This week the UK Guardian built a story around the fact that longtime gay activist and friend of Harvey Milk Cleve Jones was sounding alarm bells about seeing a group of men he thought were straight commandeering the pool table and patio at a gay bar in the Castro called The Mix. First off, I'd like to go on the record as saying I'm more than familiar with the Castro neighborhood, and I do not think that The Mix is in any danger of becoming a straight bar.
Yes, real estate is expensive, and yes, you see some more families on the streets of the neighborhood than you once did, but it's also every bit the drunken LGBT shitshow it's always been on most nights and weekends. The neighborhood remains majority-gay, as this retail survey found last year, even though it found that the percentage of newer residents who are gay was somewhat less than among those who'd lived there 10 years or more.
Still, it's a central, desirable, tech-shuttle- and transit-connected neighborhood that has, along with The Mission next door, become one of the hottest rental markets, and that includes for tech-employed gays as well as straights. And the straight people, by and large, while patronizing local restaurants, are still more likely to walk in the direction of the Mission to do their drinking though places like Brewcade, Blackbird, and Churchill have all opened their doors to heterosexual clientele in recent years.
To quote Jones,
"The tech bros had taken over The Mix. They commanded [sic] the pool table and the patio. These big, loud, butch guys. It was scary. I’m not heterophobic, but I don’t want to go to a gay bar and buy some guy a drink and have him smirk and tell me he’s straight. They can go anywhere. We can’t.”
I just need to call bullshit on this because a) a lot of young gay people have tons of straight friends and will, in fact, bring them along to bars; b) a lot of dudes who look like straight "tech bros" to Jones might in fact be gay; c) if there are neighborhood gay bars like The Gangway that are in trouble or closing, it's more because gay men often use their cell phones to hook up these days, and don't need a gay bar in every neighborhood for that purpose; and d) The Mix remains very, very gay.
So everyone needs to calm down and stop re-posting the story on social media, because even conservative site Breitbart has leapt on this one, poo-pooing Jones's and others' "shock" about having to deal with icky straight people on their turf.
Tolerance, of course, goes both ways.
Update: Jones, himself, responds to SFist, and basically says he regrets the quote, which was not at all the focus of his interview.
I think you're right to call BS on this. After a very long interview about the many forces that are transforming LGBT life in San Francisco, the reporter chose to focus on an off-hand, semi-humorous side comment that I regretted shortly after it left my mouth. The issues we face are far more important and complex than straight people in gay bars. I do think we can have a conversation about "gay space" but frankly, I think we all have more important issues at the moment.
Previously: Retail Survey Says: Castro Getting Less Gay, But Remains Very Gay