I stumbled out of the closet. Still in a battle to accept myself and find comfort living my truth. Less than a year later, in a flash of vibrant color I found myself in the epicenter of the LGBTQ movement, the Castro District in San Francisco. Strewn with rainbow. Businesses and people wearing their pride for the world to see.
The Streets of San Francisco Bike Tour halted in heart of ‘the gay district.’ To my left one of the first gay bars with windows, Twin Peaks. Gay bars, prior to Twin Peaks, didn’t have windows to protect the identities of those inside. Behind me, a San Francisco heritage car travels the tracks around the corner to Market Street. Adjacent to us, the largest Rainbow Flag I’ve ever laid eyes on. Flying high over Harvey Milk Plaza. Only a week after Pride the entire city of San Francisco is still decked in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, but the Castro sports these vibrant colors year round.
For someone who’s still accepting themself, it’s an indescribable experience to stand there basking in the atmosphere of pride. We were only there for ten minutes, but those ten minutes were the best part of my trip. In those few minutes, standing surrounded by rainbow, I felt all my fears and hesitations about being “different” dissipate.
I hope to revisit the Castro one day, to explore the many shops and life in the district. For now, it will live in my memory as a reminder that LGBTQ is okay. I’m queer. I’m here. And I’m damn proud of it.
LGBTQ History Fact: Predating the well known 1969 Stonewall Riots in NYC, in 1966, the true start of the LGBTQ movement begun in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco during the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots. Watch Screaming Queens to learn more.