On Jan 25, 1917 300 sex workers in San Francisco marched to protest the imminent closure of their brothels. The Old Pro Project is an annual event that builds towards this anniversary. We are part of a multigenerational movement that has been advocating for our rights for over a hundred years.


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The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot –
San Francisco Film Proposal

A creative team in the Bay Area will be making a short film with the goal of bringing attention to The Compton’s Cafeteria riot of 1966 — a lesser known historical event that marked the beginning of transgender activism in San Francisco. The Compton’s Cafeteria riot was one of the first LGBT related uprisings in the United States. In fact, it preceded the infamous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.

We hope to illustrate how The Compton’s Cafeteria uprising continues to inspire today’s fight for the rights of sex workers and trans women in San Francisco. The film will use this event as a starting point to address the intersection between sex work activism and trans activism.

The film will open with a brief recounting of the general climate around The Compton’s Cafeteria riot and describe the events that took place that night through animation and voice over.

We’ll then open up the conversation to our chosen subjects through a series of interviews. Since we’re focusing on a topic that was led by the trans community, we’re turning to speakers who can tell the story authentically, through their voices. The interviews will have a conversational tone. The footage will be most likely shot in the homes of the speakers and/or in recognizable spots throughout San Francisco.

We’ll use animation to create a mixed media look, with hand drawn marker and paint-like splotches over archival images, as well as a little bit of collage. We’ll also include b-roll of San Francisco and any relevant images to intercut with footage of the interviewees. The film will run between five and ten minutes.

Our Subjects

Janetta Louise Johnson is the Executive Director at at Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project. She is a formerly incarcerated Black transgender woman and has been an activist and advocate in the transgender communities since 1997, when she moved to San Francisco from her hometown of Tampa, Florida.

In 2016 she co-founded The Compton’s Transgender Cultural District in San Francisco, which is the first transgender cultural district in the country; and TAJA’s Coalition, community accountability for Black trans safety in San Francisco.

Stephany Ashley (she/her) is a housing, homelessness, and sex worker advocate who is currently working at Brilliant Corners to expand access to affordable housing and emergency beds for folks experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. She was the ED of St James Infirmary for four years prior to that.

Ms. Billie Cooper is a Community Grand Marshal for 2019 SF Pride. She is a 60-year-old transsexual woman, has lived and thrived with HIV for thirty-three years, and has been invested in her transgender community for over thirty years. She is proud to be a transgender elder and one of the many faces of Black transgender excellence.

A client of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for many years, Ms. Billie is the founder of the TransLife Program at the AIDS Foundation, a weekly group for transgender men and women, gender-non-conforming, and gender-fluid people. Living in sobriety for fifteen years, she is a motivational speaker and mentor for recovery. “Life is truly what you make it,” she says.

Andrea Horne is a former actress, model, and jazz singer. Most recently she was a social worker working with transgender women in the Tenderloin. She is a Black transgender woman who has lived in San Francisco for the past forty years.

Tamara Ching is an American trans woman and San Francisco Bay Area transgender activist. Also known as the “God Mother of Polk [Street]”, she is an advocate for trans, HIV, and sex work-related causes.

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