The narrative of queer urban refuge in the late twentieth century is familiar: individuals marginalized by sexual and gender difference in exurban areas historically migrated to city centres, where they found sanctuary in the architecture of urban nightlife. Little, however, is discussed of similar spaces that existed in suburban and rural contexts. The Famous Kingfish is an example of this phenomenon, providing shelter for queer youth inside a prefabricated metal shed on a rural, South Louisiana bayou. The necessity of its secrecy made the Kingfish part of a unique architectural history that evades most historical databases, one that exists only through word of mouth and sparse internet trails. The work of uncovering the Kingfish sets important precedence for an urgency to resurrect forgotten exurban queer sanctuary spaces from their ambiguously informal archives, to consider their significance within a broader architectural discourse around sanctuary spaces for marginalized populations.
Adam Thibodeaux is an architect and educator from South Louisiana. He currently teaches graduate studios and seminars in Inclusive Design at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. His research focuses on the uncovering and reclamation of spaces that once sheltered populations marginalized by difference. Alongside his academic work, he co-directs a project space on Buffalo’s West Side that platforms marginalized artists at both the regional and national scale. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas and a Post-Professional Master of Architecture from Yale University. He is a licensed architect in the State of New York.