As a moment in LGBT history, the tragedy at the UpStairs Lounge seems finally to be getting its due.
Though it affected far fewer people than the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and it has never been seen as a defining moment in our struggle for equality, the fire that ravaged that French Quarter bar in 1973 and the public’s reaction to it encapsulates the tone of LGBT rights at that time in U.S. history.
Now, Tragoidia Moving Pictures is taking that story and turning it into a feature film — not a documentary, as far as I can tell, but a fictional narrative that springs from the drama and sorrow of that event.
[NOTE: This is where I’d originally embedded a trailer for the film, but the producers have apparently pulled it. In the meantime, you can follow updates on the Southern Nights blog.]
I’m not bowled over by that clip. It doesn’t pack the wallop that, say, Skylar Fein’s “Remember the UpStairs Lounge” installation had. But I’m certainly willing to give it a chance. And I’m hopeful that it will draw attention, not just to the deaths and tragic circumstances of the fire, but also to its aftermath — an aftermath marked not by outrage or public demonstrations, but by silence from the media, the church, and the families of victims.
People can be terrible when they want to be.