Friday, December 21, 2012

Say Yes to Nudism!

the end of non-time and the beginning of time
the end of Macha and the beginning of Pacha
the end of selfishness and the beginning of sharing
the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism
the end of anthropocentric life and the beginning of bio-centric life
the end of hatred and the beginning of love
the end of lies and the beginning of truth
the end of sadness and the beginning of happiness
the end of division and the beginning of unity

How better to express this than through Nudism!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Protect the Children

Some food for thought:
A textile teaches their children to be offended by nudity by instilling fear at a young age of their own bodies.

A nudist does not teach their children to be nude. The nudist simply does not instill fear in their children.

Photo Naked Satyr

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

MUMC, the Trans Pride Flag, Faeries, and the Street Fair

My friend and fellow blooger, Michael Pertrelis reports how MUMC has rejected requests to fly the Trans Pride Flag on Remembrance Day Petrelis Files

MUMC has also come out full force against public nudity in the Castro neighborhood. I believe it is high time for MUMC and our elected officials to be answerable to the citizens of this district. The capitalists and the politicos are very organized. It is time that activists organize as well around common goals, be it issues surrounding who controls the Pride Flag which is located on public property, homeless rights issues, urban nudist issues, we must all ban together.

On Sunday, during the Castro Street Fair, some Radical Faeries staged an impromptu banner drop and protest from the top of the building at the corner of Castro and Market Streets. In the words of Jason Villalobos:

Yesterday we reminded San Francisco that naked can be beautiful.

With Cheer SF doing backflips on Castro and 18th, the drag queens cackling and stumbling about in their neon colored wigs, and the bands playing on-stage at Market, I was worried that our nudity ban protest would get lost in the madness. Not so, friends!!! We were THE talk of the Castro Street Fair 2012.

I want to thank the radical

 faeries and our sexy feminists for braving the zoom lenses of the thousands below as we stood on the roof above Walgreens beautiful and clothing free. The cheers and the flashbulbs from supporters and gawkers alike was absolutely deafening. Our protest was peaceful, it was respectful, and everyone had so much fun showing that the naked body should not be legislated against.

My thanks also goes out to our many lookouts that were stationed on the streets that texted, phoned, and waved their hands wildly to warn of the police presence scaling both side of the building to have us arrested. Because of you I was able to get everyone to the safety of my apartment and by the time law enforcement was able to scale the roof it was I alone who stood there to greet them. After a brief but tense conversation I was bale to assert my rights under the law and then I made them take the fire escape back down the side of a neighboring business to prove my point.

This protest wasn't just about getting naked and fighting the police, it was about the formation of community and coming together to push back on this ridiculous law being proposed by District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. After the police were phoned a second time a few hours later, I hit the streets to confront Scott directly. With a group of screaming, naked faeries behind me (I was clothed), I found our Supervisor and we had a tense exchange that left me promising him that I would do everything in my power to continue to fight his political agenda.

I haven't felt so inspired and honored to be apart of this artist community since the height of my HIV/AIDS activism. Many thanks to Jesse Oliver Sanford for being my Co-Captain and to all of my friends that helped hang the banners. Please keep up the fight and never stop having fun, because fighting for what's right is what makes this town unlike any other in the world. Today I am so proud to be a San Franciscan.

Thank-you Jason and everyone else who made this happen. This is the sense of community solidarity that we sorely need in the Castro!

63% of San Franciscans not offended by nudity!

My good friend Mitch Hightower received the following information from the Naturist Action Commitee.

Supervisor Wiener and others have suggested that the majority of San Franciscans are offended by non-sexual nudity. That’s not true.
In late 2009, the Naturist Education Foundation (NEF) commissioned a reputable polling organization, Zogby International, to conduct a statistically valid opinion survey of adult California residents. NEF asked for fairly tight geographical sampling within the state. The result is that we know what San Franciscans think about nudity.

Zogby tells us that the statewide margin of error for any question is +/-3.4 percentage points. Margins of error are higher for geographical subgroups.

Question number 5 in the 2009 NEF California Poll was:
“Do you agree or disagree that you are personally offended by the non-sexual nudity of others?”

Here are the survey responses for SAN FRANCISCO:
Strongly agree 16.4%
Somewhat agree 18.3%
Somewhat disagree 17.0%
Strongly disagree 46.1%
Not sure 2.2%

The numbers speak for themselves. Combining “somewhat” and “strongly,” MORE THAN SIXTY-THREE PERCENT of San Francisco residents say they are NOT personally offended by the non-sexual nudity of others.

View the statewide 2009 NEF California Poll:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

To Exhibit or Not To Exhibit

Returning home from the Noe St Farmer's Market just now, I heard a man behind me  exclaim loudly, "All the guys running around naked are exhibitionists." I turned around and told him he could not say that. He had no idea what my reasons or motivations were for what I was doing. The least he could do was ask me and not just make a blanket assumtion. He replied, "But you are an exhibitionist, look at you. If you looked a little better, it would be different." 

