.

Professional pianist, David Stuart Gary.

Guy D. Anderson

Luther Boggs

Donald Walter Dunbar

John Thomas Golding, Sr., member of MCC Pastor’s Advisory Group.

Professional linguist, Adam Roland Fontenot, survived by Douglas “Buddy” Rasmussen, who led a group to safety.

Gerald Hoyt Gordon

Kenneth Paul Harrington, Federal Government employee.

Glenn Richard “Dick” Green, Navy veteran.

Robert “Bob” Lumpkin

Four men were buried in Potter’s Field, Ferris LeBlanc, Unknown White Male, Unknown White Male, Unknown White Male, the City refused to release these bodies to the MCC for burial because they could not be identified

14 dead, 50 wounded At Midnight Showing Of Batman: “The Dark Knight Rises”- Shocking Celllphone Footage – Video

Fourteen people have been killed and up to 50 wounded in a the Denver suburb of Aurora after a masked gunman opened fire at a late-night screening of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

A gunman dressed in a gas mask and military gear such in a side entrance and released a smoke or teargas bomb and opened fire during a shootout scene in the movie, leading to mass confusion.

One witness told CNN: “We heard anywhere from 10 to 20 shots and little explosions going on. Shortly after that we heard people screaming. Then they came on PA system and said everyone needed to get out. As soon as we got out, there were people running around and screaming” another described the gunman “slowly making his way up the stairs and firing, picking off random people”.

One police officer carried a girl believed to be about 9 years old with gunshot wounds to her back out of the theater, a witness said. “She wasn’t moving.”

Police arrested a man believed to be the shooter in a rear parking lot of the theater, Frank Fania, a police spokesman, told CNN. The suspect was not immediately identified, though Fania said he was believed to be in his early 20s. and told police that he had explosive materials in his apartment. The police went to his apartment building and evacuated the building immediately as a precautionary measure.

“He did not resist. He did not put up a fight,” Fania said. Police seized a rifle and a handgun from the suspect, and another gun was found in the theater, he said.

But according to one witness has come forward stating that shortly before that he witnessed a movie goer in the first row get up from his seat and move over to the Emergency Door where the shooter entered to continue his conversation.  No one is sure of the man opened the door for the shooter who entered from an alley alongside the theatre.

President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he and first lady Michelle Obama were “shocked and saddened” by the shooting and pledged the administration’s support for victims of the shooting.

“As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family,”

CNN has obtained the following cellphone footage of the lobby of the theatre after the shooting –

***WARNING NWSF and UPSETTING.

Gay Couple Recount Horrors On Capsized Costa Concordia Cruiseship Off Italy’s Tuscan Coast – Video

Austin, Texas gay couple Blake Miller and Steve Garcia were two of the lucky survivors of Carnival Cruse Lines Costa Concordia’s disastrous cruise from Rome which resulted in five deaths and the latest estimate of 17 missing passengers.

The Costa Concordia hit submerged rocks near the island of Giglio in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Many of the survivors spoke of the panic on board when the ship began listing,

On board the vessels were 3200 passengers and a crew of 1000. International maritime laws stipulate that a mandatory lifeboat drill must take place within 24 hours of departing the port of embarkation and, as is quite common in this industry, Concordia’s was scheduled the following morning.

The ship’s captain has been arrested and accused of manslaughter, abandoning the vessel and causing the shipwreck.

Garcia and Miller described what the the hellish event at one point breaking into tears while talking with NBC’s Lester Holt Sunday morning on the Today Show.

19 Year Old Lesbian Aiyisha Hassan Commits Suicide – This Has Got To End!

19 Year old lesbian Aiyisha Hassan, A former Howard University student died from suicide on Tuesday, Oct. 5, in her home state of California.

Lauren Morris, 21, a senior at Howard, who lived in the same building as Hassan from 2008-2009, ”She was having a lot of trouble with a lot of different things,” Morris says, ”but mainly her sexual identity and just trying to express that.”

Amari Ice, 22, president of C.A.S.C.A.D.E., the Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality, Howard University’s LGBT student group, said Lauren was a lesbian who attended C.A.S.C.A.D.E. meetings regularly.

