We knew the Mission was the best place to get a burrito, but apparently it's also the best place to get a burrito, and by that we mean that the Mission was chosen as S.F.'s best gayborhood, according to a recent Out Traveler contest.
And we didn't even win! The Mission was voted runner-up to Boystown in Chicago for the title of "Most-Incomparable Gay Neighborhood in the World." We lost to the midwest and there was no mention of the Castro, where the rainbow flag is bigger than the American one? Where we celebrated the demise of DOMA and Prop. 8 recently? Where Harvey Milk Plaza resides? Halt the cake protests, people, we've got a real fight on our hands.*
In the end, we know it's just a silly poll that doesn't mean anything, but like many of the changes facing our city of late, complaints of the Castro losing its gay identity have been gurgling for years. Is the Castro finally running out of glitter, or is it that with more and more mainstream acceptance of LGBT people, gayborhoods, like gay bars, are becoming somewhat obsolete?
Older queens are quick to point out that the Haight used to be the prominent gay focal point, and Polk Street, despite its current inclinations, also shared the gay title in the past. SOMA, too has been a viable contender for prime gaiety, at least at night.
We think the Castro will always be gay, but it's evolving just as the city is evolving, for better or worse. Rental prices in the area haven't been cheap in a long time, and since it shares its borders with the well-to-do families in Noe Valley, the Mish, and Upper Market, the Castro hasn't been putting the homo back in homeowner for many years, if you catch our drift.
We almost lived in the Castro when we first moved here, applying for a one bedroom at the now heart-stoppingly-low price of $1,400 a month (for some reason, the fact that we didn't have a job was considered a deterrent, and we had to rent elsewhere). We know we aren't the only ones who couldn't (and still can't) afford to live in the gay mecca, which is fine by us because San Francisco is plenty gay outside of the Castro's 2-block radius. And as social acceptance increases, having a gay enclave is probably not as necessary as it was years ago when our bars had no windows and police could arrest women for looking masculine.
The Mission has plenty of the same charms as the Castro -- nice weather, decent bars and restaurants, sex toy stores, convenient public transit, etc. -- so its allure to LGBT travelers isn't too surprising. Though when it comes to businesses with penis puns, the Castro's got the Mission beat by a shlong shot.**
Even if the Castro has lost some of its sparkle, we imagine the hood will always serve as a rallying point for gay rights victories, political porn shoots, and the strongest two-for-one long islands imaginable. What do you think? Is it time to sound the gay alarm, or can we save Madonna's "Vogue" for the next truly pressing concern?
*Let's not even talk about how San Francisco also didn't win "favorite American city to visit." (Las Vegas, pfft. Our strippers have more personality in their tattoos!)
**The Sausage Factory, Hand Job Nails & Spa, Supervisor Scott Weiner, Spunk Salon, Moby Dick, and so on.
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