Tag Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco "Safe Space" Restaurant Backtracks and Apologizes After Refusing To Serve Armed Police Officers In Uniform

San Francisco “Safe Space” Restaurant Backtracks and Apologizes After Refusing To Serve Armed Police Officers In Uniform

San Francisco restaurant Hilda and Jesse has apologized for removal and non-service to serve three uniformed and armed San Francisco police officers on Friday due to “their multiple weapons.” and the fact that the restaurant is a meeting place for BPOC and it made their staff feel “uneasy”. This comes after a huge backlash by LGBT and straight customers.

 Co-owner of Hilda and Jesse’s Rachel Sillcocks took to Instagram to apologize:.

We made a mistake and apologize for the unfortunate incident on Friday when we asked members of the San Francisco Police Department to leave our restaurant, We are grateful to all members of the force who work hard to keep us safe, especially during these challenging times.

SFGate

Hilda and Jesse’s currently has one star and over 400 reviews on Yelp

Read Miss B.‘s review of Hilda and Jesse on Yelp

In Memoriam: November 27, 1978: Harvey Milk Assassinated In San Francisco

43 years ago today at 11 am on a beautiful Monday morning in 1978,  San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay civil rights leader and  SF Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot and killed in cold blood by disgruntled former Supervisor Dan White.

White was disappointed that Moscone had refused to reappoint him to his seat on the Board of Supervisors, from which White had just resigned, and that Milk had lobbied heavily against his reappointment.

On Monday, November 27, 1978, the day Moscone was set to formally appoint another Supervisor to White’s now vacant seat, White had a friend drive him to San Francisco City Hall. He was carrying a five-round .38-caliber Smith & Wesson Model 36 Chief’s Special loaded with hollow-point bullets in his service revolver from his work as a police officer, with ten extra rounds of ammunition in his coat pocket. White slipped into City Hall through a first floor window to avoid the metal detectors at the front entrance.

White had requested a meeting that morning with Mayor Moscone and requested again to be reappointed to his former seat on the Board of Supervisors. Moscone refused, and their conversation turned into a heated argument.

Wishing to avoid a public scene, Moscone suggested they retreat to a private lounge adjacent to the mayor’s office, so they would not be overheard by those waiting outside.  As Moscone lit a cigarette and proceeded to pour two drinks, White pulled out  his revolver. He then fired shots at the mayor’s shoulder and chest, tearing his lung open. Moscone fell to the floor and White approached Moscone, poised his gun 6 inches from the mayor’s head, and fired two additional bullets into Moscone’s head, killing him instantly.

Dan White then calmly walked out of the mayor’s office

Diane Feinstein who was then President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, saw White exit Mayor Moscone’s office from a side door and called after him. White sharply responded with “I have something to do first.”

White proceeded to his former office, when he met Harvey Milk on the way, asking him to step inside for a moment. Milk agreed to join him. Once the door to the office was closed, White positioned himself between the doorway and Milk, pulled out his revolver and opened fire on Milk. The first bullet hit Milk’s right wrist as he tried to protect himself. White continued firing rapidly, hitting Milk twice more in the chest, then fired a fourth bullet at Milk’s head, killing him instantly. White then coldly shot a fifth shot round into Harvey Milk’s skull at close range.

White fled the scene as Feinstein entered the office where Milk lay dead. She felt Milk’s neck for a pulse, her finger entering a bullet wound. Horrified, Feinstein was shaking so badly she required support from the police chief after identifying both bodies. Feinstein then announced the murders to a stunned public, stating: “As President of the Board of Supervisors, it’s my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”

Dan White eventually turned himself in to San Francisco Police detective Frank Falzon, a former co-workers at his precinct. He then recorded a statement in which he acknowledged shooting Moscone and Milk, but denied premeditation despite the fact that he entered City Hall secretly and came prepared with the pistol and extra ammunition.

That day the city of San Francisco ground to a halt. Many offices and businesses closed. and people wept openly in the streets. Strangers hugged each other, trying to offer comfort. But there was no comfort to be had.

40 years later and there is still no comfort today.

Milk became an icon in San Francisco and a martyr in the gay community worldwide. In 2002, Milk was called “the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States”. Anne Kronenberg, his final campaign manager, wrote of him: “What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.

Harvey Milks martyrdom is a painful reminder of the length and difficulty of the journey to freedom. A journey we still take today and must continue fighting until we achieve full equality.

