Former Polk sex worker mourned
by Seth HemmelgarnA man once known as "the most beautiful" sex worker on San Francisco's Polk Street has died.
The death of David Royal Lundy Jr., 43, also known as Corey Longseeker, serves as the latest mark in the passing of the Polk neighborhood, which was once crowded with gay bars and hustlers, as a queer mecca.
Mr. Lundy, who's also being remembered for his kind, gentle nature, was found dead August 21 in his Civic Center apartment. The San Francisco Medical Examiner's office, which confirmed his death, won't publicly release the cause or manner for months, but a 2009 San Francisco Bay Guardian story told of Mr. Lundy's struggles with AIDS, schizophrenia, and methamphetamine use ( http://www.sfbg.com/2009/03/18/rise-and-fall-polk-street-hustler).
Joey Plaster, who wrote the Guardian piece, was also behind the documentary Polk Gulch: The story of Corey Longseeker.
Mindy Talmadge, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Fire Department, said in an email that a paramedic unit responded to a report of an approximately 40-year-old dead man at Mr. Lundy's building at 365 Fulton Street the day he died, but she couldn't confirm that Mr. Lundy was the deceased person.
Pastor Megan Rohrer is executive director of the Welcome Ministry, a group based in a church near Polk Street that provides food, housing referrals, and other services. Rohrer, who knew Mr. Lundy for years, said he'd been known as "the most beautiful" sex worker in the Polk neighborhood after his arrival more than 20 years ago, and that his death symbolizes "an end of the generation of sex workers and gay culture on Polk Street," where there's now only one gay bar.
But Mr. Lundy, who was gay, had more than looks going for him.
"He was a poet, and he was known for being very gentle and being a good listener and being a good friend," said Rohrer.
However, as the neighborhood changed, so did Mr. Lundy.
"I think what happened is that when HIV and AIDS decimated the Polk Street culture, that had a big effect on his ability to get tricks," said Rohrer. "His life started to deteriorate at the same time the sex work culture on Polk Street started to deteriorate."
Mr. Lundy had suffered side effects from HIV medications when they first came out, and in later years, still wouldn't take the drugs he had been prescribed, said Rohrer.
"He lost himself in San Francisco," said his mother, Wendy Lundy.
Although she usually hadn't known how to reach Mr. Lundy after he left the Midwest when he was about 18, Wendy Lundy, 62, of Menahga, Minnesota, knew that he had lived on the streets for most of his time in the city. The last she'd heard from him was a letter he sent about a year and a half ago. Besides his other health issues, Lundy said her son also had cancer.
During a phone interview last week, Lundy wept often as she recalled the "very soft-spoken and kind-hearted, very, very well-behaved" artistic child she still calls "Davey."
Mr. Lundy's father, David Lundy, 66, recalled Mr. Lundy as "so kind."
"When the cat scratched him, and I went after the cat, he defended the cat and said it was his fault because he scared the cat," said David Lundy.
"I miss him," he said. "He didn't let us know how sick he was."
Dan Diez, who knew Mr. Lundy for decades but hadn't yet been told of his death, recalled him as "the most gentle soul one could know" who "had phenomenal male beauty second to none." But knowing Mr. Lundy in his last years could be tough.
"I am not sure if he is still alive as he was in a very weak state when I last saw him months ago," said Diez in an email last week. "After knowing and helping him for about 20-plus years, I just could not any longer take the unfortunate state he was in health-wise as it brought me to severe sadness for him."
Rohrer said Mr. Lundy had come to California from Minnesota "because his parents and him had disagreements about the fact that he was gay."
Asked if she'd had trouble accepting her son's homosexuality, Wendy Lundy said, "I guess you could say that." However, she said that they had never had a conversation about him being gay before he left for California.
"He never showed signs," she said.
During a Christmas visit to Minnesota around three years ago, "he said he'd tried it," she said. "At that time he had decided that that wasn't for him, but I guess he didn't really know, so to me he was probably back and forth."
"I guess I could have accepted anything if he would have been closer," said Wendy Lundy, who added, "I always hoped that he would come back to live in Minnesota."
In San Francisco, there will be a memorial at 3 p.m., September 14, at Old First Presbyterian Church, 1751 Sacramento Street. Services in Minnesota are also planned.
In addition to Mr. Lundy's parents in Menahga, other survivors include brothers Jeramiah, of Park Rapids, Minnesota, Joshua, of Blaine, Minnesota; and several nieces, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
For a link to information about Plaster's documentary, visit http://kalwnews.org/audio/2010/06/29/polk-gulch-story-corey-longseeker_442341.html.