Out for Queer Blood

The Murder of Fernando Rios and the Failure of New Orleans Justice


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About the Book

On a September night in 1958, three New Orleans college students went looking for a gay man to assault. They chose Fernando Rios, who died from the beating he received. In perhaps the earliest example of the “gay panic” defense, the three defendants argued that they had no choice but to beat Rios because he had made an “improper advance.” When the jury acquitted the three, the courtroom cheered. The author offers a detailed examination of the murder and the trial.

About the Author(s)

Clayton Delery, a retired teacher from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts previously published The Up Stairs Lounge Arson, which was named Book of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2015. He lives in New Orleans.

Bibliographic Details

Clayton Delery
Foreword by Robert L. Camina
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 234
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6884-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2987-2
Imprint: Exposit Books

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
A Note on Language 1
Foreword by Robert L. Camina 3
Introduction 7
1. Pirates and Outlaws 17
2. ”A drive against the deviates”: The Gay Man in New Orleans, 1950-1960 22
3. A Frigid Climate of Hostility: The Killing of Fernando Rios 63
4. A Medical Freak with an Eggshell Cranium: The Trial That Made New Orleans Cheer 82
5. Nolle Prosequi: The Events Following the Trial 117
6. Reclaiming Masculinity: A Brief History of Hate Crimes and the Gay Panic Defense 131
7. Deja Vu 148
Appendix: A Son Speaks For and About His Father 181
Chapter Notes 199
Works Cited 207
Index 221

Book Reviews & Awards

•Finalist—Lambda Literary Award

• Over the Rainbow Recommended Book List—Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association (ALA)

• “Bringing a deep understanding to his subject matter, Delery situates the tragic story of Rios within the context not only of homophobia but also of racism and xenophobia that was so prevalent in New Orleans and the nation at large during the 1950s. … Out for Queer Blood is a major achievement.”—Louisiana History

• “A riveting and important work of grassroots LGBT history that reveals the connections and fissures between homophobia and anti–Latino prejudices in U.S. history. Delery unmasks the origins of one of the most sinister legal and cultural foundations of anti-gay oppression: the false accusation of desire and how it has been used to excuse injustice.”—Sarah Schulman, award-winning writer and gays rights activist

• “Delery’s treatment of a controversial period in New Orleans history (and in the history of the United States for that matter) needs to be commended for its robustness to chronicle this difficult time. The author draws on contemporary, as well as historical information, and personal experience to expose a larger cadre of disturbing issues than just a rampant homophobia and violence against homosexuals in 1950s-1960s New Orleans. Out for Queer Blood also exposes an inequitable justice system that favored outdated perceptions of sexuality viewing homosexuals more as deviants rather than human beings. As both an objective historian and true crime author, I can recommend Delery’s Out for Queer Blood as an integral contribution to the true crime as well as historical genres.”—Alan G. Gauthreaux, co-Author, Dark Bayou: Infamous Louisiana Homicides

Ebook Availability

McFarland (Hummingbird Digital Media edition)

Amazon (Kindle)

Apple (iBooks)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)


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