The Search for "Screaming Queens": Remembering the Compton's Cafeteria Riot
"As near as we can tell at this late date, based on incomplete and contradictory information, on a weekend night in August 1966, the patrons of Compton's Cafeteria in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco resisted a police raid on the establishment," says historian Susan Stryker. The patrons included "drag queens and trans women, gay hustlers, runaway street youth," she notes. Fed up with being pushed around by the cops, they responded with a riot -- breaking windows, trashing a police car, setting a news kiosk aflame.

Fifty years later, the Compton's uprising is recognized as a milestone for the history of transgender rights -- yet it had vanished from public memory before Stryker began uncovering the traces in the archives of the GLBT Historical Society. Unlike the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969, the Compton's Cafeteria Riot received no news coverage at the time -- and unlike Stonewall, activists didn't call for an annual parade to mark the anniversary of the event. As Compton's disappeared into the shadows, Stonewall was commemorated every year in Pride celebrations that spread worldwide.

A Discovery in the Archives 
"I first came across a mention of the Compton's riot in the ephemera files of the GLBT Historical Society when I got involved there as a volunteer in 1991," Stryker recalls. "It was in a list of gay historical events compiled several years earlier by Greg Pennington, one of the founders of the organization, that he had put together from reading lots and lots of gay and lesbian periodicals." Tracking down the source of the reference proved to be daunting, but while doing research a few years later, Stryker finally found it in the program for San Francisco's 1972 Pride Parade.
Those early glimpses inspired Stryker to uncover more details about the 1966 incident. Ultimately, she joined Victor Silverman in directing Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria. Released in 2006, the documentary appeared widely in film festivals and was broadcast on public television across the United States. In the ensuing decade, the story of the riot has increasingly entered the national conversation: President Obama even mentioned "Compton's Café" alongside Stonewall in his Pride Month declaration for June 2016.
How does Stryker view the growing awareness of Compton's as a seminal moment of resistance? "It's a very positive development," she says. "My constant worry, though, is that this knowledge simply gets folded into a progress narrative about how things are getting better and better for trans folks, when the reality is that a lot of us still struggle. Employment discrimination, housing discrimination, poor access to health care, high rates of HIV, incarceration, poverty, homelessness, familial rejection -- these are very real challenges for many trans people. The same fierceness that led people to fight back in 1966 is still sorely needed today."
Special Program Series Marks 50th Anniversary
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Compton's Cafeteria Riot, the GLBT Historical Society is partnering with the Tenderloin Museum and the Roxie Theatre for a series of talks, panels, film and more through early September. Evening events at the GLBT History Museum in August include "Cruising the Tenderloin in the 1960s: A Talk by Felicia Elizondo" (August 4) and "Compton's 50th Anniversary Art Launch and Artist Talk" (August 16). Screaming Queens will screen at the Roxie Theatre on August 18 at 7 p.m. Visit the GLBT Historical Society website for the full series calendar.
FromEDFrom the Executive Director 
Bringing History Alive Today and Tomorrow
by Terry Beswick
It's been two months since we announced Phase 1 of our planning process for a world-class New Museum of LGBTQ History and Culture. We're happy to report that dozens of people have responded with donations and offers of support.

For the remainder of 2016, we'll be pursuing the campaign to lay the groundwork for the new museum while we continue our wonderful exhibitions and other programs at the existing GLBT History Museum and archives.

Support and participation from everyone who cares about LGBTQ history will be the key to transforming the dream of a new museum into reality. And an ideal opportunity for getting involved is coming up: Tuesday, August 2, is Give OUT Day, when thousands of LGBTQ people and our allies from across the country join together in lifting up our community organizations, including the GLBT Historical Society.

Together, we can continue bringing LGBTQ history to life every day and at the same time can take the first steps toward creating the New Museum of LGBTQ History and Culture. How can you help? If you're not yet a member of the Historical Society, please sign up. If you're already a member, please consider increasing your membership level with an additional donation. You can make Give OUT Day donations beginning today: click here.

Save the Date: Living History Gala

Join cohosts Honey Mahogany and esteemed journalist Hank Plante along with 200 other guests at the War Memorial Green Room in San Francisco on Saturday, October 15, for "Living History: A GLBT Historical Society Gala." Always a high point of the LGBTQ fall season, this festive gathering will feature an original performance by Dia Dear; food by JJardine Catering; and an amazing silent auction including art, queer memorabilia, travel packages, fine wine and other exceptional lots.

