The Holidays in San Francisco’s Castro (December 2018)

Ugh. Hola a todos. Mi amigo/My friend and I are not into the holidays. We do like the pretty coloured holiday lights, and more people seem to be using coloured LED lights this year as opposed to those ubiquitous conformist overly-bright yet drab corporate-looking clear or white lights. Ugh.

Part of the reason we’re not into Navidad is because — in a religious context — it’s about the birth of a child who belongs to an imaginary Floating Cloud Being, involving immaculate conception and all that stuff. Fantasy stuff really. Mythology. Now back to reality. In reality, the holidays are about commercial greed, buying requirements, retail sales/greed including “Black Friday,” partying and getting drunk, days off and of course the perfunctory Holiday Shopping Tree. Then there’s the public’s hypocrisy with the Twelve Days of Christmas. Do You Sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas?”

For those who no longer live in The Castro or San Francisco for one reason or the other, I thought you might be interested in knowing “What The Castro is like here in December of 2018 around the holidays?”

Well, mi amigo and I walked around The Castro for quite awhile to get the feel of The Castro one night recently, a Thursday night.

On our walk on Castro Street itself the bars were mostly empty. We saw Millennial him and her couples sitting in restaurants, but not many people in the restaurants either. Him and her couples were walking on Castro Street — especially in the block I’ve come to avoid, the east side between 18th and 19th — with their out-of-control screaming children running all over the sidewalk. Before we walked up this block, I told mi amigo that I usually avoid this block because of the proliferation of breeders and their make-out sessions on the sidewalk. Fortunately, this time we didn’t see any make-out sessions but he did notice how breeder-saturated that block was and commented on it. We did notice two Millennial Queer guys talking near a pizza place. When we came back down and passed them again, I noticed that one of them had a wedding ring on the finger that breeders wear their wedding rings on. The guy cruised mi amigo as we passed. I told mi amigo about the wedding ring. Apparently he was a closet case trying to be “discreet” and “down low” in what used to be a Gay Mecca. The irony. One would not have seen any of this — and especially the closeted behaviour — “back in the day” of the now-gone Gay Mecca. But I’m not supposed to talk about that because when I do I’m trolled/accused of being stuck in the past in a distant era by the conservatives who love what’s happened to The Castro and that it is now a Breeder Mecca. Although anyone who knows me well knows that I very much live in the present; it’s just that I like to remember and recall the past as a point of reference so that hopefully we don’t repeat the bad things of the past. We saw a few Queer guys and a few gay couples but not enough to write about and clearly the breeders were/are in the majority in The Castro.

The two sex stores that we passed must have received more complaints from the breeders via the cops because their window displays — including Rock Hard’s — were sanitised. Rock Hard, the best sex store in The Castro in my opinion, has consistently been vigilant in keeping their window display Queer-related/focused rather than catering to the breeder invasion. “If you can’t do it here in The Castro, where can you do it?” has been RH’s position. But on this night there was nothing obviously sexual at all in them really. The breeders hold the view that sex is bad and nothing sexual should be in the windows for “children’s eyes.” What they really mean is that they (the prude breeders) don’t want to see anything sexual. Don’t lay it on “the children” — although that’s what conservatives usually do — because I’ve never seen any child look in the windows of a sex store. I’ve never seen children walking alone on Castro Street or in The Castro and or deliberately stopping to look in the windows of a sex store. And if one can’t control one’s child or children and what s/he sees, that’s your problem, Mr and Ms Breeder. Not the sex store’s problem. And if you didn’t like the neighbourhood the way it was — during the Gay Mecca decades — why the fuck did you deliberately move here, Mr and Ms Breeder? That doesn’t make any sense. And while you’re calling the cops to report a sex store why not find the phone number for a credible sex therapist and give them a call to work through your sexual dysfunctions and hang-ups. Los pendejos. But anyway, windows of the sex stores we saw were sanitised in “holiday” mode. We also walked all the way down to Church Street and it was pretty much the same down there. In the sports bar on Market Street which started out as an obnoxious supposedly gay jock sports bar sort of — although the conservative guy owner seemed closeted about it in his description and the reviews I read of the bar reaffirmed a closeted environment (the bar doesn’t fly Rainbow Flags) — when we passed we saw a breeder couple sitting in the window. But overall, The Castro was rather dead as more and more shops close up. The amount of foot traffic varies depending upon the day and time of day. When we first got there at about 6.15pm it was rather dead, then foot traffic increased; probably people coming home from work, but by 7.30pm it was dead again.

But on this night we saw no frenzied activity, no shopping frenzy, no one “hitting the stores” and we heard no holiday greetings, fortunately.

When we got home after our walk, mi amigo said to me:

“The Castro as a gay area is long gone. With all the straights there, it’s turned into a Cole Valley breeder neighbourhood. It’s now all about the children and harassing what few gay retailers that are left.” He was referring in particular to the sex stores.

We are seeing more guys smoking now. Smoking cigarettes seems to be making a come back which would make sense since we as a society are regressing and headed backwards.

We also watched as the fleets of 2-story tall techie shuttles continued to pour in to The Castro from Silicon Valley. I asked mi amigo: Remember when the Old City residents protested the tech shuttles. That’s all gone. Now, nobody says anything about them.

But as I’ve written countless times, The Castro is nothing like it was. Mi amigo compares The Castro to Cole Valley or Marin County. Young (white) parents with children in the majority and a few Queer boys sprinkled in. Then we saw a few closet case guys with their arms around females. I asked mi amigo: Aren’t more and more gay guys going back in the closet? It seems that way to us. He agreed. But nothing we can do about that. That’s another example of regressing and heading backwards. That’s their messed up lives to deal with as closet cases. So that’s the way it is here in The Castro during the holidays in December 2018.

It’s been feeling like this for some time, but here at the end of 2018 it really does feel like San Francisco and The Castro have lost their soul. Chau.—el barrio rosa


Link to holiday tarjeta/card, if you’re interested in buy it.

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