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The Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria

Directors Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman’s award winning documentary, The Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, tells the forgotten story of the first collective act of militant resistance to the social oppression of queer people in the United States–a 1966 riot by transgender prostitutes at a late night cafeteria in San Francisco. The Screaming Queens was awarded an Emmy during The 35th Annual Northern California Area EMMY® Awards For Outstanding Achievement in the Historical/Cultural category.

The Screaming Queens will be held on August 16th; reception at 6:30pm, screening at 7pm with directors Susan Stryker (professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona, Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies) and Victor Silverman (Professor and past Chair of the History Department and the American Studies Program at Pomona College) in attendance.


This event is part of our Compton’s Film Series: Queens to the Front, a four-event series culminating in a final workshop of The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, an interactive play directly inspired by the 1966 riot, produced by the Tenderloin Museum.

In the summer of 1966, a drag queen patron of the Tenderloin’s Compton’s Cafeteria threw her cup of hot coffee in the face of an police officer as he made an unwarranted attempted to arrest her. The riot that followed would be come to known as the United States’ first recorded act of militant queer resistance to social oppression and police harassment in history. Three years before the famous gay riot at New York’s Stonewall Inn, the neighborhood’s drag queens and allies banded together to fight back against their ongoing discrimination, beating the cops with their high heels and throwing furniture out of the cafeteria windows.

The Compton’s Film Series: Queens to the Front will consist of works created as a response to the story of Compton’s, the movement that followed, and the Tenderloin’s continued support of queer communities. This history is an integral component of the neighborhood’s identity, and we are honored to recognize the individuals whose tenacious spirit spawned a movement against the long history of discrimination and violence.


Compton’s Film Series: Queens to the Front

8/16: The Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria

8/24: Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight

9/14: Beautiful by Night + Queens At Heart 

9/26: The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, A Workshop