There’s a nice profile of the last gay bar in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, Aunt Charlie’s. I hadn’t realized their famous drag shows were only an invention of 1998, the beginning of the end for the Tenderloin. In 1999, I counted 13 bars in the greater Tenderloin/Polk Street corridor; there were 6 by 2004 and 3 in 2012. The collapse of the neighborhood’s gay scene occurred during a slight decline in the number of gay bars in San Francisco, but their concentration around the Castro as it annexed Upper Market. Most people don’t realize how recently the Castro dominated San Francisco’s gay life. By my count, it had only 36% of the City’s gay bars in 1999, but 50% by 2004.
I’m glad someone else gives thanks for gay bars by giving them some space in PAPER magazine. But as with all the reminders for charitable giving this time of year, thanks aren’t enough: bars need cash.