Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Castro: Not What I Expected

By Mister Curie

So I've been hanging out in San Francisco for a week now and I finally  got up the courage to travel to the Castro and see the gay district in San Francisco.  I knew I had to go while I was here, but I wasn't sure what to expect.  Overall, I think it was a bit of a disappointment. I'm not sure what I thought it would be like, but it just wasn't whatever I thought it might be.

I mean, sure, there were beautiful rainbow flags on all the street posts (I've always liked rainbows), there were several adult shops that catered to a gay clientele, and there were advertisements targeting gay men (including signs for AIDS awareness, testing, and prevention  - one of which was an advertisement for participating in a clinical trial for an AIDS vaccine).  I didn't notice a large increase in the presence of eye-candy (although I'm assuming the eye candy  I saw was much more likely  to be gay), there wasn't a large increase in metrosexuals (which was rather surprising, given the definite over-representation of spas and salons catering to the metrosexual crowd), there wasn't even an overwhelming amount of gay PDA (I saw at least as many heterosexual couples holding hands as I saw gay couples holding hands).  There definitely  were a lot of dog owners! Wow!

I printed out a walking tour of the area before I went.  I saw the Camera shop that Harvey Milk started and lived above.  I went to the Harvey Milk Plaza (quite underwhelming) and Pink Triangle Park (also much less than I think the LGBT victims of Nazi persecution deserve). I went in a couple of clothing stores and a bookstore.  I found Hot Cookie and purchased a couple of those "anatomically correct coconut macaroons on a stick, coated in chocolate" that Rob blogged about.  I saw the Castro theater.  I walked down Market street, following the rainbow flags until they ended and found the LBGT community center.  I walked a couple more blocks until I was sure I hadn't missed anything important, and walked back.  I also had lunch at an outdoor cafe and people watched and eavesdropped on nearby conversations.

It was a fun trip (although it would have been more fun if I had been with someone else to share the adventure with).  I enjoyed seeing the few gay couples holding hands that I did see, and it was a definite increase above the number I usually see.  There was one particularly cute couple of elderly gentlemen walking together hand in hand that was just adorable (as well as one couple composed of two extremely fine specimens of eye-candy).  It was also selfishly validating to turn my head a couple of times and notice men checking me out.

Ultimately, however, I realized that there was no mystic call from the gay Mecca that told me I belonged there.  There was no feeling that I've come home or that I've arrived.  I like the life I've built for myself.  I like the stability of my education and my future career.  I love my  wife.  I love being in a relationship where  I know we are committed to each other and can count on each other for support, validation, and understanding.  Ultimately, isn't that what most people want out of a relationship? I have a marriage that contains all of the aspects of as wonderful of a relationship as I could imagine for myself that is better than a lot of the heterosexual  marriages I am aware of.  And while it isn't with a man, I can't imagine that fate would be so kind as to help me find such a wonderful partner a second time. 

I don't believe there is a God that wants me and other homosexuals to deny themselves and be married to women or be forever celibate.  I certainly wouldn't recommend a MOM as a preferred option for gay men.  I don't believe in the LDS church as having any God-given authority or insight in general or in specific when it comes to gays.  On the other hand, I don't think I should end my marriage just because I am gay.  I need to live my life as best  I know how and I know that I have a wonderful wife who loves me and I love her.  We have survived many trials together which have only strengthened our love.  I'm not willing to give up a good thing, just because the statistics suggest there is little hope.  I don't know what the future may bring, but I'm not  prepared to give up my comfortable and enjoyable present in exchange for an unpredictable future (call me selfish).  

I miss my wife.  I'm looking forward to traveling home to be with my family tomorrow.


  1. You're not the only who has noticed the death of Queertown, USA. (

    However, I'm glad you had that experience of going to Frisco and that you had came to the conclusions that you have made.

  2. Interesting article. Seems like ultimately it would be a good thing if we no longer needed Queertown, USA to fit into society.

  3. For those who never had a chance to see the Castro, as it was in the 1970's, there is a great website, that unlike the "MILK" movie, is not a recreation. It is dedicated to the evolution of the Castro, from a sleepy changing neighborhood into America's gay Mecca. and my images and stories are also there. .This coming Pride Month in Chicago, I'll be having a 40 image exhibit of that
    era at Roosevelt University's Gage Gallery.

  4. I have never made it to SanFran. Its on my bucket list of places to go, though. So ill make it there sometime! Luckily its not too far away from me so I could make a weekend trip out of it even. Im glad you had fun, even if it was a little bit of a let down..

  5. And we missed you!! Thanks for the coffee this morning, and for letting me sleep in. I can't imagine a better morning after 8 days alone with Josh <3 I love you!

  6. Getting caught up on your blog, I liked this post a lot. I really can relate to much of your feelings here.

    I few years ago, I found myself alone on a business trip to the Bay area and I told myself I had to go see the Castro District in person... and so I drove there. It was mid evening and there were many gay couples arm-in-arm or holding hands taking their dogs for a walk. I felt in awe of the comfort and ease and "normalness" of it all. And yet, I felt out of place (being alone) and so I soon left.

    It was a mixed feeling, but I ended being grateful for having gone and seen and felt. I also came away committed as you, to the good of the relationship that I have with my wife and no need to feel obligated to end something good just because I'm gay.

    Thanks for this post and insights.