Harvey Milk a true LGBT hero and legend. His actions and words must never be forgotten. To this day we must listen to them, learn from them and follow them.

This is Harvey’s legacy to us.

You see there is a major difference–and it remains a vital difference–between a friend and a gay person, a friend in office and a gay person in office. Gay people have been slandered nationwide. We’ve been tarred and we’ve been brushed with the picture of pornography. In Dade County, we were accused of child molestation. It’s not enough anymore just to have friends represent us. No matter how good that friend may be.

The black community made up its mind to that a long time ago. That the myths against blacks can only be dispelled by electing black leaders, so the black community could be judged by the leaders and not by the myths or black criminals. The Spanish community must not be judged by Latin criminals or myths. The Asian community must not be judged by Asian criminals or myths. The Italian community should not be judged by the mafia myths. And the time has come when the gay community must not be judged by our criminals and myths.

Like every other group, we must be judged by our leaders and by those who are themselves gay, those who are visible. For invisible, we remain in limbo–a myth, a person with no parents, no brothers, no sisters, no friends who are straight, no important positions in employment. A tenth of a nation supposedly composed of stereotypes and would-be seducers of children–and no offense meant to the stereotypes. But today, the black community is not judged by its friends, but by its black legislators and leaders. And we must give people the chance to judge us by our leaders and legislators. A gay person in office can set a tone, can command respect not only from the larger community, but from the young people in our own community who need both examples and hope.

The first gay people we elect must be strong. They must not be content to sit in the back of the bus. They must not be content to accept pablum. They must be above wheeling and dealing. They must be–for the good of all of us–independent, unbought. The anger and the frustrations that some of us feel is because we are misunderstood, and friends can’t feel that anger and frustration. They can sense it in us, but they can’t feel it. Because a friend has never gone through what is known as coming out. I will never forget what it was like coming out and having nobody to look up toward. I remember the lack of hope–and our friends can’t fulfill that.

I can’t forget the looks on faces of people who’ve lost hope. Be they gay, be they seniors, be they black looking for an almost-impossible job, be they Latins trying to explain their problems and aspirations in a tongue that’s foreign to them. I personally will never forget that people are more important than buildings. I use the word “I” because I’m proud. I stand here tonight in front of my gay sisters, brothers and friends because I’m proud of you. I think it’s time that we have many legislators who are gay and proud of that fact and do not have to remain in the closet. I think that a gay person, up-front, will not walk away from a responsibility and be afraid of being tossed out of office. After Dade County, I walked among the angry and the frustrated night after night and I looked at their faces. And in San Francisco, three days before Gay Pride Day, a person was killed just because he was gay. And that night, I walked among the sad and the frustrated at City Hall in San Francisco and later that night as they lit candles on Castro Street and stood in silence, reaching out for some symbolic thing that would give them hope. These were strong people, people whose faces I knew from the shop, the streets, meetings and people who I never saw before but I knew. They were strong, but even they needed hope.

And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant on television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us’es, the us’es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and more offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.

So if there is a message I have to give, it is that if I’ve found one overriding thing about my personal election, it’s the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it’s a green light. And you and you and you, you have to give people hope.

In a controversial verdict that led to the coining of the legal slang “Twinkie defense,” White was convicted of manslaughter rather than murder and served only five years of a seven-year prison sentence.

Two years after his release Dan White would return to San Francisco where he taped a garden hose to the tailpipe of his car , stuck the other end through a car window, and turned on the ignition.  In his hands, he clutched photographs of his three children and his wife.

Dan White did not kill himself out of guilt.  He did it because his killing Harvey Milk was going to follow him for the rest of his life.

Harvey Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

November 8, 1977: Harvey Milk Is Elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Gay History – November 8, 1977: Harvey Milk Elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors [Video]

November 8, 1977 – Harvey Milk is elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, making him the first openly gay man to be elected in a major U.S. city.  Although he was the most pro-gay politician in the United States at the time, politics and activism were not his early interests; he was neither open about his sexuality nor civically active until he was 40, after his experiences in the counterculture movement of the 1960’s.

Despite being a newcomer to the Castro District, Harvey Milk had shown leadership in the small community. He was starting to be taken seriously as a candidate and decided to run again for supervisor in 1975. He reconsidered his approach and cut his long hair, swore off marijuana, and vowed never to visit another gay bathhouse again. Milk’s campaigning earned the support of the teamsters, firefighters, and construction unions. Castro Camera became the center of activity in the neighborhood.

