May 2014
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Old Haunts: Return to the City by the Bay

The Painted Ladies...
We were walking to the Ferry Building. It was déjà-vu. The food stalls were out. The chocolate store was there. The bay breeze was blowing. But something was different. Someone was different.

Just over a year and a half ago I visited California for the first time. Little did I know a family wedding would drag me back to San Francisco for round 2. 

I usually don’t visit the same places often, at least not so quickly. I haven’t been to England since 2009, and before that not since 2006. Italy in 2013 was the first time since 2011. Denmark, Sweden, Spain, and the Czech Republic haven’t had repeats yet. Germany has had me three times, but with mostly different cities and different beers each time.

There’s a lot to see in this world, and who wants to spend too much time visiting the same places?

Going back to San Francisco, everything was still fresh. After a trek along the pier, back in the Mission, everything was just as I left it. 

I remembered sitting at Pancho Villa chowing down on Mexican food with an assortment of salsa, inevitably picking one that was too spicy for me. Arizmendi Bakery was still there with its line and case of self-serve pastries. Bi-Rite still had the honey and lavender ice cream I remember tasting back in January 2013.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Liberté, Egalité, Homosexualité: On Progress

Some very spirited eclaires...
A year ago, I was walking to the Marais district with some friends, about to have a celebratory drink. The streets were ablaze with excitement, especially around the local mayor’s office, which was about to see a whole lot of action soon. Drag queens waved rainbow flags on scooters and the party poured into the streets from local bars, with a largely male clientele.

It was an early gay pride when on May 18, 2013, France legalized same-sex marriage. Who would have thought that a country with a reputation for sticking to tradition would take a leap? At the same time, with a very different idea of masculinity and what it means to be in a committed relationship in France, it’s not entirely surprising…but I digress.

A few drinks and a nightlong celebration were only the beginning. Just over a month later in June, the US Supreme Court struck down that bit of the Defense of Marriage Act which prevented same-sex marriages from being recognized on a federal level. For many, this means nothing, but imagine the implications for lesbians and gays abroad. It was a big year. Very big.

Since that historic spring, the Figaro reported that 7000 same-sex couples have tied the knot in France, a mere 4% of total marriages, but be it 7 or 7 million, it’s an amazing headline to read no matter what.