Photo from mycastro.com
By Sophie Needelman
I take advantage of every opportunity to get into the city that comes my way. Yes, even during the heat of midterms. That is why last weekend I put away my computer and my books and walked my studied-out ass to the place where rainbows touch down, where pots of gold at the bottoms are comprised of sequins, glitter, and hairspray. That’s right: I went to the Castro.
I went to the Castro and never before have I seen so many scantily clad men! It was a glorious way to be welcomed into this year’s Castro Street Fair, the last summer celebratory shebang in the city of rainbows before the designer scarves and pumpkin spice lattes get broken out for fall. The streets were filled with the most fabulous drag queens I have ever seen, filled with couples (gay, straight, and otherwise) and families and puppies and just incredibly happy people celebrating their presence in the best part of the best city ever. I even saw a few bare hineys in jock straps dancing up on bars (no, I didn’t sneak in… believe me, it wasn’t that hard to catch a glimpse through the proud and open windows!). Sounds of live musical performances intertwined with the voices of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Crowds mingled in front of the various stages set up around the fair to foster a communal energy of pride and happiness. And eye candy.
My favorite part of street fairs is always the vendors. I find reasons to use retail therapy as an excuse to make investments in my wardrobe and jewelry collection- and now that I have my own apartment I have lots of empty walls to decorate with art, right?! That’s exactly what I was thinking too. The Castro Street Fair had people selling original pieces of art and jewelry, clothes, and more rainbow memorabilia than I would ever know what to do with. What was really special about this particular street fair, though, was that people weren’t just there to shop and party; a huge portion of the vendors present there were from non-profits, political campaigns, religious groups, and the likes. The air was charged with happiness, yes. But it was also charged with a sense of awareness, of social responsibility and community action. This fair was about celebration but it was also about education, about offering and finding inclusion and support. This energy was absolutely beautiful to witness and experience, and it is this energy that has propelled the pride of the gay community- and this gay community in particular.
My day in the Castro for the Castro Street Fair was both a humbling and empowering one. Sun shone off of the craftsmen style homes and sequined pleather blinded me on numerous occasions. I still have glitter in places I won’t mention here. The Castro Street Fair is the last celebration of the summer- which is confirmed by the fact that while that Sunday in the city it was warm and sunny, today is finally cloudy and cold. If you ask me, the cold weather was holding out so us gays could one final day of romping in the sun.