10 Things I Learned About the UpStairs Lounge Arson, the Biggest LGBT Mass Murder in America’s History

Forty-two years ago today, an almost unimaginable inferno, caused by arson, burned and suffocated 32 people to death. All were patrons of New Orleans’ UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar. I wrote about it in 2013 here.

Over the past few days, I’ve been reading Johnny Townsend‘s 2011 book about the massacre, Let the Faggots Burn: The UpStairs Lounge Fire. For all its shortcomings, including a disjointed narrative structure, it’s a gripping account of the horrors that transpired that night, as well as a respectful remembrance of the victims, all of whom get a dedicated chapter.

Here, in direct quotes from Townsend’s tome, are ten things I learned about the UpStairs Lounge fire:

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UK Hasidic Leaders Ban Women at the Wheel; Kids Whose Mothers Drive Will Be Expelled From School

All Abrahamic religions have a tendency to treat women as irredeemably damaged and fatally compromised. Here’s the latest example — from the world of conservative Judaism.

The British leaders of a major Hasidic sect have declared that women should not be allowed to drive. In a letter sent out last week, Belz rabbis said that having female drivers goes against “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and against the norms of Hasidic institutions.

It added that, from August, children would be barred from their schools if their mothers drove them there.

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BREAKING: Two Attackers Dead After Apparent Attempted Assault on Mohammed Art Exhibit in Texas

Did Mohammed fans strike again, or at least attempt to? Two men are dead following an apparent attack on a cartoon art exhibit in Garland, Texas. Many details are still sketchy at this time (10:30 p.m. EST on Sunday).

From USA Today:

Two suspects were killed after they opened fire Sunday in a parking lot outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, authorities said.

Garland’s city government issued a statement saying that as a Muhammad Art Exhibit event was coming to a close at the Curtis Culwell Center, “two males drove up to the front of the building in a car” and started shooting at a security officer. “Garland police officers engaged the gunmen, who were both shot and killed,” the statement posted online said.

The exhibit was placed on lockdown and attendees later moved to a nearby school. Police suspect the suspects’ vehicle may contain a bomb and called in bomb squad experts. Surrounding businesses were evacuated.

The violent outrage follows a sadly familiar pattern.

A group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative [whose executive director is Pamela Geller, pictured, of the pretty-far-right blog Atlas Shrugs, TK] hosted the Muhammad Cartoon Exhibit and $10,000 cartoon contest.

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Is Christianity Toxic in Manhattan? This Summer, New York’s Museum of Biblical Art Will Be Closing For Good

Ever been to the Museum of Biblical Art, a Manhattan space that “celebrates and interprets art inspired by the Bible”? Better make it quick. After 10 years, the place is just months away from closing its doors.

MOBIA opened under the auspices of the American Bible Society, an organization devoted to Bible translation and distribution. In 2005, it spun off into its current entity, an independent secular and scholarly museum devoted to examining the Bible’s influence on Western art. But it has never been able to shake off its association with the Christian ministry, from which it still receives important support, including $1 annual rent on its gallery spaces and offices near Columbus Circle. The ABS’s impending move to Philadelphia would have required the museum to find a new home in Manhattan, at a cost of at least $1.5 million a year.

The association with the Jesus faith – something that Slate calls “that pesky aroma of Christianity” — was likely toxic to the museum’s long-term health.

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Anti-Gay Rep. Randy Boehning, Republican of North Dakota, Is Outed After He Trolls For Men On Grindr

Move over, Ted Haggard, George Rekers, and Larry Craig.

North Dakota state Rep. Randy Boehning (R) has come out as a member of the LGBT community after he was caught sending explicit photos on a gay dating app.

Boehning, who voted against a bill earlier this month that would extend housing, workplace and other protections to LGBT North Dakota residents, revealed … this week that he is attracted to both men and women.

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