Much ado about nudity

Is this really a crime (other than the coconut juice in a can)? Photo by Mike Koozmn, SF Newpsaper Co.

There was no public outcry when Pedro Villamore, a 44-year-old homeless gay man, was found dead in a doorway in the 500 block of Castro Street last December, a couple of weeks before Christmas and across the street from the holiday tree that the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro puts up every year to welcome big spenders into the neighborhood.

MUMC, which in years past opposed three homeless queer youth shelters and a free meals program at a local gay church, did not decry the fact that a member of our community died on the street -- and where were the city’s homeless outreach teams? Nor did any of the residents of the neighborhood express any concern that others who have a problem with methamphetamine, the area’s drug of choice, might meet a similar fate -- and shouldn’t the community be doing something about it?

Of course, if he had been one of the nudists who hang out naked in the Castro these days Villamore would’ve found himself on the front-page of Bay Area Reporter, the city’s gay weekly, while he was still alive. Not to mention the target of diatribes from the SF Chronicle’s chronically right-wing columnist C.W. Nevius.  

Sadly enough, a neighborhood that once stood for sexual and personal freedom has succumbed to anti-nudism hysteria, even to the point of echoing Anita Bryant’s old rallying cry, “Save the children!”

Hysteria it is, of epic proportions. Some Castro residents and MUMC merchants actually persuaded their elected official, Supervisor Scott Wiener, to introduce anti-nudism legislation because a few naked men prance around the hood au natural, even sometimes sporting (horrors!) cock rings on their dicks. In a neighborhood where there’s no dearth of cock rings or any other sex toy, not to mention every variety of gay porn imaginable, and where guys walk around bars in underwear, residents don’t want public nudity. Huh? The neighborhood’s historic live-and-let-live attitude has obviously gone the way of Halloween and being able to walk into Pink Saturday without being scanned by a metal detector.

Has gay marriage and the freedom to “be all that you can be” in the military afflicted residents of the Castro with assimilation fever? What’s next -- fundraising parties for Mitt Romney or a Castro chapter of the Moral Majority?

In a community that, according to a recent Williams Institute study, is rampant with poverty and suffers a serious lack of full-time employment for transgender people (75%, according to a report from this paper and the Transgender Law Center), not to mention a major drug and alcohol problem that makes gay men easy targets for muggings as they leave the bars at night, you’d think that public nudity would the last thing on anyone’s mind.  

People with AIDS continue to be pushed out of apartments in the Castro so that landlords and realtors can make tons of dough and LGBT seniors are forced to live with little economic or social support, regular cuts to services and benefits, and discrimination and isolation in nursing care facilities.

Yet from the volume of letters in the BAR and the number of calls Wiener says he’s received, you’d think that public nudity is the biggest problem in the world.

Pedro Villamore might disagree with that.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca has been a queer activist for the past 42 years, and a Castro resident for 20. He is editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: the early years of gay liberation (City Lights).


some dead guy and a bunch of naked guys offending people.

At least pick a fight worth fighting.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 3:30 am

Seriously -- do we need a legal ban to address this problem? It's going to get cold and rainy soon, and I suspect that the naked men will soon be indoors. It's a passing fad. I have no problem with adult nudity in public; I have two kids, and they're San Francisco kids, and they don't even notice the naked guys anymore. Let it go.

Posted by tim on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 9:00 am

I'm curious how you address the issue of adults stimulating one another in public spaces. Is it sort of a "celebrate diversity!!" kinda-thing in your family?

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

Is that irony?

bags at the store now cost .10$

Wouldn't it just be better if these people respected their fellow citizens?

Posted by matlock on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

I challenge anybody to defend why they think mere nudity in public is bad, other than of course this is what you've always been told. Does anyone on here have a brain to think independently. Really, what's so horrific about the human body? Most on here take cheap shots at the nudists weight or age. So add age and weight discrimination to your list of attributes. We humans are the only species I know that cover up their body...even when it's not even necessary for warmth or protection. We cover it just because's baaaaaad, eviiiillll to not have clothes on. Why? Save the kids? You wanna save the kids keep them away from the TV where they'll see people get beat up, shot at, humiliated and terrorized on a regular basis. Anyone that's been around nude people knows that after a while nudity becomes about as noticeable as what kind of socks people are wearing. You just don't think about it any more.

Posted by Bilbo on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 4:06 pm
Posted by Troll II on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

want to be an unwilling participant in another persons sexual fetish.

You wouldn't mind if you were walking down the street and I forced you to take part in some German schizer antics?

I do like your taunting though, think for yourself, indulge the world on my level and my fetishes.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

so much energy spent on nothing. i spent a few days hanging out nude in the castro and no one had any problem with me. i don't care what the breeders with their baby strollers think or the mexican nannys or whatver because they don't belong in the castro . don't legislate my sexuality. don't turn the castro into another boring noe valley. we need more naked people in the castro. tell the uptight self hating gays to go over the hill and join the rich jews and yuppies of noe valley - thats more their style. thank you tommi and biblo. let's keep nudty in the castro yea man do it.

