The Castro Street Fair celebrates its 41st anniversary this Sunday. Founded in 1974 by Harvey Milk, it’s long been a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Artists, vendors, craftspeople, and community organizations line the streets while several stages feature live music and dancing.
The archives is fortunate to possess amateur videotape shot at the 1976 and 1978 fairs. It’s part of the Daniel Smith/Queer Blue Light collection of nearly 100 reels produced by community enthusiasts in the 1970s. Below, take a trip through the sights and sounds of the Castro Street Fair as it happened on October 3, 1976.
Reigning Queens: The Lost Photos of Roz Joseph presents evocative photographs of San Francisco’s epic drag and costume balls of the mid-1970s. The color images were created by noted photographer Roz Joseph, whose drag-queen series was rediscovered after she donated the work to the archives. The exhibition is curated by Joey Plaster, a doctoral candidate in American Studies at Yale University who currently serves on our board of directors.
“Roz Joseph documented a world of self-styled baronesses in diamond tiaras, elaborate ‘royal’ coronations and gender-bending performance,” says Joey. “Her photos show how gay men deployed theater and fantasy to make very real contributions to San Francisco’s gay community. We’re excited to bring these long-lost images back into public view almost four decades after they were made.”
Many of the drag queens Joseph photographed were associated with an organization called the Imperial Court, which annually elects a drag empress who raises funds for local charities. Founded in San Francisco in 1965 and now established in cities around the U.S. and in several other countries, the Imperial Court system is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Reigning Queens will be on display from October 23 through February in the Community Gallery.