Gay Plaques of the Castro:
A Photo Essay
In the days leading up to Gay Pride, my friend Rick Gerharter, veteran photographer and community historian, and I were medicating on 420 and he asked me how many gay plaques or commemorations existed in our little gay district, the Castro. My mind was foggy and together we compiled a list of such places.
Rick inspired me to snap pics of all the commemorations, and with the help of my partner Mike Merrigan, who took the photos of the Mark Bingham plaques, we created this photo essay. I believe my montage is the most comprehensive pictorial of gay-related plaques in the Castro village.
Let's begin our tour with the highest elevated plaque, in the Pink Triangle Park, literally above the Castro on the high parcel of land between Market and 17 Streets heading up to Twin Peaks.
A walkway divides the pillars with pink triangles on top.
A prominent section of Harvey Milk Plaza is dedicated to celebrating his life and times.
There's a wonderful photo spread on the metal fence protecting the plaza's lower-level garden.
And this Milk plaque is near the subway entrance, and gives a basic introduction to his life.
This plaque honoring political animal Carole Migden is on the brick wall to the left of the fence with the Milk photos, and is high up and obscured by a thick row of bamboo plants. To view and read it, one has stand on the bent metal bench in front of the bamboo.
On the top level of the plaza is this plaque at the base of the enormous pole and rainbow flag, central to plaza's design. The plaque notes the history of the rainbow flag's creation by Gilbert Baker, and a lot of space is given to elected officials in office in the late 1990s when the pole and plaque erected. In the middle of the sign are the politicians' names, next to the title of the office they held.
Near the steps leading up to the Rikki Streicher Field on the recreation center's property, is a plaque commemorating the life of a legendary lesbian leader active in sports and gay politics, and owner of lesbian bars. She died in 1994.
On the fence bordering the steps up to the field is where you'll find this sign.
The cement wall under that green sign has this plaque in memory of Sean P. Garvey. I don't know who he was, or if he was gay, and I hope someone who did know him or why a plaque was created for him at the recreation center, can enlighten me to his life and contributions to the neighborhood.
On 19th and Collingwood Streets is the neighborhood's public grammar school, named in honor of Milk.
To the left of the academy's entrance are a number of mosaics, including one of Milk in his big moustache/long hair phase.
Near the curb in front of what was Milk's camera store on Castro Street, is this small almost-impossible to read plaque. One has to really be looking to notice it.
Above the entrance to the former camera store is a beautiful painting of Milk, looking down on his beloved Castro village. Unfortunately, the ego of Willie Brown mars the image. Notice that under the name of the artist who created it, Josef Norris, sponsorship credit is given to the former mayor.
Friends of gay military vet Leonard Matlovich created this fine plaque for him and it's on display on the 18th Street side of the large green apartment building at Castro and 18th Streets.
This sign marks the very small part of 16th Street, almost at Market Street, in front of the Eureka Valley public library, for drag performer and political activist Jose Sarria. Most people know him by his nom de drag - the Widow Norton - the surviving spouse of Emperor Norton, who in the 1860s proclaimed he was the ruler of America.