San Francisco’s Castro district: A quickly changing barrio
This article was updated twice (at the bottom of the page). The most recent update was on el 16 de abril de 2013.
El 15 de marzo de 2013. Hola. As I’ve written before, there is no shortage of “straights” flooding into the former “Gay Mecca” of San Francisco, known as the Castro barrio/district.
This City is changing very quickly due to gentrification. For some time now I and others have asked: Why are “straights” flooding into the Castro district considering the high rents, expensive real estate, the many empty store fronts, mediocre restaurants and…well other than gay bars what is there to do in the barrio but drink? All barrios have bars where “straights” can drink and get drunk. The Castro barrio is mainly known now for burgers, pig cheek and snails (Escargot). How the hell did that happen? How healthy! So all of that is a big attraction for “straights?”
I remember when many “straights” whined about queer people being “in your face” with their sexuality and affection for each other. They didn’t want to see it. Keep that behind closed doors they insisted. Don’t advertize your sexuality they said. Why do gay people have to be so “in your face” with their sexuality they asked. Well, I’ve seen the “straights” arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand, locked in besos, “in your face” pushing baby strollers (no shortage of them either…has the condom industry completely collapsed?), and often the “straights” look as if they just met. In the Castro, you might ask? I’m not talking about the straight Marina district here, but rather the Castro district. Also, often la muchacha is hanging on/clinging to her muchacho. Let me be blunt: So many muchachas crave/demand attention and are so very insecure, needy, self-entitled and self-absorbed. Affection is one thing but insecurity is another. What I’m seeing is one muchacha after the other looking subservient to the guy she’s hanging onto like a magnet. She’s walking arm-in-arm with him but she’s one-half step behind him as if he must “lead” them and be the dominant. Rather outdated, learned and chauvinistic thinking to me and such behavior is programmed into the sheeple. The U.S. seems to be going backwards in many ways. Apparently the feminist movement is dead too along with the anti-war movement.
Some people in the Castro barrio have asked: But why the Castro? Why are the “straights” in the Castro not hanging out in traditionally straight areas such as San Francisco’s Marina district or snooty Pacific Heights (also known as “Specific Whites” to some locals), North Beach, the Embarcadero, and (S)Nob Hill as some examples? Some people in the Castro barrio get the distinct impression that the “straights” want to take over the Castro so that they will dominate/”own” every barrio in San Francisco. I wouldn’t doubt that and they’re well on their way of doing that at the rate things are going.
Others have another thought about what’s going on and I discussed this with a queer amigo of mine whom I hadn’t seen for awhile until the other day. We had a rather lengthy discussion on the sidewalk. I brought up the topic of the “straights” flooding into the barrio. He says he notices many of the “straight” muchachos cruising other muchachos, including himself. Oh? This sounds like some chisme caliente. My amigo tells me that he has “tricked” (had sex) with several “straight” muchachos in the last year. One instance was where the “straight” muchacho was in a gay bar with his wife. (My amigo said, “Don’t ask why a guy and his wife were in a gay bar…but there is an answer for it coming up.”) My friend and this “straight” muchacho had been discreetly cruising for awhile in this gay bar and then as soon as the “straight” muchachos wife left to use the bathroom he came over to quickly introduce himself to my amigo and propose that they get together later on and gave my friend his business card and urged him to be most discreet because his wife who was in the bathroom didn’t know anything about this. So I asked: Well what happened? He said they had sex together on multiple occasions and over time my amigo asked this “straight” muchacho if his wife suspected anything? He said she didn’t. He said he’s very discrete about it. My friend asked: So are you “straight” or bisexual or gay? The “straight” muchacho said he considers himself gay but don’t tell anyone. So how does it work when you’re having sex with your wife—assuming you do—my amigo asked? Answer: I think about having sex with guys when I’m having sex with her. (I’ve heard that before). So why did you get married, my friend asked? Answer: I was following “The Family’s Script” for me. (Oh, lovely. That again. The ever-present “Family Script.”) My amigo asked: So do you plan to divorce your wife at some point? Answer: (hesitation)…Yes at some point and we do have a child which makes it more difficult and that was also part of “The Family’s Script” for me. Our families kept pushing for grandchildren so I/we felt pressured into having children. I asked my amigo: Did this “straight” muchacho know he was gay before he married his wife? My amigo didn’t know the answer to that. Interesting.
My friend said that he has heard similar stories to his but with slightly different details from other so-called “straight” muchachos who have moved into the Castro. Some queer friends of my amigo have had similar experiences they tell him. He also told me that some “straights” and queers run online sex ads specifically looking for one or the other. So for example, a queer muchacho will say he’s open to “married guys, bisexual or gay dudes” in his ad and emphasizing the word discreet. Or a “straight” muchacho ad will talk about being: curious and just looking to hang out with a guy for the first time to teach me the ropes. That’s covert language for wanting to have sex with a muchacho. As my amigo says, essentially these “straight” muchachos are in the closet and either living in the Castro or visiting the Castro, while a muchacha is hanging on one shoulder or the other to advertize that “we’re straight” (as if anyone cares!). But in the name of “diversity” and wanting to “support the gays,” the “straights” think it’s nice to drag la muchacha over to the Castro when actually they have other motives in mind. At least 2-3 “straight” guys have told my amigo in passing that they think their wife has lesbian interests because their wife has embarrassingly suggested they watch lesbian sex videos on occasion. So in some cases, it is la muchacha who suggests “let’s go over to the Castro to support the gays.”
