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Changing Face of the Castro

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in So Young Here we are at 321 Castro, which is the non Castro, and you've been here for how many years? 25. ish. And that is running the end. [00:00:17] Yeah, being here in the country longer, but running the end. And the end is probably about 32 years old as well. We're, we're thinking, meaning on the books. [00:00:29] So in that time thing, things must have changed tremendously. Yeah. [00:00:34] But you have to see where we came from, from 50s, mommy Eisenhower, and all that time, and it was, I'm sure in New Zealand and everywhere, the same roughly. We came after the Second World War, and everybody was so prim and proper and all driven. Then the 60s came in where everything was possible. And it was all about love. And, and that changed the Summer of Love here in the 60s. It was all in the in the Haight, [00:01:00] which is one hill [00:01:02] over and that's basically where the gay scene kind of gravitated to, because it was, you know, all was possible. So in other words, lots of handsome young men out there, that were not sure what they were and then love was lava didn't matter, we didn't label it, then it was all fine. What happened then though, is dark started becoming from soft drugs becoming hard drugs, and then a change the neighborhood and the artistically inclined, moved up the coast, those that like to do a little harvest themselves. And so along Mendocino you, you got a tremendous arts community that came out of that? tremendous because some of the artists can, you know, demand hundred thousand for a beautiful piece of furniture and just exquisitely carved. The gay scene move from the hate to hear because a we all love good weather. And that's the only reason brother we have here in the summer months, meaning you get to see some sun. And there was great infrastructure because the software had just opened up. And so this Irish community slowly changed into more and more, a gay community became more gay than ever when aids started hitting us. And this became kind of the core and this is kind of where San Francisco is known for as the gay center. And that was based on the Castro. The number of people gay here was, I would say close to 85, if not 90%. That has changed over the years, of course now. There's more straights in last 10 years of women started coming in, which was a great thing. It was always lesbian still, but they were able to cross the glass ceiling in corporate America, therefore, they could afford them to live here because by the time we started getting expensive, the women used to then live along Valencia street or on Bernal heights, which was known as less borough Hill. And so that's where the smaller cottages we have the houses here they have the cottages. And so that's still lesbian Hill is still more or less Bernal Heights is still a very lesbian. That's where you find the prams and the dogs. And in that, I mean, the four legged kind. And then here in the neighborhood, you find less prams and more dogs, but that's a combination of two and four legged ones. Yeah. [00:03:35] So it's basically [00:03:38] now more and more the 40 plus years straight coming in having a decent income because both working one say in the IT world and for that that could be either in the internet world or the computer world. Down the peninsula or, in general, the women tend to be more into human resources downtown. From nice started here, it was relatively cheap. Now we're getting people that are coming in, in our neighborhood that change buildings from the inside out, basically, they leave the structure in place, but totally got it. And now we're getting into the time of gentrification, with two and a half million dollar buildings that are not totally the style of the neighborhood choose to be. But they come here, most of them tend to be New York is the by this because from where they come that it's cheaper. And they want the bells and whistles and the whole thing, but they liked the somewhat grittiness of our neighborhood. We're not really gritty, but there isn't a little bit of an air of we're not not as polished suburbia look. And so since the weather's gotten, you have great infrastructure, meaning the connection with public transit to downtown and connection to the symphony and song. It's, it's a very desirable neighborhood. But still thank God about I would say 75% gay. [00:05:05] Yeah. So so there's still ladies from the past, because we had an proposition, score 37 I think it was, that allow people to pay taxes over there real estate when they buy it. And that was to protect people, all the ladies that end up living alone, not being forced out of their community out of the neighborhood. So you have still the old earliest ladies that are still living here, up to you know, the queens and so it's becoming more a mixed society, which is what you want, you don't want this total segregation of us and them straight and gay, you know, as it used to be in the olden times, you know, lesbians here, boys there, you know, just become more of what life is in general and a melting pot for all. So it just isn't there's a nice, free thinking society [00:06:05] that embraces all differences, [00:06:09] celebrates all those differences [00:06:12] in you know, and that is not exclusively only the Castro, it