Posted by Guest Aaron on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

should just get the hell out of the Castro because they don't belong there anyway - right on!

Please share your opinion more often - preferably at the next Board meeting on this issue.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

None of that kind of talk is racialism when it's done from a progressive angle.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

That one is a real gem. This isn't an issue about sex - except it is because Aaron says "don't legislate my sexuality." It's not an issue about class or race except it is because Aaron mentions "Mexicans" & "Jews" as well as "rich" in his comment.

So we hit all the progressive pressure points - except this time it's a progressive pointing the finger at all those pesky Jews, Mexicans, straights and wealthy people who want him to cover up his cock. How dare they? Don't they understand the Castro is only for poor gay whites?

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

gays only, all others leave? Some much for inclusion and being a part of society. Why should others tolerate you if you don't tolerate others?

Posted by D. Native on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

"tell the uptight self hating gays to go over the hill and join the rich jews and yuppies of noe valley - thats more their style. thank you tommi and biblo. let's keep nudty in the castro yea man do it."

Aaron, your sexuality is not being legislated just because other people -- with whom you are not having sex -- don't want to look at your naked body in public. Nudity is not sexuality any more than food is obesity. I have nothing against nudity (or sexuality or obesity, for that matter), but I'm sure that tommi and biblo are thrilled to have your support... antisemitism, holier-than-thou attitude, rage and all.

Posted by penguinfly on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

Just remember...what rights you take away from others today can be taken away from you tomorrow. What methods you use to attack others rights today can be used to attack yours tomorrow. Where's the line where 'seeing' something does injury to you. Plenty of people in this world would react to seeing two men holding hands or kissing in public with 'yuk'. 'I didn't need to see that', 'gross'., which of course is the height of intelligence of the most common argument found here. Exactly how much material do you intend to force people to wear to protect yourself from what is essentially your own problem? Perhaps you fail to make the connection that in plenty parts of the world a woman with anything more than her eyes showing is considered to be all those bad horrific things mentioned here, immoral, overtly sexual, etc. There's really no difference between this and the burqa brigade. Nudity is NOT a crime. We're not all born in to this world as felons. The fact that there's exemptions for parades, festivals and certain age groups even makes it more ludicrous. Age check! Are you 5? OK, 6? Fined. Will this grandfathering in of existing 'festivals' prevent any new ones? Why not just have a festival every day? Who's gonna waste time denying those permits? Every time government tries to legislate something like this they just make a bigger mess. Lastly...what's with all the "I don't want to see ___" There's lots of things I don't want to see, perhaps I should seek to get them all banned.

Posted by Bilbo on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 6:26 am

We pass an ordinance requiring icky old nudies to wear burqas. Everyone goes home happy! (Especially those darn Jews from Noe Valley.)

Posted by Orwell's Uterus on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 7:58 am

I think this phenomenon signifies the end of white male privilege, the end of the gay mafia over San Francisco politics, and the transformation of the Castro neighborhood. As a gay, white San Franciscan male, I say amen. Let's sweep these old, selfish white men into the sewers and give this City some class again.

Posted by Guest Corona Heights Bear on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 10:55 am

LOL to the idea the Castro stands for "sexual and personal freedom"! What delusional world are you living in? Go talk to any person of color and you'll be immediately made aware of the limits of the Castro's offer for freedom. The Castro is not, and as never been, some eutopian space for personal freedom, even among the LGBT community.

I lived in SF for 4 years and I believe the Castro is a space for exactly one kind of person: white, middle-class, not-too-gender-atypical gay-identified men. It's not very supportive of gender deviance, it's incredibly racist, it's hugely classist...

Fighting the good fight is one thing, and I commend it. But get your head out of the clouds and take a look around.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 06, 2012 @ 1:39 am

I have walked along Castro, where the naked guys gather, many times, and have never seen anyone touching anyone else's dick or giving a blow job or "stimulating one another" in public spaces. That's already illegal. It's illegal to walk around with an erection.

If you think just by being naked these guys are "stimulating" anyone, you must be looking at a different bunch of guys. All due respect, these are not hot 20-somethings; they're older men who go naked.

The first time my daugher asked me why they they were walking around without clothes on, I said: Because they like to. She shrugged, we walked on, beginning and end of discussion. We don't even notice them anymore.

Posted by tim on Oct. 07, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

there's an old saying: dress for others, eat for yourself.

when i see nudity in public, forget the cock ring. no problem.

i think rapist, molester, abuser,and general exhibitionist pervert. do these guys even give a thought to the ramifications for women and girls seeing a naked man in public? are they losing sleep over that?

too bad these dudes can't get more active doing something civic, rather than admiring themselves in the mirror.

Posted by sf chick on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 8:24 pm