SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The site of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot is now a historic landmark, according to the office of District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the area containing the site.
“At Compton’s Cafeteria, the queer community, in the face of state violence, stood up and said, no more,” Preston stated in a press release. “That act of courage and bravery has reverberated over time and generations, and has inspired countless marginalized people, especially in the queer community, to demand respect, equal treatment and self-determination. I am proud that the City will recognize this historic site for generations to come.”
Preston’s office stated that the designation came after a unanimous vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Compton’s Cafeteria, at Turk and Taylor streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood, was an all-night diner where, in Aug. 1966, transgender people, drag queens and others fought back against the San Francisco Police Department after an officer tried to arrest a trans woman. (At the time, non-normative gender expression was illegal, as were same-sex relationships.)
The riot preceded the more famous Stonewall Riot in Manhattan, which touched off the modern movement for LGBTQ rights, by almost three years. The incident was much less widely reported, however, leading many details (even the exact date) lost to history.
Aria Sa’id, the president of the Transgender District (originally the Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, encompassing six blocks of the southern Tenderloin and two blocks south of Market Street) acknowledged the work of community leaders and historians who brought attention to the history of that night.
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“Special thanks to community leaders: Tamara Ching, Felicia Flames and Donna Personna for keeping the legacy of the riot alive and to Dr. Susan Stryker for her dedication in researching the transgender and queer histories of the neighborhood,” Sa’id stated. “Thank you also to Cecilia Chung and Tita Aida for their advocacy of the intersection over the past 25 years and to emerging community activists Jupiter Peraza and Elliot Richardson for working tirelessly to advocate for legal recognition of this tremendous landmark and cultural asset for the community.”
The cafeteria itself at 101 Taylor Street closed in 1972. The building now contains apartments.