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.