Rainbow Tacos

Castro-Mission

I live in the Castro-Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. To anyone familiar with the area, you immediately know what kind of neighbors I have. For those who don’t, here’s the rundown.

The Castro

The Castro is synonymous with Gay. Like, really really gay. It’s the birthplace of Harvey Milk’s movement, as I am reminded when I walk by the famous camera shop, newly occupied by the HRC shop. There’s a huge gay flag flying on the corner of Market and Castro. It’s crawling with shirtless gay men and posters advertising all sorts of gay parties, bashes, events. If you’re strolling around there on a random Saturday afternoon, you won’t walk across coffeeshops or bookstores or hair salons, you’ll walk across gay coffeeshops and gay bookstores and gay hair salons. The outside of the Starbucks looks like the outside of the gay bar across the street; even the laundromat has a fricking giant rainbow flag inside!

The Mission

The Mission is synonymous with Mexican. Like, really really Mexican. The bus stop and billboard ads are in Spanish, and may or may not feature members of the Mexican futbol team. Mission street sometimes reminds me of downtown Mexico City, with it’s various “variety” shops. The menus of the taquerias are not in English, and at the Walgreen’s in Mission they sell imported goodies such as Duvalin, Bimbuñuelos, and Vitacilina. Yes, it’s the Mexican mecca.

How Sworn Enemies Became Friendly Neighbors

Now, why is this significant?

Mexico is a third-world, Latin American, Catholic country. Homophobia is prominent. I bet if you do a random survey in a random neighborhood in Mexico, asking people if they’d be comfortable having homosexual neighbors, the results would be negative. (Yet we have gay marriage in Mexico City – it’s a hotly contested topic, vowed to be banned by the president himself – but there it is).

However, here we are in Castro-Mission, the intersection of Mexicans and Gays. And given the situation just described above, you’d expect constant fighting, cat-calling, bickering, maybe even riots. But there is none of that. Nobody seems to mind each other’s national origin, race, or sexual orientation. So is it just a simple coincidence that the Mexicans who decide to take up residence here are simply the choice few who are not homophobic? Or is it something else?

I have a theory. Well, it’s not my theory, it’s a theory in psychology, but it applies to this situation. Living in close proximity to a group of people makes them familiar, and in turns it dispels myths and stereotypes and other erroneous preconceived notions about them. It makes them real. What this translates to is that Mexicans hear about gays and think all these awful thoughts, but when they actually come and live with them they realize, “hey, they’re not too bad.”

So just by the mere fact that Mexicans and gays are inter-mingling in their daily lives dramatically alters their outlook on the queer population. This is likely emphasized by the cultural atmosphere which permeates the queer oasis that is San Francisco, where Gays aren’t just tolerated. Thus knowledge, familiarity, and proximity foster acceptance and understanding, and the Castro-Mission neighborhood is a prime example.

This may be oversimplifying the issue a bit, but it’s the only reason I can come up with to explain all normal interactions I see everyday between obviously Mexican and obviously Gay people, which you would not expect to see in actual Mexico.

My Neighborhood

And of course, for a pair of Mexican Gay Queers like us, it’s truly a welcoming home.

Rainbow Tacos

6 responses to “Rainbow Tacos

  1. Love the picture!

    I’m glad that’s the way things are in San Francisco. As you said, it’s not like that in Mexico. Canada still accepts refugees from Mexico (or did when I was working with them a year and a half ago) for reasons of sexual orientation or sex identity. I heard some pretty scary stories.

  2. Haha, the picture is definitely perfect – I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph that.

    Mexico is definitely getting better every day, at least Mexico City. I didn’t mention this, but Mexico City now has gay marriage, which is recognized throughout the country. (Now the reason that this was passed is because one political party wanted to screw the other one over, but reasons notwithstanding it’s now a one year old law). There have also been great improvements in transgender laws (which I’ll post more on later). But I can still imagine people asking for refugee status elsewhere, especially if they’re not from the city.

  3. Hey Maddox, I had no idea you lived in SF! I live in the Bayview district and very close to the Mission. I’ve loved it here so far (living here for about a year). :)

    • More and more of my next-door tumblr neighbors are turning out to be my real life neighbors. I’ve also been here for about a year. We should arrange a Neutrois / GQ meetup soon.

  4. sounds like a rad neighborhood.

    it’s awesome how that works, sometimes. for example, i have a few buddies who were seriously anti-queer before i came out to them. they were weird with me for a bit, but they’ve since realized that i’m the same person i’ve always been. also, they haven’t noticed me attempting to rape children in bathrooms or strangling heteros in alleys.

    people can be seriously awesome.

  5. Pingback: One Year Bloggaversary « Neutrois Nonsense·

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