San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria used to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth. But when its gay manager died, his replacement hired security guards to harass patrons in one of the few places they could feel welcome. So, three years before Stonewall, an uprising sparked.
On July 18, 1966, trans youth, sex workers, drag queens, and other patrons led a two-hour picket. And when management called the police on them a month later, chaos broke out. One trans woman threw coffee at a violent cop. Others struck officers’ faces with weighty pocketbooks.
They broke windows, smashed police cars, and came back the next night to do it again!
51 years later, Aria Sa’id, Janetta Johnson, and Honey Mahogany stepped up to make the history of this uprising known. These Black trans women founded the first legally recognized trans district in the WORLD, right near where Compton’s used to be.
The district aims to combat gentrification and displacement, integrate job training and trans-owned businesses, and work with historical preservationists for trans history. “You treated … [Black trans people] like shit for many, many, many years,” said Johnson. “Now, we need ownership.”
Building community and resisting oppression like Compton’s protesters isn’t just a thing of the past. Like the women behind this district, we must continue to honor our ancestors by fighting that same fight!