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San Francisco, Paris of the West, part 3

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 17, 2013

Gay folks are just folk. For the most part, they just want to live and let live, and a surprising number of them are quite traditional and conservative. Witness the embrace of gay marriage by the gay community.

A former friend of mine continues to rant and rail against gays who’ve “betrayed” their “gayness.” For this faux friend, who’s bi and mired in bourgeois alcoholism, the pre-AIDS gay life of the 1970s was the height of liberation, and any acceptance or endorsement of “middle-class” marriage within a gay context is worse than betrayal. It’s blasphemy and abomination, in an anti-religious sense of course.

This is incredibly tiresome, coming from someone who professes to be a freedom loving, leave me alone libertarian type. But enough about him. There’s plenty to be critical of about the San Francisco gay community, without having to mention gay marriage. I mean, personally, and even though I think Gavin Newsom is a dick, I was kind of jazzed when he initiated gay marriage in San Francisco as the mayor. Let’s move on, though.

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GAY PRIDE PARADE AND BRADLEY MANNING

The somewhat innocuous attempt to name Bradley Manning Grand Marshall of the 2013 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade raised a shitstorm from a staid SF Pride Board that stalled, maneuvered, and ultimately overturned the nomination of Bradley Manning. The SF Gay Pride Parade is festooned with corporate sponsorship, from Budweiser to Wells Fargo, and this has given the event a decidedly conservative, pro-business atmosphere despite all the drunken nudity and Dykes On Bikes.

The Bradley Manning contingent was large and spirited. Daniel Ellsberg acted as a surrogate Bradley Manning Grand Marshall and waved to the crowds wearing a pink boa. But, to be frank, the overturning of Proposition 8 by the Supreme Court overshadowed everything else on that day. Chelsea Manning (nee Bradley) languishes in the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth to this day, an American political prisoner and prisoner of conscience.

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HALLOWEEN IN THE CASTRO

I stopped blogging on October 10, 2007 when, at the time, I wondered about the lack of a plan on the part of the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Police Department to deal with the “threat” of the annual Castro Halloween street party. Well, it’s been six years, and the City and SFPD has successfully quashed that once vibrant, extremely large and rambunctious street celebration. People still dress up in costume and wander about the Castro, but the streets are no longer blocked off, the police are out in force, public drinking and nudity are severely dealt with, and the whole affair has become a sad relic of former glory days.

The gay community’s acquiescence to the City’s and SFPD’s efforts to bridle and tame this party should not go unmentioned. Indeed, this was a blow to the wild party spirit of San Francisco in general, from the aboveground nightlife of bars and clubs to the underground scene of shows and raves. Hanging out in the Castro on Halloween is only slightly naughtier than going out trick-or-treating with the kids. Oh well, such is life.

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