So why is it that Las Vegas isn't San Francisco? Las Vegas has gambling, prostitution, vast amounts of sinful money changing hands and an ever-growing stream of people from all over the world coming in to be corrupted. Yet San Francisco, which has no gambling, no organized crime, no huge tourist industry based on sinning, is still the preferred city to string on the end of a conservative religious "oh my God the country's going to Hell in a handbasket, lock up your sons and daughters" rant.
Seems weird, doesn't it? Is being gay really that much worse than prostitution, gambling, adultery plus avarice?
No, but being gay isn't really why San Francisco's so offensive. Lemme 'splain.
Las Vegas gets called Sin City. If you were to add gambling to SF, it still wouldn't be called Sin City. We don't really believe in sin.
Las Vegas is all about sin. Show up, drink, smoke, gamble, fuck, and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. From the conservative religious point of view, they're the loyal opposition.
You know that phrase? "Loyal opposition"? It means that they act the part of the enemy in order to reinforce the system and keep the whole thing going. It's like Mardi Gras -- you show up, do all the stuff you're not allowed to do, blow off some steam, and then you're ready to go back to work on Monday, hangover or no. Without a pressure relief valve, societies fall apart. The Japanese get sloppy drunk in public then say embarrassing things to their bosses and piss in the gutters. We have outlets like Las Vegas.
So here's where SF really gets their goat -- there are very few deviants here that don't think they should be allowed to be deviants, right out in public, all the time. A lot of old-time conservatives are okay with gay people existing as long as they stay in the damn closet where they belong, as it were. The problem is Gay Pride, and Gay Marriage, and recognized Gay Civil Unions and all of these things that say, "hey, it's just fine to be gay."
Las Vegas may not have a bathhouse for cruising for gay sex (well, that I know of), but if it did you know it'd be filthy and full of people who would rather set themselves on fire than ever admit they'd set foot in the place. San Francisco had some of that, but moved on to doing the same thing proudly, right out in the open. And that's what really pisses off the religious right and their many comrades in idealism.
When you talk about disrupting the natural order of things, threatening family values and so on, that's what you're looking at. You're looking at altering the traditional situations and the traditional choices and changing things up. Las Vegas may be chock-full of sin, but it's not interested in making *every* place Las Vegas. The fact that it's exotic, scummy and far away is why it's safe for the common man, and why it's so profitable. Think of it as the red-light district to the world.
San Francisco doesn't want to be the red-light district to the world. They want to turn the whole world into a place with a little bit of red-light district mixed in. That's why a lot of the SF folk love it, and why it's so frightening to the conservatives. And given just how much the governmental stance on gay rights has changed in the last twenty years, apparently they're right to be afraid.
And at the risk of a little more empathy than is comfortable -- that's what the really extreme folks mean when they talk about "our kind" (hello, fellow Bay Areans!) being in league with the terrorists. Not that we're specifically allied with that group of Arabs. That's ridiculous and everybody involved knows it. What they mean is, we're attempting to be a threat to their way of life.
And you know what? We are. We want to do what we want to do, and if that means they see things in the street they don't like, screw 'em. That's what we're okay with, and that's what they're afraid of.
I wonder if either side is especially right or wrong. As far as I can tell, neither is. I selfishly like the side that allows freaks, though. Go freak rights!