I asked my friend what’s the most common way that he connects with “straight” guys in the Castro. He says if their partner/”wife” is with them, it’s usually by very discrete eye contact, discrete cruising and a show of interest followed by a quick whispered, “here’s my card…email me” when she’s preoccupied with something such as the baby in the stroller or fixing her make-up.
So that does explain what I and “what is is” of the pink barrio had suspected in that there are some “straights” flooding into the Castro for very specific reasons other than the ones they give to their wife or female partner. It also explains the—what appears to be—compulsory holding hands that “straights” seem they must do in the Castro (rather “in your face” again) I guess to make her feel most secure with him while in the Castro and he’s possibly looking at guys and she may be looking at females. One never knows! If they hadn’t followed society’s bull shit/the “Family Script” they wouldn’t be in this mess.
I’ve noticed on message forums that the rabid right-wing nuts think it’s wonderful that the “straights” are flooding into the Castro. They are also the same prudes who despise and hate on the naked muchachos in San Francisco. The rabid right-wing pose as being queer themselves on occasion and supporters of queers, when in reality that is all a big lie based on other things they write on the same message forums (i.e. expressing hate and by implying that all people are “straight”). So in Orwellian newspeak terms, the rabid right-wing speak of “bringing diversity to the Castro” as they cheer-lead for making the Castro entirely “straight” (which of course removes the diversity they’re pretending to cheer-lead for in the first place). They’re not fooling anyone and their conservative agenda is clear.
Also, other people pejoratively write that there’s no need for a “Gay Ghetto” any longer, as if an area where many queers live is a bad thing (San Francisco’s Castro used to be known as a “gay ghetto”). Interestingly, the same people never say there is no longer a need for an “Asian Ghetto” (such as the Chinatown in many cities) or the “Italian Ghetto” (such as North Beach in San Francisco) or a “Russian Ghetto” or an “Irish Ghetto” or a “Hispano/Latino Ghetto” as some examples. No, it’s only the “Gay Ghetto” that some people like to whine about and hate on, including some people who claim they are gay. But with the current average rent in San Francisco being over $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, the rents in the Castro are certainly far from “ghetto” priced.
I asked my amigo about the “heteronormative” term that I’ve heard applied to some gay people. He said he was familiar with that term and he agreed that some GLBTQueer people today are trying to act and pretend that they are “straight,” and act like jocks as if being “straight” is to be desired or “normal” and being gay/queer is not normal per society’s sick and fucked up standards. Merely a case of self-hate as I see it. I asked my amigo if he had been to the new gay sports bar and he said he hadn’t because of some of the reviews talking about how attractive the crowd was/is there. He sensed from the reviews and from what friends had told him that there are too many people there who are preoccupied with looks (such as “a good-looking crowd,” someone wrote) and the so-called perfect jock bodies. I asked: you mean shallow and superficial? He said: Yes, exactly.
So when you see these “straights” in the Castro—you can’t miss them if you live here—just keep in mind that they’re not necessarily “straight.” Some of them just play that role when they are with her or him and they pretend to be “heteronormative,” rather than being who they really are. Chau.—rosa barrio
UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE:
El 16 de abril de 2013. Hola. “what is is” of the pink barrio spoke with an acquaintance in the Castro today. He sees this muchacho every now and then and this muchacho works in the barrio. “what is is” spoke with him briefly and asked this muchacho: “Have you noticed the change in the neighbourhood?” His Response: (With a stern expression as to say “how can anyone not notice?”) he said: “Yes, there are far more baby strollers now. They are always in the way and what used to be mostly gay guys is now mostly young tech “straight” couples and they are rather unfriendly as they race from one bar to another with some female on them. They are snotty. The Castro neighbourhood does not feel as friendly now as it did when it was a gay neighbourhood.” He also said he has noticed the new hard-ass jock heteronomative type gay sports bars going in the barrio. The neighbourhood is mostly just a drinking “straight” neighbourhood now. A place for “straights” to drink and get drunk. (Let me add this: And get drunk so they can fantasize about being with a guy for the first time. Why else would they be in the Castro? These particular “straight” guys used to be called closeted gays. The new term is called heteronormative. They are gay but are going through the charade of being “straight” and holding some female’s hand to disguise what they really are and she’s (needy her) is hanging all over him. “Straights” have the entire world to drink in as far as bars are concerned. They have the run of bars all over the world and in San Francisco. What is so appealing to them about the bars in the Castro for christ’s sake? But I think I’ve already covered that. Are they really “straight” or just pretending to be? And why would people stay in the closet or go back in when same-gender marriage is now legal in some places? Does that make any sense to anybody? Loco./Crazy. It was interesting to hear what that muchacho told “what is is”. It matches what I’ve seen happening in the barrio. Chau.—rosa barrio
Update to this article:
El 19 de marzo de 2013. I saw a queer amigo of mine today in the Castro barrio and he stopped me to say that he had read this article and is in complete agreement with it and wanted to give me his experience. He said he hadn’t had sex with any “straight” guys that he was aware of, but that he does fuck with them in his own way. He too finds it very curious that “straights” are swarming to the Castro barrio. So when he sees a guy with a female hanging all over him (the ubiquitous arm-in-arm routine) my amigo says that he heavily cruises the guy until the guy looks at him back. He said that consistently either the guy refuses to look at him or looks at him for a split second and immediately and uncomfortably looks away as if to say to himself: “I’m not supposed to be looking at gay guys.” My amigo told me that his response to that is: “Well then what the fuck are you doing in the Castro then?” Chau.—rosa barrio