Bond remembers this as a period of significant personal growth, both creative and political. It was here that the artist turned androgyny into a professional asset, developing an identity as a queer performer and activist. The first steps on this journey led through the Castro District, the vibrant, queer neighborhood mostly concentrated on Castro Street between Market and 19th in San Francisco. Bond started out broke, clerking in a gay bookstore to buy the coffee at Cafe Flore on Market and Noe, a bohemian salon that became a "spiritual home. " Seated at the "Queen's Table" in the corner, Bond absorbed a variety of perspectives from all corners of the LGBT community, attending Gay Pride for the first time in 1989. Participation in Queer Nation and ACT UP, advocacy groups combatting HIV/AIDS, anti-gay violence, and media prejudice, gave the artist "a voice and a sort of grounding in politics" that were new. At some point, Bond adopted the stage name of Justin, later explaining that there were few fates worse than becoming an old, gay man named Chip.