Election 2016

The Upstairs Lounge Fire

amazon.comJohnny Townsend’s “Let the Faggots Burn: The UpStairs Lounge Fire” (2011)is an exceptional book. The subject is one element of the volume’s notable qualities. It is about gay people who are caught in a tragic fire that was intentionally set in a New Orleans’ gay bar in 1973. More than thirty people died in this fire. A second element of the book’s real value is Johnny Townsend’s tone. The book shows compassion, understanding and love for those who died and for their relatives. Townsend produces an enormous amount of detail about the human beings involved in the tragedy and its aftermath. He exposes terrible insensivity and incredible suffering. “Let the Faggots Burn” is testimony to how destructive hate and discrimination can be. Further, it is a sign of hope that perhaps times are now changing because to read his book, nearly 40 years after the fire,is gratefying in that our nation has passed a hate-crime law and communities like my own Salt Lake City, Utah has passed nondiscrimination ordinances that make LGBTQ community feel more welcomed and wanted and appreciated. “Let the Faggots Burn” is hard to read because of the subject. It nearly brought tears to my eyes, and yet it is good to beleive that Townsend’s historic writing about the New Orleans’ fire is a sucessful attempt to cast off a cloak that masks our country’s need for better treatment of all peoples. He is to be commended for having the courage and the skill to produce this work.

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