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Castro clone is a rather derogatory gay slang for an archetypical gay man who appeared in dress and style as a hyper-masculinized working-class man. The term and image grew out of the heavily gay-populated Castro neighborhood in San Francisco, California during the late 1970s, where the modern gay rights movement sparked by the Stonewall riots in New York City 1969 and the Summer of Love gave rise to an urban community. The term is usually used as a backlash against conformist behaviors.
The Castro clone look typically consisted of a form-fitting t-shirt, shrink-to-fit denim trousers (bell bottoms and low-rise jeans in the early seventies, later more traditionally working class [[Levis 501's) worn snugly, sneakers or boots and, often, a full mustache and sideburns. Gay men so frequently adopted this attire, at first when bar-hopping, that it soon became associated with males of the post-Stonewall LGBT community. It reflected an early emphasis on physical attributes associated with masculinity, physique-revealing apparel, and inexpensive, comfortable streetwear. The combination yielded a gay look that was considered sexy and easy yet suitable for non-gay venues, enhancing LGBT visibility and facilitating the community's emergence from the closet in the late 20th century.
With an influx of young gay people who were also liberated to express their sexual desires, a culture of idolizing masculinity emerged with rugged working-class men seen as one of the ideals. Visual appearance was inspired by the icons of masculinity portrayed in the works of homoerotic artists such as Tom of Finland and can be seen as the construction worker character in the Village People, and Al Parker, the porn star.
The clone look arose during the 1960s and 1970s Gay Rights Movement, which allowed greater freedom of expression than had previously been acceptable. This new freedom was represented in the imagery of movies and magazines of the time, inspiring a particular gay male style. With a greater acceptance of gay men, there was a fashion towards being seen and identified with the group. Masculine attire such as uniforms, leather or Levi's and check shirts all served to emphasize the wearer's best assets. Those with buff bodies believed that less was often better, so that their hard work at the gym was evident.
The look continued to evolve through the 1980s and beyond, effectively influencing the rise of the bear culture, which expanded on the concept, converting mustaches to beards, emphasizing masculine body language as well as looks, and embracing ex-footballer husky-to-chub physiques. This contrasted with the more common sub-cultural spin-off of the Castro clone phenomenon, the twink evolution which led to the gym-and-diet induced slim musculature prized among gay urban men beginning in the 1980s.
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