As mentioned briefly yesterday, more shooting has been going on in the Castro for When We Rise, the ABC documentary mini-series written by Dustin Lance Black, and based in part on the forthcoming memoir of the same name by local activist and author Cleve Jones. As part of that shoot, on Thursday, the current home of Gyro Express at the corner of 18th and Castro was briefly transformed into the 1970's-era Star Pharmacy, as you can see in the photos above and below. Star Pharmacy was, in reality, across the street in the current home of Walgreen's (498 Castro), as Curbed points out, and is notable in the LGBT history of the neighborhood as the first place in the city to post a public notice about the "gay cancer" that would ultimately be known as HIV.
As the Chronicle tells it in this roundup of local landmarks in LGBT history, early AIDS activist Bobbi Campbell used the front window of the pharmacy to post a flyer, with the headline "Gay Cancer" in October 1981, showing photos of Kaposi's sarcoma lesions Campbell was the 16th person in San Francisco to be diagnosed with the rare cancer which doctors would later discover was a result of HIV's toll on the immune system. You can see a photo of men reading the flyers here. Being the first person to come out publicly as having been infected, Campbell would come to be known as the "AIDS poster boy," and would also help write the first ever safe-sex pamphlet, distributed by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in 1982, before the wider medical community had even determined that the disease was sexually transmitted Campbell himself had a Sister alter-ego, Sister Florence Nightmare, and he was also a registered nurse.
Star Pharmacy would later close in 1985, the same year that San Francisco recorded 1,000 people dead from AIDS, most of them men. Bobbi Campbell died from complications from the disease in 1984, at the age of 32. As neighborhood resident Leonard Matlovich, famous for being on the cover of Time in 1975 coming out as being gay in the military, said of those 1,000 people, "Almost all of these men lived within a six-block radius of the Castro and Market intersection. The neighborhood, once flush with sexual liberation and political empowerment, now found itself under mortal attack from an invisible enemy."
Walgreen's took over the location, and just a couple years later, because of the volume of illness in the neighborhood, set a prescription sales record.
A plaque is now in the works to be installed on the outside of Walgreen's documenting the spot where the neighborhood first began to learn about, and discuss, the epidemic facing them.
Matlovich has his own plaque, across the intersection and on the side of the building that is home to Gyro Express and the fake Star Pharmacy, highlighted by a rainbow mural that was added in 2015. Matlovich lived in an apartment in that building prior to his death in 1988.