“There’s an old saying in San Francisco: Market Street is straight, until it reaches the Castro. Cartographically true, it refers to the city’s famously gay mecca. But these days, there are concerns that the neighborhood is becoming slightly less bent.”
Change With a Straight Face Barrels Into the Castro [New York Times]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by sf

    An “old saying?” Hasn’t the Castro been gay for only 40 years?
    And I love the Times quoting a British tourist about SF life “Lime is the only place like LA in San Francisco” riiiiiiight.
    The Different Light closed for the same reason Borders closed (or was it Barnes and Noble? I’m sure they’ll both be out by the end of this year anyway). Not because the straights are moving into the neighborhood.
    I welcome my hetero friends with open arms into the Castro (even though I don’t live there and don’t like to visit- not my scene). Inclusion is what we need more of. I find it uplifting that straight people want to spend time and money in the Castro.

  2. Posted by jimmy

    ‘can’t we all just get along?’

  3. Posted by A.T.

    So there are two facts here:
    1) a gay bookstore closes – see sf’s take on that.
    2) and there is a single bar/restaurant that’s on the edge of the Castro that is very popular with (presumptively) straight young adults and it is kind of crowded and rowdy for Sunday brunch.
    From that, the author draws the conclusion that the Castro is becoming less gay. Weak journalism at best. Sunday afternoon “tea dancing” with lots of drinking is a long-standing Castro tradition.

  4. Posted by ex SF-er

    The movement of gays out of the Castro started LONG ago… it was happening a lot by the early to mid 1990s… when a lot of gay people moved from Castro into Bernal Heights and Potrero and what not.
    we called it “gay gentrification” where there would be a transitional nabe, gay people and artists would move in and spruce it up, it would become hip, then straight people would move in, then it would become expensive, then gay people would move out to a different neighborhood and make that the new gay neighborhood.
    Much of the same thing happened with Boys Town in Chicago, Midtown in Atlanta, Hillcrest in SD, the Village in NYC, and so on. (these areas are still very gay but not as much as they once were).
    one thing that has changed somewhat though: it seems like Gay people in general are much more accepted than they once were. Thus, there is not as much of a need for the Gay neighborhood as there once was. This is not to say that life is always as easy for LGBT people as it is for straight people… only that it is much better than it was back even 15 years ago.
    I remember a time when gay people literally were not safe outside of the gay-borhood. Now it’s much less of a big deal. (again, not that gay bashing doesn’t happen… I had a friend bashed in the Marina last year).
    also: it seems that technology has changed things a lot. back in the day when there was no internet and cell phones etc it was more important to live by your social group. Now, a lot of socializing happens on Facebook and the various Dating sites etc…
    in sum: life has changed. thus, neighborhoods will change as well. Both “gay” and “straight” ones.
    not sure I’d make too much of it…

  5. Posted by embarcadero

    I’m delighted that we don’t need spatially defined territories to house our Others. That was a vestige of another world, one whose fading I do not mourn.
    The Castro hasn’t been gay for very long at all. Polk gulch was (and still is) gay before gay went upscale and middle class

  6. Posted by Eric Panzer

    This article is much heat and little light. It’s hard to say whether this is the fault of the writer, or just a reflection of the schizophrenic nature of San Francisco’s attitudes toward just about anything.
    Either way, the information-imparted to length ratio is pretty low; and yet there’s so much wrong here I don’t think I can adequately respond to it all–but here’s a quick try:
    Vomiting is an equal opportunity result of binge drinking. It shouldn’t be surprising that the increased popularity of this place correlates with more puke puddles.
    The closure of LGBT-themed stores in collapsing retail sectors is not evidence that the neighborhood is being de-queered.
    The fact that more heterosexuals are coming to the Castro is a sign of increasing acceptance. We should be celebrating this rather than rallying to raise the rainbow drawbridge.
    Societal acceptance or not, the extreme minority status of LGBT individuals is likely to drive us to congregate in certain neighborhoods for many, many years to come. If there’s any threat to the Castro’s status as one of these places, it’s the cost of housing–not any supposed onslaught of mimosa chugging hetero masses.

