San Francisco Board Approves Public-Nudity Ban, Protesters Strip Down

We’re heading into Thanksgiving but folks in the City by the Bay will be seeing significantly less wattle: the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 in favor of ban on public nudity.

The measure, which still needs to pass a final vote before the assembly and get Mayor Edwin Lee’s signature, was introduced by openly gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, who said his constituents were complaining about men exposing erect penises and other body parts in the Castro.

“We’re a city that believes in freedom, and we’ve always believed in freedom and free expression,” Wiener said Tuesday. “But taking your pants off at Castro and Market and displaying your genitals to everyone? That’s not free expression.”

Opponents have filed a lawsuit claiming the ban is unconstitutional—and also claim it will take resources and time away from police. After Tuesday’s vote, demonstrators in the council chambers stripped down in protest.

If the ban passes, a first offense would carry a $100 fine, but those nabbed for repeat offenses could face $500 fines and a year in jail. Exemptions would be allowed for popular public celebrations like the Bay to Breakers Run, SF Pride and the Folsom Street Fair.

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  • BayAreaHomo

    The neauveau-riche yuppie club strikes again!

    This city has become utterly intolerable the last several years, with wealthy prudes moving in and squeezing out every last drop of individuality and uniqueness, and replacing it with their boring “technology visions” and “save the children policies.”

    They started with the working class. You can’t have a smoke anywhere in the city anymore. You can’t buy your kid a happy meal. Hell, you cannot even get a grocery bag without paying for it (and even then, it cannot be plastic).

    Our once free-thinking and diverse street culture has been replaced by boring corporate hipsters wearing mass-market brands who are just “oh so progressive” but cannot stand the idea of a nudist. They worry that little Ashleigh and Skyler have to “see gay stuff” in the Castro as they walk to exclusive elite private schools.

    And now, the last little bits of cultural iconoclasm have been wiped out, with a law that accords queer people, people of color, nudists and others who “offend” the new sensibilities a small block of time under city license for events to express themselves, like the Folsom Fair, or Pride, before being shoved back into their GAP hipster jeans and iProducts.

    And yet, despite all of these events, this increasingly wealthy and conservative, segregated city clings to the laughable myth that it is “progressive” and “open minded.”

  • BayAreaHomo

    Incidentally, the (absurd) claim that nudists were waving erections around is a bogus rationale for this new law. It’s already illegal to be in a state of public arousal in SF.

    Anybody who has actually been here sees them walking around, and giggles. It was part of the ambience that made the city unique and colorful and worth the crazy-high taxes and killer rents. But with this latest migration to corporate cloneship “for the children,” you might as well live in Fremont or Redwood City.

  • petensfo

    I’m kinda bummed… They banned nudity at Bay to Breakers (a hugely popular road race where people dressed in costume or less; tons of fun), now they’re banning nudity citywide.

    So what makes you think just because it would be different people objecting that they wouldn’t ban nudity or more during Folsom, Gay Pride, Dore Alley… Baker Beach, which is actually under Federal jurisdiction???

    SFO needs to embrace its different perspective in the world, not run from it. Even the objectors would have a hard time saying that the free-spirit of the city didn’t draw them here in the first place.

    Just because another stranger doesn’t like it, should they really get to have a say? I see ‘looks’ that I object to every day. And after all, everybody’s got skin. And that baloney about people being aroused is a red-herring. I’ve lived in SFO for 15+ years, worked in Castro, & I’ve NEVER seen that.

  • Freddie27

    How sad! San Francisco has always been a place of alternative thinking and hippie values; it was at the centre of the counterculture. What is so objectionable about the human body? Scott Wiener and those who voted for this are small-minded and immature and definitely not San Francisco. What is our obsession with banning and criminalising things that we object to or make us uncomfortable? If you are uncomfortable with someone’s genitals, don’t look and don’t go nude! It doesn’t directly affect you if someone decides to go nude, that’s their choice! The free-thinking, alternative spirit of SF died today.

  • Wilberforce

    Yeah, I’m sorry to see this go. I lived there for years, and nudity was part of the spirit of the town. Where else in the entire country? No where, that’s where. It’s a pity.

  • hyhybt

    I suspect the word wanted was “wattle”…

    Anyway, though: public nudity is illegal pretty much everywhere else in this country. How did it come to be allowed in San Francisco in the first place?

    (Which is NOT a statement either way about whether it ought to be or not.)

  • Jerry12

    I find it difficult to believe that any sober, decent human being would support public nudity i.e. exposure of genitals or rectum areas of the body, in public areas for any reason whatsoever. There is no justification whatsoever for wanting to do so, let alone actually doing it. There ARE some lines that should not be crossed. This is one of them.

  • hyhybt

    @Jerry12: OK. But why do you see it as allowing people to make their own choice, rather than compelling them by law to do something, that requires justification?

