When we describe San Francisco to outsiders, one thing we often forget to mention is how easy it is to be gay here. The truth is, we are so comfortable being openly gay that we don’t think of it as a unique aspect of our environment any more. With an enormous number of LGBT supportive groups and community programs, gay culture in the mainstream arts, gay businesses in every neighborhood, tons of gay media, a calendar full of gay events, openly gay politicians and a huge rainbow flag flying in the center of the city, it sometimes seems that if you’re not a part of San Francisco’s gay community, you may have missed the boat. Or in our case, ferry.
The funny thing is that, in San Francisco, straight people are a bit ashamed of admitting they are straight. They will admit to being heterosexual, but the word ‘straight’ means something different here. The ‘in’ crowds of San Francisco, whether they be symphony-goers, restaurateurs, media moguls, nightclub owners or film producers, all have the benefit of the gay ‘aura’ of style and taste when it comes to celebrating. The gays, as far back as anyone can remember (the Gold Rush?) taught this city how to party.
San Francisco’s business community generally draws no red line distinction between straight and gay. It is innately understood by vendors that the gay consumer is everywhere, as is the hallowed gay tourist. San Francisco is also a place where young people make up a great degree of the entrepreneurial sector, and their attitudes tend to be much more liberal and accepting of lifestyle choices. It is a politically democratic landscape where human rights campaigns and California’s LGBT legal initiatives often originate. Throughout all industries, doing business in San Francisco comes with an insistent compliance to Domestic Partnership Benefits adherence, as well as the gambit of sexual orientation non-discrimination policies.
San Francisco is renowned for its entrepreneurs. Craigslist.org’s Craig Newmark, the founder of the biggest non-profit online community on the World Wide Web, has drastically changed the [gay] social scene in San Francisco and all over the globe. He has also revolutionized the way people find jobs or housing. Although Newmark himself isn’t gay, his site has fostered one of the most undaunted adult social networks to flourish in First Amendment grandeur. In San Francisco, self-invention is rewarded.
The only possible drawback to the enterprising entrepreneur is the higher cost of operations on the ground level. The business community in San Francisco is silhouetted against the backdrop of extremely expensive real estate. In fact, the real estate industry in the Bay Area has defiantly challenged the financial ups and down of the past three years by holding its value and remaining a healthy, though crowded, industry to work in. The rental and commercial markets have fluctuated, but the property values have remained unshaken. This is because San Francisco is quite simply one of the most exciting and beautiful places on the planet.