“Love, Castro Street”–California dreaming

Forrest, Katherine V. and Jim Van Buskirk, editors. “Love, Castro Street: Reflections of San Francisco”, Alyson, 2007.

“California Dreaming”

Amos Lassen

After publishing “Love, Bourbon Street” with tales of gay New Orleans, Alyson Publishers evidently realized they had a hit on their hands and followed it up with San Francisco tales in “Love, Castro Street”. It was a smart move as we have a rich literary tradition in California. The editors, Katherine Forrest and Jim Van Buskirk have carefully selected a wonderful cross section of authors who have written about the city by the bay. Being from New Orleans myself, I am more partial to the earlier volume but the quality of this one is excellent.

Because San Francisco has seemingly always been a leading city for both cultural and societal change, it s only natural that there is good literature about the gay scene there. Castro Street has always played a major role in the shaping of gay identity—it is as mythological as it is real. Castro Street has always been a home—both ideological and realistically for those who have felt to be different and homeless. The legendary heart of the Castro where Castro and Market streets meet is the focal point of the neighborhood that we as gays have christened “the Castro” and it is here that so much of our history has taken place. Many have stories about the Castro and this volume is a book of stories.

Many of the authors represented here are familiar names. Jim Tushinski, Mark Thompson, Michael Nava, Victor Banis, Elana Dykeswomon, Carla Trujillo are all here to name a few. Each has a story to tell and this collection is marked by beautiful writing. They represent the rich diversity of the Castro and the city of San Francisco itself. Aside from the stories, there are beautiful essays as well. “Love, Castro Street” gives you a chance to not only read about the area but also about yourself. All of us will something personal and true to our own lives here whether we live in Little Rock, New Orleans or Boise, Idaho. Being gay is not unique to any one place but the atmosphere of each place is unique to building an identity.

If you haven’t been to the Castro on a visit or to live, you can go there through the words of these writers. Even if the Castro, itself, is destroyed by earthquake or fire or whatever, the editors have seen to it that the literature of one of the great world gay hubs will live on.

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