In August 1966, almost three years before Stonewall, a group of transgender prostitutes in San Francisco's Tenderloin district fought back against police harassment. SCREAMING QUEENS: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria tells their story, and also the story of a few pioneering straight allies — including a police officer who took up the fight because he felt it was his duty as a Christian — who joined the struggle for the simple human right to go about your everyday life without interference from the police. The "crimes" that these women were charged with included such dangerous acts as "obstructing the sidewalk" and "female impersonation." Yes, within my lifetime, right here in San Francisco, a biological male could be arrested for wearing a dress in public.
This film is being broadcast on KQED, the PBS station in San Francisco, but has not been picked up for national broadcast. If you live elsewhere in America, call or write your PBS station and ask them to show Screaming Queens.
SCREAMING QUEENS: THE RIOT AT COMPTON'S CAFETERIA, dir's Victor Silverman & Susan Stryker, 2005 USA, 57 min. video