Erasing and rewriting the history of a former gay area



Polk Street, San Francisco | SF Streets Blog Org | 14304

Toshio Meronek documents the attempts by neighbourhood organisations to play down and even erase an area of San Francisco’s past gay history.

“Lower Polk Neighbors is a central San Francisco neighborhood association that meets monthly to talk “crime, cleanliness, beautification, and the strengthening of our community.” … For years the organization has been openly trying to erase the history of Polk Street as a sanctuary for lower-income gay and transgender people. Last month, it was at it again, censoring a queer activist group that criticized that erasure.”

From 2001 the organisation started campaigning to close down gay businesses and spaces and force them out of the district. One of the first casualties was the hustler bar Club RendezVous at Polk and Bush Streets. Club Rendezvous owner David Kapp told the Central City Extra that a “smear campaign” by LPN ended Kapp’s plans for staying in the neighborhood.

The organisation didn’t want to gentrify the neighborhood, .. (just to) “make it clean and safe.” That meant pushing queer and trans people, as well as closing a potentially life-saving needle exchange, out of the area.



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