On September 29th, 2011, organizers and participants in the San Francisco AB101 Veto Riot were reunited for the first time in the 20 years since the riot took place, to share their memories of the riot and the events that sparked this historic event: the last of three queer riots in the history of San Francisco (and the last known one in the world). What transpired was a powerful conversation about the various dynamics that can lead to such a public outpouring of anger, as well as those that prevent it. The riot was sparked when California Governor Pete Wilson vetoed a statewide gay rights bill in 1991 (after promising during his electoral campaign to approve it). In response, an estimated 10,000 marched downtown to protest, ending with the police in retreat and the California state office building in flames.
This 20th anniversary reunion, hosted by historian Gerard Koskovich at San Francisco's GLBT History Museum, began with the screening of a short film about the history of the riot by Steve Elkins, director of “The Reach Of Resonance." Laura Thomas then moderated discussion with a “living history” panel consisting of protest organizers and participants, Bob Ostertag (who composed a string quartet based on a precise transcription of audio he recorded at the riot for Kronos Quartet), and Steve Elkins who discussed his documentation of the riot in his feature film “The Reach Of Resonance,” as well as his more recent short film about the history of the riot which was made largely in reaction to the scant documentation on this important event in the history of San Francisco and human rights.
Steve Elkins' short film on the history of the AB101 Veto Riot can be viewed here: vimeo.com/18039566
An audience member wrote an articulate and impassioned response to the "Living History" event, which can be read here: autostraddle.com/twenty-years-ago-today-in-gay-history-the-ab101-veto-riots-112443/
More from Elkins and Ostertag at the GLBT History Museum: vimeo.com/56832171
More info on Elkins' feature film "The Reach Of Resonance" here: reachofresonance.com
GLBT Historical Society & Museum: glbthistory.org/
Bob Ostertag: bobostertag.com/