When Honey Mahogany accepted a job with Supervisor Matt Haney in City Hall, she had to step down from the role of executive director for the nearly brand-new Compton’s TLGB District. The handful of blocks tucked between the Tenderloin and mid-Market has a long and important history as a site of queer liberation. When a trans woman threw a cup of coffee in a cop’s face in 1966, it started what’s now known as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot — a turning point for trans and gender non-conforming people nationwide who were sick of being treated as second-class citizens.
In 2017, City Hall officially recognized Compton’s as a cultural district, with the goal of preserving and maintaining transgender-run businesses and residents.
But that’s just the beginning. While starting a cultural district is no easy feat, keeping one inclusive and active certainly isn’t a piece of cake. With Mahogany’s departure, incoming director Aria Sa’id has some big shoes to fill. But as a key player in the creation of the district from the beginning, she’s more than ready for the challenge — and she’s looking ahead.
“I’ve created a five-year, multi-prong strategy toward ensuring that the cultural district is effective in its mission,” Sa’id says.
It’s comprehensive, covering everything from creating a strong economic strategy, to establishing stable housing, to nurturing a collective sense of pride in the district. She also plans to bring new people in with a boot camp program for transgender entrepreneurs, and has an interest in creating trans-led, co-op-style businesses.
“Part of our effort in participating with Compton’s is to restore the humanity of trans people,” Sa’id told SF Weekly when the district launched in 2017. “Even in a world where we are hyper-vigilant of trans people, in media, and in society, there’s still a lot of work that we have to do.”