gays in San Francisco : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

How did the gay movment spread in San Francisco?Why SAn FRancisco? I just need some experienced person opinion about that.

-- NoŽlla (, November 29, 2001


I am really very surprised that no one has answered this question. Perhaps it is just too big and difficult in scope to answer. But I will try to answer it in a general way. First of all, because San Francisco is a port city, it has lots of difficult cultures coming through and many setting their roots here. In order for everyone to get along, attitudes have to change. People have to establish an attitude of some kind of tolerance. So San Francisco out of necessity has had to be a liberal town at least compared to say the mid west part of the U.S. -- Secondly, homosexuality has always existed. In the Greek era of history, being married, having a mistress and having a homosexual lover were considered living a full life. Many of the Greeks had spent day and night philosphizing and thinking about their moral lives and had really taken their intelectual level to a degree that had never been approached. And even in the scientific areas Archimedes had approached many of the basic fundamentals of science that we just built upon. For example, atomic theory as well as the basics for the first jet engine. What I'm trying to say here is that more thought had been put into their moral way of life then ever before and for many years since and that they had taken human relationships beyond the point of homosexuality where homosexuality was just a part of their life and not exclusive of everything else in their relationships. Again, Greece and Athens were basically port towns which meshed cultures and thought throughout the world at that time. -- So in San Francisco, you had many cultures and a very liberal attitude of tolerance and the gay people came being more tolerated than most other cities in the U.S. In fact, in some cities in the U.S. if you were suspected of being gay, you could not only be run out of town but murdered as well. -- There were a number of large military basis here in World War II and many of those men were gay. They found more gay men here than in many of the places they came from and more tolerant too so after the war they decided to stay here. So your basic gay community sprung up from the soldiers of World War II. Now the rest of California began to notice this and more gays started coming in and set up underground gay organizations, clubs, bars, newspapers and magazines. Why they moved to the Castro District was simply because there were lots of Irish families who lived there first and made lots of money and decided that there were better places to live outside of San Francisco to raise their families. It had to do with having the access to the automobiles and being able to afford better places to live. The Chinese could have moved to this area as well but they had had enough of the congestion of the inner city and so wanted to get away from that area and moved to the outer parts of the city. Now as more gays moved into the Castro they started becoming a strong political force and the mayors of the city began to take notice like it or not. Even in the 1950s, the mayor of San Franciso at that time was taking a huge amount of heat for letting at these gay organizations flourish and not stopping them in their tracks. He had no choice because he knew the influence they had in the election even during that time. The city had so many other things happening during this period that the gay movement was almost completely overshadowed. In fact, the town was more pissed off with the hippy movement than anything else. A lot of people wanted to shoot the hippies. So quietly with without any noise during all the cities troubles and turmoil, the gay movement became strong and stronger and more gays began moving in. Finally, by 1973, there were almost 1000 gay organizations in San Francisco. The gay community was not only gay but they were very inclined to form organizations to establish more power in every category of their lives and so they did. Harvey Milk, became their leader and was elected a supervisor of San Francisco. Mayor Moscone tread very careful grounds and tried as much as he could to appease the gays in order to win the election. Another supervisor, Dan White, found this form of politics obscene and stood hard and fast against the gay community. White's district was primarily anti-gay so he won his seat as a supervisor. It caused tremendous tension between Dan White and Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone and when Moscone got a chance to get rid of him, he did. White was infuriated and took the law in his own hands. And you know the rest.

-- Harry Murphy (, December 05, 2001.

Harry, that was excellent. I would just add also that the hippie movement played a part the acceptance and freedom of gays. Many of the hippie shops on Haight Street and leaders were gay. In fact two of my best friends who were gay/hippies were perhaps the first couple to move to Castro street in 1965. Also Universities attract liberal, experimental young people and Sf has 5 Universities. Another interesting thought is that in during the Gold Rush it was 95% men. In mostly male societies, homosexuality flourishes. In fact,a homosexual man might be more likely to set out from the establishe East Coast to look for gold and not have to leave a family or wife or even have to get married in the first place. SF has attracted individuals and risk- takers, people who didn't want to follow the rules of

-- Craig Smith (, December 06, 2001.

I thank really much both of you for these great explanations, i just don't understand why you stopped in the middle of a sentence Craig. Wait for the end.

-- NoŽlla (, December 06, 2001.

Follow the rules of what Craig? OF WHAT YOU SON OF A BITCH??

-- johnny cock doodle (, July 09, 2004.

I know this question was asked over three years ago, but I wanted to thank the two guys for the answer. Really, an eye-opener. Thank you.

-- Victor Ly (, October 23, 2004.

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