November 2nd, 2002


SF's second biggest holiday

jactitation and I left the city on Halloween to celebrate her birthday. There’s really no way to celebrate a birthday in San Francisco on Halloween. Except for Pride it’s the city’s biggest holiday and we live close enough to ground zero to feel the need to flee before dark. This year sounded particularly bad. It was the biggest Castro St. party ever: 300,000 people estimated at 60-70% from out of town. Four people got stabbed, 30 arrested and some of the local media was blaming the "Latino gangs".
I need to remind myself that in the ‘80s, before I lived in SF, I would often come in to the Castro for Halloween. But that was when it was a much more queer event and less THE PLACE TO BE (aka a night that straight people feel they can come to the Castro without fear). Of course, I’m sure that even then the original organizers were decrying the outsiders and the dilution of what was once a modest (yet totally immodest) street party. One of the most amusing parts of that was seeing all of our closeted teachers wearing next to nothing and partying down. The code of silence was still in effect back then: if we were both there, we both remained silent.

My favorite Halloween was in 1990 when Larry Lea decided to preach against homosexuals. A huge ACT UP/Queer Nation protest met him at the SF Civic Center and then the protest marched en masse to the Castro for the after-protest party. I went with friends that year as "St. Patrick’s Day". We drank a lot, acted obnoxiously to people not dressed in costumes, and assured concerned citizens that we weren’t dressed as Irish people but that "everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day." We balked at puking up green beer and corned beef.

The next year, unfortunately was the ill-fated green makeup and tin foil "space alien" costume. After about a half hour the tin foil started ripping and we resembled rotting leftovers in the back of the fridge rather than people from Mars. Which, actually, would have been a much better costume.

But that was 1991 and the last time I really attended the Castro Halloween party. The problem now is that a vast majority of the crowd comes just to gawk and see what the queers (non-reclamation usage) are wearing, often while making sexist and homophobic comments. The idea that "Latino gangs" instead of drunken white frat boy types are the problem is laughable to anyone who’s ever attended the street party