All across the country, folks are gearing up for Pride season, which kicks off in just a few weeks. Pride is a time for the LGBT community to come together and celebrate the advancements we’ve made towards achieving equal rights over the past several decades.
The Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City are often credited for sparking the modern gay rights movement. But few people know that three years earlier, on the opposite side of the country, a similar type of protest took place at a popular late night eatery in San Francisco.
Compton’s Cafeteria was located in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood and was a popular haunt for drag queens, transsexuals and hustlers. Restaurant owners, however, didn’t like this and would frequently call the police to arrest their customers for “female impersonation.”
In August 1966, a police officer tried arresting a transwoman at Compton’s. She responded by throwing a cup of coffee in his face. A riot quickly broke out. Dishes flew. Windows broke. And history was made.
In the 2005 documentary Screaming Queens, filmmakers Victor Silverman and Susan Stryker interview witnesses and participants from that evening.
Watch a short clip from the documentary below.