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Gay San Francisco

Tenderloin Museum is pleased to present, for the first time in its entirety, Gay San Francisco, a documentary film delving into the Tenderloin’s early queer movements during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Created by filmmaker Jonathan Raymond, the full-length, never-before-screened Gay San Francisco gives an unabashedly raw window into queer life decades ago. Restored from its original 16mm film, and transferred to digital in a collaboration between Tenderloin Museum and California Preservation Program, this extended version features, among other new scenes, lesbian subject matter and a fetish “tickle sacrifice” scene. A true mondo film with no shortage of pornographic material, Gay San Francisco tackles its gay and erotic themes with a respect and humor that was all but unheard of at the time of its shooting. This footage — along with scenes from San Francisco’s thriving LGBTQ culture, interviews with gay men and transwomen, and rare pieces from a Halloween drag show at the historic On The Levee gay bar — give a shockingly complete depiction of homosexual life in San Francisco, and more specifically, the Tenderloin, San Francisco’s first queer neighborhood.

Gay San Francisco was discovered by filmmakers Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman during research for their Emmy-winning documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, which includes footage from Gay San Francisco. The original 8mm film was generously given to Stryker and Silverman by Ed Muckerman, cinematographer of Gay San Francisco.

The restoration of the film was a collaboration between Tenderloin Museum and California Preservation Society as a part of California Reveale, a State Library initiative to help digitize, preserve, and serve online historically significant Californiana. California Revealed is currently accepting submissions on behalf of the Tenderloin Museum. Participants are encouraged to bring in material related to the history of the Tenderloin (e.g., books, documents, photographs, audiovisual recordings) to be digitized and added to the Tenderloin Museum’s digital collection as well as the California Light and Sound collection. In exchange, participants will get free copies of the files. The Tenderloin Museum will gather basic description and help send the original materials to California Revealed for digitization. The next deadline for nominations will be Spring 2018.

To arrange a drop-off, please contact the Tenderloin Museum at

Since 2010, California Revealed and its sibling project, the California Audiovisual Preservation Project, have worked with over 150 partner institutions across the state — including public libraries and local historical societies — to help preserve California’s history through digitizing materials, making them available online, and providing long-term storage. For more information about California Revealed please visit the California Preservation Program.

Bryn Hoffman, archivist with California Revealed, will be speaking following the screening of Gay San Francisco. Hoffman specializes in “non-av” materials: photos and print. She has previously done work at the Internet Archive and the Freedom Archives in San Francisco, and as a rural librarian in Vermont. She received her MLIS in archival studies from Simmons College in 2016.