Screaming Queens

The 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn in NYC are widely regarded as the birth of the modern gay rights movement. However, this is not so true. Perhaps Stonewall has a more prominent legacy, but even back in 1966, transgender women, gay men, and drag queens rioted in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, at the diner Gene Compton’s Cafeteria. The riots are now commonly referred to as Compton’s Cafeteria Riots.

The film Screaming Queens documents this important event in history and the different changes for trans people and others in the queer community at the time, including sex reassignment surgery (SRS) becoming available in San Francisco and their discovery of the term “transgender”.

Here is a short excerpt of the beginning of the film. I’m not sure if the whole thing can be found on youtube (it’s about an hour long in all), but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the queer rights movement, especially since it touches on a time and a place that isn’t mentioned all that often. It’s also important because it focuses on transgender folks, whose stories are not told nearly as often as gay men or lesbians. I’d also like to point out that it is directed by a transgender woman, and it is so important that transgender folks are the ones telling the history of their community, and sadly that is something I feel like I don’t see enough. I think the same goes for gay men, lesbians, and all other groups of people.

And here’s one more, a part of the film that focuses on the “new availability of a transgender identity”–

It is always extremely inspiring to me to learn about queer folks who lived as who they really were, even when the culture they lived in made it difficult and dangerous for them. It really is because of those folks that people in the queer community today, like myself, can enjoy more freedoms–but obviously not ALL freedoms granted to non-queer people, just yet.

V xx

  1. June 28th, 2010

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