San Francisco remembers trans protests

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A memorial plaque commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot will be installed this Thursday at the corner of San Francisco’s Turk and Taylor Streets.

The 1966 riot was the first known instance of transgender resistance to police harassment in the US.

National and local community leaders present will include The Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church, author Leslie Feinberg and activist Jamison Green, National Centre for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling, and representatives of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, SF Human Rights Commission, and SF Police Commission.

Among those honoured will be several transgender individuals who were active in the community 40 years ago, and retired SFPD Officer Elliott Blackstone, the first SFPD liaison to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities.

Sparked by the riot, San Francisco activists and allies began their own civil rights movement in 1966, three years prior to the famous rioting at New York’s Stonewall Inn, popularly credited as the start of the Gay Freedom Movement.

“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,” said SF Human Rights Commissioner Cecilia Chung.

“Unexpected allies, like Sgt Blackstone, fought by our side against prejudice and stigma at a time when our cries seemed to be ignored, and helped to create a ripple of positive change. Today not only do we see transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving on the police force, but we also witness the wave of positive transformation in laws and policies in governments and institutions across the country and around the world.”

Filmmakers Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman, co-producer and directors of the film Screaming Queens, which documents the social conditions that led to the riot, will also speak. Their film recently won a Northern California Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement, Historical/Cultural Program Special, and will be screened on KQED at 9:30pm on June 29th, and several times on June 30th.

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