In North Carolina, I Thought Gay Meant Happy
a leprechaun for Saint Patrick's Day
When you live in a place with an enormous gay population, it is immediately noticeable. In most places, if you see two men together or two women, no one thinks about it. Here in San Francisco, this is definitely true.

In San Francisco, if you see men together and women, you think, gay. And, about 99% of the time, if you were interested in such things, you'd be right.

For one thing, San Francisco is 40% gay by some accounts. That is almost half the population. And, you better believe, it has political ramifications: Most gays vote; In the so-called, "straight" community, less than 50% vote; In the gay community, 80% of the population votes.

Most of the gay community is fairly liberal or progressive. In San Francisco, they're liberal. Since I've been in the Bay City, I've seen the gay population change big time.

The first book I ever read about homosexuals was one, now get this, I picked up in Fayettenam (Fayetteville, NC, home of Fort Bragg, Home of the Airborne). The book was called, The Mayor of Castro Street about Harvey Milk, the first gay elected official in the United States.

The book, The Mayor of Castro Street, surprised me; I was so naive. The sexual practices in the book floored me. This was before AIDS. The promiscuity was unbelievable; sometimes sex involved as many as 20 different sex partners in one night. How could this be? Could the heterosexual community do this? Superman couldn't do this. The public bath houses were all the rage then and created the atmosphere for reveling in something with which most can only shake their heads. And, Harvey Milk was the leader of the pack.

When I first came to San Francisco, Castro Street was almost like a tourist attraction. When someone visited, I would inevitably take them into what we would call, The Castro. I will never forget my oldest brother's visit. My brother was snapping pictures with his camera and I thought someone was going to zap us. Well, when we came to two guys French kissing on a street corner, this was too much. It is a little strange to see a busy intersection, with almost nothing but men. I've noticed that nowadays, there seems to be more of a mixture of men and women.

I was absolutely amazed at my first real look at the gay community. There were the usual sexual jokes we made, just a tad shy of hurtful, I hope. Growing up in a little town in North Carolina, part of the rite of passage was being "felt up" as we called it by the local strange guy that most everybody knew. Or, there was the guy who showed dirty pictures around town. I won't say it was harmless; but, then again, it probably, by the standards then, didn't alter our course in life. In fact, we all knew a local minister who had been known to peep at the naked bodies in the boys locker room with regularity. I do not condone any of this behavior , but it just was. I guess in today's California litigious society, we could have sued for the big bucks.

From all I have learned about the gay community, I say "live and let live." and will have to agree with Dave Ross, this radio commentator on one of the local stations in San Francisco. Dave doesn't have anything against gays or the gay lifestyle. He's a live and let live kind of guy too, but he has to draw the line at men kissing. Why can't they do that at home!!!!!!! Who wants to see anyone kissing on the street??? I mean gee whiz. Shouldn't there be a time and place for everything???
Jerry Davis, special contributor to the Airborne Press webzine

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March 17 2006
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