I just returned from a two week holiday in San Francisco and in typical tradition, I thought I’d share some of my favorite queer highlights of the city. I stayed at the Beck’s Motor Lodge which has an excellent location in Castro and bordering on the Mission district. It was affordable as well which is always a plus.
Castro bar scene
Qbar: This was my favorite bar in the Castro because it had such a mix of people. You could find all genders, races and sexualities there. Additionally, as it gets later they clear the tables to open up the dance floor, always a perk as after a few beers I like to put on my dancing shoes.
Badlands: Admittedly, this bar is geared more to the gay boys. I very much enjoyed it but gay boys are also my achilles heel. It was a great place to get your groove on a bit later in the evening but don’t be too late because SF bars close at 2AM!
Mix: I went to this bar two times and enjoyed it most as a Sunday Funday stop. It seemed more mixed on Sunday during the day and it was a relaxing place to be with a nice outdoor patio in the back to enjoy the California sun.
The Lexington: Ok, this is not in Castro, it is actually in the Mission district but as it is a lesbian bar, I’m lumping it in to this section. Unfortunately, it is closing down but it gets an honorary mention because it was “an institution” I am told and a fixture in the lesbian community for many years. It is a shame that they have to close their doors after so many years of service to the LGBT community. If you are in SF or visiting, get in there and support them while they are still open (until April-ish).
Other queer stuff
Castro theatre: This historic theatre shows classic films traditionally as well as with a twist. I went on a night that they were showing The Little Mermaid as a sing-a-long. It was the most fun I have ever had going to the movies. We were given goody bags upon entrance with different items that we were to use during the movie at specific points. Additionally, we were instructed at the beginning of the show to interact with the movie, singing to the songs (of course) but also yelling to Ariel if she was in trouble “look out!” or if she was about to do something stupid “don’t do it Ariel!”, etc. I would highly recommend attending one of these sing-a-long shows if you are ever in SF.
Beach Blanket Babylon: This show has been running for many years and is located in the North Beach neighborhood. It was fantastically camp as well as hilariously current with references to current political matters as well as pop culture. Additionally, for all you androgynous queerlings, there were unisex toilets!
Dolores Park: I enjoyed taking in the rays at this park, located in the Mission district. It has a lot of queers hanging out plus you can drink alcohol outside without anyone hassling you (a rarity in the US)!
I also encountered something in San Francisco that I have never seen before, hetero-cis tourists to a gay historic landmark. The night we were going to the Castro theatre, there were some young women taking pictures of each other with the large Castro sign. I felt a warmth come over my heart as I realized just how far we have come as a community. We are becoming mainstream, our historic landmarks are being recognized not for their queerness but for their historic meaning. And in a place where Harvey Milk once walked the streets, I felt some deeper sense of connection, sadness for our losses but happiness for our progress.