Sterling Washington, co-founder of C.A.S.C.A.D.E. and former president, came upon news of Hassan’s suicide after attending a C.A.S.C.A.D.E. event at the university this week.  ”What happens in a large group trickles down to the junior members… so in this case it’s members of society so it affects youth in general,” he said. ”Those straight-identified youth who already had a proclivity, who already had from their parents, their socialization, this idea that gays are less than, it sort of gives them permission and facilities this whole bullying thing so that those that are most vulnerable to it sometimes see suicide as an out.”

A vigil was held Thursday to mourn Aiyisha passing  at Howard University last Thursday night.

That makes 7 LGBT suicides that we know of this past month.  And that’s 7 too many.

12 Year Old Holly Stuckey Dies In Her Fathers Arms After Kids Torment Her With Anti-Gay and Lesbian Bullying

12 year old Holly Stuckey of northwest of Wales, died suddenly in her father’s arms after collapsing from a still unexplained medical trauma. Prior to her death, her father Clive found notes Holly wrote about being tormented at school by classmates, whom claimed she was a lesbian.

A note written in pink biro read: ‘I hate you for what you have done to me. I feel like no one.’ Mr Stuckey has since given the names of 13 teenagers to police who are investigating his daughter’s death for the coroner. Holly, who was an only child, was described as innocent, quiet and timid by her grieving family. Her father said: ‘People made fun of her because she did not know much about sex education. ‘She was an innocent girl but kids turned on her and started to call her a lesbian because she didn’t know as much as them.  Holly, who lived in Maesteg, Wales was an asthmatic but the problem was under control and not thought to be related. Mr Stuckey, who lives in Maesteg with his 47-year-old wife Lee, said: ‘We just don’t know but it could have been the emotional strain of what she was going through which brought on a heart attack. ’I have been contacted by several other parents who have told me that their children are being bullied. ’I want other parents to stand up for their children. I want to protect them.’

It’s not know what caused Holly’s sudden death, and might never be, but unquestionably the torment she suffered through wasn’t improving her quality of life and perhapos the stress was too much.

It’s so sad and tragic that so sad that the last days on earth for this child, and all the others we have lost were filled with fear and torment.

Another Tragic Loss 13-year old Asher Brown Commits Suicide After Years Of Bullying

13 year old Asher Brown was “bullied to death” — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class.  This had gone on for years, and last Thursday Asher couldn’t take it any more and took his own life by shooting himself in the head.  On the morning of his death, the teen told his stepfather he was gay, but Truong said he was fine with the disclosure. “We didn’t condemn,” he said

Asher’s parents, David and Amy Truong  said they had complained about the bullying to Hamilton Middle School officials during the past 18 months, they made several visits to the school to complain about the harassment, and Amy Truong said she made numerous phone calls to the school that were never returned. but claimed their concerns fell on deaf ears  And now they want justice.

Asher’s school, The Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Texas (Not shocking it happened in Texas is it?) claim that they never received any complaints from Brown’s parents before the suicide about the way the boy was being treated at school.

“That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars.”  David Truong said, “We want justice. The people here need to be held responsible and to be stopped. It did happen. There are witnesses everywhere.

Numerous comments from parents and students on the Web site of KRIV-TV Channel 26, which also reported a story about Brown’s death, stated that the boy had been bullied by classmates for several years and claimed Cy-Fair ISD does nothing to stop such harassment.

To the bullies, Amy Troung says  “I hope you’re happy with what you’ve done. I hope you got what you wanted and you’re just real satisfied with yourself.”

This is HORRIBLE.  The poor little guy.  The bullies and the school MUST BE held accountable.  Here’s the contact information for the school.  And please feel free to be as angry as you want with them.  Here is the school’s contact information.

http://schools.cfisd.net/hamilton/profile_hamims.htm

Rest In Peace Asher.

15 Year Old Greensburg, Indianna Boy Commits Suicide Over Anti-Gay Bullyling At High School

15 year old Billy Lucas never told anyone he was gay at Greensburg High School in Indinanna.  But that did not stop the bullies in the school from makinf his life a living hell.  Only one month into the school year Billy couldn;t take it any longer and committed suicide.

“‘People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,’ said student Dillen Swango. Students told Fox59 News it was common knowledge that children bullied Billy and from what they said, it was getting worse. Last Thursday, Billy’s mother found him dead inside their barn. He had hung himself. Students said on that same day, some students told Billy to kill himself. ‘They said stuff like ‘you’re like a piece of crap’ and ‘you don’t deserve to live.’ Different things like that. Talked about how he was gay or whatever,’ said SwangoWXTU

Friends of Billy say that he had been tormented for years. In a statement from Charles Robbins, Executive Director of the Trevor Project (Which you can read in full after the jump) “While the school district does have anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, the policies do not specifically protect youth from harassment due to real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression. Only eleven states in the country offer fully inclusive anti-harassment and anti-bullying education policies, and Indiana is not among them.”

