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Felicia "Flames" Elizondo papers
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The collection includes materials documenting the life and work of Felicia "Flames" Elizondo (July 23, 1946 – May 15, 2021). Elizondo was a Latinx woman, community leader, drag artist, transgender activist and AIDS activist. She was a regular patron of Compton's Cafeteria, site of the Compton's Cafeteria Riot, in the Tenderloin District in San Francisco. Materials include clothes and performance costumes, personal writings, correspondence, personal biographical documents, photographs, signs, flags, CDs and DVDs, clippings and ephemera, and materials relating to Vicki Marlane. This collection is part of the Calle 16 and Beyond Archives Project of the GLBT Historical Society.
Felicia “Flames” Elizondo (1946-2021) was a self-described “Mexican spitfire, screaming queen, pioneer, legend, icon, diva, 29-year survivor of AIDS and Vietnam veteran.” Her activism has been crucial in raising public awareness of transgender rights and history. Ms. Elizondo was a fixture in the San Francisco LGBTQ community for many years. She was a native of San Angelo, Texas. In her teens, she lived in San Jose, and would skip school to visit the Tenderloin and Compton’s Cafeteria with friends; she continued to frequent Compton’s throughout the 1960s. She joined the Navy at age 18 and volunteered to serve in Vietnam, “hoping that the military could change me. I wanted to be the man that I was drilled to be since I was little. I lowered my voice so nobody could tell that I was gay.” She later accepted she was attracted to men and told her commanding officer. She was then interrogated by the FBI and received an undesirable discharge from the Navy. Later, she successfully petitioned to have her discharge reversed as honorable. In 1972, Elizondo transitioned and began living full-time as a woman. In 1991, she permanently moved to San Francisco. She was known for performing with the Tenderloin Queen’s Revue, a musical drag group, among many others. She was a longtime volunteer for LGBTQ+ and AIDS groups in which she organized many fundraisers to help raise money. Elizondo was featured in the documentary “HIV Stops with Me,” as well as “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria,” which won an Emmy. In 2008, she was given the senior leader award from UC Berkeley’s Department of Public Health.
26 linear feet (9 cartons, 5 oversize boxes, 2 large folders)
Copyright to material has been transferred to the GLBT Historical Society. All requests for reproductions and/or permission to publish or quote from material must be submitted in writing to the GLBT Historical Society Archivist.
Collection is open for research.