Join author Robert Fieseler in conversation with feminist scholar Kristen Oganowski to learn more about Fieseler’s acclaimed book, Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation. An essential work of American civil rights history, Tinderbox reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community. Fieseler was the winner of Lambda Literary's Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers and Tinderbox was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal and Shelf Awareness.
Registration is on Eventbrite where attendees will receive login information and full instructions. A General Admission ticket to access the event is $5; a ticket that includes a copy of Tinderbox waives the general admission fee and is $19. Columbus Bar Association is Gramercy’s Community Partner for this program.
Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. In revelatory detail, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue-collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno that destroyed an entire community. The aftermath was no less traumatic—families ashamed to claim loved ones, the Catholic Church refusing proper burial rights, the city impervious to the survivors’ needs—revealing a world of toxic prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. Tinderbox restores honor to a forgotten generation of civil-rights martyrs.
Robert W. Fieseler is the 2019 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association "Journalist of the Year" for his acclaimed Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation, also winner of the Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime. Queer literary icon Andrew Holleran reviewed the book as "far more than just a history of gay rights," and Michael Cunningham praised it as "essential reading at any time." Fieseler graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia Journalism School and is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship. He lives with his husband and dog (a senior Cairn Terrier named Chompers) in New Orleans.
A philosophy professor in the Humanities Department at Columbus State Community College, Kristen Oganowski is a feminist scholar whose research interests include issues related to autonomy, moral psychology and ethics. In addition to her academic work, Kristen has published essays in The Washington Post, GoodHousekeeping.com and The Good Mother Myth.