creased since the opening of NASA, the priest maintained.
"Not that NASA has a lot of
them, but it has brought tremendous growth to the city he explained.
The homosexuals who meet at
the church do not have religious
services there -- and are ministered to only by the presence of
the priest who attends their meetings.
"They must concentrate upon
themselves -- and develop their
own personalities," the priest
"Gays shouldn't undersell themselves, as they so often do. There
is a lot of talk about Gay Lib, but
it has to be the person himself
who liberates himself. It is this
that I find greatly lacking among
gays: A sense of personal responsibility."
For several weeks now, since
shortly after fire swept through
the Upstairs bar in New Orleans
killing 29 men, gay groups, their
publications and their leaders have
been exploiting the catastrophe for
all it is worth. That men should
die without purpose under such
painful circumstances is tragic
enough, but that their fate should
be used to the advantage of certain
gay leaders and made into a consciousness - and fund-raising gay
event is even more tragic.
The Upstairs bar, at 604 Iberville St., was a fire-trap. While
not found by investigators to be in
actual violation of New Orleans'
fire regulations the bar was located in an old part of the city where
fire codes were not adequate nor
strictly enforced. According to
Fire Dept. Supt. William McCros-
sen, many of the buildings and
establishments in the French
Quarter of New Orleans are similar fire hazards. Conditions of the
sort exist in every major city in
But specifically, the Upstairs
bar was decorated with highly
flammable materials. The windows
were closed over by paneling, and
they were barred. There was a
blocked-off fire escape with no
stairs leading to the ground. There
was one exit through a passageway, but apparently only about 20
patrons in the bar at the time of
the fire were aware of it.
The fire was first discovered
in the main stairwell. It was almost immediately drawn up into the
bar by a draft of scorching air.
Everyone panicked and in the instinct for self-preservation ran
for the windows where they either
fell or were pushed to the floor
and trampled by their brothers.
A few of the more agile and slender patrons managed to slip through
the bars, but were either killed or
injured when they tried to jump
to safety. Coroner, Carl H. Rabin,
described the scene after the fire:
One pile of bodies was found in
the corner by the fire escape
where in "mass hysteria one man
fell, then another, and another . .
. . " The fire broke out at 7:56
p.m., and was under control 16
minutes later at 8:15. The firemen did all they could. Fire department investigators sifted the ashes
for clues to the origin of the
blaze. Some witnesses claimed it
was the work of a disgruntled
customer who had been ejected
from the premises earlier. But
there was no real evidence to
indicate arson. The injured needed
and received blood. Charity Hospital blood bank director, David
de Jongh, said "he was pleased
with community response to the
call for doners." Families of four
victims were reported to be too
poor to make funeral arrangements .
Residents of New Orleans were
generally unmindful that the Upstairs was a "gay bar." It was
not a matter for consideration.
The bar and its patrons for the
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most part had no commitment to
gay rights. Homosexuals in New
Orleans are not organized. The
local papers with one or two early
exceptions reported the fire without emphazising the homosexual
aspect -- contrary to accusations
made against the press in its
coverage of the Houston murders.
Indeed, the fact that the Upstairs
bar catered to a homosexual clientele was irrelevant to events. The
individual sexual proclivities of the
patrons was not an issue in their
fiery end. Nor was it considered
to be by the families and friends
and local community that quickly
responded with sympathy and help.
It remained for thoughtless interests within the homosexual
movement itself to direct attention
from the tragedy and make a sexual
issue of it. With a lack of sensitivity equal to that of a funeral
parlour using a similar moment
of personal loss to benefit its
business, representatives of the
gay interests moved in on the
scene and took over from grief-
stricken and bewildered friends
and families. They organized and
directed as specific homosexual
movement functions a gay
memorial service for the dead,
they proclaimed a national day of
mourning for their "gay brothers," they called for gay blood
donations, they created a national
memorial relief fund from gay
resources, and, they seized every
ianppropriate opportunity to be
interviewed by the news media on
the plight and oppression of
"Gays" in general.
Quite rightly, the reaction of
those in New Orleans who had to
endure this was one of horror that
their local ordeal was being man
ipulated by unsolicited and un
welcome intruders for the purpose
of promoting gay liberation and of
displaying a phony gay solidarity.
Most of them were unable to resist.
Some, not knowing what else to do,
cooperated -- as did the rest of
the homosexual movement.
Although what happened in the
aftermath of the Upstairs bar fire
is an isolated incident, there is a
distressing trend among some segments of the homosexual movement -- particularly among those
who mindlessly refer to themselves as "Gays" -- to divert
the movement from its primary
goals to their own selfish ends
by using every tragedy no matter
what its origin or association as
a cause to rally around. In their
haste to use these situations these
groups and persons do not stop to
think whether their actions are
beneficial -- or possibly harmful 1
and embarrassing to the movement
and to innocent persons. The behavior may be symptomatic of a
lack of concrete and worthwhile
programs within these groups.
(Homosexual Information Center)
FOLLIES coming to Houston!
The Thespian Players of the
Dallas Metropolitan Community
Church will present THE TEDDY
BEAR FOLLIES in one ofHouston's
most popular bars on October 6th.
The purpose of the performance
is to raise money for the newly
organized Houston MCC.
This show is unique for gay
entertainment in the Southwest in
that few numbers are "record-
mimed." Those performing use
their own talents.
This cast of 17 lively singers
and dancers, plus five technical
staff members have just returned
from a smash engagement in Oklahoma City where they played to a
Anyone wishing to audition for
the company (which is semi-professional) is welcomed.