Image for My 10 favourite photos: New York and San Francisco

My 10 favourite photos: NewYork and San Francisco

Over the past couple of months, as part of my Churchill Fellowship, I’ve been in the US investigating sexual orientation and gender identity based refugee claims. During this time I was based in both New York and San Francisco.

Some people casually described my trip as a “gay pilgrimage” and in some ways it is an apt description. All these cities are home to significant queer people, histories, and landmarks.

So, let me give you a glimpse of some of the more striking features of these cities that I encountered.

New York

Alica Keys provided the inspirational backdrop for my New York travels. After all, it is heralded as the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

The Stonewall Inn needs little introduction. On 28th June 1969 in response to a brutal police raid, patrons spontaneously took to nearby streets in Greenwich Village to resist the ongoing persecution of sexual and other minorities in Manhattan. Now colloquially referred to as “Stonewall,” the Inn is both a US and global symbol for LGBTIQ activism and liberation. Various Pride marches around the world commemorate the Stonewall Riots.

Gay Street was not originally conceived to mark the sexuality of the streets. That said, its proximity to the Stonewall Inn and the demographics of Greenwich Village make the sign a serendipitous reminder of the people who live in the area.

Graffiti artist Keith Haring was not one to shy away from the explicit. Transformed from toilet to meeting room, the New York City LGBT Center is home to one of the more provocative and pleasurable artworks of the 1980s.

While Oxford Street is synonymous with the “gay scene” in Sydney, the “scene” in New York is far more spread out. Queens (particularly places like Jackson Heights and Astoria) brings together LGBTIQ people from various cultural and national backgrounds.

Dive bars are one of the more wonderful things in Manhattan. In the East Village, which I would describe as a much larger and slightly grungier version of Newtown, the local bars are filled with eclectic people and objects. Easternbloc is no exception. With plastic animals, disco balls, Marxist slogans, and vintage gay porn, the club has much to offer. Oh, and there are “free moustache rides” available too.

San Francisco

With less hustle and more hills, San Francisco is a gorgeous and more relaxed city than New York. Once home to activist legend Harvey Milk and the famous GLBT History Museum, San Francisco is understandably seen as a haven for LGBTIQ people.

With the increasing HIV notifications in NSW, it is more important than ever to remember that HIV is not an epidemiological relic of the past. The National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park is more than a haunting reminder of those who have died. It serves to archive the many people who live with HIV and the many people who support them.

It’s easy to spend hours in the San Francisco Public Library. In fact, I did. The Gay and Lesbian Center of the library catalogs material ranging from academic literature on queer media to more graphic erotic magazines. My favourite part, though, was the extensive children’s book collection – especially the tale of the 10,000 Dresses.

Whether it is the Migrating Archives or the “lesbian sex wars” or queers of colour organising, the GLBT History Museum documents some of the most significant aspects of local, national and international history.

On the 26th of June 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and dismissed the appeal that sought to revive Proposition 8. Marriage equality was restored to California. To say the atmosphere in San Francisco was electric would be an understatement.

Within hours of the decision, thousands marched to the famous Castro Street to celebrate. Banners. Dogs. Chaps. Bicycles. Flags. If only more judicial decisions generated street parties!

My fellowship ended with the world renowned San Francisco LGBT Pride. Just imagine the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade combined with Fair Day and you get the picture. It was a privilege to end my trip by marching with ORAM International – an organisation dedicated to supporting LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees around the world. Our message was simple: “Safe haven for all.”


Senthorun Raj is a 2012 Churchill Fellow. Follow him @senthorun on Twitter.

Comments

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MrAsh

MrAsh said on the 14th Jul, 2013

Great article and photos Sethoran!

wysi

wysi said on the 14th Jul, 2013

I always liked NYC over SFO.

wysi

wysi said on the 14th Jul, 2013



I found it more diverse and more active GLBTI-wise. SFO is more like talking the talk. NYC is more like walking thw walk. If you get what I mean.

Little Gay Blog

Little Gay Blog said on the 19th Jul, 2013

I so, so, so want to go to NYC!....Great pics!

scottybgood

scottybgood said last month on 10th

Great Photo Album. They make me feel right at home. Keith Haring and Andy Warhol are my favorites. Warhol signed a book of his that I own (10) times.

