PORTLAND REPORTBACK: Here we have Joey “Patriot Prayer” Gibson, primary organizer for a series of bigoted rallies in the Pacific North West, waking up after an unscheduled surprise nap courtesy of militant queers and antifa at Pride in Portland.
my fellow u-haul lesbian, do you know of any good genderswap fics tho? because ive been looking for them and i can't find them :((
I don’t, unfortunately! This is mostly because I actually avoid cisswaps, in general, because there are a bunch of ways they can go wrong and only one or two ways they really work? At least, that’s the stance where I’m coming from. Like, this probably makes me a Militant Queer, but I’m a little bit skeeved by fandom’s portrayal of wlw. I don’t know if it’s because fandom is usually so mlm-centric or because Nobody Ever Is Educated About Women’s Bodies but I feel like the Point of a lot of cisflips is “These two characters are now women” instead of, y’know, actually having a plot?
Yeah, I don’t know, I secretly have a lot of opinions about this sort of thing.
I also know that the whole cisflip thing has some serious gray area in relation to the gender =/= sex issue, and for that reason it’s a sensitive topic for many trans readers. Believe me when I say that my trans readers are never far from my mind, no matter what I’m writing, so I was very nervous about posting my own wlw works.
I’m still tossing around the idea of what I can do to make the whole thing less problematic, provided that I actually do get around to writing the full version of Diaries of a U-Haul, the Viktoria Nikiforova Story.
When a bill guaranteeing equal job opportunities for homosexuals stalled in New York City Council last spring, militants demonstrated at City Hall. With fists raised, they shout a football style “Gay Power” cheer at police blocking the building.
It’s the 50th anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria riots!!!
It was after the bars had closed and well into the pre-dawn hours of an August morning in 1966 when San Francisco cops were in Gene Compton’s cafeteria again. They were arresting drag queens, trans women and gay [and bi] hustlers who had been sitting for hours, eating and gossiping and coming down from their highs with the help of 60-cent cups of coffee.
The 24-hour eatery was a local favorite. It was centrally located — adjacent to the hair salon, the corner bar and the bathhouse — and provided a well-lit and comfortable haven for trans women performing in clubs or walking the streets in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.
From Compton’s “you could walk to Woolworth’s to buy [fake] eyelashes, and it was two blocks from the airline bus terminal,” where Tamara Ching says many drag queens and trans women would go to change from male to female clothes. Ching is an Asian-American transgender woman who grew up in San Francisco. She frequented the Tenderloin during the 1960s and has lived there since 1992. “Everybody that lived in the Tenderloin ate at Compton’s,” Amanda St. Jaymes, a transgender woman who ran a residential hotel nearby, said in a documentary, Screaming Queens, which chronicles a confrontation with police that marked the start of a movement toward LGBT rights.
Compton’s management didn’t want the cafeteria to be a popular late-night hangout for drag queens, trans women and hustlers. Workers would often call the police at night to clear the place out. The Tenderloin, where sex work, gambling, and drug use were commonplace, was one of only a few neighborhoods where trans women and drag queens could live openly. Yet they were still regularly subject to police harassment and arrested for the crime of “female impersonation.”
A view of Gene Compton’s cafeteria In San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. In 1966, the eatery was the site of landmark confrontations between police and transgender activists.
And when a policeman in Compton’s grabbed a drag queen, she threw a cup of coffee in his face. The cafeteria “erupted,” according to Susan Stryker, a [trans, bi] historian who directed Screaming Queens. People flipped tables and threw cutlery. Sugar shakers crashed through the restaurant’s windows and doors. Drag queens swung their heavy purses at officers. Outside on the street, dozens of people fought back as police forced them into paddy wagons. The crowd trashed a cop car and set a newsstand on fire.
“We just got tired of it,” St. Jaymes told Stryker. “We got tired of being harassed. We got tired of being made to go into the men’s room when we were dressed like women. We wanted our rights.”
If the famous Stonewall riots in New York City were the origin of this nation’s gay rights movement, the Tenderloin upheaval three years before was “the transgender community’s debut on the stage of American political history,” according to Stryker. “It was the first known instance of collective militant queer resistance to police harassment in United States history.”
Stonewall is often thought of as an uprising of gay men. In reality, “it was drag queens, Black drag queens, who fought the police at the famous Stonewall Inn rebellion in 1969,” wrote lesbian novelist and playwright Sarah Schulman in a 1985 novel. “Years later, a group of nouveau-respectable gays tried to construct a memorial to Stonewall in the park across from the old bar. The piece consisted of two white clone-like thin gay men and two white, young lesbians with perfect noses. They were made of a plaster-like substance, pasty and white as the people who paid for it.”
