LGBT-RAN Honored for Upstairs Lounge Fire Exhibit

January 16, 2014

The Committee on LGBT History announced today that the LGBT Religious Archives Network's Upstairs Lounge Fire Exhibit is awarded the 2014 Allan Bérubé Prize for "outstanding work in public or community-based LGBT and/or queer history." Here is the full text of the prize announcement:

Allan Bérubé Prize 2014:

Online Exhibit on the Upstairs Lounge Fire, New Orleans, 1973. Producer: The LGBT Religious Archives Network; Co-Curators: Mark Bowman and Lynn Jordan; Designer: Carl Foote; Collaborators: Skylar Fein, Johnny Townsend, and Henry Kubicki.

On Pride Sunday, June 24, 1973, an arsonist's flash fire killed 32 people in a New Orleans gay bar. The Upstairs Lounge Fire online exhibit weaves artifacts from the time into a vivid historical account of the tragedy and memorializes those who perished, including members of Metropolitan Community Church, who had used the space to worship and become bar regulars. Creators use diverse primary visual, documentary and community resources as well as compelling secondary source material. Visitors learn about how gay and religious people made shared use of space in early 1970s New Orleans, the violent loss and struggle to heal while investigating the crime, diverse media coverage of the event, and the mix of activist, political and homophobic acts that ensued. The committee found this exhibit to be "just plain excellent work," immersive and rich in its blend of narratives, interpretations and evidence. The content and design allow visitors their own pace and depth, making the exhibition accessible for a wide range of viewers, especially students. Writes co-curator Lynn Jordan: "For those who would say that this event was so yesterday, i.e., we have achieved so many advances in our civil rights and in our acceptance for this to happen again, I would remind them that hate and intolerance are not constrained to finding shelter in any one moment, any one location in our 'queer' history."

"It is a great honor to receive this prestigious award," stated LGBT-RAN coordinator Mark Bowman. "We are grateful for this recognition and that the Prize Committee recognized several persons who were major collaborators on this unique exhibit. A project of this breadth and depth could only be the result of the collective work of many. LGBT-RAN is proud to be a gathering point for persons who are passionate about preserving and telling LGBT religious history."

You can peruse the award-winning Upstairs Lounge Fire Exhibit here: