Dear Castro Courier:
I read your article dated May 12th, about the controversy over the homeless at the benches above Harvey Milk Plaza. At first, I was quite offended by the negative feedback of some folks. Let me explain:
I have been a dedicated gay street activist here in the Castro (and San Francisco at large) since at least 1983. And lately, there has been a most excellent crowd, for the most part, hanging out at the benches these last few months. For that reason, I was fervent about keeping the benches up. Some of those bench dwellers have since become best friends to me. But this crowd has, for the most part, recently dispersed to Los Angeles, Seattle, and other locales. What remains is somewhat less than savory (to put things mildly).
Three evenings ago, I came across one person shooting up speed right there out in the open. His name is Manuel, and speaks with a German accent. I appealed to him, to please be discreet, and take his shooting up elsewhere, that the benches may remain for the sake of the good folks who also hang there, and do not pose any problem to residents of this district. In fact, they were a genuine asset, playing their excellent music, some of which was original and very LGBT themed. Something which would be a boon to gay tourism.
Sad to say, he ignored my plea, and even spouted psychobabble to defend his pathetic position. Then this evening, a pre-op transgender male named Rachel suddenly threatened me by accusing me of calling him a “bum” (which I did not: I was talking about some homeless, homophobic hobo out by the beach, to another person with whom I am friends.) Then, Rachel kicked some trash and spit in my direction. He/she then glared and snarled at me…so I departed in order to avoid any violent conflict.
I have always been good to Rachel (and Manuel), and certainly don’t deserve such crude disregard, let alone violent threats to my person. I have therefore come to the sound conclusion that these benches should indeed be removed. Otherwise, increased violence will ensue, and cause this area of the Castro to become a hot spot of danger.
Peace: a righteous man. (Quite the good looker, too!)
I should also add, June 30th there was a violent attack upon one decent soul named Peace, who is nothing but an excellent person who does much to protect and assist his homeless brothers (and sisters). The attacker was someone called James, who struts around like a buffoon, with a big mouth and intimidating posture. He is over six feet, dark tan (though looks caucasion), with brown hair and eyes…and always is seen with a very adorable pit bull that is tan and white. He kicked Peace hard in the knees, and stalked and threatened him with extreme violence, for over three hours.
BTW, I should add here that some of our gay brothers who are not homeless, wander late at night, over to the Holy Redeemer Church on Diamond Street, in order to procure sex with the homeless youth who sleep by that church. Peace is the only street denizen I know of, who protects these youth by chasing the predators away. Peace is such a good man, I have only kind words to say about him.
In good conscience, I can no longer support the maintenance of these benches for the sake of what worthy folks hang out there…many of whom have since moved on (bless you, Pow and Nathan, in your adventures at your new destiny of Southern California). I also wish the best for what other homeless friends I’ve made at the Plaza…who I know will manage quite well with or without the benches.
This warning and disappointment comes from a very liberal pro-gay activist, who’s lived in The City since 1973. By all means, I urgently encourage the removal of these benches, for the sake of keeping this neighborhood relatively safe. And for my own safety, I will no longer stroll or hang out in the Castro, due to the animosity directed against me by meth heads and other unsavory sorts.
If the police or the community care to hear my feedback in person, I will gladly show up at whatever meeting they arrange, to tell them the pros and cons of the homeless here in the Castro, as well as some of the low-down opportunists who happen to have a roof over their sorry heads.
P.S.: Please read my initial naive appeal, before I put two-and-two together.
2nd from left: Rachel, pre-op transexual “tweaker” who threatened me. Third from left: Rom (w/guitar), a closet case who gets belligerent when drunk, and picks on the decent homeless such as Peace and Vicki. Fourth from left: Danny, who did not stand up for me when Rachel spewed threats. He is my only witness. Click on image for a larger view.