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For the last few months, I’ve been working on a media history project involving the fire at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans. The fire caused the death of 32 men and women–most of whom were gay. The death, the fire and the aftermath are often marked as the “Stonewall of New Orleans” meaning that the fire and the loss of so many from the gay community sparked the modern movement in New Orleans.
I originally read about the UpStairs Lounge arson while I was working on my master’s thesis. There was a 20-page paper, which reminded me of the many class assignments I’ve completed in the last five years, stuffed into a file box with many other New Orleans LGBT historical artifacts. The paper didn’t seem overly academic—there was no reference page or in-text citation, the byline wasn’t accompanied with an institution name, and the writing was a little rough.
But what the paper lacked in structure and “authenticism” it more than made up for in information. I used the paper to go digging for more information. To my surprise, other researchers had also cited the paper, written by Johnny Townsend, in their work. Since returning to the topic, I’ve stumbled across Townsend’s more complete work—a book title Let the Faggots Burn: The UpStairs Lounge Fire.
A harsh title, but it seems to accurately encompass the thoughts and actions of many in New Orleans at the time of the fire and deaths of 32 people, who were mostly gay men.
In a short forward to the book, Townsend wrote:
I simply wanted the story to be recorded and told before too many people were lost to AIDS and age. I thought at the time that I should write the book in a “popular” fashion, and so I did not include footnotes, only a bibliography . . . I understand now that all this probably lessens the value of the material . . . I finally decided that whatever the book’s failings, I wanted it to be more widely available to scholars who might be able to write a more definitive work, and to the public, who need to know what happened that dreadful day in June of 1973.
I honestly felt as though Townsend imagined someone like me doing research with few outlets available for information. I’m not so romantic as to suggest that this was all part of some divine intervention, but as a writer you always hope that your work may mean something to someone. Townsend’s work is invaluable to the LGBT community even if there are no footnotes and it was written in a “popular” fashion. He captured history before it was lost to time.
After Dr. Phil stepped in and set the world straight (no pun intended), the Manti Te’o story seemed to fade into the abyss—kind of like Notre Dame’s undefeated season in the national championship game. But on Monday Te’o’s name again popped up on my Twitter feed.
Towleroad and Outsports both posted a clip of an interview with NFL analyst Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show. Florio, who was speaking about Te’o’s performance at the NFL Combine, claimed that NFL teams want to know if Manti Te’o is gay. Florio called it the “elephant in the room.”
The big news last week was that college football great and NFL no-so-great Tim Tebow had cancelled his April speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas—if you haven’t heard by now it’s a megachurch headed by pastor Robert Jeffress, who isn’t really keen on gays and lesbians, the Mormon, Jewish or Muslim faiths, or President Obama. And of course the media is now being credited and, in some cases, blamed for Tebow’s decision.Continue reading “Did The ‘Liberal’ Media Force Tebow’s Cancellation Of An Upcoming Speaking Engagement?”
So I was trying to get some work done tonight, but OSCAR happened. Now I’m glued to Twitter. Who needs to watch the red carpet when you can read the commentary on Twitter? Here’s a sampling of my favorites so far.
What were some of your favorites?
Funniest Red Carpet Tweets
First her hair, now her nipples. What part of her body will Anne Hathaway demand we pay attention to next? #Oscars
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) February 25, 2013
“Your hair looks amazing!” Settle down, Hathaway. You’re a good actress. But you’re not THAT good. #Oscars
— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) February 25, 2013
If there was an Academy Award for Biggest Badass, I would win so easily. #Oscars2013
— Darth Vader (@DepressedDarth) February 25, 2013
Enjoy these #Oscars, because sequestration will cut the number of celebrities by 15%.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 25, 2013
How sweet, Catherine Zeta-Jones brought her pepaw to the Oscars.
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) February 25, 2013
Catherine Zeta Jones – I want your hyperbolic sleeping chamber, a.k.a. time machine.
— Alan Bennett Ilagan (@alanilagan) February 25, 2013
— Salon.com (@Salon) February 25, 2013
— RuPaul’s Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) February 25, 2013
E! can’t tell the difference between Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer. This is why we can’t have nice things. #Oscars2013
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) February 25, 2013
Melissa McCarthy’s hair was styled by a drunk lion.#Oscars
— Frank Lowe (@GayAtHomeDad) February 25, 2013
The manicam just missed recording the best moment of the manicam: J. Lawrence saying “Your ass is mine, Stone” into the manicam! #Efail
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) February 24, 2013
Looks like Seacrest forgot his extra-tall apple box for when he speaks to Jennifer Lawrence. #OscarsWithJoel
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) February 24, 2013
— Lance Ulanoff (@LanceUlanoff) February 24, 2013
When I defended my master’s thesis in the spring of 2011 I knew the work was far from perfect. What is that they say? A shoddy thesis is a done thesis. I’m not saying my work is shoddy just far from perfect. But one of the things that was missing was an interview with reporters who were covering the AIDS epidemic in New Orleans (at both the mainstream and gay and lesbian newspapers). A couple of weeks ago I conducted the first interview on the road to perfecting my research.
The following are highlights from my interview with John Pope, who was the AIDS beat writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune beginning in 1985.
John Pope became the AIDS beat writer for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans in the summer of 1985. Before Pope began working the beat, the newspaper relied on wire news stories and a few local written pieces, which were picked up by other, randomly assigned reporters. Pope began working for the Times-Picayune in 1980 when the newspaper merged with the city’s evening daily, the States-Item, where he was a general assignment reporter. Pope, a native of New Orleans, recounted his first AIDS assignment as well as the events that led to him covering the disease on a full-time basis.