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Ching, Tamara

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Oral History Project: 
Stanford Pride Oral History Project
Lin, Jason
Interview Year: 
Oral History Type: 

In her interview, Tamara Ching describes her experiences living alongside and advocating for members of the LGBT community in San Francisco. She begins by describing her upbringing in San Francisco and the abuse, neglect, and racism she encountered during her early school years. She recounts some of her experiences in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood beginning in the mid-1960s, including discussions of prostitution, drag balls, and the transgender bar scene, drug use, and her role as a “Mommy” in the Asian transgender community. She also discusses the time she spent in New Orleans in the 1970s and the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Ching speaks about her activism in different movements: Asian, gay, transgender, and HIV prevention. She goes into detail about pioneering a transgender health program with immigrant transgender sex workers. Other aspects of her activism include ensuring transgender people were included in a San Francisco anti-discrimination ordinance and conducting education and counseling around HIV/AIDS. Her worked earned her the title, “Queen of Polk Street” and numerous awards, including KQED’s Unsung Hero of the Year in 1999.

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