Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria
Documentary about transgender women and drag queens who fought police harassment at Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1966, three years before the famous riot at Stonewall... Read allDocumentary about transgender women and drag queens who fought police harassment at Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1966, three years before the famous riot at Stonewall Inn bar in NYC.Documentary about transgender women and drag queens who fought police harassment at Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1966, three years before the famous riot at Stonewall Inn bar in NYC.
The film clips from mid-to-late-1960's San Francisco struck home with me--- Although I was living in NYC at the time, I endured arrests, hundreds of police raids, --and of course riots-- from the 5-day Stonewall mêlée to the bloody, albeit less well-know, 'Snake Pit' riots that followed Stonewall by less than a year, yet were in the same vicinity (on Christopher Street, plus outside the 6th precinct on Charles Street, and even extending down West 8th Street).
As I watched this documentary about San Francisco, I saw several pieces of very familiar stock footage pieced in,-- including a few shots from the first annual GLF-sponsored gay march in NYC (June 1970).
It was in one of those film clips, there, up on the screen, that I suddenly saw my roommate from 1970, Billy Weaver, AND ME, carrying the biggest and most political banner in that march.-- We painted it on a large bed sheet on our living room floor (and the paint went right through the cloth, forever marking our hardwood floor with: "SMASH SEXISM" in large letters, and underneath that slogan, "GAYS UNITE NOW" in only slightly smaller letters.
Because it was the boldest statement during the march (and, by far, the biggest banner-), it was a magnet for everyone with a camera that day-- including all members of the media.
This is not the first documentary film I've seen in which I suddenly appear with Billy, the two of us marching and holding up that enormous banner (which we had stapled to tall cardboard tubes which each of us held-- the police would NOT allow us to use wooden poles for our banner....)
FYI: That first march was not called a 'Gay Pride March' or anything even close;-- It was called "The Christopher Street Liberation Day March," being named after the 6-man committee (-I was one of the six-) called 'The Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee.'
Our 6-man group was a cell within GLF (the Gay Liberation Front-- of which I was an original member), and we formed that cell within GLF for the express purpose of lobbying the city to allow us to hold a march to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, AND to make sure it was observed every June thereafter.
After seeing this film, I had to wonder a bit about why a documentary telling of an event from the 1960s contained news-footage from June of 1970. It was, of course to illustrate that what happened at Compton was, indirectly, linked to later events.... .....something that is still true today.
- Oct 7, 2006