Midnight Sun, 4067 18th Street
As evidenced by our archive, and all throughout City life, changes big and small are usually noticed. San Franciscans like attention to detail. But this one, both welcome and historic, received surprisingly little attention. The Midnight Sun bar in the Castro, open since 1971, recently turned a wall into a window. Such a simple thing. But if, like Mister SF, you happened to show up here at a Dynasty party in the early 1980s, or even rode by as an auto passenger then, you might have still found some men – not all – waiting in line to get inside, with their backs facing the street. It’s terrible to remember that even in the Castro, some gay men were justly afraid that a boss, a co-worker, or someone else would see them and wish to harm them for being at a gay bar.
At that time, the Midnight Sun, a video bar, was quite simply like a gay YouTube channel that served drinks. You had to show up in person, of course, and the fun increased ten-fold as soon as you learned the lines to every camp video from Bette Davis to Dixie Carter, played in rotation. (Here’s a primer: “Wipe my mouth!” and “the night the lights went out in Georgia!” in that order.) And Dynasty every Wednesday night.
The Midnight Sun, circa 1999
I always felt the wall outside of the Midnight Sun was a relic of fear and shame because of what I witnessed in my earliest days here. I also have a contemporary who tells an ancient personal story about crawling out through the back door of Alta Plaza [restaurant] in Pacific Heights to avoid his boss around the same time. The real triumph is how far we’ve come. – HD