Three years before the more famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, San Francisco's Tenderloin district erupted with one of the first-known moments of collective queer resistance to persecution by law enforcement. The exact date is lost to history, but on an August night in 1966, drag queens, trans sex workers, hair fairies and gay street hustlers rose up against police harassment in what has come to be known at the Compton's Cafeteria Riot.
The GLBT History Museum and the Tenderloin Museum in San Francisco are teaming up in July through September 2016 to host a series of programs to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the riot. Events will take place at the two museums and the Roxie Theater. The programs are made possible by additional support from the Roxie Theater and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter Grant, and Grants for the Arts/General Fund Portion of the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.
"The Compton's Cafeteria Riot shows how, even before Stonewall, trans people, people of color and those on margins have been at the vanguard of queer social justice," said Don Romesburg, curator of public programming at the GLBT History Museum. "This series celebrates their legacy and urges us all to envision how this story from the past can inspire our future."
Vanguard Revisited, Revisited W/ Rev. Megan Rohrer
In 2011, Megan Rohrer and historian Joey Plaster created a remarkable work of public history: Vanguard Revisited, which introduced the history of the 1960s radical queer-youth organization Vanguard to contemporary queer homeless youth, who created their own art and poetry zine in conversation with essays and themes from the original Vanguard newsletter. The new zine also featured archival materials, a historical narrative and writings from urban ministers and youth organizers.
The storytelling project Temporal Cities will attend the event to share and record LGBTQ stories. Listen to a piece of oral history in their rotary phone, or type your own memories on a real typewriter. Temporal Cities is a public art project that examines the experience of living in the Tenderloin through the stories of its residents. For more information about the project, visit TemporalCities.org.
For the 50th Anniversary Compton's Commemoration, a second issue of the Vanguard Revisited zine will be released with new materials by the original authors and editors. For the Tenderloin Museum program, Rohrer will describe the initial process leading up to Vanguard Revisited and will discuss its legacy. Rohrer is the pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco and is a nationally recognized leader on issues of homelessness, gender, sexuality and faith.
ABOUT TEMPORAL CITIES:
Temporal Cities will be stationed inside the Museum during the event, collecting stories related to the LGBTQ experience in the Tenderloin. Temporal Cities is a public art project that examines the experience of living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, through the stories of its residents. The piece combines analog slide projection and interactive storytelling; a projected image mounted on the street attracts passersby to the installation, where they are encouraged to share a personal story that took place nearby. In collecting and archiving these stories, artists Lizzy Brooks and Radka Pulliam are building a nuanced map that explores the changing nature of the city and our collective ideas of permanence.