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IT WAS LIKE IN THE MOVIES’: The sexual attack on Mark Welsh has heightened racial tensions in the Castro district. (Randi Lynn Beach / For the Times)

I’m not sure what to make of this story I read in the Los Angeles Times today entitled, “Assault heightens tensions in S.F., the rape of a man in the Castro district spotlights racial divisions in the area’s gay community.”

It seems that recently a couple of white gay men have been raped in the City’s Castro District that is known for being gay friendly.  The thing is, they claim to have been raped by Black men.

Now it wasn’t that long ago that there was the racism issue in the Castro as it related to Black men and women made to feel not welcome, regardless of their sexual orientation.  In 2005, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission ruled that a Castro bar called SF Badlands discriminated against Blacks by requiring them to present multiple forms of identification before entering.  Officials now require the bar’s owner, Les Natali, to post a notice informing patrons of state anti-discrimination laws.  Natali bought the Pendulum in 2005, the only bar in the Castro District that attracted a Black clientele.  He closed it and has yet to reopen it.

Now here comes the news of rapes occurring in the area at the hands of Black men and we get groups that are vowing to patrol the streets in an effort to keep everyone safe. 

I am not so sure how I feel about that and have a feeling that it’s not a good time to be a Black man in the Castro District.  The thoughtof white men patrolling the streets with an eye towards Black men makes me a bit nervous.  Not mention the following quote from a co-founder of the Castro Community on Patrol:

"We’re about safety," said co-founder Carlton Paul. "We’re here to protect what’s ours."

Ours?  Ours as in white and gay?  I’m not understanding what Paul means.

Rape is inexcusable but this is definitely going to rattle nerves and do nothing for San Francisco’s race relations between Blacks and whites, let alone what it’s going to do for relations between gays and Blacks.

I guess at the end of the day, all I can say is that it’s just bad timing for this to happen to so close to the Human Rights Commission ruling against Badlands for discrimination.

Related Stories:

Guest Column: Gay Racism in the Castro by Keith Boykin

Activists Protest Closure of Black Castro Bar

Castro neighborhood group, bar owner bury hatchet