While the legacy of Stonewall was whitewashed, the rage and resistance of the San Francisco group went largely unremarked — even among each other.
“We didn’t think this was a big deal,” Ching told me. “It was a natural thing for people to do back then, to protest.”
Besides memories of police and patrons who were there that night, the only record of the riot that survived into the present is a short article by gay activist Raymond Broshears. He wrote it for the program of the first San Francisco gay pride parade, in 1972. Decades later, Stryker found his account and began to seek out the whole story. Her search for people who had been in the Tenderloin back then who spent time at Compton’s or took part in the riot led her to Ching, St. Jaymes and another trans woman named Felicia Elizondo.
Ching grew up in San Francisco. She recalls hanging out with beatniks on Grant Avenue and began doing sex work as a teenager, in 1965. “My mom was an alcoholic and she let me run the streets and do my own thing.”
Ching wasn’t at the riot that night, but she knew Compton’s well. “It was good to go and be seen and talk to people about what happened during the night. To make sure everybody’s OK, everyone made their coins, everybody’s coming down off drugs and didn’t overdose, and that you didn’t go to jail that night,” she said.
“Compton’s nourished people. People would sit there for days drinking a cup of coffee. I would buy a full meal. I don’t cook and I loved eating at Compton’s — it was like downtown.”
The Tenderloin in the 1960s was a red light district and a residential ghetto. Stryker told me that the neighborhood was a particular destination and home to “young people who maybe had been kicked out by their families and were living on the street. And trans people who could lose a job at any moment or not be hired, who wouldn’t be rented to, who had to live in crappy residential hotels in a bad part of town, and who had to do survival sex work to support themselves.”
“We sold ourselves because we need to make a living but we sold ourselves because we wanted to be loved,” Elizondo says in Stryker’s film. Ching told me sex work in the Tenderloin empowered her. She had a job with the government but still worked the streets at night.
Whether for survival, pleasure or some combination of both, sex work left women vulnerable to violence and put them in closer contact with police. But even those who weren’t hustling had frequent encounters with law enforcement. St. Jaymes, who ran the residential hotel, told Stryker she was arrested frequently, even though she wasn’t a sex worker. “If we had lipstick on, if we had mascara on, if our hair was too long, we had to put it under a cap. If the buttons was on the wrong side, like a blouse, they would take you to jail because they felt it was female impersonation.”
“The police could harass you at any time,” Ching told me. “They would ask you for pieces of ID. You had to have your male ID if you were born male and didn’t go through a sex change. They would pat you down, and while they’re patting you down, of course they’re feeling you up,” she continued. “They would arrest you and put you in the big van, Big Bertha, and drive you around town. When they turned a corner they turned sharply, so people would fall. They’d go over a bump, fast down the hill and make you look a mess by the time you got to the booking station.”
Police relations with the trans, drag and gay communities in the Tenderloin reached a boiling point in 1966. Across San Francisco resistance was in the air. Local anti-war protests were gaining momentum. Civil rights activists and religious leaders at a Tenderloin church organized to bring government anti-poverty resources to the neighborhood. A group of radical young queers calling themselves Vanguard started pushing back against discrimination by police and business owners. After Compton’s management started kicking them out of the restaurant, they picketed outside on July 18, 1966. Viewed in the context of 1960s activism, identity politics and anti-poverty efforts, the riots that occurred a few weeks later seem inevitable.
Though it can take decades to understand motivations for a particular riot or movement of militant resistance in the streets, there are plenty of instances when a group’s anger and frustration over injustice is later celebrated as a civil rights victory. We have a parade every year to commemorate the Stonewall riots — three nights when rioters burned down a bar and tried to overturn a paddy wagon. Now that [Caitlyn] Jenner has told Diane Sawyer, “I’m a woman,” and Oprah interviewed Janet Mock, we can look at a charge like “female impersonation” and see the Compton’s riot as another act of resistance against injustice. One day, history books, pundits and academics could very well talk about the recent unrest in Baltimore or Ferguson the same way.
Right after the Compton’s episode, Ching heard about what had happened. “To me, nothing was out of the ordinary,” she told me. “We lived to survive day to day. We didn’t realize we’d made history.”
liberals are basically the enablers of conservatives’ abuse. liberals are necessary for the system to adapt and continue functioning in the face of social unrest. liberals took the potential for militant queerness and turned it into a toothless fight for gay marriage. liberals co-opted mlk’s radicalism to create this narrative of racism being “over”. liberals are the ones who demand “polite” debate instead of anger, “peaceful protest” instead of riots, reform instead of rebellion.
i hate liberals more than conservatives honestly, because conservatives are open about being our enemy - liberals pretend to be our friend so they can stab us in the back.
