St. Petersburg, Florida – The New San Francisco?

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The first time I ever heard St. Petersburg described as the “San Francisco of the East” was on an episode of Queer As Folk a few years ago. One character considered a vacation to Florida and another one asked him where he was going. When he responded “St. Petersburg.” the other character said something like “You should have fun, I’ve heard that city is so gay it’s becoming the San Francisco of the East.”

I admit I did a double take when I heard that. At the time it seemed to me that was a bit of a stretch, but recently I wonder if it wasn’t accurate after all.

When I moved to the Tampa Bay area from Ohio in the summer of 1983, St. Petersburg was busy living up to its reputation as the “land of the newlywed and nearly dead.” Gay life was–well, there really wasn’t much in the way of gay life at all except for a couple of dingy bars. In fact one, the Engine Room on Fourth Street South, had a dirt floor. If you wanted anything even remotely connected to being gay you pretty much had to make the trek across the old Howard Franklin Bridge to Tampa.

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Authored By Greg Stemm – See the Full Story at Watermark

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