Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I went from the cool, amber-toned hush of Mission Dolores to the color and noise of the Castro. It was quieter than I expected; however, I was there at 1:00PM on a Tuesday.

I've heard complaints that lesbians are few and far between in the Castro, and I was decidedly in the minority. However, I saw a fair number of paired-off women . . . and a surprising number of straight couples, who are apparently moving into the area.

The Castro Theatre, which is currently having a Little Mermaid sing-a-long, is a wonderful Art Deco movie palace; I seriously considered buying a ticket just so I could check out the interior.

Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay politician, ran a camera store at 575 Castro; a home design store now occupies the retail space. A tiny commemorative plaque is embedded in the sidewalk of the front of the building.

Twin Peaks is the oldest gay bar on the Castro. Note the large windows: Twin Peaks unshielded its windows in 1972, thus making the statement that gay people in the Castro didn't have anything to hide. Many gay bars across the nation (including one of the most popular bars in my city) have since followed its lead.

Had I been thinking, I definitely would have arranged to go on the Crusin' the Castro walking tour of the neighborhood. Perhaps Saturday . . . .

Harvey Milk's papers--and lots of other archival materials documenting the history of LGBT San Franciscans--are held by the San Francisco Public Library. Milk was a 1951 graduate of what is now called the University at Albany, SUNY, and people interested in learning about Milk's college years may also wish to examine the columns he wrote for the Albany Student Press columns. The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives has a complete run.

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