  • bearonthepeaks

    it is unfortunate that people come to san fran believing the tired canards about a place where one can do what they like, when they like. we’re a small tip of a foggy peninsula surrounded by bay and ocean and since the spanish got rid of the indians, it’s been one group trying to throw another group out since. “progressive”? how quickly people forget we are the headquarters to bechtle and the bay area is where nuclear arms are designed. even during the days of the barbery coast men could not walk about in wigs and sunglasses naked with their genitals covered in oil waving them at traffic. there is no precedence for what is happening today in respects to the ‘naked guys.’ to blame the “wealthy prudes” moving into the city or “corporate hipsters” is puerile nonsense. i suspect those same “hipsters” are very open-minded; they apparently have standards and expect public places to be places where respect and civility prevail and public health is not compromised. to suggest ‘the alternative spirit of sf has died’ and that weiner is a facist is absurd. such hyperboles make you look silly. i am gay and i support the ban on public nudity and i think it’s wonderful that our city is being reborn with young minds and new money. to borrow one facet of your argument, if you can’t handle it, maybe you should move.

  • BayAreaHomo

    Spoken like a true corporate whore, bearonthepeaks. Congratulations!

  • BayAreaHomo

    And again, claiming that this is about public health is RIDICULOUS. This is a city where roving bands of homeless people defecate on the sidewalks. The escalator in the Muni station for city hall had to be closed for weeks because its mechanism was clogged with over 200 pounds of human feces.

    A quick walk through downtown San Francisco will yield two dozen homeless people, several piles of human feces/urine puddles to avoid, and seriously mentally ill people wandering around threatening to assault people. Several businesses in Soma, my neighborhood, have threatened to leave because the human waste problem is so bad that their streets are basically unlivable.

    Yet those sorts of everyday concerns get swept under the rug because they don’t effect the wealthy corporatists who think “OMG, a dick/pussy! Cover it up!”

    They’re the progressive equivalents of John Ashcroft when he covered up the “indecent naked statue of Justice” with drapes.

  • BayAreaHomo

    “I find it difficult to believe that any sober, decent human being would support public nudity i.e. exposure of genitals or rectum areas of the body”

    So Michelangelo’s David is drunk and indecent?

  • bearonthepeaks

    for the record, i never said – and i do not believe – that the nude human body is indecent. i believe the following things are indecent: (1) incivility (2) disrespectful behavior (3) judging people without making an attempt to know them (4) calling people names that disagree with you (5) any type of bullying (5) smearing other people’s miens (6) engaging in dialogue that attempts to censor other opinions. these are things that i find indecent and sadly as i feel this mileu is not one that tolerates an open dialogue, this will be my last comment. i got bullied enough for being gay in high school, i certainly don’t need to be bullied here!

  • Greg

    I really wouldn’t want to see someone nude in public. I don’t even want to see most people in the locker room nude. Believe me, it ain’t pretty. How sad if that is the best a person can come up with to show freedom of expression. Okay, yes, we get it. You have a dick. I see your balls. You’re naked. Yippee Hooray! You’re so original. You’re such a free spirit. Now go put something on. Because after a hard day at work, I don’t need to see that.

  • Dumdum

    I came out in San Francisco at 15 in 1975. I left in 1990. Seeing people in various states of dress and undress at events like the Castro St Fair, Folsom St Fair, the Pride parade, and Bay to Breakers was common place. Since THAT is still allowed then what’s all the fuss about? Also why is it that most of the guys that wear butt-less chaps are the last people that ought to be wearing them? The last thing I want to see is some tired old leather queens flabby hairy butt. I was walking my dog once S.O.M. and rounded the corner on Folsom Street. I was blinded by the suns reflection on the biggest whitest fattest flattest a** I had ever seen. You could have show movies in CinemaScope on that thing. I personally like a little mystery, in most cases a lot of mystery. I can see wearing chaps if you’re riding a Harley or something, but bar hopping or getting out of a car? Some costumes DO look ridiculous.

  • BlogZilla

    I don’t make a point of running around naked in public, but these asshole conservative yuppie politicians make me wanna puke. Aren’t there more important things to worry about.

    If they wanna save the children, they might want to start providing real food in schools instead of the slop they eat now, and stop mandating vaccines like Gardasil that have grave consequences.

    Goodbye Folsom Street Fair. Pretty sad

  • BlogZilla

    @Dumdum: That is annoying. The last person that should be wearing Speedos is always the one wearing them, but if we didn’t allow them to wear them, we might not see the beautiful men wearing them either.

    Unfortunately this isn’t Europe. If it was, there wouldn’t be such a high ratio of fugly fatties running around

  • BlogZilla

    @Freddie27: What’s objectionable about it is the most of the people stripping naked are not the ones you want to see naked. If they all looked like Francois Sagat or Jenna Jameson it would be different, but most of them dont

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