I love the Castro.
I remember my first day here -- ever: Castro Street Fair 1986.
"Wow," said the wide-eyed Virginia transplant, hoping things would graft, "I love this place," and spent the next year moving.
That was my plan: love the place; plan to move; find a job.
It all worked out.
This weekend, walking through the Castro, talking to my neighbors (some I knew; some I just met) about the No Halloween in the Castro public safety campaign I fell in love all over again with my neighborhood...my HOME.
Everywhere I went, I spoke with people PASSIONATE about the "94114"; passionate about this year's Halloween plans; passionate about keeping safe 'the 'stro.'
"You know," an elderly lesbian told me in the Castro nail boutique, waiting while her lover of 20+ years had a manicure, "I used to enjoy Halloween, but not anymore." She nodded gravely, and somewhat sadly, as if talking about how recent Halloweens gone-so-wrong reminded her of ones past that seemed to go so right.
Let me just state for the record (cue Sister Sledge soundtrack), that as a member of the "Castro family" I'm saying "not anymore" too.
Not anymore to people treating our home as a place to point and poke.
Not anymore for us to "invite" the world to our home and then not feel at home anymore.
Not anymore to people getting shot because a party that once was ours has come to be an excuse for violence and bigotry.
Not anymore to feeling unsafe in the safe space that generations of lesbians, the transgendered, gay men, bi-sexuals and our friends in the het world have created in this little valley punctuated by the sign at 18th & Castro.
So -- this year, the party HAS been cancelled, and it makes me sad, you bet. But, my job is clear: make sure that as many people as possible know that the Castro is NOT inviting the world in on this Halloween night. We are staying home for Halloween, and we want others too as well.
Later this evening, the tired feet of "HomeForHalloween" postering behind, I got an email from a fellow Castro-ite. It was passionate, opinionated and above all CONCERNED. It's full of ideas of how to move ahead with Halloween 2008. With the writer's permission, I share some of his ideas here in the hopes that such thoughts will lead us to a place we ALL want to call "Home for Halloween" next year.
Everyone knows Halloween has to change for the better, and fast. I've witnessed 12 of them from my home here in the Castro. It is from living here and working here, day in and day out, that I've observed the collective gay "we" are responsible for how it got started, letting it get out of control, and now "we" have to fix it. I offer a solution: If you're a business owner: Sponsor the UnHoly Castro Costume Contest with prizes of big cash, an iphone, cruise tix, (or at least donate a "fabulous" prize for the costume contest.) If you're a community member: Lead the "grass roots" revolution of getting gays to take responsibility for the Castro, by actually getting involved and doing something. If you're LGBTQI: Welcome to the neighborhood, it's good to see you. GRASS ROOTS: If the word gets out, it will spread like wildfire and we'll have all kinds of new energy for Halloween in the Castro. Inclusion. Participation. Cause. Belonging. Acceptance. Celebration. Community. Integrity. THAT'S WHY WE CAME HERE.
Thanks my friend - I know we disagree on some of this year's plans, but I'm so proud to be a part of a community that calls you a part of it. We both want the same thing. I didn't meet anyone as I walked through my -- OUR -- neighborhood that felt otherwise.
PS -- your "link du jour". For lots of other reasons to stay Home for Halloween this year, check out the website www.hauntedbay.com. It's great!