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Homoís Where the Heart Is
Room for Squares
by Philip Wong on Mar 28, 2008
A lot of things in this city we take for granted. The weather for instance; itís neither too hot nor too cold but relatively mild all year round. Or the bulk of cheap, good food for another. All of these things you donít really appreciate until one day you find yourself walking around in a sudden downpour, stuck without an umbrella and wedged somewhere between a Dunkiní Donuts and the East Coast version of Mr. Chanís.
In times like those, it wouldnít be out of line to feel a little remorse for having taken San Francisco for granted. Itís something we all feel after leaving the city for any amount of time, long or short. But stay in the city long enough, and youíll begin to feel a not entirely dissimilar sensation. As landmarks disappear and hipster tastes change with the regularity of a grandma on fiber and bran, you start pining for days when your number one concern wasnít to be scene.
Part of the problem is that the SF queer scene has fallen victim to its own notoriety and popularity. For years it was the destination of gay revelers, a sort of gay party central. That kind of attention inevitably led to an influx of out-of-town, out-of-state settlers. Iím not only talking about the bridge & tunnels, who every weekend funnel their way into the city to hit up their favorite hot spots. Theyíre a given. Iím also talking about those who have, for one reason or another, settled in San Francisco and have made it their home, and who have, as a result, effected what can only be described as a scene overload.
Donít get me wrong. I know that San Francisco wouldnít be what it is today without its wonderful blend of cultures, backgrounds and people. That is part of its charm and history. But that still doesnít account for the fact you meet fewer and fewer people who were actually born and raised here. They all seem to have fled in some mass exodus, on some train which I regrettably missed. Nine times out of ten, people you meet happen to be in SF arbitrarily, either to chase down some wayward dream or lover. And here is where I take issue: this idea of San Francisco being a ďtransient city,Ē home only to passersby and LA rejects always after the next cool.
Itís this very idea that has people running from one scene to the next, being ferried from the Castro to the Mission, from SoMa to the dog patch, from El Rio to the Lex. One week youíre standing in an insanely long line at the Cat Club and the next week, youíre dancing in the same club, now a virtual ghost town. Canít we just have fun in one place without also constantly waiting for the next big thing? Among other things, this sort of quick change lifestyle makes you feel pretty old pretty fast. And letís face it, in our culture and community, the last thing we need is another reason to feel old.
Which brings me back to my original point about taking things for granted. San Francisco and ďgayĒ are supposed to go hand in hand. But itís no longer fun to be gay in San Francisco. In fact, being a San Franciscan queer is rough. Itís hard to keep up. The constantly changing scene is anything but welcoming. I find myself longing for the days when a bar was just a bar and the only thing you did at a dance party was dance. When you looked to your partner and knew that he was there because he wanted to be, and not because the zeitgeist dictated it.
But maybe Iím only fooling myself. Maybe my griping about the transients has less to do with their effect on the cultural landscape of the city than it does with their effect on mine. Maybe this golden age of San Franciscan natives and queers I so fondly recall never even existed. Maybe itís just the way I think it should be. If home is indeed where the heart is, maybe I just need to find a new heart.
by Philip Wong on Mar 28, 2008