It saddens and angers me that the only large means of protection that we ( the lgbtq+ community) have is the police. An institution which has participated in and protected the violence against us for years. We need to be able to defend ourselves.
Vengeance and Contempt—these are the only guides worth following” – I Don’t
Bash Back, I Shoot First
The efforts by groups such as LGSM and NCAFC to ‘’reclaim’’
2015 London Pride are admirable, and are certainly better than the alternative,
(Which would be for the ‘’LGBT calendar’’ to remain completely unpolicitised)
but I really don’t see them getting anywhere.
Everyone who was attending Pride as a Protest is aware that
Pride is a Capitalist Parade, and I won’t patronise anyone by pointing out what
is obvious, but Pride is actually a lot worse than that. Pride is not shit
because it’s a representation of a LGBT community that is generally formed of
people that have attitudes we disagree with, (I.e Pro-Capitalist etc.) it shit
because it is designed and operates as a corporate advert. There were more
banks officially listed as attending Pride than Trans groups, this is not representative
of the’’ LGBT community’’, this is the ‘’LGBT community’’ being sold for
Pride is not a normal capitalist space in a capitalist
society it’s one of the most hyper-capitalist spaces I have ever
experienced. In the walk from the start
of the Parade to the middle (Where us political lot had been safely hidden
away) I had been more aggressively advertised to than I think I have ever been.
And it’s all wrapped up in the sickeningly sweet rainbow flag that takes all
comers, from Uber, whose entire premise is cutting away workers’ rights in
order make taxi rides cheaper, to
Barclays, who funds Elbit Systems, the main provider of the drones Israel uses
to murder Palestinian Children.
Making a space this
aggressively capitalist is inevitably followed by the control and violence that
Capital always brings with it. On London Pride 2015 I received more
instructions on how to walk than I had since I was three years old. Where and
how we walked was entirely up to the ‘’Pride Organisers’’. It was apparent we
were a spectacle, there to be observed and sold, not to express our
‘’pride’’. We were there to clean up the
image of corporate sponsors, so they could more easily sell themselves to the
rest of the ‘’LGBT community’’. And what happened when people defied these
specifically the violence of the State.
Police manhandled Class War activists who attempted to ‘take over’ the
front of the protest, and another person protesting against Barclay’s inclusion
was arrested with the assistance of the Pride Stewards.
Surely we all knew this though? We knew that Pride was a
horrible capitalist parade when we choose to go there, maybe I have made more
reasons why Pride is presently terrible apparent, but this doesn’t change that
we know it’s horrible and shit, and want to take it back and make it better.
But what I want to say is that how Pride is structured means that we can never
change it from being a capitalist parade, and by participating in it we give it
the illusion of balance.
What do we imagine
‘’Pride as a protest’’ would look like? I imagine that corporate sponsors will
have been driven out, or at least pushed to the margins, and there will be a
great mass of political people using Pride as a platform to push for things
like Trans healthcare and an end to the detention and deportation of LGBT
persons without papers. But this is something that simply cannot happen. Who
organises Pride is not left up to chance, it is decided by the state, which
then funds it, with the Mayor of London awarding the NGO which organises Pride
(Also winners of Stonewall’s ‘Best Advert’ prize, which should tell you all you
need to know about them really) 500,000 pounds over the next 10 years to
organise Pride. Even if you imagine that
we could accomplish some kind of coup d’état and take over the NGO, whatever corporate
elements that were left would just form some new NGO, and petition that Pride
be award to them, and the Capitalists in power would obviously award it to
Alternatively we could imagine that we would have sufficient
popularity in order to put enough pressure on the Pride organisers in order to
drive the corporations to the sidelines, but this would be an incorrect conception
of why the organisers put Barclays at the front of the parade. They didn’t put Barclays at the front of the
parade because they like capitalism, or because they enjoy the electronic
banking system that Barclays offer, or because they are really for funding new
and advanced drone technology, they did it because of the cold hard cash that
Barclays offered them. This is money that the Pride organisers believe they
need. While events can be organised on a shoe string if necessary, (It costs
NCAFC something like 1/50 to organised a protest compared to what NUS spends) NGO’s
like the one that organises Pride believe unmovingly that they need a massive advertising
budget or things will simply not happen, and neither fire nor high water will
convince them to part with it. The money that companies like Barclays can give
to Pride is something we neither can, nor should desire to match, so any hopes
of driving the corporate wank to the edge of Pride on this basis seem unlikely.
