Saturday, June 30, 2018

the last book I ever read (Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation, excerpt six)

from Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler:

In the back rectory, a telephone rang incessantly, and volunteers like Ronnie Rosenthal answered the succession of calls. Each new voice came with the alarm and paranoia of an uncle or a mother posing almost unspeakable questions. These were family members who might have a son in New Orleans, a son who, they hinted, might be a member of their church. Many admitted that they had dialed the MCC because it was the only number in the phone book for a gay-affiliated organization that wasn’t a gay bar.

To help these families, the MCC kept a running file of confirmed survivors and victims. Ronnie Rosenthal also took on the uneviable duty of calling families to inform them that their son was dead or missing. “The saddest part,” said Ronnie, “was when we tried to call someone’s parents to let them know what happened, and they could care less.” Some families just couldn’t face the shame of claiming a homosexual loved one as one of their own. “All of us understood why a lot of the families didn’t come forward,” recalled John Meyers, the Café Lafitte patron, “bemoaning it but, nonetheless, understanding it.”

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