So it is all about how good you look! How open minded is that!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Urban Nudity Controversy

Following a long day at work, I was walking home up Eighteenth Street, when a man perhaps ten years younger than I, who was walking down the street said to me, “I have two words, Fucking Gross!” Whenever this sort of interaction occurs, my first impulse is to engage this person and express my sorrow to them that this is how they feel about the human body, and then to try to find out from them why they feel the way that they do? Unfortunately, people who deliver these comments are not interested in engagement, as they always keep walking past after hurling their unsolicited commentary.

I have not posted here in awhile. Life has been distracting. My second semester as a grad student is keeping me busy, German 2 is a struggle. Meine Leherin sagt, die meisten Studenten nehmen die Klasse zweimal. Things on the urban nudist front have been developing as well. On 19 September, the Bay Area Reporter, the local LGBT newspaper, ran a front-page article above the fold detailing how San Francisco Supervisor Wiener was now open to banning public nudity. Apparently, according to Wiener,  “people are absolutely repulsed by it.” The following Saturday, The San Francisco Chronicle’s chief exponent of yellow journalism, C. W. Nevius published his own rabid article, making wild accusations of sex in the streets. Since the appearance of these articles, the verbal outrage has increased.

Photo by Mitch Hightower
all other photos by Vista Point Guy
 In response, George Davis, Rusty Mills, Mitch Hightower, and myself had a meeting with Supervisor Wiener. Tommi Avilcolli Mecca was kind enough to arrange the meeting for us. Although Wiener stated he would really rather not propose any new legislation, he felt, due to the volume of complaints he was receiving, that public opinion had reached a tipping point. However, he also stated that he was willing to wait and see if the situation improved in Jane Warner Plaza. Wiener stated that he felt we were taking over the plaza; thereby making it impossible for many of the neighborhood’s residents to also enjoy it.

It saddens me to see the neighborhood I have considered my home for two thirds of my life become so intolerant and unwilling to listen to logic and reason. The human body is only offensive and obscene if you see it as such, offense and obscenity rests in the mind. Many complain that we are too old, fat, ugly, hairy, etc. My body carries the record of my lived experience, its triumphs and failures, its successes and tragedies. To assert that my body should be censored from public view is to assert that my lived experience, my very identity, should be censored form public view. Some site children as a reason for us to cover ourselves. I ask, why are you teaching your children to hate their bodies? Some insist we are all straight men who do not live here. It is funny, but when I go to other neighborhoods some who do not like me call my and my fellow nudists faggots. Body freedom belongs to everyone, gay, straight, bisexual, and transgender. Some say we are ruining business, keeping people from coming to the neighborhood to shop. I ask, why do we need to cater to the intolerant and uneducated? We nudists could be used as a learning tool, a symbol of our neighborhood’s and our city’s openness, tolerance, and respect for the beliefs of others. This is what I had thought San Francisco and Castro values were.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Castro Nude-In 9-22-2012

photos by Joseph Trombello

more to follow soon . . . .

Monday, September 10, 2012

What is Reality?

I have certain ideas concerning the state of the world in which we live and where I believe it is headed in the near future. These ideas are based on what I read and hear around me. I do not believe our prospects are good. I do not think, as a species, we will be able to survive past the next forty years or so. Yes, you read that last line correctly. I think homo sapiens will become extinct by 2050. My viewpoint is based primarily on an essay entitled “We’re Done” which I read on Guy McPherson’s blog, Nature Bats Last, back in the later part of June. In this essay, McPherson outlines all of the reasons why life as we know it will come to an end by mid-century, and they are all pretty compelling, but perhaps the most compelling is a statement released by Malcolm Light for the Arctic Methane Emergency Group who writes, “This process of methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.” 

Since that time I increasingly see more and more articles which only legitimate that dire prediction: John Vidal: 'A Great Silence Is Spreading Over the Natural World' details the recording of mass extinction by the growing silence in the natural world, Fen Montaigne: Arctic Tipping Point: A North Pole Without Ice, John Atcheson: We Are Writing the Epilogue to the World We Knew, Brad Plumer: Arctic sea ice just hit a record low. Here’s why it matters, CBC News: Arctic ice could vanish in 10 years, scientists warn. 

I understand the difficulty in wrapping ones mind around such a concept, but I mostly feel that either no one else is noticing these stories or no one else wants to think about them, all of which lead me to wonder more and more if anyone else sees the world as I do.

