The Upstairs Lounge Fire


National New Orleans Memorial Fund

National Memorial Fund Set Up for MCC New Orleans

A national Memorial Fund has been set up to aid victims of the fire tragedy that happened in New Orleans. Arrangements are being made to bury the dead, to help physically, psychologically, and socially rehabilitative survivors. Massive quantities of blood have come but the needs are still great.

An emergency memorial and relief effort has been mounted by leaders of the Gay Community all over the country in response to the June 24th UP STAIRS LOUNGE fire in New Orleans which has taken the lives of 32 women and men.

The Fund which is designed to meet needed burial expenses of the dead and medical, rehabilitative and living expenses of survivors is governed by Reverends Lucian Beril, Paul Breton, John Gill and Troy Perry of New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCHES respectively. Also on the Board of Trustees of the National New Orleans Memorial Fund are Morris Kight of the GAY COMMUNITY SERVICES CENTER, Morty Manford of the NEW YORK GAY ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE and Dick Michaels of the LOS ANGELES ADVOCATE. Ken Bartley will serve as treasurer, Jack Monroe as Accountant of the Fund; mssrs. Bartley and Monroe are from Los Angeles.

The fire which occurred on the evening of June 24th,--a national day of celebration and pride in the Gay Community commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in which Gay clashed with police on the streets of New York City’s Greenwich Village—is believed to have been set by one or more arsonists. Within 16 minutes the fire was (Continued Next Page)

 extinguished by the New Orleans Fire Department.  29 women and men were dead by the time rescue workers were able to enter the second story bar. Three of the injured have since died in Charity Hospital’s new “Burn Unit.”  Seven of the 15 people originally hospitalized remain in “grave,” “serious” and “critical” conditions and will require continued hospital care for anywhere from two months to a year. All will then need extensive plastic surgery on an ongoing basis. None of the seven are expected to be able to return to work before February, 1974.

Because of severe burn injuries the very slow regenerative processes massive quantities of blood are needed to sustain life in the seven hospitalized survivors of the fire. Medical supervisors at New Orleans Charity Hospital have projected a need for 1800 pints of blood for the seven in the next six months. Several hundred pints of blood have already been donated as a result of a national mobilizing effort by Gay organizations in such cities as New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Monies sent to the NATIONAL NEW ORLEANS MEMORIAL FUND, c/o Los Angeles ADVOCATE, Box 74695, Los Angeles, California 90004 will be used for funeral arrangements for unclaimed and unidentifiable bodies as well as well as in assisting families of the deceased in burying their dead. The Fund will also be used in helping survivors  meet prolonged medical care, hospital expenses, plastic surgery, psychological counseling and food and rent for injured as well as their dependents until the injured have re-adjusted into functioning life-styles. Numerous needs such as occupational therapy and helping injured find jobs will also be provided for.

While exact needs of the NATIONAL NEW ORLEANS MEMORIAL FUND cannot be fully anticipated, it is projected a bar minimum of $50,000.00 will be required for the Fund’s mercy mission.

The story in the Bay Area Reporter about the initiation of this national memorial fund lays out, in some detail, the financial needs of persons in New Orleans, as well as the mechanics of who will oversee the fund and how it will operate.
Source: Bay Area Reporter, July 25, 1973.
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