Another blog to ‘flag up’ to you, is the often controversial, always interesting blog, Petrelis Files. Michael Petrelis is based in San Francisco and often posts on community/Castro politics and issues facing residents/issues that concern him. A long standing issue is that of flag politics in the Castro, specifically the huge flag pole that faces new arrivals in the Castro. Petrelis is arguing that the local community should have control over the flag rather than having to go through city officials. I think he has a point and I’m surprised this isn’t the default position in a city like San Francisco.
Of more interest for those who study the politics of queer space is the quote from a city official that “The bottom line is a lot of it is tourists. They want to see that flag up.” So a space – Harvey Milk Plaza – becomes less about a community hero and more about tourists. It is quite possible that if I was a tourist I might feel disappointed that I was unable to take the typical photo of a huge rainbow flag wafting in the breeze because it had been changed for a leather event, or a bear event (or…some other event!) and I might be puzzled to see the flag at half mast when someone I’ve never heard of, someone who has not touched my life has passed. Yet here’s the thing, I’m a tourist. I don’t live there. It’s not my community, I’m a guest and city planners that put tourists before their own citizens have frankly lost the plot.
It may well be that city officials have good reasons to resist more direct community control but they don’t yet seem capable of voicing such a rationale. Check out the full story on Petrelis Files.