Milk favored support for small businesses and the growth of neighborhoods. Since 1968, Mayor Alioto had been luring large corporations to the city despite what critics labeled “the Manhattanization of San Francisco”. As blue-collar jobs were replaced by the service industry, Alioto’s weakened political base allowed for new leadership to be voted into office in the city. George Moscone was elected mayor. Moscone had been instrumental in repealing the sodomy law earlier that year in the California State Legislature. He acknowledged Milk’s influence in his election by visiting Milk’s election night headquarters, thanking Milk personally, and offering him a position as a city commissioner. Milk came in seventh place in the election, only one position away from earning a supervisor seat.  

Moscone appointed him to the Board of Permit Appeals in 1976, making him the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. Milk, however, considered seeking a position in the California State Assembly. The district was weighted heavily in his favor, as much of it was based in neighborhoods surrounding Castro Street, where Milk’s sympathizers voted. In the previous race for supervisor, Milk received more votes than the currently seated assemblyman. However, Moscone had made a deal with the assembly speaker that another candidate should run—Art Agnos. Furthermore, by order of the mayor, neither appointed nor elected officials were allowed to run a campaign while performing their duties.

By the time of Milk’s 1975 campaign, he had decided to cut his hair and wear suits. Here, Milk (far right) is campaigning with longshoremen in San Francisco during his 1976 race for the California State Assembly.
 

Milk spent five weeks on the Board of Permit Appeals before Moscone was forced to fire him when he announced he would run for the California State Assembly. Rick Stokes replaced him. Milk’s firing, and the backroom deal made between Moscone, the assembly speaker, and Agnos, fueled his campaign as he took on the identity of a political underdog.

Milk’s continuing campaign, run from the storefront of Castro Camera, was a study in disorganization. Although the older Irish grandmothers and gay men who volunteered were plentiful and happy to send out mass mailings, Milk’s notes and volunteer lists were kept on scrap papers. Any time the campaign required funds, the money came from the cash register without any consideration for accounting.

Milk spent long hours registering voters and shaking hands at bus stops and movie theater lines. He took whatever opportunity came along to promote himself. He thoroughly enjoyed campaigning, and his success was evident. With the large numbers of volunteers, he had dozens at a time stand along the busy thoroughfare of Market Street as human billboards, holding “Milk for Assembly” signs while commuters drove into the heart of the city to work.

In the end Harvey Milk lost the Assembly seat by fewer than 4,000 votes.

Anita Bryant’s public campaign opposing homosexuality and the multiple challenges to gay rights ordinances across the United States fueled gay politics in San Francisco. Seventeen candidates from the Castro District entered the next race for supervisor; more than half of them were gay. The New York Times ran an exposé on the veritable invasion of gay people into San Francisco, estimating that the city’s gay population was between 100,000 and 200,000 out of a total 750,000.

Milk’s most successful opponent was the quiet and thoughtful lawyer Rick Stokes, who was backed by the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club. Stokes had been open about his homosexuality long before Milk had, and had experienced more severe treatment, once hospitalized and forced to endure electroshock therapy to ‘cure’ him.  Milk, however, was more expressive about the role of gay people and their issues in San Francisco politics. Stokes was quoted saying, “I’m just a businessman who happens to be gay,” and expressed the view that any normal person could also be homosexual. Milk’s contrasting populist philosophy was relayed to The New York Times: “We don’t want sympathetic liberals, we want gays to represent gays … I represent the gay street people—the 14-year-old runaway from San Antonio. We have to make up for hundreds of years of persecution. We have to give hope to that poor runaway kid from San Antonio. They go to the bars because churches are hostile. They need hope! They need a piece of the pie!”

On election day, November 8, 1977, he won by 30% against sixteen other candidates, and after his victory became apparent, he arrived on Castro Street on the back of his campaign manager’s motorcycle—escorted by Sheriff Richard Hongisto—to what a newspaper story described as a “tumultuous and moving welcome”.

Since the race for the California State Assembly, Milk had been receiving increasingly violent death threats. Concerned that his raised profile marked him as a target for assassination, he recorded on tape his thoughts, and whom he wanted to succeed him if he were killed, adding: “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door”.

Sadly, we all know how this story ends.

