Back In The Gay: A Charming Look At The 1976 Castro Street Fair

In honor of LGBT history month, we’re taking a peek at this video from the 1976 Castro Street Fair, freshly uploaded by the GLBT Historical Society. It actually looks surprisingly similar to the modern-day event, just with slightly different hair.

There are few noticeable differences, though:

* The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence aren’t around. (They wouldn’t appear on the scene for another three years.)

* Families and kids make an appearance, but men seem to dominate the scene.

* We searched but couldn’t find any evidence of drinking—were beer booths simply not a thing back then?

For some context, this was the same year that Harvey Milk ran (and lost) a campaign for State Assembly. Just two years later, Milk won his race for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but was assassinated by fellow Supervisor Dan White.

We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?

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  • Mark

    Beer alert at 1:43 and right before the end…

  • Dumdum

    OH MY GODDESS! That was my first street fair. I was 16 and it was so cool to see all those men wandering around. Each year it got bigger and better. Sylvester used to play and sing and that was the year I joined The Angels of Light theatre group and we used to perform there as well. No AIDS everyone was so open and happy and optimistic,quaaludes were a dollar and you could live forever. The golden years before everyone and everything turned plastic.

  • jerry_pritikin

    That was a great year for taking photos at the fair. When they started to sell corporate booths, then it was not as much fun. In that clip, there is a guy holding up a Coppertone cut out of a tan woman with big boobs… I took a photo of that in front of TWIN PEAKS!
    There is a great web-site that has many early fairs & events on Castro.

  • Dumdum

    @jerry_pritikin: Jerry it’s me Dirk. Do you remember me? I remember you. Clutch pearls and gasp !!! You are still here !!!! Holy Mother of god !!!

  • jerry_pritikin

    Dirk, the mime? I have several images of you and good memories,too! Send me your email address. My email [email protected] My blog I remember going with you to the Russian River and taking a picture of you in front of a Castro St. clothing store All American Boys. It’s great to know there are still some of us still around!

  • gkoskovich

    For more information on the GLBT Historical Society, San Francisco’s internationally renowned archives and research center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history, visit

    The society is the sponsor of The GLBT History Museum at 4127 18th St. in the Castro District. Thanks to a sponsorship by Starbucks, the museum will offer free admission all day during the 2012 Castro Street Fair on Sunday, October 7. To learn more about the museum, visit

  • jerry_pritikin

    Ironically, I am working on an exhibit for next year. It will be my 76th birthday, and in the SPIRIT of 1976, I will be displaying 76 images from that year. It was a Bicentennial year and my images include the gay Pride Parade… then on Polk Street, the Castro street Fair, and happenings in Golden Gate Park. I call my images Photoglyphics that have a word or words within the frame of the negative. Sometimes they have subliminal messages, and others that shOUT right off the Print. Those images that do not contain words… speak for themselves.Visit my blog archives and enjoy what I call the reversible light year train. It takes you back to the time the train was pulling into that timezone! There is one other great web-site that you can explore about the Castro from the 1960’s and all of the 70s and 1980s.
    and mine stories and pics are

  • Sammy Schlipshit

    Aaaaaaaah, the good old days….when sex was safe and drugs were cheap….and the men looked like real men not hairless cartoons with pumped up bodies.

    Many great years of parades and celebration were had.

    My, what a lily white crowd.

    One of the thoughts I flashed back to….I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that nearly each and every male in that movie are dead.

    When we were young everything was possible and we would live forever…..Oooooops.

  • Josh

    Apparently 18th St. was open to traffic… guess the fair’s gotten much bigger over the years.

  • Nikkidane

    I was living in San Franscisco in 1976. What a magical time.

  • dvlaries

    Few had turned into muscle-bound, steroid-ridden gym addicts, tattoos and piercings were minimal, and natural body hair was prized. Take me back to that time any day.

  • Sammy Schlipshit

    @dvlaries: I wanna go back there too. Even though I didn’t get to the Bay Area until the early 70’s, I am sure glad I got there when I did. It was a time for the early burst of freedoms.
    I had lots and lots of sex. Wish now I had had even more. Maybe because I was 99% top and didn’t do heavy drugs, I was one of the fortunate few who came out alive. Most of my pals died early on.
    It’s up to us to keep the history alive.
    BTW….check out the documentary ‘Gay Sex In The 70’s’. It focuses on New York but you get the idea of the times.
    Another good one to see is ‘The Cockettes’. It’s all about SF during the glory days.

    Here’s a site with other suggested documentaries….

  • yaoming

    Amazing meet-up between Jerry and Dirk above. Good for you, guys.

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