GLBT Activism Comes Alive at Tenderloin Museum

Vanguard, the Tenderloin-based gay liberation group

If you ever wanted to hear a living history of San Francisco’s GLBT movement, now’s your chance. The Tenderloin Museum’s opening night event on July 16 at 6:30 pm features Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman, directors of the landmark film, “Screaming Queens.” Joining them will be longtime transgender activists Tamara Ching and Veronika Fimbres. The panel, which I will be moderating, will describe the Tenderloin’s central role in the city’s GLBT movement from the 1966 Compton riots through today.

The Tenderloin’s role as the launching pad for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender civil rights movement was forgotten until Stryker, Martin Meeker, Christopher Agee, Nan Boyd and other scholars uncovered it. Many younger activists wrongly believe that the movement began on Polk Street or the Castro.

But the Tenderloin was the movement’s geographic center until the late 1960’s. During this period the Tenderloin saw the Compton riots, Vanguard’s propelling of gay liberation, the opening of the nation’s first gay bookstore, the city’s first leather bar, and a Glide-led effort to secure federal anti-poverty funds for queer Tenderloin youth.

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