On completing 100 years of Teatro Castro, longtime organist recalls loss and life

SAN FRANCISCO – Bay Area Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate our history as the future brings new challenges.

One person who is well acquainted with the painful history that unfolded in the 1980s at the Castro is David Hegerty, organ director at the iconic Castro Theatre.

Teatro Castro is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and work is underway to make the building beautiful for the Pride celebrations.

Inside, at 72, Hegarty told KPIX 5 that life is fleeting. He not only believes, but has seen how fleeting it can be after surviving the AIDS crisis, which killed thousands of people in San Francisco in the early days of the epidemic.

David Hegerty, organist at the Castro Theater in San Francisco.


“The 1980s were a difficult time when many of our friends were caught up in the AIDS crisis and we lost many of them. The younger generation needs to remember what we went through to achieve a deeper meaning of Pride.” Hegarty said.

David played the famous organ at the Castro, a place where LGBTQ people could gather in safety and community during days when protections for LGBTQ people were rare.

Playing a song from the famous play La Cage Aux Folles, David mirrors the song’s lyrics: “What is life but a faded rose, live and love as much as you can.”

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