isn't the city overall, that seems to be more or less, overall more to permeate. If you read Tales of the City, the books, it's it's pretty much a reflection of day to day life then. And that more or less continues, which is a delight. [00:06:35] Can you paint a picture of what the Castro was like in the late 70s and early 80s? [00:06:42] Well, [00:06:43] wild, [00:06:46] maybe a little too wild for its own good, you know, but you have to see, as I said before, came from the natural progression was coming from mommy eyes an hour and no flesh, and no, you know, me proper to flower power, which is loving one and another for who we are, and indeed, having a good time with one another and not judge as much. But that went haywire went too far as the pendulum always does. And so it was [00:07:21] for a while a little too wild here [00:07:24] for its own good. And the pendulum swung back, but not as far as that it did in other parts of the country where it became very pious, again, only the now it has always had that real sense, this whole spirit of freedom, and that allows people to be and although it's tuned down now, it's not as wild now, which I think is better. [00:07:51] We have an edge here. [00:07:55] We've seen some wonderful archival clips on YouTube of my marches in the late 70s and early 80s. Around around the Syria, I mean, it must have been quite amazing, actually. I mean, you're literally 10 steps down from the corner of market. And [00:08:11] it was [00:08:14] there was a lot of still repression here. And part wise was that also you have to see that there wasn't an economy going on in the in a lot of people don't see that part is that you haven't been very Catholic Irish community that all of a sudden gets all these wild and really wild men and half naked walking up and down and so on. There was resentment there as well. Well, guess what the police was build up 80% Irish. So there was an anger there too, which was expressed to you know, in terms of when there were rates coming into the cast, or as well, they're taking over, however, we paid for their properties market value [00:09:00] they can get [00:09:05] in on Castro, this issue can help [00:09:07] you. [00:09:11] Sure. Right. [00:09:14] So we were we were just mentioning that the marches that we've seen on YouTube. Hmm, hmm. [00:09:21] Well, that's the beginning of AIDS crisis. And when people started falling down, when nobody knew what happened, or, and then the amazing thing was, it was just like, one doesn't comprehend that somebody, quote unquote, has the bug, and three months, you don't see them, they're an old person, they look like 18 years old, and then the next time they're gone, you know, and so there were so many that died. And, you know, we're quite, we've are quite a substantial part of the city, it's less now. So percentage wise, then when I used to be. But, you know, there was nothing else anywhere else, you know, one came to San Francisco was kind of like I'm going to Mecca. Now, because every city has a gay district, or an area where one more tends to congregate and live. That is less so the percentage has gone down politically, because we were so very vocal and demanding, you know, fairly so to be seen and to be appreciated. And we became very strong in being represented in in the Board of Supervisors, that is the board that it's right under the mayor. I don't know what the equivalent will be in New Zealand. But so they're not running the city. It's just an abuse to be direct representation of neighborhoods. Then after Harvey Milk got killed and and the more members Connie who put him out there as a replacement, he both boys were killed. They changed the system in which now was an all city overall election direct election. And because we're we knew that if you wanted to implement change, you have to get involved. The Gay vote became the big throat in the city. Straight didn't matter that much. Black was hardly Bala was represented, but not in the numbers that we were. So we were actually prorate a much stronger represented on the board of supervisors, we would have out of 1211 or 12, we had six, I think, so I didn't end there was all gay boys and girls, and it's the girls that have done historically the best in going further and further state level. Really, tremendous people came out of that time, our main, who's now then the state senator, Feinstein, all came out of that she became the new mayor after the killing of the mayor and Harvey and so that that changed things a lot, we knew we had to be there, we needed to do you wanted to have changed, you have to be proactive and, and stay connected and continue giving money to the different courses to get ahead. But in the meantime, this this political involvement and political growth, all these people started dying around us, you know, and it was in the beginning, particularly awkward, because we didn't know what was happening. And you wanted to claim your insurance and you were forced to move over in a different possible card, because you your insurance would cancel your insurance, or bring the insurance that high that you couldn't afford it anymore, the ugliness of that ultimately, corrected itself. But in the beginning, as anything goes in the beginning, it's haphazardly and [00:13:08] little ugly, [00:13:10] it must have been quite tough, I mentioned the very rapid decline of people, [00:13:16] you