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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

All Quiet On the Castro Front: Prop. 8 Ruling Received With a Shrug

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 11:20 AM

That was then -- and this is now - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • That was then -- and this is now
At 10:01 a.m., a Castro barkeep sighed, glanced at his wedding ring, and switched off the television. "Guess I'm still married," he muttered.

Paraphrasing T.S. Eliot, the state Supreme Court's affirmation of Proposition 8 was received here not with a bang but a whimper -- save for the solitary cell phone-wielding man at Castro and Market  who shouted "fuck!" at the heavens. The Mecca of Gay America was a big gay ghost town this morning -- the place to shout and emote was apparently a hop, skip, and a jump down the road at Civic Center. News vans idled, wasting gas, while dolled-up TV reporters pondered how best to present the non-story story. "I can't be-lieeeeeeve how dead it is here!" one commiserated with your humble narrator.

Notions that tense Castro denizens would be huddled around radios awaiting today's ruling like archival footage of Brooklyn boys listening to World Series broadcasts seems especially quaint in retrospect. Today's digital technology enhances our isolation, even as it allows us to ostensibly be more connected to the world. Even still, it was a bit of a surprise how few people in the heart of the Castro could be spied playing with their iPhones or chatting with fellow passers-by. The non-tourists seemed glum -- but, then, everyone seems glum these days. There were quite a few people quaffing stiff drinks in local bars -- but they probably would be there regardless. "Oh, we're here anyway," said one man swirling a whiskey drink at around 10:30 in the a.m. "The television's just on." 

click to enlarge Phil 'Tats' Payton - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Phil 'Tats' Payton
A number of Castro denizens told us they had long ago braced themselves for the court's anticipated negative ruling, and were already looking ahead to future signature-gatherings, ballot propositions, or court decisions.

Echoing a certain candidate for governor, a man with Maori-like tattoos covering his face and exposed forearms confidently told us "It's going to happen -- sooner or later."

"I am sure this will be overturned," said Phil "Call me 'Tats' -- everyone does" Payton, standing a stone's throw from the site of Harvey Milk's old camera shop (now an attractive shop called "Given" -- and not open at 10 a.m.). "I think more and more people are realizing how idiotic [the Prop. 8 vote] was."

As his generation -- Payton was a Navy Man in the '50s -- goes gently into that good night and younger voters not spooked by same-sex marriage replace them, the 30-year Castro resident is optimistic society will change. He also feels, next time, folks will be more wary of reactionary religious forces behind barring same-sex marriage.

Words of wisdom from the man with the full-face tattoos. Like we said, just another day in the Castro.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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