GAY HISTORY – September 23, 1984: The First Folsom Street Fair Takes Place in San Francisco

San Francisco has always had a large gay leather community.  By the late 1970’s, they had created ‘Miracle Mile’, a stretch of Folsom street that featured over 30 gay leather bars and bathhouses.  But Miracle Mile as it was called. was a bothersome eyesore to City Hall, but the leather community defended their sanctuary and fought back against City Hall’s ambitious redevelopment program for the South of Market development already underway on Rincon Hill.

In the early 1980’s as HIV and AIDS tore through San Francisco severely weakening the leather community. City Hall took this opportunity to push through a series of redevelopment plans that together with AIDS, spelled the end of Miracle Mile as a leather sanctuary.

But in 1984 a coalition of leather community organizers and hosing advocates got together and decided to start a street fair. The fair would enhance the visibility of the leather community, provide a means for much-needed fundraising, and create opportunities for members of the leather community to connect to services and vital information that the bathhouses and bars might otherwise have been situated to distribute.

And thus the Folsom Street Fair was born.

Now the Folsom Street Fair after 35 years has become California’s third-largest single-day, outdoor spectator event attracting a whopping 400,000 slaves, masters, mummies, ponies, puppies, pigs, nudists, fairies, boot boys, jocks and people-with-such-crazy-sexual-interests-that-there-are-no-noun-for-them-yet, all crammed into 13 overcrowded street blocks of fun. It has also grown as a non-profit charity, with local and national non-profits benefiting from the proceeds from numerous fundraising booths within the festival including games, beverage and even spanking booths. (And a helluva lot more that is definitely NSWF).

Similar events also take place in Canada and Germany.   And in San Francisco FSF also manage “Up Your Alley”  street fair and special events like the “Folsom Street Fair Formal Leather Gala”

Folsom Street Fair Trivia:  The first Folsom Street Fair date was chosen to coincide with the autumnal equinox which it did through 1992.  Thereafter the Fair became more associated with one of the last two Sunday in September. 

*Photo: Gene Dermody and Carl Martin at the 1984 Folsom St. Fair. Carl served in the U.S. Air Force in the 1970’s with gay activist Leonard Matlovich.

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Image result for Folsom Street Fair archive

Gay History – September 22, 1975: The Tragic Story of Oliver Sipple, The Gay Man Who Saved President Ford’s Life

On September 22, 1975 President Gerald Ford was in San Francisco to deliver a luncheon speech to a foreign affairs group at the St. Francis Hotel. Outside, Oliver Sipple, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, was in the crowd waiting for Ford to exit the building. Standing next to Sipple was Sara Jane Moore. Earlier that day, Moore called federal authorities threatening to “test” Ford’s security. The day before, San Francisco police picked her up on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon, but they released her after federal authorities stepped in and said they would handle the matter. The Secret Service interviewed her that night, but let her go.

That day as President Ford left the hotel, Sara Jane Moore pulled a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver from her purse, pointed it at the President, and fired a shot. As she fired, Sipple reached out and grabbed her arm. Moore’s shot missed Ford by just five feet.

Sipple had been a fixture in San Francisco’s gay community for several years had saved President Gerald Ford’s life.

“All I did was react,” he said. “I’m glad I was there. If it’s true I saved the President’s life, then I’m damn happy about it. But I honestly feel that if I hadn’t reached out for that arm, somebody else would have.”

Sipple had worked on Milk’s first unsuccessful attempt at winning a seat on the city’s Board of Supervisors. He was out to his friends, but closeted to his family in Detroit. . When reporters asked about his sexuality, Sipple replied with a standard non-answer: “I don’t think I have to answer that question. If I were homosexual or not, it doesn’t make me less of a man than I am.”

But Sipple was well known in the gay community and it was an open secret.

Sipple was never contacted directly by President Ford the man whose life he saved, and Harvey Milk was convinced that it was because Sipple was gay. (The White House mailed a letter of appreciation four days after the assassination attempt.) But Sipple told friends that he wasn’t interested in the attention he “just wanted a little peace and quiet.”  But that was not to be.   The San Francisco Chronicle’s Herb Caen broke the story of Sipple being “gay” and it was soon picked up by wire services. Sipple’s Baptist mother publicly disowned him, and he soon found himself besieged by reporters. Sipple sued The Chronicle, Caen, and several other newspapers for invasion of privacy, but lost. The courts ruled that he had become a public figure on the day of the assassination attempt, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.

