Launch of play honoring SF Compton's Cafeteria Riot celebrated in run-up to Pride

In the run-up to San Francisco Pride, a gathering was held on Friday at The Tenderloin Museum to honor the legacy of the 1966 Compton's Cafeteria Riot, and the launch of a play which re-tells the events of the day. The riot took place in the City's Tenderloin following police harassment of transgender people. 

"It means the world to me, because I want everyone to hear this story, this history," said Donna Personna, who co-wrote the play, which transports audience members back to the days of the riot. "I want everyone in the world to know about it."

Personna, a transgender rights activist, was 18 when she first went to Gene Compton's Cafeteria, a gathering place at night for drag queens, trans women, and sex workers. In the summer of 1966, amid constant harassment by police, a trans woman threw coffee in the face of an officer after he attempted to arrest her for a crime then known as "female impersonation".

"One night they just had enough, and it started a two-day riot, and that’s what we’re commemorating with that play," said Suzanne Ford, executive director of SF Pride, who credited the event with helping spearhead a movement for transgender rights, three years before the more well-known gay riot at New York’s Stonewall Inn. "We owe so much to them, and I’ve been taught that ever since I’ve become part of that community, and I want to make sure that we honor them."  

The Tenderloin Museum is producing the play and helped find it a permanent home, which is now under construction on Larkin Street. 

"It’s an immersive play, so you walk in, and you’re in a diner, and you order some food, and then the play unfolds around you and that’s such an incredible experience of really getting to feel like you were there," said Katie Conry, executive director of The Tenderloin Museum.

The play was so well received after a limited run in 2018 that the museum worked with its creators to bring it back. 

"This is the moment to be telling this story. I mean there’s been so many attacks on trans rights and trans lives," said play director, Ezra Reaves. "This is a story that tells audiences that we’ve always been here, and it’s beyond bravery, it’s people fighting for their lives, for their dignity. It’s an incredible story, and it should be heard."

The first performances of the play are expected to take place sometime in the Fall. A sign-up page for the first release of tickets is available at


Cyclists depart SF for LA in AIDS/LifeCycle's emotional 540-mile journey

Cyclists arrived before dawn Sunday for the 2024 AIDS/LifeCycle fundraising ride, that began at San Francisco's Cow Palace with a 6 a.m. opening ceremony to launch the epic 540-mile ride that takes participants on a journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the coming week.