TheOldie

TheOldie said last month on 10th

Love New York ! you can feel a current of energy running through the place.
Dont know if thats cause so many people packed into a small area but there is an energy about it.
San Francisco has never grabbed me. Dont know why . Dont dislike it but not a fan. Been 3 or 4 times now. Friends wanted to head to US and SFO was on the list so I still went.

flounder

flounder said last month on 11th

Love New York ! you can feel a current of energy running through the place.
Dont know if thats cause so many people packed into a small area but there is an energy about it.
San Francisco has never grabbed me. Dont know why . Dont dislike it but not a fan. Been 3 or 4 times now. Friends wanted to head to US and SFO was on the list so I still went.

Ditto, but I still enjoyed SF. I remember catching the ferry over to Sausalito and having lunch with mates in an amazing seafood restaurant right on the water. It was one of those picture perfect days, good company, good food and wine and all afternoon to enjoy it. :p

TheOldie

TheOldie said last month on 12th



did similar but it was a tour through Redwoods and they dumped you in Sausalito for lunch and you had choice
of getting the coach or staying and making own way back on ferry which we did.

I've stayed in some great hotels - Westin St Francis, Hilton , Sheraton Fishermans Wharf and my first ever time in
a dump called Hotel California

http://photos.stuartthompson.net/Vacations/San-Francisco-February-2012/i-LVKVJv2/0/S/Hotel-California-2012-02-13-18-S.jpg

this was on a packaged tour...........it was bearable. Night club in basement caught on fire in the middle of the night...looked
out window and they were directly below.........did they evacuate the Hotel ? no !

The_Freak

The_Freak said last month on 12th

https://sfclockworkorange.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/628x471.jpg


http://blog.sfgate.com/thebigevent/wp-content/blogs.dir/2328/files/pride-in-the-1970s/morgue27_pride_73_pair_walking.jpg


https://fansinaflashbulb.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/fusco_paul_14_1981-e1383599317543.jpg?w=640&h=428


I remember The Castro back in the late 197 ......... ummmmmm ....... a long time ago.

The Castro Street Fair was legendary.

I have to admit, I've never been to New York. :(

I loved San Francisco - made some good friends there who are still friends to this day.

But it was a different era, back then.

Gay Rights (we were only "Gay" back then, not GLBTIQ) was in its infancy & it was all terribly exciting.

A lot of young'uns sadly though didn't get to see the 1990s ......

Different times!

MrAsh

MrAsh said last month on 12th



I remember The Castro back in the late 197 ......... ummmmmm ....... a long time ago.

The Castro Street Fair was legendary.

I have to admit, I've never been to New York. :(

I loved San Francisco - made some good friends there who are still friends to this day.

But it was a different era, back then.

Gay Rights (we were only "Gay" back then, not GLBTIQ) was in its infancy & it was all terribly exciting.

A lot of young'uns sadly though didn't get to see the 1990s ......

Different times!

Was San Francisco like how Armistead Maupin described it in the Tales of the City books?

The_Freak

The_Freak said last month on 12th



I guess somewhat, MrAsh.

Mr Maupin's views of San Francisco came from him living there when he worked at the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press, back in the 1970s I believe. :confused:

I only visited San Francisco a couple of times.

You see, for Australian gay folks back then, it was a bit of a "Gay Mecca".

And airplane tickets to the U.S. were "cheap as chips". ;)

I have fond memories of San Francisco.

It was the pre-A.I.D.S. era and was an exciting time to be a gay young'un.

Apparently a lot of gay young'uns were moving to San Francisco from all parts of the States, back then - creating their own gay suburb, The Castro.

I still remember my first impression seeing two gay gentlemen walking down 18th Street (near the corner of Castro Street) holding hands ... in broad daylight no less.

:eek:

Gay Australian young'uns who did that tended to only do it down Oxford Street at night time (with the occasional car full of yobs screaming out "Poofter" as it drove past :rolleyes:)

I think they wanted to make Darlinghurst a bit of the Australian version of The Castro, but it never really took off.

Folks started to wonder if creating a "gay ghetto" was really the way to go.

flounder

flounder said last month on 13th

My first visit was in 82 and like you I was a young guy with eyes like saucers at the things I saw. Id been to Kens Karate Klub a few times but nothing could prepare me for the joints in SF.

I went to one called "Bulldog" Id see ads for it in US magazines so had to go, fuck it was like adult Disneyland on about 5 or 6 levels, it was huge!! :eek:

Wasn't the only thing huge, discovered my first BBCs man oh man heaven!! :p

TheOldie

TheOldie said last month on 13th

BBC's yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Carpe-Diem

Carpe-Diem said last month on 13th

NYC by miles. San Frans so full of rabble & doesn't have half the class & culture of NYC. Even the bars and bath houses are better or so I'm told. ;)