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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Community and Exclusion in the Gay Mecca


The Castro district in San Francisco, California presents itself as the “Gay Mecca,” a safe haven for LGBT-identified individuals. However, demographics of and observations in the Castro illuminate quite a different story. On weekend nights, several low-income queer men and women of color consistently congregate on the corner of Market and Castro St., quite literally at the margins of Castro social life. Essentially, the marginal positioning of these low-income queer people of color on this corner results from a double exclusion, from their home neighborhoods and from the Castro. In their home neighborhoods, these individuals are marginalized due to their sexuality, and in the Castro they are marginalized due to their race and socioeconomic class. The corner of Market and Castro, then, is significant to these low-income queer people of color for a variety of reasons, including emotional and socioeconomic support, but namely in regard to identity formation. While marginalized, these low-income queer people of color manage to carve out a small space, however policed or challenged, that provides them with the platform to play with and embody their multiple, intersecting identities that they are unable to fully express in other spaces.

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