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    ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ Mural at Compton’s Cafeteria Riot Site for 54th Anniversary

    The Transgender District, in collaboration with the arts organization CounterPULSE, the Tenderloin Community Benefits District, and alongside Supervisor Matt Haney as well as District 6 staffer and trans community leader Honey Mahogany, on August 23 organized the painting of the words “BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER” at the intersection of Turk and Taylor in the Tenderloin.

    The bold street mural—featuring the pink, blue, and white colors of the transgender flag—honors the 54th anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots, which took place at that intersection in 1966. The riot has been heralded as the first officially documented collective uprising of LGBT people in the country and predates New York City’s 1969 Stonewall Riots by 3 years.

    The work was led by local trans artists KinFolkz, Sen Mendez, and Xara Thustra, who with their team created the mural at the heart of The Transgender District, which is the first officially recognized transgender cultural district in the world. The street art proclaims the need for Black Trans Lives to be included in the Black Lives Matter movement. 

    Mahogany—a cofounder of The Transgender District with Aria Sa’id, Janetta Johnson, Stephany Ashley, and Nate Albee—told the San Francisco Bay Times: “It is incredibly important at this time, with everything going on across the nation and globe, to have this painting right at the heart of The Transgender District. There is a convergence of history, given the historic importance of the site being the location of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots and the area where transgender people and people of color have lived for decades.”

    “The painting honors our intention to stay,” added Mahogany, who was the first black transgender individual to win an elected post in California (as a member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee). A talented performer, Mahogany also made entertainment history by being the first San Franciscan on RuPaul’s Drag Race, having been chosen to appear in season 5 of the popular series. 

    Prior to the birth of the Castro District, the Tenderloin from the 1930s to the 1960s was known as a “gay ghetto” with a documented, ongoing presence of transgender residents. The new mural strengthens The Transgender District’s mission that aims, in part ” to create an urban environment that fosters the rich history, culture, legacy, and empowerment of transgender people and its deep roots in the southeastern Tenderloin neighborhood.”

    Mahogany indicated that the street art will likely remain in the district for the next year or two, until a repaving project begins. At that time, there may be an effort to create an even longer-lasting mural.

    There is hope for the future, given the current momentum behind the Black Lives Matter and Trans rights movements. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has been a vocal supporter and this week, with City Administrator Naomi Kelly, announced increased funding for organizations deeply rooted within the Black and Trans communities. The increase, seen in Grants for the Arts funding, is by an average of 34% over last year.

    Upcoming observations of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots will add to the momentum. On Friday, August 28, from 5 pm–8 pm, The Transgender District will host a virtual celebration commemorating the riots’ anniversary. It will feature entertainment from queer and transgender performers and artists ranging from San Francisco cultural icon Juanita MORE!, illusionist and reality television star Bionka Simone of AsiaSF and Transcendent, and acclaimed rapper and producer Wazi Maret. The event will be hosted by San Francisco LGBT icons Mahogany and Roma Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

    For more information:

    Earlier that day, Bridging Black Trans Lives: Advancing Equity for All Black Lives will take place at San Francisco City Hall. The rally, which will also commemorate Black August, will bring awareness to the lived experience of Black Transgender and Nonbinary communities, and call to action the larger Black community to recognize that Black liberation is tied to the lives of all Black people. For more information on the rally, which will be livestreamed, go to:

    Photos courtesy of The Transgender District/Gareth Gooch Photography

    Published on August 27, 2020