Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Navigate Left
  • Green Wave baseball heads to the Corvallis regional after winning back-to-back conference championships

    Baseball

    Green Wave Baseball wins back-to-back conference championships, will play in Corvallis regional

  • Available supplies include, but are not limited to, syringes, tourniquets, cookers and other paraphernalia, provided to cut down on sharing within the community.

    City

    Harm reduction in New Orleans, from pavement up

  • From blues to Cajun cuisine: the best of Jazz Fest 2024

    Arcade

    From blues to Cajun cuisine: the best of Jazz Fest 2024

  • Police have found two video cameras in campus bathrooms in recent months and arrested one former employee but said the cases do not appear to be connected.

    News

    Faculty, students deliver letters condemning Tulane’s response to pro-Palestinian encampment

  • Screenshot

    Letter to the Editor

    Letter to the Editor | Tulane faculty letter concerning campus protest

  • Jack Zinsser shows face.

    Arcade

    Helluva Hubbalagoo

  • Winners announced: Arcade A+ Awards

    Arcade

    Winners announced: Arcade A+ Awards

  • Michael Pratt was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the 245th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2024 NFL draft.

    Football

    Pratt, Jackson, others find landing spots in NFL

  • Letter from the Editor | In good hands

    Letter to the Editor

    Letter from the Editor | In good hands

  • Zion Williamsons injury in the NBA play-in was the final nail in the coffin for the New Orleans Pelicans season.

    Basketball

    Remembering New Orleans Pelicans: October 2023 – April 2024

  • Participants of the 2024 Tulane Student Film Festival. Courtesy of the Film Festival.

    Arcade

    Tulane hosts third annual student film festival

  • OPINION | Final exams: Are we finally done with them?

    Views

    OPINION | Final exams: Are we finally done with them?

  • OPINION | Science or not: Rethinking core curriculum

    Views

    OPINION | Science or not: Rethinking core curriculum

  • Screenshot

    Views

    Letter to the Editor | Silent killer: Why World Malaria Day matters

  • Police stand in front of protesters early Wednesday morning.

    City

    Pro-Palestinian protesters demand charges be dropped after police sweep at Tulane

Navigate Right
Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

flytedesk: Box (In-Story)
flytedesk (In-Story | Box)
flytedesk (Sidebar | Half Page)

Author discusses 1950s killing of gay man by Tulane students

Clayton Delery-Edwards book tells the story of Fernando Rios, a young gay man murdered in 1958 by three Tulane students. (Screenshot from WaveSync)

On Sept. 27, 1958, 26-year-old visiting tour guide Fernando Rios was enjoying the New Orleans nightlife at Cafe Lafitte in Exile, a gay bar on Bourbon Street. There, he met Tulane University student John Farrell. The two hit it off and left the bar together. Little to Rios’s knowledge, Farrell was leading him to a deadly trap. 

Farrell brought Rios to the dim-lit Pere Antoine Alley near Jackson Square. Two of Farrell’s fraternity brothers waited, one on Royal Street and one on Charles Street. The three Tulane students violently beat Rios and robbed him, leaving him unconscious and bleeding. Rios was found at dawn and died in the hospital hours later, according to Clayton Delery-Edwards. 

Under the defense that Rios made inappropriate advances, the three students were acquitted. 

Tulane’s Queer Student Alliance invited author Delery-Edwards, author of “Out for Queer Blood,” to speak about Rios’s story in February. According to Delery-Edwards, this presentation was Tulane’s first official gesture of acknowledgement of this event.

The book recounts Rios’s story, the racist and homophobic portrayal of Rios in the media and trial and the societal bigotry of the era. 

“A lot of what I’m doing in the book is trying to establish what life was like for gay people in New Orleans in the 1950s,” Delery-Edwards said. “As the decade went on, the city became increasingly hostile toward LGBT people. When the hostility was reaching its high, that happened to be the moment when Fernando Rios was killed. So, he became the face of what the city was trying to eliminate.”

Delery-Edwards said gay people were often perceived as mentally ill and inherently criminal, especially in the media. 

“Fernando Rios had the bad luck to be both Mexican and gay at a time when both Mexican [people] and [gay people] were under fire,” Delery-Edwards said. 

During the time of Rios’s murder, anti-gay legislation was frequent under the administration of Mayor deLesseps Story “Chep” Morrison of New Orleans.

“The stated goal was to make life so hostile for homosexuals,” Delery-Edwards said. “They wanted to make life so hostile that it would drive them out of the city, and it didn’t work. But, it took the form of creating laws.”

Newspapers often referred to Rios as “the Mexican” instead of his real name, according to Delery-Edwards. He cited one example in which an article wrote, “the Mexican made an improper advance.”

Delery-Edwards said the prejudice Rios faced in the 1950s is not unlike modern bigotry. He referenced the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and legislation like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a law that restricts discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in classroom settings. However, he said that LGBTQ+ representation has improved. 

“In the 1950s, almost all the news coverage you would read about LGBT people was extremely negative,” Delery-Edwards said. “Almost anything out of a politician’s mouth would be extremely negative. Today, there’s a wider range of points of view.”

Delery-Edwards said that for his book, he spoke to Farrell’s son, Sean Farrell. Sean Farrell was unaware of the story of Rios.

“He was trying very hard to put this horrible incident into the context of his father’s life, which otherwise seems so normal,” Delery-Edwards said. “It was an effort for him and it was very emotionally taxing to have a conversation with me.”

After the event, attendees held a vigil to honor Rios.

“It was so moving in part because it was so unexpected and healing for me, because it was a very painful experience writing that book,” Delery-Edwards said. “It was healing for me and I think it would have been healing for anyone.”

“It was incredibly moving,” he said, “because Tulane played a very active role in the story. To my knowledge, the event really has never been acknowledged on the Tulane campus before.”

Leave a Comment

Donate to The Tulane Hullabaloo
$1000
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tulane University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The Tulane Hullabaloo
$1000
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal