Editorial: Take Your Clothes Off, If You’d Like
In mid-September I started an email dialogue with Castro’s District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener when I found out he was going to be introducing legislation to ban nudity throughout the city of San Francisco. I was disappointed, to say the least, that of all the issues that plague our community and San Francisco at large, this was an issue Scott was willing to tackle.
In the exchange he noted that the nudists have taken over Jane Warner Plaza saying,
“I don’t have an issue, in general, with public nudity. Nor do most folks in the neighborhood. What I and many others do have an issue with is any group that takes over and dominates the only usable public plaza in our neighborhood. Jane Warner Plaza is our town square, and these guys have turned it into their own personal nude beach. That’s not ok. They’re their own worst enemies — their behavior has done nothing but built strong public sentiment in favor of a ban. I’d very much prefer that they just stop dominating the plaza and avoid the need for a measure to address the situation. To date, I’ve seen no indication of a willingness on their part to do so.”
Though I have only lived in the Castro for two years, I was not aware that nudists had taken over Jane Warner Plaza. I bike by their 10+ times a week and have only seen, on average, 0-3 guys there. I was curious and emailed him back asking him if he has tried to meet with the nudists to see if there was a way to deal with this situation without the need for legislation. I urged him, as a leader of our community, to work with people to come to a resolution rather than taking the easy route by proposing a law to ban nudity throughout the entire city. Supervisor Wiener emailed me back saying that he mediates neighborhood disputes all the time, but that he had not reached out to them as of the date of his email. He noted,
“I also go by there all the time, as I live in the neighborhood as well. On any afternoon when it’s not cold, there are anywhere from 6-14, occasionally less.”
As I mentioned, I was not aware that there were so many nude people in Jane Warner Plaza. To verify Supervisor Wiener’s claim that on days that are not cold there were, in fact, 6-14 nude men in Jane Warner Plaza, I worked with one of our readers to go down there everyday for 10 days at the warmest part of the day and take photos of the Plaza to see how many nudists were down there. This is what we found:
From what our reader documented there were only 6 nude guys in the plaza for the entirety of the 10 days we went out there with no more than 1-2 at a time. It is evident that the nudists have not taken over Jane Warner Plaza as Supervisor Scott Wiener claims.
A San Francisco Chronicle writer and specifically the Bay Area Reporter have “come out” in support of Supervisor Wiener’s ban citing (without any notable references) that the nudists are shaking their dicks at oncoming traffic. While the BAR’s claim may be true, there are laws on the books to deal with this kind of lewd behavior and these laws should be enforced. I will also concede that there are probably a few cooks (not cocks) spoiling the broth by taking it from being nude in public to being an exhibitionist. Furthermore, the reason why you see more nudists walking around the Castro than any place else in San Francisco is that the Castro, with a history of queer culture and out of the norm lifestyles, is a safe space for them to hang out. Nudist Woody Miller can attest to that as he was harassed, threatened and nearly beat up for being nude in public. Mr. Miller reported that a grown adult man pulled up to him one day while he was walking nude and said that he would “beat his fucking ass” if he did not put pants on. Miller also said that the man,
“…got out [of his car] and opened the trunk, and pulled out a skateboard, all the while screaming about ‘Beating my fucking ass.’ I asked a man on the sidewalk to please call the police with his phone. He did so, at which point the guy jumped in his car and took off”
I think Supervisor Scott Wiener has done an excellent job of letting the media machine tell the story of the nudists and the people who are fed up with them, but has not acted as a leader of our community to meet with the nudists and the dissenters to mediate the issue. If this issue is really about Jane Warner Plaza or the Castro and not the rest of the City of San Francisco, creating a law banning nudity throughout the city is quite an over-reaction. There could be a myriad of other solutions that do not involve a carte blanche ban on nudity throughout the entire city. Why not just ban nude loitering in pedestrian plaza’s? Punishing all of San Francisco with this broad based law is not the answer. For this reason we here at the Castro Biscuit do not support a city wide ban on nudity.
Under Supervisor Wiener’s proposed law you can be arrested, fined up to $500, and spend up to a year in county jail for the following:
- Going out for some fresh air outside the 440 while in your jockstrap on underwear night or outside the Powerhouse if the back patio is just too much for you.
- Walking to the new Eagle from your car or MUNI in assless chaps.
- and just plain being naked while in public
The Board of Supervisor’s City Operations and Neighborhood Services committee is expected to take up the rule change at its November 5 meeting. The hearing will begin at 10AM in Room 263 at City Hall. We encourage all folks who are opposed to the ban (and even those that aren’t) to attend the meeting and have their voices heard.
It’s a bad solution to an issue that has been blown out of proportion without real leadership behind it.
Keep the Castro weird, people.