Sipple, who was on psychological disability because of wounds suffered in Vietnam, declined physically in the years following the assassination attempt. He drank heavily, and told all who would listen that he wished he never grabbed Moore’s gun.

Oliver Sipple died, alone, of pneumonia in his Tenderloin District apartment in San Francisco in 1989.

President Ford and his wife sent a letter of sympathy to his family and friends.

Oliver Sipple was buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery south of San Francisco.

Gay History – September 16: Farewell Maria Callas, NAMBLA, Wilheim Von Gloeden, and GM’s “Little Faggot Truck”

September 16:

1730: In Amsterdam, Lourens Hosponjon is executed for sodomy. Other than the record of his execution no other historical details are available.

1856: Wilheim Von Gloeden, German photographer of beautiful young men, is born in Wismar, Germany. . At the turn of the 20th century his picture postcards of naked youths from the Sicilian town of Taormina were “must haves”. Even though they passed for art they were among the first examples of modern gay porn.  

Wilhelm von Gloeden lived heroically.  He knew what he was and was proud.  Like Oscar Wilde before him, von Gloeden lived in dangerous defiance of an age and a Christian society that hounded and tortured men of his kind.  As Charles Leslie writes:

He was one of those rare nineteenth century men who would not accept the destruction of his true being as the price for being allowed to survive in an allegedly civilized Western world that officially despised what he was.  In his own way he triumphed, and therefore became one of those figures who, to this day, stand as models for people who dare to live the truth of what and who they are.

Today Von Gloeden is considered one of the most important gay visual artist of the pre–World War I era. 

1977:  Soprano Maria Callas dies at the age of 53.  There may have been divas before Maria Callas, but there is no doubt that the modern idea of what is a diva owes a great deal to the legendary opera singer, who, without ever singing a note of popular music, was as famous during her lifetime as a movie star.  “I am divine, I am oblivion, I am love.”

1979: The newly formed New York City Gay Men’s Chorus holds its first auditions.

1990:  Thanks to The San Francisco Board of Supervisors who loudly complained to General Motors after learning that a video, made to be shown only to GM personnel only, referred to a Japanese-made vehicle as a ”little faggot truck”

The presentation, made from 90 hours of taped interviews with 500 Chevrolet owners, contains one from a farmer who says he prefers full-size pickups.

“There isn’t no foreign company that makes any decent working pickup. It’s either going to be big, or some “little faggot truck,” the farmer said.

GM publicly apologized and never showed the video again.

1992: Robert Sawyer of Brattleboro, Vermont pleads not guilty to charges that he murdered his ex-girlfriend, Judith Hart Fournier, after she left him for another woman. She had a restraining order, but Sawyer violated it repeatedly. The case sparked a demand for anti-stalking legislation.

1992: Fifty-eight year old Roy Downs files a complaint of brutality against the Ft. Worth Police Department. He was arrested during a series of raids on gay bars, and officers beat and verbally abused him.

1994: The International Lesbian Gay Association loses its non-governmental organization representative status at the United Nations after a campaign by US Senator Jesse Helms revealed that one of its member organizations was NAMBLA, (The North America Man Boy Love Association) which condoned sex with children. As a result, ILGA expelled NAMBLA from its membership.

1994: Richard Hongisto, a former San Francisco police chief, is convicted of civil rights violations for ordering the removal of an issue of Bay Times, a gay newspaper, from the stands. Hongisto began his career championing justice and equality for racial minorities and homosexuals, but his career was later marred by various controversies, ending with the Bay Times controversy.

 

Queer Activist Want To Remove Gilbert Baker's LGBT PRIDE Flag from Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco

Queer Activists Want To Remove Gilbert Baker’s LGBT PRIDE Flag from Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco

There is a war brewing in San Francisco over one of the most, if not the most iconic symbol to the LGBT community. Gilbert Baker’s LGBT Rainbow Pride flag. A small number of very vocal queer activist are calling for it’s removal from Harvey Milk Memorial Plaza in San Francisco and that it be replaced by the new “Progressive Pride flag”

“The flag for some Black and brown people, they don’t feel it represents them,” says Carnell Freeman, executive co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District. “But I think it depends on who you’re talking to. For many white gays, they’ll say they think the Progress Flag is not attractive and that they’d keep it as it is, as a rainbow. If you talk to most people of color or allies, they will say, you know, it’s time for a change.”

