Twin Peaks Tavern stands as the unofficial gateway to the Castro. Likening itself as the Gay, SF Cheers, it’s where the music is kept to a conversational level, regulars remain primarily from the neighborhood and reasonably priced drinks are always well made. It also holds the distinction of being the first Gay bar in 1972 to take down the former wooden shutters hiding it’s occupants, install huge floor to ceiling windows, and let the world peek into our once primarily, private, LGBT world. Now forty years later as a result of those simple actions its about to become one of only three designated LGBT Historical Landmark’s in San Francisco.
That then bold move enacted by the two new Lesbian owners of Twin Peaks Tavern in 1972, to come out instead of hide in the shadows, was part of the clanging bell of change for LGBT liberation that’d been ringing all over the world in the three short years following New York City’s galvanizing Stonewall Riots. It’s hold your head up attitude heralded a new shift in Queer beliefs and inspired communities the world over. In 1992, three decades later, the tavern was sold to then-bartenders, Jeff Green and George Roehm, who’ve lovingly maintained those beautiful expansive windows of the tavern, remained unapologetically Queer and it’s reputation as the home away from home destination for locals and visitors the world over.
The City and People of San Francisco recognizes this particular brand of ground breaking, early Queer courage and Twin Peaks now stands on the verge of being honored as a LGBT Historical Landmark by the Historic Preservation Commission. There are currently only two other such designations: Slain Sup. Harvey Milk’s former camera shop and home, 573-575 Castro, now housing the Human Rights Campaign store and near by 2362 Market St., former home of the Jose Theater and the Names Project, which oversees the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The eatery, Catch, currently resides at that location.
Twin Peaks was built in the early 1920′s and had been an Irish pub frequented then, like now, by those who populated the neighborhood. The shutters that hid the first occupants of the tavern had been installed originally to keep the prying eyes of the local’s wives off their wayward husband’s respites. It’s interior is an ornate, hand carved, pre-Prohibition wood bar thats very rare and one of only seven remaining in the City. The tavern’s rainbow lit sign, an arrow pointing to the door, is always the first thing one sees as you round the corner off of Market St just past MUNI’s historic street car, F Line stop and plunge into the heart of the Castro.
The bar is still quite popular and you can find a wide variety of our community imbibing there at any given point of the day. Stop by and get a warm hello, grab a drink, park yourself in one of it’s window seats and witness the comings and goings of our little slice of heaven while supporting the ongoing health of this local treasure.