When I tell anyone who’s familiar with San Francisco that I live in the Castro, I inevitably get one of two responses:
1.) “So was there any particular reason that you chose to live in that neighborhood?” The shrouded “Are you gay?” inquiry that I get from straights and gays alike, as though I would casually come out to them over a chat about housing in the city, were I in fact gay.
2.) ”Oh your favorite thing about living in the Castro must be that you never get it on by creepy dudes.” This is actually not—can you believe it?— my favorite thing about my neighborhood. And it’s not true. I was once asked out by an Arnold Schwarzenegger look alike when walking my dog.
Him: Nice dog. Me: Thanks. Him: Want to go out sometime? Me: I don’t do that. //and… scene.
But why the Castro? The answer to why I moved here is that after months of searching, I found my dream apartment (and roommates).
But the answer to why I live here (and hope to stay here) is much deeper than a great apartment. And since I know how to count, I’ve summed it up in a tidy list:
1.) The homies
This neighborhood is truly a community, unlike anywhere I’ve ever lived or visited. I know most of the local shop owners, baristas, and neighbors by name. I even know the names of their dogs (well, in some cases, I only know the names of their dogs but that counts for something.) And age doesn’t matter– we’re all friends, sharing the human experience. When I first moved here, I was surprised to see that parties and events are advertised with fliers on electrical poles. While this might seem archaic, the sentiment is that everyone in the hood is invited to the party. (Well that and that we need a better communication system.)
2.) Anything goes. And everything shows.
Typically on Sundays–not sure why it’s Sundays– I see men that are 97% naked walking down the street; (the remaining 3% = socks, shoes, and a penis sock, actual name of this article of clothing remains unknown to author.) Why do I love this? Is it because I love naked people? Yes but no. It’s mostly because it is the epitome of the DGAF mentality of the Castro. Wearing gnome-patterned pajama pants tucked into Uggs when you take your dog out to pee at 2 AM? No problem! Wearing a Lady Gaga tee shirt from high school with inappropriately short neon pink cutoffs? You go girl!
This attitude prevails beyond just attire and is what assuages my occasional fears that I’m weird. I’m talking to my dog? Nobody cares. I’m at CVS for the fifth time this week? Nobody cares. While I’m used to be someone who rarely GAFFED (GAF= opposite DGAF), now, like my neighbors I never GAF.
3.) Everyone likes little dogs.
I’m so sick of the (classically straight guy) bullshit mentality that, “Small dogs are ok but I like big dogs better.” Small dogs are fucking awesome. You can bring them everywhere! Their food costs less! Their shit is smaller! In the Castro, people only accept small dogs, they worship them. And I worship our hood.
4.) Long-time residents aren’t jaded.
While some activists/ extremists complain about the changing demographics of the Castro, there are fewer people complaining that “it’s not what it once was” than there are in most other neighborhoods. And, from my experience, many of the long-time residents are actually happy over some of the redevelopment and revitalization. It might bring with it new and sometimes *gasp* straight people, but mostly everyone here is chill with us new kids on the block. And revitalization comes with some perks.
Yes, there is a housing crisis. But all cities change over time. And if you are one of the residents who is fortunate enough to have a rent-controlled apartment, to own your home, or to be able to afford your rent, count your blessings, instead of bitching about how much your hood is changing. Or move somewhere that you won’t complain about instead! //end rant.
5.) It’s always sunny.
But that’s just icing on the big penis (and venus) cookies at Hot Cookie.