For those of you who are unaware. Gilbert Baker designed the Gay Pride Flag in San Francisco in 1978 for the Gay Freedom Day Parade (now San Francisco Pride) at the request of Harvey Milk as a symbol of out hope, love, and freedom . Originally it featuring eight colors but simplified to six for easier reproduction, each stripe represents a value, including red for life, blue for harmony and peace and purple for spirit. Baker never trademarked the flag, believing it would flourish as a symbol for the community only if it were free to reproduce.

The Gilbert Baker Foundation, has started a Change.org petition of its own calling for the landmark designation of the pole, which was erected in 1997 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Milk’s historic victory as the first openly gay elected official in California history. It argues that the pole and the flag constitute a piece of installation art created by Baker that deserves to be protected. Cultural institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York have examples of Baker’s flag in their collections.. The petition has more than 6500 signatures. to date. (<– CLICK LINK to sign.)

 “Hundreds of thousands of gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people in the United States died of AIDS while activists — many of whom themselves succumbed to the epidemic — fought, pleaded, lobbied, petitioned, marched, and protested (and continue to do so all over the world!) while carrying this flag and its predecessors, all designed by Gilbert Baker.”  The Castro Merchants Association said in a press release issued last week..  Masood Samereie the president of the organization stated that “we would support any community effort to erect an additional flagpole or some other installation in a significant location in the neighborhood to fly flags that symbolize the diversity of our LGBTQ+ residents and visitors, and would use any influence we have with the city to push this through.

Many in the Castro neighborhood are saying they find the whole discourse around the issue is getting heated and they feared getting involved due to possible retaliation. A Castro resident and business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, described the situation as “the left eating its own.”

History, especially LGBT history should never be edited, fabricated or erased said gay activist, historian and Back2Stonewall website owner Will Kohler. In my opinion a second flagpole is the best option. “Our proud and brave historical past must be preserved. Only from the past can we learn to fight for our future.”

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Gay History – August 1966: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, San Francisco

On an warm August night in San Francisco in 1966 (no one knows the exact date since SFPD files have been lost) at Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, a seedy eatery in the Tenderloin district one of the first rebellions against the oppression of the LGBT community.

Compton’s became a sanctuary drag queens, young gay street hustlers, and down-and-out regulars much to the chagrin of it’s owners.

One August night the management who were finally fed-up and annoyed by the noisy crowd at one table, called the police. When a surly cop, accustomed to manhandling the Compton’s clientele, attempted to arrest one of the drag queens, she threw her coffee in his face and mayhem erupted. Windows broke, furniture flew through the air and the hustlers and drag queens fought back. Police reinforcements then arrived, and the fighting spilled into the street.

For the first time, the gay hustlers and drag queens banded together to fight back.  Getting the better of the cops, they kicked, punched and stomped on the cops with their high-heels. For everyone at Compton’s that night, one thing was certain — things there would never be the same again.

There is so much more to the story of the Compton Cafeteria than those bare-bones facts. In 1966 San Francisco it was unlawful to crossdress and it was unlawful to “impersonate a female.” Drag performers, transvestites, effeminate gay males, and rough trade hustlers experienced frequent harassment by police, including arrests, beatings and demeaning jailhouse treatment.  With no rights, employment or public accommodation protections, prostitution became survival sex work — it was the only way a drag queen or a down and out hot young guy could make a living.

The violent reaction of the drag queens and gays at the Compton’s Cafeteria did not solve the problems that they were having in the Tenderloin on daily basis. It did, however, create a space in which it became possible for the city of San Francisco to begin relating differently to the community — to begin treating them, in fact, as citizens with legitimate needs instead of simply as a problem to get rid of. That shift in awareness was a crucial step for the contemporary  social justice movement — the beginning of a new relationship to state power and social legitimacy. 

Gay History – June 21, 1977: The Brutal Murder Of Robert Hillsborough Rocks San Francisco and the Nation

Robert Hillsborough

A brutal murder that took place over 40 years ago in San Francisco just a few days before PRIDE that shocked and catalyzed that city’s gay community and resulted in exposing the mostly hidden to the public- eye violence against gay people.

On the night of June 21, 1977, Robert Hillsborough, and his roommate, Jerry Taylor, went out to a disco for a night of dancing. They left sometime after midnight and stopped for a bite to eat at the Whiz Burger a few blocks from their apartment in the Mission District. When they left the burger joint, they were accosted by a gang of young men shouting anti-gay slurs at them.  Hillsborough and Taylor ran into Hillsborough’s car as several of the attackers climbed onto the car’s roof and hood. Hillsborough drove off, and thought that he left his troubles behind him. What he didn’t know was that they were following him in another car. Hillsborough parked just four blocks away from their apartment. When they got out of the car four men jumped out the other car and attacked them again. Jerry Taylor was beaten, but he managed to escape.  Robert Hillsborough wasn’t so lucky.

