One of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco is The Castro. All a woman has to do is walk a few feet into The Castro to receive compliments left and right from gorgeous gay men. "Oh, I LOVE your hair!" "Oh, what FABULOUS shoes!" But it's not just the shallow thrill of receiving compliments that makes me love The Castro. Emotionally, I find The Castro to be one of the warmest places on earth. Perhaps this is because so many of the gay men that make up the majority of the neighborhood's population have come to this place as cultural refugees. Perhaps it is because they have been the victims of intolerance that their love and appreciation for all kinds of people can glow so brightly. Or maybe it is more that if you have the balls to love boldly, to love unorthodoxly, no matter what other people in your culture think, then your heart opens to everything and is no longer ruled by hesitation and fear.
In my last post, I wrote about the drag queen show at The Lookout that Minima took me to. The crowd at that bar was mostly gay men, and they were the warmest, most genuine people I had encountered in a long time. I received more hugs and kind, meaningful words on that night than I get in a month of my normal life. If I ever felt like my world were ending, the first place I'd head would be The Castro.
Here are some photos I took walking around the neighborhood. The first two show The Castro Theatre, one of San Francisco's most famous historic movie theaters. The theater is just up the street from the intersection of Market and Castro, where I saw those three lovely nude men I mentioned in an earlier post!
The giant rainbow flag near the intersection of Market and Castro:
Here is a photo of A Different Light Bookstore, where you can buy everything from books on bondage to gay porn. I bought my mom a greeting card featuring a painting of a burly, shirtless, wooly-chested cowboy. I was the only woman in the store!
Many houses in The Castro have rainbow flags in their windows. There are also many brightly painted houses. Both can be seen in this photo:
One bar in The Castro is called Moby Dick. I thought of stopping in for a drink just so I could use the restroom (San Francisco sort of has a dearth of public restrooms), but there were so many men in this bar that I don't think I could have found a single empty stool!
And I've saved my favorite photos for last. These were the outside wall and window decorations at a house on Castro Street:
(By the way, as I type this post, I am listening to Antony Hegarty singing "Blind" with Hercules & Love Affair. Could there be a better Castro soundtrack?)