Lawmakers in San Francisco have narrowly approved a ban on public nudity after complaints by gays living in the city’s largely anachronistic gay Castro district –– for now that Gayness itself is Out, young people have little interest or need for a gay ghetto. One has only to walk through the Castro to experience its moribund nature that even a few naked penises cannot rejuvenate.
On November 20, 2012, the Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 to prohibit people from exposing their genitals in most public places. Exceptions will be allowed for certain street fairs and events. (These exclusive Photos by BIRON were taken at that November 20th hearing in City Hall.)
In September, Castro District Supervisor Scott Wiener pushed for the nudity ban in answer to his constituents, mostly white middle class gays perpetually worried about their property values and undesireables in the neigborhood. This is a community with a long history of having a suburban-gated mentality that is now fed up with seeing naked men hanging out in the heart of their 'respectable' Castro district. For a long time, from the late 1970s through the 1990s, the Castro was openly unwelcoming to Blacks and some gay bars even used multiple carding as a way of keeping them out. Now, this energy is being directed towards nudists of all colors, races and creeds.
Far from being a “quirky part of San Francisco,” Mr. Wiener said the issue had become extreme and required city action. But fellow gay Mission District Supervisor David Campos disagreed. Mr. Campos said nudity had always been part of the Castro scene. Mr. Campos voted against the ban, unconvinced the issue warranted such a blanket prohibition. Four other supervisors, several of color, concurred citing civil rights issues and the need to address more serious city problems. Mr. Weiner garnered five votes from the more conservative city districts. Those who break the ban could face $100 fines or a year in jail for repeat offenders.
The final vote by the Board of Supervisors is scheduled in December. Urban nudists hope a federal judge will block the law from taking effect. A hearing in federal court is scheduled for January.