Forty-three years before the Pulse nightclub shooting became the largest mass murder of gays in the United States, an arsonist set fire to the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans, killing 32 people. Author Robert Fieseler, a Naperville native, will share excerpts from his book, which recounts the tragic fire that happened June 24, 1973, with survivor interviews and extensive research to weave a story with memorable characters living in a closeted, but thriving, world that was thriving before the fire. Fieseler’s story of the forgotten history also reports the political and societal change that followed the fire with a supported and emerging gay rights movement.
Robert W. Fieseler is a journalist and nonfiction author whose debut book, Tinderbox is a finalist for the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction and the Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime. Fieseler graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship. His 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 forms of freedom.