An essential work of American civil rights history, and the winner of the Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime and Lambda Literary’s Award for Emerging Writers, Robert W. Fieseler's Tinderbox mesmerizingly reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community. Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement.
In revelatory detail, Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of 31 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. He also recounts a poignant Chicago connection to the tragedy.
Fieseler is the 2019 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Journalist of the Year and a debut nonfiction author. Tinderbox was selected as a 2019 Stonewall Honor Book in nonfiction. Originally from Chicago, he currently lives with his husband and dog in New Orleans. He graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing.
Fieseler’s essays and feature stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and recognized in roundups of best nonfiction by The Atlantic. He writes about marginalized groups and overlooked people who make the world better for themselves. As such, his heroes tend to be exiles and outcasts seeking their own strange forms of freedom.
How to Attend:
This event will take place live on CPL's YouTube channel and CPL's Facebook page. You'll be able to ask questions during the event as well! Can't make it to the live stream? We'll archive the video on YouTube to watch later as well.
Need captioning for this event? Please call (312) 747-4015. Requests must be made at least 10 business days before the event.
(Photo of Mr. Fieseler by Max Gordon)