My First Time Exploring Castro in San Francisco

North America


This post was contributed by Nathan Schuch.

Let me tell you a tale about the time my boyfriend and I decided to shut up and go and take a trip to San Francisco in celebration of the new year! From where we live, the LA area, the trip was an ambitious six-hour drive (Damon and Jo, please don’t judge us we didn’t want to bus it, also I didn’t see your video about taking the bus to San Francisco so we had no idea, I digress). After the lengthy drive, we checked into our hotel and the next three days were ours to explore! There were several things I for sure wanted to do during our stay, which included visiting the famous Golden Gate bridge, grabbing a bread bowl, being a cute city boy and take a ride on the trolley. You know, the usual San Francisco tourist trip. However, there was one place in San Francisco I was dying to visit above all else: the Castro District. Both my boyfriend and I were slightly nervous to go and see what all the buzz was about in the Castro District, so, out of fear and worry, we decided to visit it on our last day.

On our final day, we crossed the metro until we finally reached our much-desired destination. We walked up the stairs, one step at a time, anxiety and hesitation increasing over the possibility of what we were to find in the land above. We reached the escalators and stopped in our tracks. I saw rainbow LED lights radiating at us from the bottom of the moving steps, each colorful light inviting us to step up and discover what the district had in store. I looked back at my boyfriend and we were both smiling. Big toothy grins stretching from ear to ear. We couldn’t keep our excitement from spilling out! We both took a step forward and let the escalators lift us up towards the inviting sounds of life and joy. As the bright escalators lift me up, I am exposed to something new.

Colorful lights and rainbows burst through the entryway, momentarily blinding me. I blink away the sudden flood of light and am blown away. There were rainbow colors everywhere!

Red, blue, green, purple.

The whole district was painted in these vibrant, inviting colors. The crosswalks were rainbow, the walls were rainbow and rainbow flags hung in every nook and cranny visible to the public eye! People were smiling. Men were holding hands with men and women were holding hands with women and, in a rare moment, I feel the soft touch of my boyfriend’s hand slipping into mine. Looking down at our fingers intertwined, the world slowed down, and my heart sped up. I looked back up at my boyfriend’s smiling face.

We relished in that extraordinary moment.

A moment where we both felt comfortable holdings hands; usually saved for car rides or the safety of our own home because usually in public every look, whether it is sincere or not, seems like a form of judgment. But here we were. Just another couple. One out of a million. No one looked at the marriage of our hands but, instead, at our faces, silently saying, “hello.” We walked through the district, discovering a plethora of gay bars, shops owned by queer folk, and just about every gay thing imaginable! I had never felt more at home. We enjoyed some of the creamiest ice cream while walking around the bright, colorful streets. The sweet sugar added joy to our already overstuffed hearts. We warmed ourselves up with delicious tea. We even spent a short while playing with puppies, feeling our happiness reach heights we never thought imaginable. Of course, there was a momentary pause when, while looking at the puppies, my boyfriend was bent over cooing over the cutest pug.

Despite being over stimulated by this hectic yet fun district, I have to admit I bent back to admire some of the beauty that is my boyfriend. However, I guess I wasn’t the only one admiring him because a few moments later we heared someone behind us shouting, “Nice ass, baby!” Stunned, my boyfriend and I turned around and see this middle-aged man raise his eyebrows at us, and walk away, hands in his pockets. I mean I can’t really blame the guy; my boyfriend has a really fine ass.  I guess it was an odd experience at the time, but now it’s something we laugh about because we decided that, compared to other cat-calling stories, this one was quite tame.

In the end, it was a great experience that we will forever cherish! A time where we felt ourselves and weren’t afraid to display who we are to the world.

Meet Nathan: Currently a student at California State University, Fullerton studying English! As you may have guessed I love reading and writing, but you can catch me on a kayak, Sky Scanner, and Student Universe finding cheap plane tickets around the world! Cheese lover and applesauce hater! Travel pet-peeve: No food. Keep up with Nathan on IG.

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