The Queer City of San Francisco

by Gavin M. Haffner


A few months ago, my father and I made our annual pilgrimage to my very favorite city, San Francisco. Ever since I was young, I have always loved that place. As a holiday gift, every year, my parents agree to pay for my dad and I to fly up and spend a couple of nights in the city. Riding every type of public transportation they have is always a special treat for me.

Up until a couple of years ago, attending S.F. Pride in person had always been a bucket-list item for me. Today, I can confidently tell you that I have gone exactly two times. On each occasion, I had the time of my life with my friends and family, while celebrating my most treasured part of myself, which is of course the fact that I am gay.

San Francisco has been a gay haven for decades. They even have a special district, called the Castro, where some sidewalks are rainbow. Rainbow flags hang from every light post there. Everywhere you look, there is a gay couple holding hands. Every time I venture to the Castro, I just feel alive.

The Human Rights Campaign has a store in the Castro, and every time I stop by, I cannot help but purchase something there. I have been an official card-carrying member of the HRC since 2013, the year I came out at age 21. Every time I visit the Castro, I feel included and excited at the prospect of spending time with my people—the treasured LGBT community.

When the incredibly discriminatory and bigoted Proposition 8 was struck down in California, two of the plaintiffs, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, got married in the S.F. City Hall. The officiant was none other than the current senator and 2020 presidential contender, Kamala Harris.

Once the Prop 8 decision was handed down, people in San Francisco took to the streets in a mass public celebration. Liberty and equality won that day.

San Francisco has always been special to me. Even as I type this, I look at the framed photograph that hangs on my wall, which depicts the Coit Tower, a landmark and one of many yearly destinations for my father and I within S.F. When I think of San Francisco, I think of liberty. I think of freedom. I think of acceptance; I think of diversity; and I think of the pervasiveness and superiority of the LGBT community, a superiority that we have always had and will always have.

If I could associate the gay rights movement with a specific and concrete place, I would unfailingly and unyieldingly pick San Francisco. Every time. Whenever my dad and I land in Oakland International, I always count my blessings and realize how fortunate I am, to have a significant connection to a city that is so important and so beautiful, for so many.

Likewise, I am incredibly grateful for my sexuality, and always enjoy the privilege of spending time with my chosen family, especially in my favorite city on earth.

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