Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours Honored as First San Francisco Legacy Business Tour Company
Media Contact: David Perry / (415) 676-7007 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours Honored
as First San Francisco Legacy Business Tour Company
9 July 2019 – San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Small Business Commission unanimously approved Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours as the city’s first and only Legacy Business Tour Company (www.cruisinthecastro.com). Recognized for providing 30 consecutive years as a longstanding, community-servicing business and a valuable cultural asset to the City and County of San Francisco.
Founded in 1989 by local historian Trevor Hailey who was inspired by the social and political upheaval of gay and lesbian rights in America. Trevor became an icon as well as, the orator of the Castro community for 16 years. Upon her retirement in 2005, travel professional and Castro resident Kathy Amendola, purchased Cruisin’ the Castro and continues to educate and empower people from around the globe on LGBTQ history and lack civil rights.
“It’s been a tremendous opportunity for me to call the Castro community my home. So much of LGBTQ history, activism and culture started in San Francisco. Over the past 14 years, my job went from being a tour guide to a civil rights activist. And following pioneers like Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, Harvey Milk, Cleve Jones and Carole Migden is a tremendous honor”, Amendola claims. “As a diverse culture, we don’t have visibility or equal rights in America nor many parts of the world where homosexuality/diversity is still illegal or a worse, a death sentence. My tour gives people the education and knowledge to make differences in their lives and communities. This is how we change the world, one heart at a time”, she added.
Kathy’s favorite story to share includes the Pink Triangle Park & Memorial and the rose quartz stones that fill the triangle. Visitors are encouraged to take the stones and spread pride throughout the world. One tourist from Germany, Kai Klose, a member of the Green Party in the German Parliament was so inspired that he returned to Germany and decided to come out with his sexuality in his job. Not only that, but for 7 years carried his rose quartz while making speeches in the Parliament about incorporating
LGBTQ laws into Germany’s government. In 2017, Germany legalized same-sex marriage and it was Kai’s party that was the forefront of the whole movement! Kathy and Kai did reunite and remain friends to this day.
Over the past 30 years, the Castro neighborhood has changed as the spectrum of sexuality and gender diversity has become more “visible”. No longer an exclusively white, male, homosexual haven, the emergence of bi-sexuality, pansexuality, and a- sexuality (to name a few!), has become much more prevalent in straight looking people.
Community involvement is a big issue for Kathy. Thru the years, she has served on many organizational Board of Directors and is currently an Emeritus Board Member for the Rainbow Honor Walk, bronze sidewalk plaques in the Castro honoring famous LGBTQ people whom have impacted history, as well as, the Pink Triangle Park & Memorial, America’s first in remembering homosexual men persecuted during WWII.
Noting her professional achievements, the San Francisco Police Department in 2017, began hiring Kathy to train their new cadet classes. To date, over 400 new officers have received LGBTQ cultural training to better understand and service this unique community.
Through the decades, it hasn’t always been easy for the single, women owned tour business. With the ebbs and flow of the economy, political tugs of war pertaining to LGBTQ rights, the deadly AIDS epidemic and global warming, their biggest threat that came to the industry however, has been the rash of “free or pays as you please”, tour companies. Some with big advertising budgets and volunteer guides. Many uninsured and most illegally operating without San Francisco tour guide licenses. “It’s
tremendously hard for any business to compete against “free”, quotes Amendola. Regardless, Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours persevered to a highly respected and award-winning company offering the most comprehensive LGBTQ tour in the world. It’s a rare and exceptional San Francisco business created by two passionate women spanning 30 years. Through their colorful characters, heartfelt stories, cultural knowledge and political activism, they’ve lived history and like ripples, continue to change history.
Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours operates public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am – 12pm. Private educational, corporate and group tours are available upon request. Visit www.cruisinthecastro.com