How Did San Francisco Become A Gay Mecca?

by Joel Pomerantz

June 18th, 2010

Have you ever thought out why it is that San Francisco has such a large population of homosexuals? Sure, it’s historically been a tolerant town (probably due to the gold-seekers and other adventurers and wayfarers). But why gay people in particular, rather than other oppressed populations in need of safe homes? Why not runaway children or middle America refugees? (Wait a second…hmmmm)

Turns out, though, that the sudden increase from a moderate to a high number of homos in this town happened in 1942. That was when the U.S. military services acknowledged the existence of a “perversity” called homosexuality for the first time, and enacted a policy that men loving men is unacceptable in the armed forces. (I seem to recall having seen somewhere that these folks actually train men to do the extreme opposite to other men.).

The ban was against men who “habitually or occasionally engaged in homosexual or other perverse sexual practices.” What a painfully clear proof this is, that killing people for economic or political ends is not considered perverse by the U.S. government.

At that time, the Pacific Theater of Operations was in full swing in World War II. The hub of these operations was the network of bases operating on San Francisco Bay. Any male soldier known, or in some cases merely suspected, to love men was put ashore and given a less-than-honorable discharge. Put ashore in San Francisco, that is.

And they stayed.

Think about it: If you were publicly and openly pronounced gay in 1942, would you venture back home to small town America (where most of these boys were from)? Likely as not, you wouldn’t even be welcome back “home,” so you’d be fabulously pleased to stay with your buddies in this tolerant port town, and you’d put down roots.

One Comment to “How Did San Francisco Become A Gay Mecca?”

  1. Kensington Robin Lee says:

    This was informative and isn’t something they really teach you in school. Thank you!

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