  7. Posted by Willow

    “On one recent Sunday the club’s exasperated doorman, who looked like a male Grace Jones, was seen struggling to control the crowd to little avail.”
    A male Grace Jones? Kind of redundant, isn’t it?

  8. Posted by sfrenegade

    And I love the Times quoting a British tourist about SF life “Lime is the only place like LA in San Francisco” riiiiiiight.
    That limey bastard. Also, there are plenty of places in Frisco that are just like LA, to the chagrin of many people here (mostly transplants). :p
    Only in SF would people think it’s a bad thing that the gay population is so accepted in SF that we no longer need a gay ghetto here.
    Furthermore, “the rent is too damn high” in the Castro. $2M 2BR houses, as featured here in SocketSite, will deter all kinds of people, gay or straight.

  9. Posted by kthnxybe

    Oh, dear, a NYT trend piece? Why are we even talking about this?

  10. Posted by mktwatcher

    I agree with AT; lame journalism. While the drunken 20-somethings in the ‘hood on Sat and Sun afternoon are annoying, I find the empty storefronts to be the larger story here. Hayes Valley and Valencia are booming and the Castro is in decline. The local officials should be asking what those 2 neighborhoods are doing right and trying to import that juju.

  11. Posted by sanfrantim

    Less vomiting on the sidewalk would be a good thing. $8 to drink all the vodka you can hold (until you can’t)? At what point do we hold bars accountable for damage/nuisance caused by their patrons?

  12. Posted by Stucco-sux

    I actually like this reporter. He’s made an effort to cover interesting topics and doesn’t tow the PC line like so many of the blog-based “new journalism” hacks — Mission L@cal being among the most propagandist…
    As for the story itself, its actually an interesting subject because the Castro isn’t just becoming more “straight,” its becoming less interesting, less of the anachronism it was for decades. Its one of the sweetest neighborhoods in the city, but that sweetness is giving way to a kind of douche “Jersey Shore” crowd that ruins it for everyone else.
    Its hard to tell that story to people who don’t frequent the neighborhood and make it relevant to those who do.
    But those who do know the neighborhood know exactly what the article is covering. The end of civility in what was one of SF’s most civile enclaves.

  13. Posted by Kurt Brown

    I won’t comment on the straight/gay angle of the story, but I walk by Lime all the time, and it’s the 5th circle of hell. I can’t wait till that place implodes in a bridge-and-tunnel Jersey Shore inspired drunken vat of all-you-can-drink vomit. I don’t care what your sexual preference is, that place would be a blight on any neighborhood.
    If my point was too subtle, just let me know, and I’ll be more explicit next time.

  14. Posted by lol

    I pass by Lime every day, and I sometimes meet some friends at the coffee shop 2 doors down. I agree with the article some neighborhood businesses are pretty vocal against the crowd. Customers look mostly B&Ts or Marina types, also a big proportion is Asian, all looking for fun. As a straight guy living in the area, I am not too sensitive on the issue of more or less straight and what it ultimately means for the neighborhood. When I lived in North Beach I didn’t see many Italians still speaking their language. everything changes. Gay is going mainstream and this is very positive for their community I think. Less ghetto, more diversity, a richer experience for everyone.

  15. Posted by curmudgeon

    LOL Kurt you are so right. (So is Stucco-sux, and many other commentators). The article is lame.
    One of the curious unexamined issues is that the owner of Lime (Greg Bronstein) is gay, and has owned several gay bars in the neighborhood. But that would complicate the story line… The fact that Lime is targeted largely to straights is way less an issue (to me) than the fact the Mr. Bronstein is an irresponsible businessman, encouraging the rude and obnoxious behavior in the neighborhood, which is incredibly disprespectful to his fellow merchants and neighbors.
    Lack of civility, indeed.

  16. Posted by People behaving badly

    So join the club…Western SOMA residential neighborhoods (yes there are people and families living here) have been a odds with club owners who fail to take responsibility for their patrons. Frankly some club owners don’t give a damm and will say anything to keep pulling in the dollars. The only difference is that the problem is magnitudes worse and happens starting at 11pm until 3am on any given night.

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