cannot [00:13:18] understand that somebody can die in such a short period of time, particularly when people are in the in the, you know, in the fullest part of their life and highly energetic and, you know, you have all of life in front of us youth is arrogant about life, assumes that it will go on forever, it was just you know, we would have the gay rag to be our will be full. With 50 people dying, you know, every week just was awful. And that's then changed over time when ultimately we figured out a the psychology offered. Because my mood saying the beginning Oh God, I have so many counts of, you know, white blood cells, and oh, my God, oh, my God, that people started getting out of that a little bit, realizing that that was not the one and only going thing in the psychology had to be along with it. And then thank God, protests and averages were discovered. And that brought us to where we're at now, where we were back to the new normal, say, four or five people that pass in our community, per week, that are advertised in the obituaries. But for the rest, that doesn't mean that aids have stopped. And as we've said, before, there's still an arrogance with youth that, you know, they think it's an old man's disease, but it's still there, you know? So it will repeat itself, I'm sure several generations to will find an answer. No. And you just hope that we learn from the lessons to now I have to say, sadly, that we haven't within the gay scene, there's still too much. [00:15:12] Yeah. unprotected sex, you know, so. [00:15:20] But, you know, that's us living on the edge, I assume. But it's, it's sad, because it shouldn't, you know, we should all be very practical, practical about it. And particularly when you are somebody you don't know, intimately or know that it's good to have a rubber around. [00:15:44] What was it like, when they just didn't know how people were being infected? And and what could be done? Well, [00:16:01] can I say this, now, it's part of living, maybe we're, we were a little cavalier about it in the beginning. Because we'd never had this kind of pandemic, if you look at the numbers really look at the numbers, people don't want to look really because it is too much in your face. And it's better to kind of push it a little bit away and not really face it. But it is a pandemic, or was a pandemic. It's frightening, United scares everybody. And so what you had here was people, one of the side effects, if you want to call the rise of people started moving out of the city, to the burps, to the heartland of the right wing, black, or blue collar, [00:16:53] oh, when I'm away, then I won't get it kind of approach. There's always [00:16:58] denial at that. And, [00:17:05] you know, didn't change anything. [00:17:08] That was there was there to, to be dealt with and went with a huge cost, huge cost. And the numbers that people have died, it's kind of like, you know, I don't want to say the Black Death, but we've had the influence that really killed an awful lot of people. And it's it's on that level when there were major major diseases. So it wasn't fun. And as the Castro became an old folks home, you looked around in a certain point, it looked like Castro was for a retirement community, you know, everybody looked old. And, and they weren't, but that's how it looked like. And took about 10 years before the new john young generation started coming back and saying, like, you know, we have to move on. But as I said, naive as they were not totally realizing what they were doing, and thought, well, we wouldn't get it. Until they started dropping. And then we had to do the whole routine of say, sex parties of, you know, explaining how things need to be done what you need to do to be, you know, to be able to live as a gay man and enjoy yourself on all levels, but still be responsible. But here we are 2008. And life has improved itself, in many ways. And, you know, then we had no examples, it was always about a legal edge to it, you know, what you read in newspapers was about, you know, perverts and we are dressing people. And, you know, all you song TV was, you know, gay liberation parade with everybody in drag. And the assumption was, that's what it was to be gay. And they did not understand that there's so many facets, you know, what you call normal people are just as much there as well. And so that now, since we have gay characters on TV, and that taboo is broke, and the word is out, and it's fine. We have nothing God for our local ambassador, Mr. Hormel, who was willing to take us know stick his neck out and fought republican at that point in opposition during the last years of the Clinton administration, to get an openly gay man, as an ambassador, was not accepted before that you could be closeted, that was fine, but not openly. And once that was approved, that was fine, as it always goes, then then we're then Republican Party, they can accept it as well. And then they have in their own ranks, openly gay men as well, you know, not flaming greens as well. I'm talking about professional man, but you know, that happened to live in homosexual open homosexual life. So and So yeah, they've had tremendous changes, which is for the better. for everybody. I think, you know, diversity is good. It's natural. [00:20:29] And now, just like a week ago, California opened up the marriage. [00:20:34] Boy. [00:20:36] And that's another step