Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Felicia Flames, a transgender pioneer, diva, icon and Screaming Queen, 27 years survivor of AIDS and a Vietnam Veteran - one of the participants of the 1966 Compton's Cafeteria Riot, which was one of the first documented instances of transgender resistance to authority in the USA. Hello Felicia!
We were murdered, killed, thrown in jail, raped and thrown out like trash by our families and friends. And in those days, I hear that the mafia had control of the TL, and all documents to this day were lost and no record of that day except for an unknown newsletter that documented that day. And nothing else.
Monika: Do you still keep in touch with other Screaming Queens?
When I was in Vietnam, I even had sex with two women, maybe that might have changed me. And when I was in Vietnam, I was working unloading cargo from a ship freezer, and I told myself if the Navy hasn’t made me a man, nothing would. I said I am done and tired of being who I am not, went to my priest and told him that I was gay, and then went to my captain and they got me out of Vietnam so fast.
I came home broken that no matter what I did, it was not going to change who I really was. I got an undesirable discharge and later after my surgery in 1974, I requested a change in my discharge to be overturned into an honorable one, and they changed to honorable discharge.
The Transgender Community were known as prostitutes, thieves, drugs addicts, and just plain no good, and I decided that I would educate the gay and lesbian communities, about transgender persons, that we grew up and we wanted to be good respectable persons in our community. I have been an activist for over 30-50 years. Things I did were not for the fame or money because it was in my heart to do it. I was in the hivstopwwithme.org in 2004, I think. You can YouTube it.
|Courtesy of Felicia Flames.|
I performed at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge with the Hot Boxx Girls and Dream Queen Revue. And now I perform when I am asked to do Gay Pride show “The Center Stage Divas” for Laguna Honda Hospital for Gay Senior that can’t join San Francisco Pride Parade. I was involved with SF Ducal Organization and we raised a lot of money for different organization here in San Francisco, Miss Debuante 2005 and 2006, I became Princess of Akukan and Royal Crown Princess. This was a way to raise money for all non-profits.
I transitioned in 1974, but it would take two years before they would consider me for surgery. I would have to live as a female and work as a female before they considered me for surgery, but I knew what I wanted and I went to Tijuana, Mexico and got castrated, and six months later I got my surgery in November of 1974 and Blue Cross of California. I paid for my surgery, my breast implants and my nose. Pacific Telephone were so good to help me transition in the early 70’s, they made it a good experience for me.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Monika: Your LGBT advocacy was recorded in many documentaries and publications? Could you name some of them?
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?