Guide to the San Francisco Street Patrol Records Collection

Christopher Disman
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
657 Mission Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, California 94105
Phone: (415) 777-5455
Fax: (415) 777-5576
Email: info@glbthistory.org
URL: http://www.glbthistory.org/
© 2008
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Guide to the San Francisco Street Patrol Records Collection

Collection number: 1998-17

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

San Francisco, California
Processed by:
Christopher Disman
Date Completed:
1999
Encoded by:
Heather Cummins
2008 The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: San Francisco Street Patrol Records Collection
Dates: 1991-1993
Bulk Dates: 1991-1993
Collection number: 1998-17
Collection Size: 1 manuscript box and 1 oversized box 10.3 linear feet
Repository: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
San Francisco, California 94105
Physical location: Stored at the Archives of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Historical Society in San Francisco, California.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

Access

Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

Preferred Citation

San Francisco Street Patrol Records Collection, 1998-17, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

Collection donate to the GLBT Historical Society in 1998

Biography / Administrative History

San Francisco Street Patrol (SFSP) began in August 1990, as a working group of Queer Nation San Francisco. Its original name was DORIS SQUASH (Defend Our Rights In the Streets/Super Queers United Against Savage Heterosexism), and the group took the name San Francisco Street Patrol in early 1991. The group was active from 1990 to 1994, and its mission was to promote GLBT peoples safety by primarily discouraging queer bashing through organized and regular nighttime patrols of the Castro. Women were among the founding members of the group, which always included roughly equal numbers of men and women. A founding patrol member and group leader was transgender, and other members included lesbians, gay men, bisexual men and women, two heterosexual men, and a heterosexual woman. SFSP members tried to verbally deescalate potential bashings when it seemed possible, and they made citizens arrests when "bashers" persisted in homophobic violence. Members were unarmed but carried handcuffs and whistles, and were trained in martial arts and self-defense. SFSP wasn't out to clean up the streets, and their patrols intervened only in bashings and not in street drug use or sex work. The group's aim was simply to make the Castro a place where Queer people can hang out without being targeted for violent attack.
SFSP also worked to increase awareness of self-defense and violence-avoidance methods. In addition to its patrols, the group handed out whistles and fliers with tips on street safety and identifying "bashers". They also watched for cars circling slowly through the Castro that might contain potential "bashers". They often volunteered in uniform for GLBT events, including the Pride parade and the major street fairs, and were also sometimes hired and paid to do security, for instance at the first International Mr. Leather competition.
The group began to drift apart by 1994 as members moved away from the Bay Area, or found new jobs, interests, or relationships. SFSP members worked or went on to work with the Center for AIDS Prevention Sciences (CAPS), Homes Not Jails, the Intersex Society of North America, San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI), New Leaf, the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), ACT UP/Golden Gate, and the B.A.R. For an expanded version of this historical sketch see the Fall, 2000 issue of the GLBTHS newsletter Our Stories.

Scope and Content of Collection

Many of the materials in Box 1 are descriptions of San Francisco Street Patrol (SFSP) for people outside the group, or potential and new members. The collection also contains a number of internal group documents and news updates for group members. SFSP members wore a uniform on patrol and the collection includes drawings of the SFSP T-shirt designs.
Box 2 includes two SFSP berets, which were worn by Michael Botkin and Steve Finlay; the metal studs in them each represent three months of working on patrol. One beret is covered with buttons (e.g. "I'm a Safe Sex Slut"), and the other is slightly stained from being dropped in a wok by the donor. The metal file box/clipboard was carried by the Hostess or Mistress of each night's patrol, who helped maintain a certain marching formation. Box 2 also includes two of the types of whistles SFSP members passed out on the street.
Folder 1/15 contains information about an L.A./SF gay male patrol group called the Street Cats, whose members carried mace and stun guns, and at least one of whom had an avowed interest in "beating people up." Some anti-bashing patrols only blew whistles when they saw violence, feeling that physically stepping between "bashers" and people being battered was inconsistent with pacifist or nonviolent principles. Both the Street Cats and SFSP followed a hands-on, interventionist philosophy, and the contents of this file provide interesting contrasts between the two contemporary SF groups? tactics and principles. The file contains an unsent open letter to the queer community that sets out SFSP's strong reservations about the Street Cats; another letter in the file which was sent addresses an incident of verbal abuse of SFSP members by members of the Street Cats driving by in their jeep. The letter was written by SFSP Director of Operations and Queen Suegee Tamar (later Tamar-Mattis) to Street Cats leader Don Fass, and copies were also sent to the SFPD, the SF Hall of Justice, CUAV, and a San Francisco law firm. Also see Folder1/2 for internal SFSP minutes in which the Street Cats are referred to as "the Street Sissies."
Folder 1/14 contains a flier "Overcoming Masculine Oppression in Mixed Groups" that was put out by QUEERS (Queers United to Examine and Eliminate Racism and Sexism), a Queer Nation focus group.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into 2 series:
  • 1. Documents
  • 2. Artifacts

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
San Francisco Street Patrol
Gays -- Violence against
Homophobia

Other Finding Aids

Related Collections at GLBTHS: Queer Nation San Francisco (1993-2) Michael Botkin Papers (1998-23) Frighten the Horses (Periodicals Collection, Box 26)[see issue 5, May 1991, pp. 12-14 for an article by Ellen Twiname on SFSP]

Collection Contents

Box 1

Documents 1991-1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 1

Bylaws 1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 2

Minutes 05/09/1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 3

Correspondence 1992-1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 4

Financial documents 1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 5

Fliers passed out by SFSP during patrols

Box/ Folder 1/ 6

Membership 1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 7

News-sheet and newszines 1991-1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 8

Publicity-fliers

Box/ Folder 1/ 9

Publicity-press release about SFSP

Box/ Folder 1/ 10

Publicity-publications with articles about SFSP 1993

Box/ Folder 1/ 11

Queer Youth at Risk program proposal

Box/ Folder 1/ 12

Stationary

Box/ Folder 1/ 13

T-shirt design sheets 1991

Box/ Folder 1/ 14

Miscellaneous SFSP material

Box/ Folder 1/ 15

Street Cats in Los Angeles and San Francisco 1993

Box 2

Artifacts unknownd

Box 2

Two whistles in packages

Box 2

One button

Box 2

One laminated map of neighborhoods that SFSP patrolled

Box 2

One metal clipboard/file box with "SFSP" in pink spraypaint

Box 2

Two berets