|Castro Street Halloween; circa 1990.|
In years past, before the gay exodus from the Castro, primarily due to skyrocketing real-estate prices brought on by the advent of the Silicon Dot-commers moving into nearby Noe Valley, Halloween was a sacred day in San Francisco; especially for the homosexual community. When the Gay Pride was more of a public political statement, and less of an excuse to be a sexual exhibitionist, Halloween served as the ultimate outing party for those gay men who made the long trek to the West Coast from their oppressive towns in the Midwest and the Southern US. It was a day to unashamedly dance about like your favorite glamour queen, a pink-winged fairy, or even Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz.”
By the time I reached the Castro, in the late-1980s, the Grim Reaper of AIDS still lurked around every corner; and things had gotten a bit darker: faces were painted like bleach-skinned ghouls; vampire and devil costumes were everywhere. My much older boyfriend at the time, I was 19 years old, wanted me to dress as a boy scout. I liked the idea and agreed. That night, despite all the leather and skin, there was nothing exciting or sexy to see; for, everyone walked about with eyes filled by massively dilated pupils. The place was jam-packed, but; it was as if – no one was there. I remember it had been a rather pleasant day in the City, but I was cold. I felt like the only living soul among the dead. I wanted to leave right away.
Eschewing the festivities on Castro Street, later that night, I ended up in a Polk Street gay bar. Growing bored, my boyfriend came up with the idea of watching someone pick me up; seeing the same scenario in countless gay porn films – I said okay. It didn’t take long before a man tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see a figure dressed as a transvestite witch. I rolled my eyes and looked over to my friend; he nodded his approval. I knew what to do: I asked the guy to follow me into the restroom. Some minutes afterward, I reemerged with a little less of myself. The following year, the boyfriend had since dumped me, and I showed up at the Castro Halloween celebration in full bondage gear sporting plastic fangs.
Sometimes the devil takes you apart, piece by piece; sometimes, he takes a little, sometimes he takes big chunks out of you. (That strange evening, the devil took all that I had left.) By the time you are being ripped into shreds, you tend not to even notice anymore. You are blinded to it all. Even though I had grown up on the filthiest kinds of pornography, that first Halloween in the Castro still scared me a bit; for, unbeknownst to myself, there were still even darker passages to explore. But, it started to become easier. Because, once you take that first step towards evil, whether it’s clicking on to that porn site, watching that television program, or listening to that song, it’s tough to suddenly stop and turn around. This is mainly on account - that slowly – you get blinded. Soon, the sickening becomes sweet, and the heinous becomes the holy.
“The devil does not bring sinners to hell with their eyes open: he first blinds them with the malice of their own sins. Before we fall into sin, the enemy labours to blind us, that we may not see the evil we do and the ruin we bring upon ourselves by offending God.” ~ St. Alphonsus Liguori