In México, the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a great tradition because the locals like to preserve the memory about their beloved ones that passed away. For the proximity of the country to the USA, Halloween is also a big party.
After the first shock watching this marvelous abs, I got to think than to get dressed up has always been quite gay, because carnivals are about liberation and, if you add to this a spoonful of scariness… you have Halloween.
So I went back to my ‘history books’ (a.k.a Internet) and I found about a party called Halloween in The Castro, perhaps one of the first gay and genuine Halloween parties in the States.
The Halloween celebration in The Castro -a district of San Francisco- began in the 40s as a children’s event, a very popular one. During the 50s and 60s this Halloween event for families started to change along with the increase of the LGBT culture in San Francisco and the opening of some gay bars in the area. During these decades, though, most of the nightclub life and the Halloween parties took place in other districts, such as Tenderloin, North Beach and Polk Street.
It wasn’t until the end of the seventies when the gay Halloween party moved to Castro Street, which about ten years before had replaced Polk Gulch as the most relevant gay neighborhood in San Fran.
In 1979, The Castro became officially the home for the Gay Halloween in the city. It bloomed and it made history.
During the 80s the party keep growing and growing as The Castro became the epicenter of the LGBT community in the region. Halloween was no longer a children contest; instead, there was huge crowd of 150,000 people celebrating their freedom in a costume of Batman, Sailor Moon or a priest.
Here you can see some pictures of the event: //All rights reserved to hoodline.com
Unfortunately, happiness turned to sadness, when different acts of violence, such as muggings or gang violence, started to occur during this big celebration. In 2006, a gunman shot nine people in one evening.
This was the end of a 60-year-old tradition in The Castro. Bars and pubs in The Castro are still opened in the Halloween night, but drinking in the street and the massive congregations are not allowed anymore.
A bitter ending for a Halloween party that reunited gay people from all over the world. At least, the celebration gave enough ingredients to reproduce this party in other parts of the country like West Hollywood. A party that is still going on.
The Castro was a symbol and was one of the parties that helped turning Halloween a bit gay during the 80s. In this event, LGBT people were able to be flamboyant even if they were closeted.
Therefore, Halloween passed from being an originally Christian festivity to become an excuse to vindicate the gay liberation.
If there’s anyone from San Fran, it’d be cool to hear about The Castro from himself.
On my next post, I’m going to tell you about my very own Halloween party. Let’s see how it goes. 😛
By Mtí. Q.