Why Clockwise celebrates PRIDE

As PRIDE month comes to a close, we want to take a second to share why and how Clockwise celebrates the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States.

Many know that PRIDE began as a riot. Fewer know that it wasn’t the famous Stonewall uprising. Three years earlier, in 1966, gay and trans San Franciscans began the movement for gay and trans rights by fighting back against homophobic police brutality at Compton’s Cafeteria. (Check out the documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria to learn more.)

In the 1960s, San Francisco police extracted bribes from owners of the few establishments that would serve gay and trans citizens. The Tenderloin, where the riots occurred, got its name from New York’s Tenderloin, named after the better cuts of meat New YorkPolice Department Captain Alexander S. Williams said he’d be buying with the bribes in his new precinct.

At the time, wearing clothes of the “wrong” gender was illegal, and the SFPD routinely violated people they suspected of being gay or trans. Police would arrest suspects, force them to strip, and if they had the “wrong” genitals for their clothing, the cops would let them choose between a jailhouse haircut and 30 days in jail.

In August 1966, diners at Compton’s Cafeteria had had enough. One transgender woman resisted arrest by throwing coffee at a police officer. Drag queens and transgender women poured into the streets, fighting back with high heels and heavy bags.

PRIDE began as a reaction to queerphobic state violence. Today, we use the month of June to celebrate how far we’ve come as a society. But at Clockwise we also use PRIDE month to remember how far we have to go.

Our DE&I task force hosted a walking tour of the Castro this month. The Castro is home to a ton of LGBTQIA+ history. For instance, it’s where Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official, lived and worked. It’s also home to the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

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Our guide Kathy told us about how this year alone, state legislatures across the country have introduced more than 100 bills to restrict trans rights.

The Clockwise team at 18th and Castro in the Castro

In most of the country, a judge can legally take your children from you because you’re kinky, consensually non-monogamous, gender-nonconforming, or a legal sex worker. It’s also legal to deny people in these groups housing and employment.

Though we’ve made tremendous strides, we are a long way from recognizing as a society that all adult, consensual sexual orientations and activities are inherently morally neutral and that no one deserves to be violated, discriminated against, stigmatized, criminalized, or shamed for them.

Keep up with anti-trans legislation with the Freedom for all Americans legislation tracker. Join the SF Sex-Positive Democratic Club to advocate for equal rights for sexual minorities in California. To support queer youth in SF, check out Lyric.

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