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New Mural Commemorates Pre-Stonewall Compton Cafeteria Riots

Black Trans Lives Matter Mural Painted in San Francisco's Transgender District to Celebrate Compton Cafe Riots

The streets of San Francisco were emblazoned with a giant Black Trans Lives Matter mural this past weekend. The SF Bay Times is reporting it was all part of recognizing the 54th anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria riots that occurred in response to continued police harassment of the transgender community during the period. The Compton’s Cafeteria riots predate Stonewall by three years.

The mural was painted by volunteers over the weekend at the intersections of Turk and Taylor Streets. The design was headed by local artists Xara Thustra, Sen Mendez, and Kin Folkz. The Transgender District, the first officially recognized transgender district in the world, collaborated on the project with several organizations including CounterPULSE and the Tenderloin Community Benefits District. The mural features the pink, blue, and white colors of the transgender flag.

“The painting honors our intention to stay,” Honey Mahogany, the first Black trans candidate to win an elected post in California, told the SF Bay Times. Mahogany also appeared in season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The new Transgender District is situated in the city’s old Tenderloin area just north of Market Street. Prior to the birth of the famed Castro District, the area was known as a ‘gay ghetto’ with a heavy transgender presence. At the time, the transgender community was ostracized and one of the few places they felt safe gathering was Compton’s Cafeteria. The cafeteria was open 24 hours so members of the trans community met there late at night and in the early hours of the morning. The police were often called by management, who claimed they scared away business.

On the night in question, the trans community resisted and fought back after the police were called again. The exact date is lost to memory as police records for the time are missing. The riot began when one of the trans women fought back and threw a cup of coffee into the arresting officer’s face. The brawl escalated and spilled into the streets. Arrests and protests ensued. The riots mobilized the trans community and is viewed by many as the foundational moment in the fight for trans rights.

“It is incredibly important at this time, with everything going on across the nation and globe, to have this painting right at the heart of The Transgender District,” Mahogany observed.

RELATED | Black Trans Women Created the World's First Trans Cultural District

Tags: Art, transgender

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