Hey Castro, Enough With The Rainbows Already!


Castro Street in San Francisco is getting a $8.3 million dollar makeover in the hopes of making the neighborhood more inviting and more pedestrian friendly. And more gay.

But is that really necessary? The Castro is already about the gayest place on earth. It’s really, really gay.


For example, within three square blocks you have a dozen gay bars, six sex toy/porn stores and the world’s largest rainbow flag flying high above Harvey Milk Plaza. There’s also the Human Rights Campaign store located in the space that was Harvey’s camera store replete with murals of our pioneer, and there’s both an elementary school and a restaurant named after Harvey. Every street light has a rainbow flag on it. And once June rolls around, there are so many pride flags adorning local businesses that it looks like Dorothy herself painted the Castro.

As a long-time Castro resident, I actually love all the rainbow representation. At its peak during gay pride month (or June, as straight people call it), it even makes me smile. However, even a gay man living in the gayest place on earth has his limits.

The project will reportedly now “enhance the streetscape experience with widened sidewalks, repaving, new lighting, and street trees.” Sounds good so far. Oh, and more rainbows. The new “Rainbow Honor Walk” project will commemorate LGBT leaders and heroes and add “celebratory” LED lighting along the street. Rainbow colors, anyone?

rainbow-crosswalk-designsLet’s not stop there. The Castro business district recently sent out a survey that included questions about painting the decorative crosswalks. The options: rainbow flag with lengthwise stripes, rainbow flag made up of hankies (really!), plain squares and artsy representation of overhead electric wires. 50 percent of the choices are rainbows. I voted for the wires.

The second question: “If (when) rainbows are painted on the crosswalks, which specific design of rainbows should we do: Rainbow flags stacked on top of each other, one long rainbow flag or rainbow flags in a checkerboard pattern? The survey creators wanted more rainbows and “Look! People picked it!” is a perfect way to justify their pre-ordained decision.

The winner of the survey was soon announced with much fanfare. Can you guess which? Rainbow flags will be painted on the crosswalk (“length-wise modern” won).

This is likely just the beginning. Why not add rainbow colored parking meters and those fabulous GAYTMS at all banks and give rainbow blankets to the homeless to keep warm. There’s so much more to do!

I love living here and I love making our neighborhood more welcoming, but can we just get over the rainbow? I’m certain even Dorothy would agree.

Photos: karendesuyotorbakhopper

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  • greybat

    I guess doing the crosswalks in Yellow Bricks would be a bit much!

  • Ridpathos

    $8.3 dollars? Why that’s not bad at all for redecorating an entire street.

  • jcortez

    For a second, when I saw Castro in the headline I thought they were referring to Fidel, lol.

  • melewis

    Most people live in areas where there are no rainbow flags. When visiting SF, we loved the inclusiveness that Castro portrayed. Quit bitching about a few rainbows, and be glad you live in an area that is so welcoming and inclusive.

  • Cam

    I’m sorry, but can I just say that I LOVE the idea of yellow Brick sidewalks? LOL

  • vive

    Gee, count your blessings. You are welcome to change places with me or anyone else here who is forced to live in the sticks and doesn’t have the privilege and wealth to live in the Castro.

  • TampaBayTed

    I didn’t get a vote in adopting the rainbow flag as the International/national LGBTQ standard. Don’t like it and don’t identify with it.

  • Raquel Santiago

    Sorry folks, i actually live in this area and the “gayness” has been going out for some time and turned to the “straight” agenda, while i dont agree with all the rainbow flags I think the castro does need to still be center point of the LGBTQQYIA Community.

  • Curtispsf

    @Raquel Santiago: Oh lord, is someone gonna come knocking on my door revoking my gay card? I have NO idea what LGBTQQYIA means; it’s a mouthful, so to speak. I got behind LGBT but I’m going to have to get in front of LGBTQQYIA.

    And NOW I get it. This redecoration is MEANT to be High Camp. Now all that’s needed to complete the transformation is a little Dorothy all dressed up like Judy Garland to greet the visitors @ 18th and Castro. And her little dog, too. And maybe the Tin Man (and friends). I sincerely urge the Castro Merchant’s Association to start the interviewing process for these essential “icons” who play such a big role in the LGBTxyz struggle.

    Oh yeah, I’ve been living in San Francisco since before the Milk/Moscone assassinations. VIVA La Yellow Brick Road!!

  • Brian

    The article’s opening is extremely disingenuous. Nearly all of the $8 million is going toward lighting, repaving, and sidewalk improvement — stuff that has nothing to do with being gay or straight.

    I used to live in the Castro myself. It is not walkable. Sometimes I’d just stand on the sidewalk while waiting for people to move. Other times I’d begin walking in the street, which would just frustrate the drivers (who, in some places, have about 1.5 lanes’ worth of space to fit 2 cars side by side.) A lot of construction work needs to be done. Almost none of that money is being used on rainbow-related stuff.

  • redcarpet

    In places that are not San Francisco it is still a really useful too for letting people know a given place is LGBT safe. Especially among at-risk populations like youth and elders.

    But still, there is room to use the rainbow with tasteful restraint, I agree.

  • sejjo

    Lol, you can’t be gay enough. There’s always room for a little (or a lot) more gay. This world is still too straight. We need a little more color.

  • Cam

    @Raquel Santiago:

    West hollywood also took the gay flag down from City Hall. God forbid that one or two cities acknowledge their history.

    I wonder, Is San Francisco also taking down all the signs in Chinatown that aren’t in English because time moved on and all? Doubtful!

  • Stache99

    In West Hollywood they’ve already done something like that. The crosswalks on San Vicente are painted in Rainbow colors. It looks nice.

  • vive

    By the way, what happened to the rainbow stickers people used to put on their cars? Why have they all been replaced by the HRC equality sign, which is a corporate brand of a specific lobbying organization? What has the HRC really done for us lately anyway?

  • IcarusD

    @Raquel Santiago: Yeah, I’m a longtime Castro resident, too (and even longer visitor). While I think rainbows are a little overplayed, I voted for the rainbow crosswalks because I agree, the gayness in the neighborhood has been seriously diluted in recent years.

    I have absolutely no problem with straights moving into the neighborhood (they’ve always been the majority here, even in the gay heyday). I do take exception to someone moving next to a bar and then complaining about the noise, or moving here and then complaining about the porn DVDs or dildos in the windows. That dildo was probably collecting dust long before your baby was even born.

  • Sebizzar

    I finally got to visit there this January, and while it felt awesome to be in the famous street in the gay capital of the world… it just didn’t feel gay enough lol! So this project sounds like a great idea. It would be better if they had more things for all ages though, rather than mostly bars and sex shops. A lot of the stores are very small too, but then again I guess most buildings in SF are. They don’t really need more little rainbow flags, but the crosswalks would be a nice touch. I’m mostly looking forward to the gay walk of fame, we can’t forget our heroes :)

  • DK

    I’m a West Hollywood resident, and I enjoy living here, it’s a hoot. But it is gay Disney. I kinda liked that the Castro was a little more grimy and seedy. To me, that does make it more gay: it’s a gay guy’s gay ghetto, not a straight girl and her boyfriend’s gay ghetto, which is what WeHo has become, for better and for worse.

    I hope this rainbow-ification doesn’t mean the Castro is losing that vibe.

    Yellow brick sidewalks sounds amazeballs though.

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