A memorial plaque commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first known instance of transgender resistance to police harassment in the United States was installed at a ceremony Thursday in San Francisco. The Compton's Cafeteria riot predated the famous uprising at New York's Stonewall Inn by three years. Although Gene Compton's eatery in the seedy Tenderloin district of San Francisco was a haven for gay men, lesbians and transgender people, police harassment was nonetheless a common occurrence. On an evening in August, 1966, an officer entered and grabbed one of the "queens," who threw a cup of coffee in his face. Mayhem erupted as drag queens kicked the cops with their high-heeled shoes. Rioters smashed windows, broke furniture and set fire to a car. The event lasted a day, and picketing lasted several more days. In the aftermath of the riot, the San Francisco Police Department's community relations department began focusing on sensitivity training and brought gays, lesbians and transgender people into the dialogue, said Cecilia Chung, San Francisco human rights commissioner and deputy director of the Transgender Law Center. "Forty years ago, female impersonation was illegal, and you could even be arrested for wearing buttons on the wrong side of your shirt," Chung said. "In many ways, we can attribute our success in the transgender civil rights movement and the larger LGBT movement to our courageous predecessors at Compton's Cafeteria." [link]
(c) Independent Media Center. All content is free for reprint and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere,
for non-commercial use, unless otherwise noted by author. IMC not for content (expand this). more...
imc-nyc at lists.indymedia.org |
4 W. 43rd ST, NY, NY 10036