Pere Antoine Alley-The Murder of Fernando Rios, 1958
Backstory and Context
This alleyway was the site of the 1958 murder of a gay Mexican tour guide named Fernando Rios. On the evening of September 29, 1958, three fraternity brothers from Tulane University decided to go out to the French Quarter to “roll a queer”, or find a gay man to beat up. John Farrell, one of the students, went into the gay bar Cafe Lafitte in Exile, where he met Fernando Rios. When Rios invited Farrell home with him, the two left the bar together, and when they were unable to get a taxi, Farrell led Rios into this alley, where Farrell’s other two friends were waiting. The students viciously beat Rios, stole his wallet, and left him in the alleyway, bleeding and unconscious. The 26-year-old Rios was discovered in the alleyway the next morning and taken to the hospital, where he died from his wounds. The three students were indicted for the murder but were soon acquitted, due to both the homophobia surrounding the case and the students’ wealthy, respected status. While the ‘not guilty’ verdict was celebrated by the press and by broader New Orleans society, this brutally homophobic hate crime and the failure of the equally homophobiclaw enforcement and court systems to serve justice sparked anger among gay and lesbian residents of the city. This murder, and the outrage it engendered, marked one of several key events that eventually led to the formation of a more coherent and organized LGBT community in New Orleans.
Delery, Clayton. Out for Queer blood: The Murder of Fernando Rios and the Failure of New Orleans Justice. Jefferson, North Carolina: Exposit, 2017.
Thompson, Jelisa. “You Make Me Feel: A Study of the Gay Rights Movement in New Orleans.” Honors Theses, Paper 5. University of Southern Mississippi, 2011. https://aquila.usm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=honors_theses.