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San Francisco is often considered to have a large homosexual community, something that statistics back up. But how long has there been a homosexual community in San Francisco? Here, Alison McLafferty tells us the history of the male homosexual community in San Francisco - and that it goes back a very long way. Homosexual men are also more numerous than homosexual women. The Castro neighborhood, the historic center of homosexual activity since the s, is now one of the hubs of tourist activity. The city became a hub for homosexual activity in World War II, when men from all over the country found themselves in an all-male environment far from the families and small towns who knew and watched them closely. Facing an uncertain future and shrouded with the relative anonymity provided by a bustling urban hub, many sought to satiate previously hidden desires, finding solace in same-sex relationships. All sorts of young men are trying out all sorts of new things, away from home and familiar taboos. So goes the usual history of homosexual men in San Francisco, but few people know that this story goes back much farther than this--back to the old Gold Rush days, back ever further to the days when the Miwok, the Ohlone, and the other Native American tribes hunted and fished in the wild coastlands of the Bay far before any foreigners arrived. Most men headed to San Francisco for the sole purpose of using it as a gateway to the gold fields: a place to grab some mining equipment, hitch a ride to the gold, strike it rich as soon as possible, and bring the fortune home to lure a lovely bride.
Historical Essay. Homosexuals across America consider San Francisco a "Gay Mecca" thanks to the rise of the distinctive gay community, primarily in the Castro District , centered at the intersection of Castro and 18th Streets, a block from upper Market Street. Some estimate that there are as many as , gay men and lesbians in San Francisco, out of a total population of approximately , The Castro wasn't always a gay neighborhood. Until the early s it was primarily white working-class, predominantly of Irish descent, and better known as "Eureka Valley. In most U.