KQED-FM, FORUM (SAN FRANCISCO) -- This year’s June pride month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, the widely accepted start of the LGBTQ rights movement. But LGBTQ activism began even sooner in the U.S., with similar riots and demonstrations in San Francisco. We’ll talk about that history of activism before and after Stonewall with historian Marc Stein, and hear what that legacy looks like in present-day San Francisco with the co-founder of Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, Honey Mahogany.
Marc Stein is the author of The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History; the Jamie and Phyllis Professor of History, San Francisco State University; and the vice chair, GLBT Historical Society Board of Directors.
He discussed the LGBTQ activism in the Bay Area that began in the months before the Stonewall uprising, protesting against employment discrimination and police violence. The Committee for Homosexual Freedom formed in March 1969 in San Francisco.
“The catalyst for forming that group was the firing of a gay activist, Gale Whittington, whose shirtless picture had appeared in the newspaper the Berkeley Barb, and announced his status as a gay activist,” Stein says. “So he was fired from his job as a steamship company worker, and the Committee for Homosexual Freedom began organizing and daily and then weekly demonstrations in front of States Steamship.
“Right around that time, there was a police killing of a gay man in Berkeley, California, Frank Bartley,” Stein adds. “And that followed a similar police killing in Los Angeles, of Howard Efland.”