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Full Circle

Day 234: San Francisco

Michael Palin - Full Circle'Can anyone move in here?' I ask Trevor.

'Sure,' she says brightly. Trevor has no prejudice. She calls heterosexuals 'those who enjoy an alternative lifestyle'. But there is still an air of zealotry to the place. The battle is not yet won.

'Remember,' says Trevor, 'in twenty-two states it's still basically illegal to be gay.'

Trevor reckons it's all in the geology. The liberal values of San Francisco can be traced back to the gold rush.

'All sorts of characters came over here and all sorts of behaviour had to be tolerated.' I think of dear old Nome and have to agree.

'Michael, the average age of those goldminers was eighteen. They were playful.'

Trevor certainly has a new slant on local history.

'The Castro is to gays what Israel is to the Jews', she explains. 'When the Panama Canal was opened San Francisco became a port city, and ports always tend to be more cosmopolitan and liberal. Then came America's entry into the Second World War and San Francisco became the major disembarkation point for thousands of young men and women heading out to war.'

And they were, presumably, playful.

As far as she is concerned, the achievement of the gays in the Castro has been to show that they can run a neighbourhood in a much sought-after part of a much sought-after city, and run it well. They own their homes and run businesses, churches and local politics just like anyone else. Although, of course, the last thing Trevor Hailey wants to be, or thankfully ever will be, is just like anyone else.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 234
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: San Francisco - California
  • Book page no: 306

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