Queer Culture Tour
In a city chock full of historic lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) commemorative memorials, political precedents and historic events, visitors who crave a crash course in queer culture are invited to uncover an unrivaled education in the streets, cafes, parks and museums of San Francisco.
Roll out of bed to get your coffee and croissant - or whatever fits your food fancy - in the Castro, which is where our day of gay begins. With a little previous planning, you could get in on Cruisin' The Castro, an insider's tour of the neighborhood. Otherwise, take a turn through the bright and bold blocks around 18th and Castro, with its boutiques, bakeries and bars. Be sure to hit the historic highlights, beginning with the area in front of the Muni Metro station at Market and Castro, which pays homage to gay rights leader and Medal of Freedom honoree Harvey Milk, a former City supervisor who, along with Mayor George Moscone, was assassinated in 1978. Nearby, just behind the City Athletic Club, is Pink Triangle Park, which memorializes the millions of gays who were victims of the Holocaust.
Once you've had your fill of the Castro, catch a ride on the historic F-Line down Market Street and exit at Octavia for a visit to the LGBT Community Center. This 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility is among the largest LGBT centers in the world and houses the City's preeminent LGBT organizations. Hop back on the F-line and head up to Van Ness, where you'll find City Hall, site of the February 2004 same sex marriage marathon. Just across the promenade is the San Francisco Public Library's James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center, dedicated to research on gay and lesbian culture.
Lunch is up and over a few blocks, along Polk Street Gulch, where San Francisco's gay community came together at the end of World War II and stayed through the seventies, when the community began to migrate to the Castro. The street is still lined with gay bars and clubs and plenty of cafes where you can pull up a seat and watch the girls and guys of the Gulch go by.
Back on Market, the F-Line will take you to Third Street. A short walk to Mission and you'll arrive at The GLBT History Museum, where you can peruse the reading room and gallery space. Or perhaps you prefer something more modern? Just down the street, at Third and Howard, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art houses great artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe.
A day discovering the City's gay history would not be complete without a visit to the National AIDS Memorial Grove. One of the world's most devastating public health problems took an immense toll on San Francisco's gay community, but it also gave rise to an international movement which has helped save thousands of lives. Take a cab to the eastern end of Golden Gate Park and walk the serene seven and a half acres dedicated to those who lost their lives to AIDS.
Once you have had a chance to wind down, get your dining and dancing duds donned, and catch a cab to the Mission or South of Market. A traditionally Latin neighborhood known for lesbian-friendly bars and cafes, the Mission was dot commed into a trendy hotspot in the nineties. Wander the streets in search of sushi, tapas or mucho Mexican munchies, then bar hop your way through the night. If delicious dining and cool clubbing suits your mood, South of Market hosts some of the finest eateries in the City alongside naughty nightclubs and leather-loving lounges. Either way, be warned, these unique neighborhoods will bear their souls, beckoning you to leave your heart in San Francisco.
To find out more about San Francisco's LGBT heritage, please view our press release titled "LGBT Heritage in San Francisco".
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