SF State Experts Say 'Summer of Love' Legacy Still Widely Felt

Monday, May 15, 2017

SF STATE NEWS -- SF State Humanities Lecturer Peter Richardson has written extensively on the time period, which many say was unraveling by 1967 under the weight of all the new arrivals. In his book “A Bomb in Every Issue” about the San Francisco-based muckraking magazine Ramparts, Richardson wrote that many musicians and artists had misgivings about the massive migration of youth.

SF State students could be found living in the Haight-Ashbury “youth ghetto” commingling with artists. The area was residential, but homeowners converted large single-family homes into rooming houses for students, Richardson said, because of the proximity to SF State. It was there that youth culture entered new frontiers — authority was tested, music risks taken and drugs were imbibed, all to create behaviors and cultural products that were counter to the mainstream and changed attitudes and tastes for decades to come.

During the years leading up to the Summer of Love there was a growing shift in musical tastes for young people. According to SF State Professor of Music Dean Suzuki, this was the first time young adults began taking rock and roll seriously. Musicians approached music differently, too, creating quality full-length albums as opposed to singles.

The free speech movement, the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement were all present on campus starting in the early 1960s, according to SF State Professor of Political Science Robert Smith. The Summer of Love was another of these movements — the drug use and free love were another way of expressing dissatisfaction with the predominant culture, he said.

SF State’s various protests very quickly became a model for other colleges and universities in California and eventually the rest of the country, Smith said.

The Summer of Love wasn’t just about love — it was also about sexuality. According to Professor and Chair of the Department of Women and Gender Studies Julietta Hua, people were questioning what sexuality could be. “The Summer of Love shook up conventional notions around how one should express one’s sexuality and in what spaces,” Hua said.