Aid asked for New Orleans fire victims, survivors

The tragic fire at a gay bar in New Orleans, La. on Sunday, June 24 has demonstrated the emerging consciousness of a NATIONAL gay “community”. Within hours after the first alarm in the fire that claimed at least 22 of 60 of the patrons’ lives, gay leaders from all over the nation were aboard planes to New Orleans to aid in organizing relief efforts and comforting the shocked “gay ghetto” there. Many borrowed money to make the trip.

The fire killed at least 22 and seriously injured all but a handful of patrons; at least 10 of those killed were considered gay leaders in New Orleans. Obviously a firebombing, the persons responsible for the holocaust are still at large. It has been speculated that one or two people were refused service at the bar after starting an argument, and came back moments later to throw a firebomb through the first floor entrance which quickly spread to the second story bar. It has not been determined if these people were regular gay patrons of the bar, The Upstairs Lounge, or if they were straight people who accidently walked in, discovered that it was a gay bar, and retalliated by committing a mass murder.

Blood donors are still needed for many of the survivors. Some victims are so badly burned that their bodies are leaking blood as quickly as it is put in. Arrangements have been made by national gay leaders who arrived on the scene for donors to attend the nearest American Red Cross blood bank, and state that their blood is to be credited to an account in the name of “Holocaust Victims, Upstairs Lounge, Charity Hospital, New Orleans”.

Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Church (now worldwide), has announced the establishment of a national fund to help the victims. In at least one instance, funds are required to cover the cost of burial, the burial of the lover of one of the survivors. Some of the survivors will need assistance in place of their normal earnings while they undergo the long process of recuperation. Many need help with medical expense.

Checks or money orders should be payable to “National New Orleans Memorial” and may be mailed to The Advocate, Box 74695,Los Angeles, Calif., 90004. The ADVOCATE has agreed to act as custodian of the fund. Trustees of the fund will be Rev. Troy Perry, Morris Kight, Morty Manford, Rev. John Gill, Lucien Baril and ADVOCATE publisher Dick Michaels.