A man takes a photo of one of the performers at 2013 10th annual Trans March in Dolores Park. Photo by Andrew Kopke.

Forever is Going to Start Tomorrow

When the 11th annual Trans March (which starts today at Dolores Park with a brunch at 12 p.m., followed by a rally and march at 3 p.m.) culminates at Turk and Taylor it will enjoy a milestone for the transgender movement: the first city street to be named after a transgender person. Starting today, the 100 block of Turk Street will forever honor famous and beloved transgender performer Vicki Marlane. Known as “The Girl with the Liquid Spine” for the flowing way she moved on-stage, Marlane was a trailblazer and a delight to those who got the chance to see her lip-sync to Celine Dion.

Originally from Minnesota, Marlane got her start as a female impersonator at 16 and toured in sideshows that traveled the country. She moved to San Francisco in the 1960s. Here, she not only got her gender reassignment surgery, she also became a local star by performing weekly at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in the Tenderloin. Marlane died of an AIDS-related illness in 2011, but before she passed, filmmaker Mark Lawler made a touching documentary about the legendary performer, Forever is Going to Start Tomorrow. Watch the clip below for a sense of Marlane’s humor and exuberant stage persona.

Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight from Mark Arellano on Vimeo.

Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria

Everybody knows about Stonewall, or really should, but fewer people seem to know about the riot which preceded the historic East Village incident by three years, a protest-turned-riot at Compton’s Cafeteria in 1966. During the early 60s, Compton’s at 1o1 Taylor Street was a favorite hang-out of drag performers and San Francisco’s budding transgender community, who were often unwelcome in other gay bars.

Compton’s’ staff eventually came to crack down on their transgender patrons, refusing to serve them and often calling in the police. This led to a picket of Compton’s by the trans community, which led to more police intervention, which led to a violent riot. Many consider it a crucial, if often overlooked, flashpoint in the history of the LGBTQ civil rights struggle. Victor Silverman and Susan Stryker’s 2005 documentary Screaming Queens interviews many of the trans activists involved in the riot. They discuss Compton’s and the revolutionary, though dangerous, life of the transgender people of the 1960s Tenderloin.

Screaming Queens – The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria from Laurie Lezin-Schmidt on Vimeo.

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Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top of Bernal Hill.

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