Mourning Castro Halloween

I was on the local TV news last night and this morning on several stations, as well as in the papers. “Dale Larson, Pallbearer” said the caption in the print edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The article described us as a “group of costumed partygoers [who] held their own protest march.” I disagree that we were either partygoers or protesters. The caption got it right: we marched a few miles up Market street to mourn. Then most of us left to go home on the last train — Muni closed down at 8:30pm.

In all the coverage I saw about Castro Halloween, the issues were presented as a matter of controlling a party and how that affected cops, businesses and the public. Of course something had to be done to fix an annual celebration that had grown to hundreds of thousands and included nine shooting victims last year. But nowhere did I see mention of the tragedy of a cultural loss, or of a desire to reclaim values that once dominated this celebration.

The essential point to me is that Halloween in the Castro originated as a neighborhood party in a predominantly gay neighborhood that was dominated by overwhelming friendliness and spectacularly dazzling drag queens and their tolerant friends. Over the years, it attracted elements from outside the city who don’t share value for diversity and spreading love and joy. Shutting it down means they win. What a shame, and certainly a loss to be mourned.

I hope we find a way to reclaim the values of being fabulous and friendly over poorly costumed, sloppy drunk, intolerant and violent.

Another group of costumed partygoers held their own protest march, carrying a cardboard coffin up Market Street from Beale Street to the Castro, all the time chanting, “Come mourn the death of Castro Halloween.”

“If you’re going to kill Castro Halloween, you have to have a funeral,” said Mark Tyne, whose all-black ensemble was crowned with a top hat.

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