Recollections of San Francisco Marches in the 70s -- and D.A.F.O.D.I.L. by Toby Johnson
After leaving a Catholic seminary in Southern California in 1970, I moved to San Francisco. I had gay friends from the Order who'd already moved to the City; they introduced me to gay San Francisco, Roy Neuner and Michael Alpert. Roy was a theater major at San Francisco State--he played the lead in a student performance of CABARET and then later, with his head shaved, played the lobotomy character in the professional performance of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST down in North Beach (Martin Worman was the House Manager. Michael worked as a waiter at The Rendezvous on Polk Street. Their friends were the first people I met. I lived with them for a few weeks at 541 Castro. They then moved to the Haight and I moved to 10th and Cabrillo. I remember walking over to Golden Gate Park for a Gay Be-in -- the "Gay-in" in 1971 which was held instead of a parade.
My second year in the City, I started going to GAY RAP, the sort of hippie gay consciousness raising, peer-counseling and talk group that met at Alternative Futures Community Center on West Pine in the Western Addition. I befriended Cliff Krause who was one of the de facto "leaders" of the group. Cliff lived in the little cottage on 17th and Hartford that at that time was overgrown with vines. He started the San Francisco Gay Counseling Service telephone hotline out of that house. He recruited volunteers to work the hotline from Gay Rap. Because I'd had experience in the seminary of working as a chaplain intern in a psychiatric hospital and been exposed to T-group process in religious life, AND because, I guess, I had a crush on Cliff, I joined up with his gay counseling project. Later Cliff and the Counseling Service moved over to the house I was living in at Arguello and Clement.
In 1972, the Gay Counseling Service volunteers and Gay Rap attendees marched in a Gay Pride parade that started in the Financial District and then marched down Post to Polk Street for a rally in the Civic Center. I have a memory of being in the back of a beat-up old red pickup truck that was bringing up the rear of the march. The Rev. Ray Broshears was either walking along side or riding in the truck.
(Through Cliff Krause I met Don Clark and the early practitioners of "gay-oriented psychotherapy." The Tenderloin Clinic community mental health center with a gay service mandate was a direct result of Cliff's lobbying the City (through Dr. Art Carfagni, a gay psychiatrist working in mental health) to take on and professionalize the work of the Gay Counseling Service. I later did an internship for a counseling license at that clinic and was then part of the D.A.F.O.D.I.L. ALLIANCE. That's another story, but it's worth noting that this gay mental workers group-- Dykes and Faggots Organized to Defeat Institutionalized Liberalism --organized a march from the Clinic at Golden Gate and Market to the Civic Center and then down Larkin to the SF Mental Health Services office, led by a Lesbian Brass Marching Band that attracted so much attention that hundreds and hundreds of people followed; the head of services, Dr. Bill Goldman, immediately agreed to our demands, gave the clinic an extra $60,000, hired Pat Norman to manage gay services and set up a task force to oversee gay health services in S.F. This may have been one of the most successful gay marches in history!)
My best Gay Pride Parade memory is of 1979. I'd volunteered to be a parade monitor. I happened to be stationed right at the turn-off point from Market where the parade entered United Nations Plaza. So I was standing just at the spot where the marchers turned and could see the huge rainbow flags culminating the march. There were lots of oohs and ahhs. Wonderful moment!
It was very dramatic. The original flags, created by hand by artist Gilbert Baker, that had first appeared the year before for the 1978 Parade, were huge and far more multicolored than the rainbow flags of today. They hung from two very tall flag poles on opposite sides of the plaza so the marchers walked between them. They were made of parachute silk and fluttered and rippled in the breeze.