Subject: Celebrate Compton’s 50th with Tenderloin Queer History Walking Tour
When I first came to S.F. in the early 1960s at the tail end of the beat era, I found several gay bars in the Tenderloin like the Hide-a-way, Top Drawer, Gilded Cage and Alley Cat. Much of the entertainment were drag queens. Among them were Jose Sarria, Mechelle and Charles Pierce. Back then there were laws on the city’s books that if you dressed in drag, the zipper had to be on the front if you wore pants. If you wore a dress, you had to wear a lapel tag “I am a boy” or you could be arrested,even on Halloween!
Looking back, it were those courageous drag queens who got arrested fighting back, that helped to change those laws… and they were in the front lines of the early gay rights movement in S.F. and years ahead of other cities.
Jerry PritikinFiled under: Letters to the Editor