How A Young Tech Executive Lives His Authentic Queer Life in San Francisco
This article was orignally published on GayCities.com.
Christopher Romasanta is on top of San Francisco. In the past year alone, the rising Salesforce executive was named Mr. Gay Asian Pacific Alliance and starred in the San Francisco version of "Broadway Bares".
When we say he's on top of the city, we mean it literally. Romasanta, the manager of Salesforce's global renewal strategy, works in the digital titan's titular tower, currently the tallest building west of Chicago. He enjoys coveted access to breathtaking 360 degree views of the city, from Dogpatch to the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond.
"In a typical office environment, the top floor would be dedicated to executives," Romasanta says. "The company is taking this sought-after floor and shaping it as a hospitality and event space where we invite our employees, customers, partners, and community." The floor is appropriately named the Ohana Floor, after the Hawaiian word for family. To see it all for yourself, book a Saturday tour.
To Romasanta, the view is a constant reminder of the glories of San Francisco.
"The city is where I found myself as a gay man, as a gay Asian man," he says. "I knew I’d always live here, ever since I was a kid growing up in the East Bay. San Francisco is where you discover your true self. A lot of my friends have moved here for just that reason. When you visit, you’ll feel that sense of familiarity of being home but in a totally unique landscape like nowhere else on earth. San Francisco welcomes every niche and embraces all your quirks, kinks, and eccentricities—and when you look across the skyline from the Ohana Floor you can almost feel the freedom of it."
Salesforce Tower (415 Mission St.)
"When I gaze across the city, I sometimes focus in on the neon Castro Theater sign and the huge rainbow flag atop Harvey Milk Plaza whipping in the wind. It makes me feel serene and energized, being able to see the city in an entirely different light. It reminds me that I'm in the one place where I am free to be who I am, to enjoy a diverse community, and help join the fight for equality with so many others who think the way I do in a difficult time for the nation."
Pabu (101 California St.)
This Japanese restaurant and bar with a sexy ambiance and amazing drink menu is located in the Financial District, just blocks from Salesforce Tower. "I order the Whiskey Yakuza, which is dangerous if you have more than two. I decided a while back to make this is one of my regular date spots after work—assuming I’m lucky enough to go on a date."
Mr. S Leather (385 8th St.)
This huge store is a great place to casually browse the latest fetish trends. "I got my first leather harness here and also had the honor of helping friends pick out their first harness—and other sexy things. San Francisco is the kind of place where you can work in a fancy building wearing work outfits, but never fear wearing all kinds of other outfits outside of work."
Skool (1725 Alameda St.)
This Asian fusion restaurant in SoMa serves delicious food with creative plating, making it not just a treat for your mouth but for your eyes as well. "I love soaking up the sun with my friends on the patio on warm weekend afternoons."
Dolores Park (Dolores St. & 19th St.)
On any warm afternoon, you'll see every type of person in the city gathering here on blankets for a picnic, a bottle of cheap rosé, and maybe the "treats" some vendors here peddle. "The combination of beverages and sun and sexy people bring you to a new level of happiness. But it's not always that kind of party day at the park. I’ve taken my nieces and nephews here. There's a brand new playground and it’s great for jogging."
Moby Dick (4049 18th St.)
"If you want a real local bar, come here. I hang out with my friends before heading out to dinner or for weekend festivities. It’s a diverse crowd, which makes the atmosphere comfortable. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be there when one of my favorite bartenders will serve you drinks shirtless."
The Stud (399 9th St.)
The Stud is a San Francisco institution right in the middle of SoMa, featuring drag queens and a glam crowd. "My new apartment is nearby so I'm rediscovering this secondary gay 'hood, which is filled with great bars, clubs, and restaurants I never knew about. Check out Heklina's drag club Oasis, for sure."
Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave.)
"Last year, I was named Mr. Gay Asian Pacific Alliance at the organization's runway pageant, where contestants compete for Mr. GAPA, Miss GAPA (drag queen), and Mx GAPA (non-binary). It all takes place at the Herbst Theatre and there are all kinds of amazing “lewks” (including in the audience), talent rounds, and Q&A. The winners serve as the face of GAPA for a year and use this platform to promote causes important to the queer Asian community. It is one of the world's best celebrations of LGBTQ API culture, which too often faces invisibility and discrimination."
DNA Lounge (375 11th St.)
"I hang out at DNA Lounge when some of my favorite house DJs are playing. I performed there in the San Francisco Pride burlesque charity show, Broadway Bares SF. It was produced by the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation, benefiting Broadway Cares/San Francisco Strips."
Perhaps the proudest moment of my life came when my parents attended the GAPA pageant. But it wasn't easy getting to this point. Coming out was a process of learning to love myself, and then bringing my loved ones into my authentic life.
I spent much of my life hiding in a kind of glass closet. I purposely held back on some of the most basic things in life, right down to speaking up, which I feared would give away my secret. I shied away from finding gay friends out of fear of being labeled gay-by-association. I claimed I was just “painfully shy” and trying to be “good boy,” but really I didn’t want the kind of attention that would lead to being judged and outed. I wanted to be invisible.
Choir and theater in high school gave me the confidence to slowly start being myself. I completed a big part of my journey on my 25th birthday by finally letting my parents in. I left them a hand-written note telling them who I really was, the kind of person I want to become, the man I’d been in a loving relationship with, and how much it hurt that I hadn't been able to share my life and true self with them for my entire youth.
I was staying at my then boyfriend’s place feeling absolutely terrified as I waited for a response. I was ready to execute a plan I'd prepped for years. I was ready to cut off my entire extended family—not just mom and dad—if they failed to accept me. My mom sent me a text later that night saying, "We got your letter. We understand and love you. We also made spaghetti." I bawled at “spaghetti.”
It took some time and education for my parents to fully understand my life and my sexuality, but it was worth every moment, every struggle. Ten years later, they are my biggest heroes and my support system as I live my full gay life in the city I love.