At the gym this morning my trainer asked about my T-shirt with the words San Gregorio across the front. When he said he’d never heard of it, I realized this gay sanctuary could be lost to gay culture if I didn’t say something.
San Gregorio is a dot of a town on the San Mateo coast about forty minutes south of San Francisco. The town is a decaying gas station, a feed store and the most incredible general store in America. A quarter mile west from the town is a beach that stretches for miles below steep cliffs and what’s left of a railroad that once connected San Francisco and Santa Cruz. A friend introduced me to the beach shortly after I came out in 1973. It was a dream come true, a place I could be naked and surrounded by fellow gay men who believed in Nature and freedom. It was a breath of fresh air. There was nothing like it. So good it was hard to believe it existed.
Two men farm land between Highway One and the coast. They allow us to park on their land for a small fee, and that gives us access to the beach which by law is public property. Because access is limited, the crowd is gay men and a few dedicated straight nudists. No weekend families and no freaked out church groups.
The General store, originally a stage stop, sells 501s, classic books, enamel metal cups and plates, fine music and an enormous collection of intelligent T-shirts as well as liquor and snack food. Local fiddlers and banjo players make Blue Grass music every Sunday afternoon for large appreciative crowds.
San Gregorio is a state of mind. It is being open to the air and the sea. It is cuddling behind driftwood shelters. It’s a place to do LSD and explore your mind and make love next to a fire. It’s being stoned and worshipping the sun and loving the man in your arms. The climb down is easily navigated and less steep than Black Sand beach in Marin County or Fort Funston in the city. At sixty-eight I make it to the top with only one stop to catch my breath. On weekdays dogs run free.
Any gay man who spends time there will know the true meaning of love and freedom. It is the place I touch the magic of being alive, and the eternal home of my ashes.