SAN FRANCISCO — Cleve Jones has lived in the Castro neighborhood for nearly 50 years, almost from the day he graduated from high school in Phoenix and hitchhiked to California.
He has been a political and cultural leader in San Francisco, organizing gay men and lesbians when the AIDS epidemic devastated these streets in the early 1980s. He created the nationally recognized AIDS Memorial Quilt from a storefront on Market Street. He was a face of the anger and sorrow that swept the Castro in 1978 after the assassination of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Jones has helped define the Castro, dancing at its gay bars seven nights a week when he was younger, gathering with friends for drinks and gossip as he grew older. To this day, he is recognized when he walks down its sidewalks. “Hi Cleve — I know who you are,” said Lt. Amy Hurwitz of the San Francisco Police Department, after Mr. Jones began to introduce himself.
Harvey and the Rainbow Honor Walk, celebrating famous queer and trans people,” Mr. Jones said as he led a visitor on a tour of his old neighborhood, pointing out empty storefronts and sidewalks. “I just can’t help but think that soon there will be a time when people walking up and down the street will have no clue what this is all about.”
Housing costs are a big reason for that. But there are other factors as well.
L.G.B.T.Q. couples, particularly younger ones, are starting families and considering more traditional features — public schools, parks and larger homes — in deciding where they want to live. The draw of “gayborhoods” as a refuge for past generations looking to escape discrimination and harassment is less of an imperative today, reflecting the rising acceptance of gay and lesbian people. And dating apps have, for many, replaced the gay bar as a place that leads to a relationship or a sexual encounter.
recognition of same-sex marriage in 2015, that has pushed for equal rights and integration into mainstream society.