Friday, June 19, 2020

Seven queer true crime books

James Polchin is the author of Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall.

At CrimeReads he tagged "seven contemporary books that unsettle, illuminate, and define a queer aesthetic in true crime," including:
Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert Fieseler

In June of 1973, a disgruntled patron of the Up Stairs Lounge, a LGBTQ social space in New Orleans, doused the entrance steps with lighter fluid and lit a match. The ensuing inferno trapped and smothered the patrons, killing 32 people. Combining the eye of a journalist with the talents of a novelist, Fieseler recovers the history of this forgotten tragedy, the people who perished, and the prejudiced response by the media and political leaders. Central to the story Fieseler tells is the historical arc of queer activism that emerged in the aftermath of the fire, mobilizing the city’s LGBTQ population in the decades that followed, and the eventual decriminalization of homosexuality in the state in 2003.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Tinderbox.

--Marshal Zeringue