Saturday, September 15, 2012
The naked guys in the Castro aren't content with just being nude. They have to be obnoxious, too.
It wasn't enough that the exhibitionists wanted to stroll past sidewalk cafes in the buff and flaunt their shortcomings in the Castro Plaza. Now Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the area, says there are reports of them engaging in public sex acts and of charging tourists to take a photo of them in the buff.
The principal at Harvey Milk Elementary School in the heart of the Castro has seen naked men while going to and from school. And Mission Station police who patrol the neighborhood report a consistent rise in complaints that range from seeing men who walk around with robes on and flash, to men who use props to call attention to their birthday suits and others who wear genital jewelry that stimulates arousal.
"The more over the top they get, the more public opinion has shifted," Wiener said. The problem is so bad that he said it's the most-raised issue among his constituents - topping homelessness and Muni.
The naked guys may get a giggle out of tourists, but when you live in the neighborhood it gets old in a hurry.
"I would say the overwhelming majority of my neighbors are fed up with it," said gay rights activist Cleve Jones, who has lived in the Castro "on and off" for 40 years.
A year ago Wiener drafted - and the Board of Supervisors passed - what's known as the "skid mark law." The ordinance requires nudists to put a towel or cloth down before using public seating.
I said at the time that the law didn't go far enough and ridiculed Wiener for making the city a national joke. The most recent examples of nudity Wiener cited clearly show there is a need to ban nudity on public streets, and I applaud him for rethinking how the issue should be handled. The skid mark law isn't working. And quite frankly, San Francisco wouldn't be alone in banning the naked guys. Marin County and even Berkeley have nudity laws.
There's a difference between going somewhere where nudists congregate and being confronted on the way to the ATM. C'mon, if you are shocked to see nude people at the Folsom Street Fair, you haven't been paying attention. But increasingly, the Castro is full of families with kids. This isn't a nude beach; it's one of the busiest places in the city.
San Franciscans, and Castro residents, have bent the city's code of tolerance into a pretzel attempting to accommodate the nudies. We wouldn't want to be seen as non-inclusive after all. Or prejudiced to those of a non-clothed belief system.
Wiener has been in office for nearly two years, and he says that during that time, the attitude on the naked guys has shifted.
"There are quite a few people two years ago who would have been against a ban and today they support it," he said. "The guys have taken it to such an extreme. I have to say it's actually sad because I think for many, many years we were totally fine in the city without any kind of ban on public nudity."
Wiener stresses, by the way, that IF he proposes a ban on nudity that it won't include festivals like the Folsom Street Fair or even the nude runners in the Bay to Breakers. This is about naked men taking over the street furniture.
The real laugh is the sense of entitlement that the naked guys have, spouting high-minded nonsense about personal rights and defending free speech. Ridiculous.
And yet, they are given every break. Two weeks ago my family and I were having brunch at Starbelly restaurant at the corner of Market and 16th streets, when the naked parade trooped past. There wasn't a person in the place who cracked a smile.
In fact, as far as I could tell the prevailing response was a single word - yuck.