Early-bird tickets at $100 go on sale August 15 on our website. Tables of ten will go for $1,000. We expect to sell-out, so be sure to reserve your table early. I look forward to thanking many of you in person for supporting the GLBT Historical Society.

Terry Beswick is executive director of the GLBT Historical Society. 
UpcomingUpcoming Events   
Staged Reading
Rhino in the Castro: The Bat
Monday, August 1   
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco 
Free  |  $5.00 donation welcome 
Theatre RhinocerosSan Francisco's groundbreaking queer stage company, has teamed up with the GLBT History Museum to present "Rhino in the Castro," a series of readings of plays reflecting the LGBTQ community and our allies. The museum provides the space, and Rhino provides the scripts and actors. Performances take place the first Monday of every month.    
The second reading in the series is "The Bat" by Avery Hopwood and Mary Roberts Reinhart. This murder mystery from the 1920s was one of Hopwood's most popular plays. The most successful American playwright of his time, Hopwood also was gay -- but his writing did not deal directly with the topic. The Rhino has engaged Hopwood scholar Jack Sharrar to direct this reading of "The Bat," and he's making gender alterations to the characters to showcase the gay subtext and to reclaim the play for queer history and culture. Join the Facebook conversation here.  
Exhibition Opening
Through Knowledge to Justice: The Sexual World of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935)
August 19-November 23
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St., San Francisco

Opening Reception
Friday, August 19
7:00-9:00 PM
$5.00  |  Free for members
This year marks the 85th anniversary of Magnus Hirsch­feld's visit to San Francisco. Hirschfeld was a physician and a prolific author renowned for his work on sexual and gender diversity. In 1897 in Berlin, he cofounded the first homosexual emancipation organization in the world. He also was a pioneering advocate for transgender people.

The exhibition offers an introduction to Hirschfeld's life, work and legacy through a display of historical materials largely drawn from a local private collection -- inscribed first editions, illustrated magazines and ephemera. Among the scarce artifacts included is one of a handful of volumes known to have survived the first book-burning of the Nazi regime, where the library of Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin was consigned to the flames.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Hermes Foundation and cosponsored by the German Consulate General, the Consulate General of France, the Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft (Berlin). Join the Facebook conversation here.

History Talk
The Golden Age of Physique Photography (1945-1969) 
Thursday, August 25   
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco
$5.00  |  Free for members 
An illustrated talk by collector John Fagundes on the great photographers of the physique tradition. Post-World War II America saw the rise of this genre of commercial homoerotic photography operating within, and often challenging, the rigid confines of censorship laws. Coexisting with the onset of the pre-Stonewall movement for homosexual rights, physique images confronted mainstream society's restrictions on photographs reflecting gay male desireFagundes will focus on the work of Douglas of Detroit, Bruce of Los Angels, Bob Mizer (Athletic Model Guild) and Jim French (Colt Studios) as well as their predecessors who established a new aesthetic of the male nude with a particular appeal for gay men. Join the Facebook conversation here
Film Screening
Mighty Reels: Happy Birthday Sylvester!
Wednesday, August 31   
7:00-8:30 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco 
$5.00  |  Free for members 
Travel back to 1987 in this month's installment of the GLBT Historical Society's "Mighty Reels" series of moving images from the archives. Media preservationist John Raines presents a scarce video of the 40th birthday celebration for iconic San Francisco disco diva Sylvester (1947-1988), with the star performing sentimental standards backed by a jazz band. The program will conclude with encore clips of Sylvester and other Megatone Records artists including Paul Parker, Jo-Lo, Billy Preston and Modern Rocketry. Sylvester was born in Los Angeles on Sept. 6, 1947, so the program is taking place less than a week before what would have been his 69th birthday. Join the Facebook conversation here.  
Save the Date
Living History: The GLBT Historical Society Gala

VisitVisit Us    
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-1107
Monday - Saturday: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday: Noon - 5:00 PM

The GLBT Historical Society
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(415) 777-5455

Please call to schedule a research appointment.

CREDITS: Photo of Susan Stryker by Curtis Ryan; courtesy Tucson Local Media.
Photo of Terry Beswick by Gareth Gooch.   

Editor: Gerard Koskovich     
Newsletter Design:

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