Robert was brutally beaten and stabbed 15 times by 19-year-old John Cordova who was yelling, “Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!” Witnesses also reported that Cordoba yelled, “This one’s for Anita!” Neighbors were awakened by the commotion, and one woman screamed that she was calling the police, which prompted the four attackers to flee. Neighbors rushed to Hillsborough’s aid, but it was too late. Hillsborough died 45 minutes later at Mission Emergency Hospital. Cordoba and the three other assailants were arrested later that morning.

Because Hillsborough was employed as a city gardener, Mayor George Moscone followed longstanding practice and ordered flags at City Hall and other city properties to be lowered to half-mast. He also directed his anger to Anita Bryant and California State Sen. John Briggs, who was running for governor and an anti-gay platform. Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign in Miami which resulted in the defeat of a gay rights ordinance three weeks earlier had inspired Briggs to hold a new conference in front of city hall the week before Hillsborough’s death to announce a campaign to remove gays and lesbians from teaching. Moscone called Briggs an anti-homosexual “demagogue” and held him responsible for “inciting trouble by walking right into San Francisco, knowing the emotional state of his community. He stirred people into action. He will have to live with his conscience.”

Hillsborough’s death also struck a deep nerve in the gay community. ”We live in a paranoid state,” said Harvey Milk, who was preparing his run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, “and the death of Robert is only the culmination of a lot of violence that’s been directed at us.” San Francisco’s Pride celebration, which took place just a few days later, attracted a record-breaking 300,000 people, and it became an impromptu memorial march as participants erected a makeshift shrine at City Hall.

Cordova was charged with a single count of murder, along with Thomas J. Spooner, 21. The other two passengers in the car were not charged. 

Cordova was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to only 10 years in prison. Charges were later dropped against Spooner.

The parents of Robert Hillsborough filed a $5 million lawsuit accusing Anita Bryant of conducting a hate campaign against homosexuals.  Hillsborough’s parents claimed and rightfully so that Miss Bryant’s public comments constituted “a campaign of hate, bigotry, ignorance, fear, intimidation and prejudice” against their son and other homosexuals. This, they said, amounted to a conspiracy to deprive Hillsborough of his civil rights.

U.S. District Judge Stanley A. Weigel dismissed the case saying that he lacked jurisdiction because Miss Bryant lives in Florida. 

40+ years later the violence against LGBT americans continues to this day.  We must never forget those who lost their lives to hatred and bigotry.

Robert L. Hillsborough
Born: March 10, 1944
Died: June 22, 1977

#NeverForget

 

San Francisco's Oldest Gay Bar, THE STUD Forced To Close Because of COVID-19 Shuttering

San Francisco’s Oldest Gay Bar, THE STUD Forced To Close Because of COVID-19 Shuttering

San Francisco’s oldest surviving gay bar, The Stud, which opened in 1966 will be forced to close it’s doors and nor reopen at it’s current location becoming another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legendary gay bar had already survived one close call when it almost closed in 2016 after a rent increase but was saved by a co-op of performers, JJs and others regulars who came together to save it.

Co-owners, journalist Marke Bieschke, offered more details on 48Hills. He confirmed that The Stud would not return to its current home.

As a member of the Stud Collective, a wonderful group of 17 friends that purchased the Stud in 2016, in order to save it after a huge rent hike, I am weeping for that beautiful, scrappy space—its gold and red velvet-and sequined curtains parting for kooky drag shows, its graffiti-laden bathroom stalls, its very naughty green room, its dance floor packed with gorgeous creatures from all walks—that was such a vibrant and essential part of the community.

But for now, what else can we do? Like other bars and businesses, we must still keep paying rent indefinitely while being unable to bring in revenue [COVID-19 Business} Loans and grants pretty much go directly to landlords and utilities, who are the true government-subsidized businesses here, in an arduous, arcane process that looks more and more like a bizarre money-laundering scheme.

Here’s the thing, though: The Stud, the nightlife entity, is not dead. We’re still going to come back when this is over—a different space with the same lovingly outrageous vibe.