in the right direction. [00:20:41] Of course, the question is, who's going to compete with the divorces [00:20:46] at your home? Oh. [00:20:50] But, you know, that's, that's another story. But yeah, yeah. Well, it's, it's about rights. And it's as simple as now. And marriage at City Hall has nothing to do about religion, it's an it's a contract. Simple as that. And everybody has to have the right to have that contract. It's better for quote, unquote, family values, [00:21:13] you know, for when you're two together, [00:21:15] and it can be man and woman, woman, man, man, whatever, you know, it is a contract. If you want to go to the church, that's your story, then you go to the church, different story. But this is, you know, and that is, before it was no, but all the excuses that were held on was the same all the excuses for having blacks, not photos equal, and all the same thing, all the same thing it is about equality, and equality needs to be for all. So this is an egg, again, another step, another great step forward for California. And as things go, and, you know, with the rest of the events, [00:21:58] starts from California [00:21:59] flips over and this case that started actually in New Hampshire and Vermont, but ultimately got momentum here. Empire dress has to do with, you know, our openly representatives in the state and local levels, that have been pushing pushing for equality and brought it all the way this is Lino. That is Megan, that is Brune from down south. [00:22:28] And it was a matter of time, but [00:22:31] now it's gonna flip back over to the east coast again, it's just and then slowly, as it had did with the 60s, the wild stuff started here went over to New York, and then 10 years later, it's reaching the Midwest. So it is somewhat the same there. It's a big country there. [00:22:50] takes a while. [00:22:51] And that's true with with many things, you know, I mean, you can't blame people that are conservative that they are because oftentimes, they don't know any better. Coming from myself from a farming stock in a military town, well, not much activity was put into creativity and painting and art and all of that stuff. And so you don't know any better. And that's the beauty of city is the diversity that it creates. And this is where we have to be so careful of also with our environment is not to kill the diversity, you know, that isn't forests, that isn't oceans, everywhere, the same as not to which human humanity has a tendency to office, just harvest kill it all, instead of looking in what the Native American that is, you know, you you selectively so that there will be something left for the next generation. So but it seems to be a human trait, call it greed, whatever it is, you know, quick, quick back, you know, so. But yeah, now wherever I was afraid that during the republican years, we would have a backlash. And that didn't happen at all, you know, just just dislike it, the other is a consciousness. And we've expanded and once the genies out of the bottle, you can put it back in. And that's a wonderful thing to know that, you know, progression does exist and continuous. And part of that is the diversity that comes along with it, the broader way of looking at things from Armenia, [00:24:28] Eisenhower, very narrow and [00:24:30] very limited, when we didn't know anybody better because we had either brown bread or white bread. And that was it. And now we're eating 50 different kinds of breads, what kind of a bread Do you want. And that's where we're in here with diversity in terms of humanity is knowing that nothing needs to be hushed anymore, you have now the next move, of course, was the transgender step. And which we were fortunate we have a hospital nearby that is doing that. That is family ization of the skull so that somebody who goes as male most of the time tend to be straight male, going in and getting transferred into the female. They've done a whole series of steps before they come to this hospital. And then to get from male to female, their grind the skull, or the jaw bones get adjusted and cut and and that's another step again, in to following your heart. And that is, I think, if there is no one lesson in your life, that is follow your heart, or logic that takes one on one is too. But if you listen to your heart and says yes, but something isn't totally right, that you connect to a wisdom out there that tells you back off to key not to make a decision for a while. And I think this is where we're getting more and more. There's a sensitivity now out there that is willing to look at the world as we live in a larger [00:26:04] from a larger perspective, that allows people to be who they are. [00:26:12] And not take notes being redneck or whatever, and just to see that we're coming all from different perspective, but the innate person is good. And that comes from following your heart, you know, and just listening to that inner voice. And you get there where you need to be, you know, and you'll be happier and therefore, those that are around you will be happier. So it's if there's one thing my granny told me, just I think that's that, you know, follow your bliss as a local American philosopher, USA.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio. It is not a transcript, it has not been checked by humans and will contain many errors. However it is useful for searching on keywords and themes.