San Francisco Cancels Halloween...and More?

A significant portion of my 12 years in San Francisco was spent living in an apartment in the Castro District—in the building right next to where Josie's Cabaret used to be, across the street from Baghdad Cafe. It was one of the most amazing locations you could live in the world, especially if you were a young gay still forging his identity and still in the early stages of truly becoming a man.

So I was unexpectedly struck with a deep sadness when reading today's New York Times article about the slow death of gay neighborhoods—not just in San Francisco, but throughout the United States. As mainstream society becomes more accepting of gays, I suppose, there is less of a need for gay ghettoes—but, nonetheless, I can't help but feel like something important is dying.

When I moved to Los Angeles five years ago, one of my major gripes was that there was no sense of community where I was in Eagle Rock or in areas close by. The desire to feel connected to a gay community aside, I didn't feel like I was a part of any community. In a city where I was in my car a lot and in public little, I didn't feel surrounded by artists or by Asians or by gays—just surrounded by strangers. It's a feeling I still have today, despite the fact that I've come to appreciate living in Los Angeles and have learned how to be out and about in a land where out and about is typically reserved for crunchy hippies in San Francisco and Seattle.

The city's cancellation of the Castro's annual Halloween party (anybody who's been knows how crazy and amazing it is) feels like the final nail in the coffin. Goodbye, Castro.


  1. You must have read it wrong. Cancel Halloween in Castro? You're kidding.

  2. I will mourn gay ghettos too, even if I can't afford to live in most of them these days (by "ghetto," WeHo clearly means $1,200 for a studio). But c'mon, don't you think Eagle Rock is pretty community-y as neighborhoods go? IMIX! The Chalet! Fatty's!

  3. OMG--The Chalet! It's like an Aryan Nation meeting in there!

  4. Yes, they canceled the Halloween party in the Castro.

    If this was truly a neighborhood party I'd mourn it. But it hasn't been one for a while. The city is flooded with people from out of town and last year 9 people were shot.

    The party was becoming dangerous, especially for those who live there. My coworker lives in a side street (NOE) and he hated the party because there would be really hostile people in the Castro, hostile towards the gay community (yeah, I don't know why they'd come to the party). My coworker hated dealing with the vandalism and homophobic people shouting threatening things at him and his partner. Talk about not feeling safe at home.

    I went to the party a few years ago. It's a big hot mess in some ways, no focus, just drunk people walking around. Yes, it's amazing how many people and the costumes are great, but it's a bitch to get out of there (I got sick, food poisoning and it took forever to get home).

    Plus, there's the mess. The city has never been efficient at cleaning up after Halloween.

    We'll see if the city actually manages to keep the party goers away. BART isn't stopping at 16th and street sweepers will be patrolling (so I hear).

  5. The straights from the 'burbs have always been a staple of Halloween in the Castro, but in the good ol' days they certainly weren't homophobic like you described. Boy, how things have changed. Sad sad sad.