San Francisco Has Some of the Gayest Buildings in America


Recently, California Home+Design decided to honor gay and lesbian history by creating a gallery of the "Gayest Buildings in America." No, the buildings themselves aren't gay, but they do hold special meaning for our LGBT community. 

Inspired by the panel "If These "Walls Could Talk," the gallery focuses on buildings that represent a special place in time and space. Much of the history of the LGBT community is unknown because for so long it was illegal for gays to gather in public -- thus, some historic sites remain in the closet. 

The panel, sponsored by the GLBT Historical Society and the San Francisco Architectural Heritageis trying to document the history of these buildings before it's too late. 

Gallery creator Mary Jo Bowling said she was inspired by historians fighting to save the story of the LGBT community members who were brave during a time when society didn't tolerate gays. San Francisco is one of the few cities with guidelines for preserving LGBT historic buildings, she noted.

"As people get older and pass away some of that history gets lost," said Bowling. "On the national level, there are so few landmarks that have to do with the GLBT past.

Here's a few San Francisco buildings on the list:

Twin Peaks Tavern on Castro Street
This was one of the first gay bars to have large glass windows, which exposed bar patrons to the public. They symbolized visibilty and openness.


Jose Julio Sarria's Home on 21st Street
The top floor was home to the first openly gay man to run for public office, Jose Julio Sarria, who performed in drag at the Black Cat. During this time period, when police raided a gay bar they would publish the names of the patrons in the local newspapers. Anyone whose name was published in this way could kiss their career goodbye. Sarria, a school teacher, was one such person. After his arrest he turned to performing to make ends meet. The basement of this house was also home to S.F.'s first fisting club.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for sarria_home_0.jpg
Photo: Gerard Koskovich

Castro Camera on Castrol Street

Home of Harvey Milk, gay rights champion and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. This building served as home, business, and campaign headquarters to the S.F. supervisor who only served 11 months of his term before being assassinated by Supervisor Dan White.

castro_camera copy.jpg

My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Normalpeople 3 Like

"Our community" of degenerates that have flocked her from all over the world and infested our city.The locals laugh at you and want you to go back to your small towns that you fled from. There's a Greyhound Bus Station mens room that's missing a pervert.

G ot

A ids

Y et?


Folks interested in historic preservation can join the conversation and get involved by liking the "Preserving LGBT Historic Sites in California" page on Facebook:

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.