There are also more combative options like insisting our
Pride was the real Pride regardless of statist permission, or driving the
companies out of Pride physically, but these options require a much more
militant queer community then the one we have presently in Britain, and would
also suffer from severe state repression if we attempted it.
But not only do I believe our participation is ineffective,
but I believe it can also be actively negative. By going to pride to reclaim it
we give the illusion that there is a balance at pride, that everyone has their ‘place’,
the lefties there, the companies there, the BDSM people over there, and that this
system is ‘fair’. Of course this is not
actually ‘fair’ or ‘representative’, but we can only make this apparent by attacking
the very foundations of pride, and this is not something that can be done from within.
Having firmly rejected any possibility that we can get
anywhere with Pride, what do I suggest instead? Post-Pride there were several
suggestions of a ‘People’s Pride’ and this is something I would believe would
be much more effective in pushing the ‘’LGBT Community’’ back in a political direction
when most legal obstacles in the way of cis gay equality with the mainstream
have been overcome. Organised on our own terms, by a ‘’coalition of the willing’’
of Queer groups, a ‘People’s Pride’ would allow us to celebrate ourselves and
push for something more on our own terms, or at the very least it would allow
us to walk on our own terms.
Hey Sam, I’ve got a bit of a weird situation happening. So, I’m kind of the token daughter to all of my mother’s friends who never had daughters or children of their own. This one older woman visited maybe at the end of last fall (it was still warm I remember that) and, at dinner, after some wine, asked my opinion on feminism. I spoke. At length. And didn’t think anything of it. Couple weeks later and my mother links me an article this woman has written about modern feminism. She didn’t name me, but she misrepresented what I said, referred to me dismissively as “my friend’s militant gay daughter (who insists on calling herself ‘queer’)” (I’m not gay, I’m bi or some flavor of queer), and ended the article on a super transphobic note.
Also, I did not know this was going to be written–she hadn’t told me she was planning it and hadn’t told me ‘Hey i’m going to put what you said in this article!’, she just wrote it. Now I do not want anything to do with this woman, I do not want to speak to her or see her, but my mom has basically told me that there’s a good chance she’ll leave me a lot of money if I’m nice to her (she doesn’t have any other kids and she’s great friends with my mom). I don’t want to kiss this woman’s ass, but my mom’s made me worry about the future. Do you have any advice?
Hi Anon! I hope it’s ok I anonymized this, I got it in a fanmail and wasn’t sure if you wanted to be Anon. (I know some people have been wondering, but asks, even multipart asks, are easier for me than fanmails!)
So, first: that was a shitty thing your mother’s friend did to you, and I think it tells us a lot about a) what she thinks of you and b) the way she treats people who trust her.
I’m not being rhetorical when I ask this, because I think this is the question you genuinely have to answer: is the potential promise of money at some undetermined future point worth being nice to someone you know is a snake and thinks ill of you?
Because hey, sometimes? It totally is worth doing something we find distasteful if the payout is big enough.
But before you answer it, consider both sources: this woman and your mother. Your mother is friends with her, which doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be mad with your mum, but it means that she may have ulterior motives in wanting you to be nice to her. It may be far less about the money and far more about her child not making things awkward with her friend. And she may not understand the harm that could cause you, to kowtow to a woman who has been terribly cruel to you. She may just see it as a tiff between two people who are important to her. But that doesn’t mean what she tells you is either correct or true.
This woman clearly holds some pretty conservative views and clearly doesn’t think very highly of you. She used you without your permission in a piece of written lit, in which she misquoted you, deliberately reassigned your sexuality from what you told her it was, and derided both your opinions and the way you live your life. She used you to write a piece of hate speech, essentially. And it was a piece of hate speech about people like you.
This doesn’t sound like someone who’s gonna leave you a fortune when they die. This sounds like someone who wants you to think that, so you’ll be nice to them and maybe quit being so militant and feminist and queer.
So for the right amount of money, sure, I’d be willing to overlook that kind of thing. But you have to look at the honest odds of her actually giving you the money, and how much money it will be, and decide where your breaking point lies. Because I guarantee this won’t be the last time she uses you to try and make you hate yourself.
It’s a hard situation to be in, for sure, even without the money involved, because she’s a family friend. Breathe deep and follow your instincts, they’re usually right. I wouldn’t want anything to do with her either.