Letters to the editor

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday April 12, 2023
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Letters to the editor

Loudest voices don't speak for all

I was disappointed to see the way you portrayed the recent Board of Supervisors land use committee meeting on the Castro Theatre ["Peskin issues ultimatum to Another Planet on Castro Theatre," April 6]. During the public comment period, 22 people spoke in favor of APE's plans versus 21 people who spoke in opposition. "Community voices were not all opposed to APE's plans," your reporter conceded in the piece. How about saying just over half of public commenters were in support?

There is a small but vocal and well-organized group of individuals repeatedly quoted in these pieces, namely representatives from the Castro Theatre Conservancy and the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District. As a gay resident of the Castro, I've asked myself, "Who are these groups and who do they represent?" As the Bay Area Reporter itself reported, only 128 people voted in the last cultural district election, and candidates only needed to win 30% of that vote to get on its board. These groups represent themselves and close allies. They do not speak for all residents, queer people, business owners, and workers in the Castro.

I love your coverage of news in our neighborhood. Please make sure you're engaging a wide array of voices, not just those who are shouting the loudest.

Mike Murray

San Francisco

Mourning the loss of queer spaces

I'd like to thank Michael Yamashita for his thoughtful column, "What we lose when a gay bar closes" [Guest Opinion, March 16]. As an original owner of the Elephant Walk in 1974, I experienced a wave of sadness and nostalgia at Harvey's closing benefit for its employees. This gathering place was one year shy of a half century at this intersection of renown.

I had migrated to San Francisco from Philadelphia in 1971 and within three years found myself at the crossroads of 18th and Castro streets running a bar and restaurant in the vibrant gayborhood with 25 employees. These were my windows on "Main Street." And what a view it was! To be a prominent business on such an intersection I joined both the old guard Eureka Valley Merchants Association and Harvey Milk's newly formed Castro Village Association. I wanted to be as inclusive as possible with the community as well as welcoming to all in the Castro.

My decade at 500 Castro Street was a whirlwind of politics, protests, fun Halloweens, Sylvester, jam-packed street fairs, assassinations, and police riots. Oh, and did I forget to mention, one hell of a ride.

As Yamashita pointed out in his piece, with the passage of decades, societal changes, mostly for the good, gay bars are no longer the essential community spaces they once were. I didn't want the memory of the Elephant Walk to fade into obscurity and am in the process of making sure that the remaining elephant etched windows are kept in the GLBT Historical Society's archives.

Thank you, Mr. Yamashita, and San Francisco, for allowing me to leave a piece of my heart at 500 Castro Street

Fred Rogers

Oakland, California

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