NEWS AND EVENTS
The American Library Association keep an Over The Rainbow Recommended Book List, which is an annual compilation of the best LGBT literature and nonfiction. I was excited to learn in January of 2019 that Out For Queer Blood had been named one of the best LGBTQ history books for the year. I was also thrilled to see that my friend, Robert Fieseler, had also been named. His book, Tinderbox, continues to tell the story of the Up Stairs Lounge.
You can see the list of history books honored by the Over the Rainbow Committee here.
From late June of 2017 through July of 2018, I shared a home with a roommate named Peta Mni. We might still be living together, except that he died very suddenly on July 31, 2018.
During the year we lived together, Peta was busily at work on a master's degree, which he was completing on-line at the New School. A major focus of his thesis research was the story of an ancestor of his named John William McGrath whom Peta believed to have been in a same-sex relationship with a man named Daniel Webster Benson. Benson died in 1919 during the Spanish Influenza epidemic, and when McGrath died some years later, he was buried in Benson's plot.
Peta was able to tell part of their story here, and I told a bit more in September of 2018 at the Louisiana Studies Conference in Natchitoches. Peta also interviewed me on camera once, and we discussed the challenges of writing about LGBTQ history when so much of it had been literally unmentionable.
Fun trivia: he interviewed me in the apartment we shared, so you can see where and how we lived in the 2018-2019 academic year when he was doing his thesis research.
In late June of 2018, I took part in a panel at the Historic New Orleans Collection commemorating the forth-fifth anniversary of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire. Also on the panel were my friends and fellow historians, Royd Anderson and Robert Fieseler, along with Clancy Dubos, a New Orleans journalist who was at the scene in 1973. You can watch a film of the panel here.
Out for Queer Blood was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Nonfiction for 2018. In June of that month, I traveled to New York for the awards ceremony. The Lammys always put on a good show, and this one was no exception. And the reception in advance of the ceremony was fabulous! Although my book did not win, it is, as they say, an honor just to be nominated. And I'll show up for the party every time I have a nomination.
The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival (SAS Fest) is an annual event in New Orleans that brings in LGBT writers from around the country, and frequently from a few foreign countries as well. On March 25, 2018, I will be reading from Out for Queer Blood at SAS Fest, and a little later that day, I will be a member of a panel titled Creative Nonfiction: Making it Remarkable. SAS Fest, by the way, runs in tandem with The Tennessee Williams Festival, with participants being allowed to move from events in one to events in the other.
A review of Out for Queer Blood appeared in Lambda Literary on March 14, 2018. As far as I'm concerned, the money quote is in the final paragraph: "Author Clayton Delery can be confident that he has done his community proud by recording one of those moments in history that so many municipalities strive hard to forget, the recollection of which is a painful, healing victory for everyone." -- Tom Cardamone
On March 6, 2018, Lambda Literary announced its list of finalists for the annual Lambda Literary Awards. Knows as the "Lammys,"
the awards are given to the best of LGBTQ+
literature in 23 categories. This year,
Out for Queer Blood is a finalist for a Lammy in
LGBTQ nonfiction. In 2015, The Up Stairs
Lounge Arson was a Lammy finalist in that same
category, though it ultimately did not win. I'm hoping
for a different outcome this year. Wish me luck!
Susan Larson is a New Orleans radio personality who hosts a show called The Reading Life. On February 25, she broadcast an interview she conducted with me about Out for Queer Blood. There is a link to the podcast here. My interview starts around the 14:25 mark.
Right outside of Orleans Parish is Jefferson Parish, which (like New Orleans) straddles the east and west banks of the Mississippi River. On February 22, 2018, I spoke about Out for Queer Blood in Jefferson Parish at the East Bank Regional Library. Thanks to Chris Smith, the librarian who invited me to be a part of their speaker series.
On February 15, 2018, the Lambda Literary Newsletter published an interview with me about the process of writing Out for Queer Blood. You can read the interview here.
New Orleans has an organization called NOAGE (New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders). Each month, they have a Saturday morning Coffee Talk. On January 13, 2018, I spoke about the Fernando Rios murder at one of these coffee talks.
These days, when I'm asked to speak, it's usually about the Fernando Rios murder, but on January 9, 2018 I spoke
about my book, The Up Stairs Lounge Arson, at the
Hubbell Library in Algiers. It's a wonderful venue, with a real
neighborhood setting and a strong sense of community.
New Orleans has a radio station, WRBH, which is Radio for the Blind. Much of their programming is about books and news events. In fact, they have volunteers and staff read entire books on the air, so that the visually impaired can enjoy them. Soon they will broadcast me reading my book, The Up Stairs Lounge Arson. In the meantime, host David Benedetto interviewed me about The Up Stairs Lounge Arson and Out for Queer Blood. You can listen to that interview here.
On December 2, 2017, I had a reading in a fun venue. Bar Redux, which is deep in the New Orleans neighborhood known as the Bywater. I was invited by a former student named by Lacar Musgrove. I spoke in a beautiful little garden space with a small but attentive audience. When the event was over we shared drinks and food.
On September 28, 2017, my new book was published. Its title is Out for Queer Blood: The Murder of Fernando Rios ant the Failure of New Orleans Justice. The date of publication is particularly meaningful to me, because the book came out on the fifty-ninth anniversary of Rios' death.
Rios was a tour guide from Mexico City who was in New Orleans for a few days leading a group of doctors and their wives on a holiday. One evening he went out alone and was attacked by three young men who were on a mission to "roll" (beat up) a queer. Rios died from the beating he received, and his attackers were ultimately acquitted--to thunderous applause.
The book had its launch party on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at Cafe Lafitte in Exile. Lafitte's is the oldest continually operating gay bar in the
United States, and it was the last bar Rios
visited before he died. At the time of the
Rios killing, the New Orleans mayoral
administration was on a campaign known
as, "the drive against the deviates,"which
was intended to eliminate homosexuality
from the city (spoiler: it didn't work).
Although Rios died, the city's LGBT+
community has survived--as has Cafe
Lafitte--and so it was particularly
meaningful to me to launch the book there. Hat tip to Foster Fox, current manager of Cafe Lafitte.
On September 23, I gave a talk on the evolution of the French Quarter as a Queer Space at the Louisiana Studies Conference in Natchitoches, La. I've been a regular participant in this conference for eight years now, and I love it. Not only do
I get to see a lot of old friends, but I make new ones, and the fact that I present almost every
year has been really useful to me in my work; I
propose a topic, that topic turns into a chapter, and, over time, those chapters turn into books. The Up Stairs Lounge Arson and Out for Queer Blood both went through their gestational periods at the Louisiana Studies Conference.