with Robert Haaland
Republished with permission
Moments like these with screaming queens and trojan
May 14, 2006
The Trojan Horse
Activist Bill Hirsh comes out against Proposition D
Recently the Mental
Health Association of San Francisco and Protection
and Advocacy Inc. came out against Proposition D because it
violates 9 different State and Federal anti-discrimination laws.
Both are some of the most credible disability rights advocates
in the state of California and even the nation.
Yesterday, in the Bay
Area Reporter, Bill Hirsh, the Executive Director of AIDS
Legal Referral Panel, came out against Proposition
Some of the supporters of Proposition D, including a doctor and
a political consultant, disputed this, but in the face of growing
opposition from advocates who have immense standing in the disability
advocacy community, their arguments are becoming less and less
credible. In fact, even more advocates will soon be coming out
publicly against Proposition D. They are outraged that the Proposition
D campaign is stigmatizing those with mental health issues, not
unlike how people bash immigrants. Those with mental health issues
are an easy target in politics, and advocates are rightly outraged.
In fact, statistics show that those with mental health issues
same rate of violent behavior as the general population so
to exclude them is not only bad public health care policy, it
is simply bad science. Of course the part that is most offensive
to them is that the vehicle for bashing those with mental health
issues is simply a land-use/profit-making scheme purporting to
be about patient care.
Miss Major, activist from the Stonewall Riots who threw the first
brick at the cops
Photo by Cecilia Chung
In 1966, a group of drag queens, gay street hustlers, and transgender
folks fought back against police oppression at a cafeteria in
the Tenderloin called the Compton's Cafeteria, three years prior
to the Stonewall
riots, the first known collective resistance by queers against
institutional oppression. Moments like these, riots like this,
whether it is the Stonewall riots in New York or in Compton's
Cafeteria riots in San Francisco, profoundly affect our community.
People fight back because they must. They have no choice. And
yet we must honor them, honor their courage, their guts, and the
sheer audacity of gay and transgender hustlers, and drag queens,
mostly women of color, from the Tenderloin, smashing cops with
their purses, kicking cops with their high heel shoes, burning
down a newspaper stand, and vandalizing a police car after years
and years of constant harassment.
I studied LGBT history as an undergraduate and of course read
about the gay and lesbian history of San Francisco, about
Harvey Milk, the movement in SF, about Harvey's
assassination by Dan White, the White
Night Riots, but had never heard of the Compton's Cafeteria
Riots until I read an article by the renowned historian, Susan
Stryker, who later made a documentary of the event, "Screaming
Queens." We are fortunate that she documented this pivotal
moment, a historical event that deepens our understanding of what
happened in San Francisco and the interconnectedness of our communities
and the interconnectedness of our movements.
We are also fortunate to have a community of activists that want
to honor these brave people and make Compton Cafeteria riots part
of our living history. It doesn't get much better than this. A
big thanks to Susan
Stryker who helped bring out and shape our understanding of
this moment, to Cecilia
Chung who brought all of this together in the first place
to ensure that we properly honor these women, to Gayle
Roberts for continuously organizing our efforts to be able
to fundraise for this event, to Jim
"Jimmer" Cassiol, the Mayor's LGBT liason who has
helped us every step of the way, Martin Rawlings-Fein, Billie-Jean
Historical Society, Theresa
Calma (AKA Tita Aida), Frameline,
Perpetual Indulgence, and Victor
Shown here: Cecila Chung, Joanne Keatley, Martin Rawlings-Fein,
and Ms. Major
Photo by Cecilia Chung
Photo by Cecilia Chung
On Tuesday, Supervisor
Chris Daly will be introducing a resolution making the site
of the Compton's Cafeteria Riots a historically significant site.
On June 22nd, we will commemorate these riots. Join us from Noon
- 1pm at Turk and Taylor.
We are the legacy of this moment and we must continue to have
the nerve to fight back like the women did in 1966, and by honoring
them, we remind ourselves to do our best to be like them.
Robert Haaland publishes leftinsf.com.
Email Robert Haaland