Some tourists treat San Francisco's gay population as a tourist attraction. Residents of the historic gay Castro District have reported an increase in large tour buses, which drop off thousands of nervous visitors ready to snap photos of two men holding hands or point and stare in shock.
While Castro dwellers and merchants welcome visitors and their cash with open arms, they have little tolerance for the new breed of non-shoppers. And things might not get better — now that Hollywood has used Castro Street as the set for the upcoming movie Milk, a film about the first gay councilman in the US who was killed by his fellow San Francisco councilman, I imagine that the city's gay neighborhood will attract even more gawkers after the film's release.
Positive curiosity might signal the end of a gay-stigma, and I don't blame residents for feeling like animals in a zoo. If San Francisco wants to base much of its economy on tourism, should it swallow the consequences?