Skip to main content

Most of you know that June is designated as LGBT Pride month because of the Stonewall Riots, which began on June 28, 1969.

At Wikipedia, one can find the following statement:

They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

The only problem with the words above is that they are not quite true.  Almost three years before, there had been a blow struck for freedom on the other side of the country.

Originally posted at Docudharma

Gene Compton owned a string of Compton's Cafeterias from the 40s into the 70s.  The site of the action in question was his cafeteria at the corner of Taylor and Turk in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.  This 24 hour restaurant was one of the few places in San Francisco where the Hair Fairies, as they were known at the time, could congregate.  The concepts of transsexual and transgender were almost(?) non-existent.

Transwomen were not welcome in San Francisco gay bars, since crossdressing was illegal and the presence of one transperson in a bar could get it raided and perhaps closed down.

Compton's was also a hangout for street hustlers and members of a gay youth known as Vanguard (the first known LGBT youth organization, organized at Glide Memorial Church, along with a lesbian group called the Street Orphans.

On a hot August night, the Compton's management called the police on its customers, claiming they had become to boisterous.  One of the policemen rousted one of the transwomen and she threw her coffee in his face.  That ignited the riot.  Dishes and furniture exited through the plate glass windows.  Police called reinforcements and the fight moved out into the street.  A news stand was set ablaze.

The next day Compton's adopted a policy prohibiting transfolk from entering the establishment.  This caused more transfolk to gather at the scene, along with the hustlers and other denizens of the Tenderloin...and even some gay and lesbian picket the cafeteria.  That demonstration ended with the newly installed windows also being broken.

One of the outcomes of the riot was that a network of services (social, psychological, and medical) for transpeople was established...which led to "the creation of the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, the first such peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world.  The NTCU was run by Sergeant Elliot R. Blackstone of the SFPD, who had been designated liaison with the San Francisco homophile community, as it was called at the time.

Along with the political expression of the riot that we were human beings and deserved to be treated as such, July of 1966 brought the publishing of Harry Benjamin's earth-shattering book, The Transsexual Phenomenon (pdf), which affirmed our existence socially and medically.  This book established a procedure through which we could attain our life-long dreams.

The events of that hot August night were commemorated in 2006, with the installation of a plaque at the corner (the youtube of the first part of the commemoration doesn't work properly...the second half will be displayed below).  

It should also not be lost on anyone that the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was a drag bar.

It catered to an assortment of patrons, but it was known to be popular with the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, representatives of a newly self-aware transgender  community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth.


In the words of my former hair stylist...and one of the queens who claims to have been there on the night of June 28, many of the queens were "serious about it"...meaning that they viewed themselves as women.

I share this story tonight so that people will know that we were there at the beginning and hence deserve to be there when equality is achieved.

Fair is fair, don't you think?

Originally posted to Robyn's Perch on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Pat K California, Angie in WA State, Alma, Bill in Portland Maine, hester, teacherken, Alice in Florida, TrueBlueMajority, tnichlsn, Psyche, LuvSet, KateG, sardonyx, scribe, TheMomCat, bronte17, srkp23, Kevvboy, CoolOnion, navajo, KathleenM1, wader, Dube, TiaRachel, texasmom, Steven Payne, PerfectStormer, DMiller, ganymeade, Timroff, Big Tex, Massman, ExStr8, deepfish, Tonedevil, offred, triciawyse, citizenx, Laurence Lewis, boofdah, cfk, indiemcemopants, Sara R, Burned, cassidy3, bmaples, paxpdx, Savvy813, ajewella, pacotrey, Arsenic, Snud, LeftOverAmerica, refinish69, esquimaux, juliewolf, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Black Knight, edwardssl, dharmafarmer, emeraldmaiden, cookseytalbott, euterpe, deha, rhetoricus, Wary, carolita, fou, kck, bubbanomics, JVolvo, plf515, Unitary Moonbat, MBNYC, Zoskie, slksfca, One Pissed Off Liberal, Noor B, nathguy, BeninSC, dmh44, Outrider, joyful, newpioneer, Transactivist, JML9999, cloudbustingkid, cacamp, Lady Kestrel, davidseth, JeffW, rontun, ScottyUrb, Greasy Grant, Ocelopotamus, Cassandra Waites, ashowboat, kyril, petulans, Jacques, luckylizard, jayjaybear, Zulia, allie123, jlms qkw, Fiddlegirl, Sun dog, smellybeast, MTmarilyn, snackdoodle, Scott Wooledge, Carol in San Antonio, Field of Dreams, Partisan Progressive, velvet blasphemy, jodygirl, Patch Adam, EquationDoc, mississippi boatrat, asym, sanglug, synductive99, sherijr, vcthree, rb137, FogCityJohn, patrickz, GreenDog, Susan Grigsby, angelajean, your neighbor, Eddie L, paradise50, Funkygal, abrauer, Oh Mary Oh, nosleep4u, annieli, Colorado is the Shiznit, ozsea1, yesdevkmem, BlueJessamine, We Want Change, the national gadfly, soothsayer99, Situational Lefty, Sand Hill Crane, KelleyRN2, princesspat, merrily1000, hpchicago, Dbug, Deva Royal, Huginn and Muninn, ParkRanger, Gwenners, yawnimawke, GenXangster, sjterrid, IndieGuy, Eric Nelson, 2thanks

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site