The city of San Francisco often is referred to as the gay capital of the world, thanks to its thriving LGBTQ community and transformative laws. For anyone planning a visit, there is more to the city than just street fairs, nightclubs and gay bars. The city is a living monument to change with a history that many have forgotten.
Here are a few quick facts about San Francisco and the LGBTQ community.
The First Gay Bars open in 1908
The first gay bars in the US opened in San Francisco back in 1908. One of the most famous was a place called “The Dash” which was only known by insiders and had a secret location. 64 years later, the Twin Peaks Tavern was the first to open their doors to public and it was as popular then as Lucky Nugget Casino Canada is now.
The Castro Theatre becomes a City Icon – 1920
In 1920 the Castro Theatre gets its grand chandelier and becomes a haven for moviegoers around the city. The theatre would then go on to screen powerful and transformative LGBTQ films produced locally and abroad.
The Birth of Drag Shows – 1933
In 1933, San Francisco was becoming one of the most sexually liberal cities in the country. At the time a nightclub/bar named Finocchio’s was the first to offer female impersonation shows, which later became known as drag.
Leather Bars appear in 1938
The Sailor Boy Tavern was the first pro-leather bar to open in San Francisco. The name was not misleading at all since it was primarily a place where navy men could “hook up”.
The City Becomes a WWII Stronghold
During the height of the Second World War, the city of San Francisco became a huge military stronghold with major bases established like Fort Mason and Fort Funston. Often the city was the last place the soldiers would see before heading off to war, and the first place they returned to after combat. The city became a symbol of freedom and place where love could be found.
Becomes the Gay Capital of America
In 1964 Life Magazine officially labelled San Francisco as the gay capital of America, as more people join the movement for equality and gay rights.
The First Pride March in 1970
The first Gay Pride march was more of demonstration of defiance than a symbol of freedom. In 1970, thirty people risked their reputation and their physical wellbeing to march down Polk Street to City Hall. This powerful display led to a nationwide rally and the awareness of a counterculture.
Harvey Milk Makes History 1977
In 1977, Harvey Milk makes history by becoming the fist openly gay man to be elected as an official of the California government. He was later gunned down, but his legacy remains.
The first same-sex marriage licences were issued in San Francisco in 2004. The city became a marriage mecca for US same-sex couples. In 2016, after years of court battles, California’s Proposition 8 was successful as the U.S Supreme court ruled to make same-sex marriage legal across the country.