Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween in the Castro, 1988 and now

Last week I received an email from Beverly Spicer at Digital Journalist asking if they could use a photo I had posted at back in 2003 for an November issue article on right brain vs left brain perceptual stuff.
I pondered the ramifications of internet data that old attracting attention (paranoid or perceptive?); then decided I should be flattered someone was looking at my photos out there in the WWW and replied “of course you can use it”. I had been thinking about that Halloween last week as it had been in the news that San Francisco was not going to allow the Castro Halloween party in part due to last year’s violence.
That 1988 Halloween was such a great night. I was in my 2nd year of med school and up to my throat in work. Several of my classmates who were Bay area natives insisted that it was a party not to be missed. So what the heck, there I was. That evening remains one of my favorite memories from that era.
In the following days when, as left brain dominant types are prone to do, we were dissecting the event, one of my buds commented that two-three years earlier the Castro was in a state of shock due to the AIDS epidemic. In contrast to the 70's where there was 24 hour activity, the streets were deserted at night. He had noticed, though, that the party atmosphere was returning- as was evident by that evening. Another aspect, that as a habitual outsider/observer I’m keen on perceiving, was the sense of inclusion I felt that night. We were obviously outsiders in that community, but felt welcome. It was crowded, uninhibited, the spectre of the epidemic was there, but there was no violence. Here are the photos from that night.
1988 Halloween Castro
Forward to 2007. AIDS is viewed as a chronic disease, certainly not a death sentence. The Castro is being gentrified, property values are booming, and a street party is not safe anymore. How profoundly sad.

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