Principal Phil Chapple of Greensburg High School doesn’t deny that students are bullied in the high school, but he said he didn’t know Billy was one of the victims. “We were not aware of that situation,” said Chapple. and added “What could you do that could have made a difference in his life?” But on a memorial page created in Billy’s honor many people knew students bullied him.

Perhaps if Chapple and his staff  did their jobs as a disciplinarian at that school and, actually would be aware of whats going on around them and actively l;ooking out for their students instead of waiting for complaints. This might not have happened.   Those bullies questioned his worth. Told him that he should kill himself. Those are violent words that extend beyond gay issues that, in themselves, aren’t acceptable in a place of learning.  Principles and teachers shouldn’t be enabling bullies to participate in society in this way  Those who were involved should be kicked out of that school immediately and the Principal and his staff should be investigated. 

What a sad, awful, and tragic end of life.  All because the school staff is ineffectual or just doesn’t care.

My heart breaks for Billy.  I know what its like.  But I also know if school personnel get actively involved it can be prevented.

Please visit Billy’s Facebook Page and leave a message of support.

Rest In Peace Billy.

***You can read the FULL Statement of Charles Robbins, Executive Director of the Trevor Project and watch Local  WXIN’s news report after the jump.

“We are saddened to once again hear of another young person who died of suicide as a result of school bullying. Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old at Greensburg High School stood out among the 630 students in the school because he was different. Other students perceived that Billy was gay and he was relentlessly tormented as a result.
While the school district does have anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, the policies do not specifically protect youth from harassment due to real or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression. Only eleven states in the country offer fully inclusive anti-harassment and anti-bullying education policies, and Indiana is not among them.
Currently, there is no national standard to protect all of our children from bullying and harassment at school. Yet, we know that as many as 1 in 10 sexual minority youth have been physically assaulted at school, and that when youth are threatened or get into fights, or have property stolen at school, their risk of attempting suicide more than doubles. That is why The Trevor Project supports fully inclusive federal legislation, like the Safe Schools Improvement Act currently under consideration in the Senate, to offer the protections all of our children need from torment and ridicule at school, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Only with an enforceable national standard that offers resources and support to educators and staff, no matter the size of a school district, will we be able to prevent future tragedies like Greensburg High School has experienced. The death of Billy Lucas is a tragedy, and one that might have been prevented if his school district had the support of a fully inclusive anti-harassment and anti-bullying law.”

 

Phoenix Arizona Gay Man Killed During GRINDR Hook-up

54-year-old Mark Woodland  was stabbed to death on Sunday by a 19-year-old man he met using Grindr, police say. The victim’s roommate discovered their apartment ransacked and called police.

According to ABC15.com

“When officers went inside to check they found a downstairs bathroom door closed and the lights on inside, according to Holmes. They did not get an answer to a knock on the door. Holmes said when officers looked under the door they could see a body on the floor and when they forced the door open found the victim badly beaten. He also appeared to have been stabbed repeatedly, Holmes said. Phoenix firefighters were called to the home and the victim, 54-year-old Mark Woodland, was pronounced dead. Woodland’s roommate reported he had received a text message from the victim around 5 p.m. saying he was going to pick up a male date, whom he met on a social networking application, and bring him home. Woodland apparently asked his roommate to not be at home. The victim reportedly sent a second text at around 6 p.m. to ensure that his roommate had left the apartment. The roommate left and returned around 11 p.m. to find the home ransacked.”

The social networking app he used was Grindr.

A friend of Woodland’s provided police with his username, through which police were able to track down the man he met:

“On Tuesday, detectives were able to locate the suspect in the area of 32nd Street and Broadway Road and when detectives contacted three males at the house, one of them apparently fit the suspect description. Tommy Reed, whose telephone was determined to be the same phone used to arrange the date with the victim, was transported to police headquarters for an interview. Holmes said Reed, 19, gave details about the night of the murder that implicated him in the crime. Reed was later booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on one count of 2nd Degree Murder. Holmes said robbery may have been a motive for the murder.