Tonight in my first seminar class on historiography we were discussing the nature of reality and history, who owns history, and why it matters. I found the class discussion very engaging, but by the end of the class I found myself looking around the room and asking myself the question that comes into my mind more and more lately. What is the point of this? Is this how I/we should be spending our time, considering my view of our prospects? And then I have to ask myself if anyone else is thinking the same things? So far I have been to much of a coward to ask. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Naked Pride II

While walking home naked from my friends' house Pink Saturday night, a woman who was partying with her friends on their front steps yelled at me. "Your disgusting and rude. Why don't you go and do that in front of your house in your neighborhood, not ours." I asked her where she lived. "Noe Valley," she responded, "but my boyfriend lives in the Castro." Well, I live right around the corner, I told her. To which she responded, "Well, Scott Wiener is my supervisor too, so I am part of this community and I think your disgusting." I told her I often see people wearing things I think are pretty awful, but I don't point it out to them. That that, in fact, was what was rude and disgusting.

Long ago, I moved away from my small town home town partly because people called me disgusting when I walked down the street. (It is called homophobia, but I never like that term. It is NOT a fear, but rather a hatred!). It saddens me that not only young heterosexuals are now moving into my neighborhood--the neighborhood where I and many more like me, many who are now dead due to the pandemic, worked so hard to carve out a space in which to exist, live, celebrate, and thrive -- but assimilationist homosexuals as well, who now feel they have the right to tell me I am disgusting when I appear in public because I believe differently than they do. 

For I believe that our bodies are not shameful, nor obscene, nor do they need to be constantly covered and hidden away. The exposure of ones body in public, the normalization of public nudity, is a healthy thing, it affirms our shared humanity and our connections with the biosphere we share with all other living things. The learned belief that our bodies are shameful, rude, and disgusting is harmful, it is a hatred, not an opinion. It is the hatred of the human body. How can we believe we are advanced, civilized, and cultured, when we harbor a hatred for our own bodies, a hatred for ourselves? I will continue to walk proudly naked in public. For every person like that woman from Noe Valley whose boyfriend lives in the Castro and whose supervisor is Scott Wiener, there are ten people who like what I do, who approve of me. They are not always as vocal as she is, but every once in awhile they are, and I thank them.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Very Naked Pride

It is Pride Week and I am allowing myself to become immersed in it for the first time in many years. I believe part of the reason for this is my increased commitment to the normalization of public nudity. It occurred to me that there is a certain territorialism involved with being naked in public on a daily, routine basis. By doing so, I am saying that I am part of this community and I have a right to be seen, to make my presence known and felt. I have come to realize that those who express displeasure at my naked body, either vocally or through more subtle body language, are exactly the ones who my message of claiming space, of territorialism,  is meant for. In other words, the only people I am pissing off are the exact ones I believe need pissing off!

With Pride approaching and the LGBT Film Festival occurring this week, many out-of-towners are here along with the usual number of tourists. The weather has been favorable and I have seen my claiming of space, of normalizing public nudity as a way to not only celebrate my pride in my body and the freedoms I am privileged to possess here In San Francisco, but also as a way to deliver my message to a wider Queer audience. To my pleasure, I have met one man from out of town who joined in the celebration of public naked pride. I also met another young man who told me he wanted to "get naked at Pride." I challenged him by asking why wait, why not just do it now. I am happy to report, it did not take much convincing and soon we were both happily running around the neighborhood naked. I sense he and I have the potential to become friends.

Happy Pride to everyone. Remember, Pride happens everyday, not just LGBTQ Pride or Queer Pride, but Body Pride, and Pride in yourself. Naked Hugs!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thursday, May 31 @ the Buff Stop . . .

. . . and Walt Whitman's Birthday.
"I proceed for all who are or have been young men,
To tell the secret my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Normalizing Public Nudity in San Francisco

Here is a draft of the oral history project I am currently engaged in for my seminar class on the History of Sexuality in America:

Normalizing Public Nudity in San Francisco
Elwood Miller
HMSX 702

“I think if anyone has a problem with [nudity], it’s their issue not mine. Because, what kind of damage is there? If they’re offended, look the other way. I might be offended by something you’re wearing, but I’m not going to complain, I’m going to look the other way if I don’t like it. So I think they should have the same courtesy.” [1]

One particularly warm San Francisco day, I found myself sitting with a friend in the newly fashioned Jane Warner Plaza at the intersection of 17th, Castro, and Market streets. I was naked, my friend was not. An older woman passed by with a little boy beside her. The boy found us fascinating. He looked, smiled, and said with that wonder only a child can muster, “A naked man!” The older woman told him, “He is disgusting!” The boy replied, “Disgusting, yea, he’s disgusting,” stopped looking at us and ran to keep up with the woman. My friend and I had just witnessed the very moment when a child’s mind is closed, when that child is first taught that what they believe to be interesting and natural, a naked body, is shameful and disgusting. Teaching this child that my naked body is disgusting teaches him that his body is disgusting as well. Many believe the time has now arrived when our very bodies deserve to be recognized and afforded equality in the public realm. There is growing resistance to the societal control which dictates hiding our bodies because some see them as shameful, dangerous, primitive, or disgusting. Exploring four oral histories, I will argue that not only has a movement for nudist equality been in ferment since the 1960s, but has also experienced what were once thought of as impossible advances in the past fifteen years; a movement to normalize the naked body in public space, to guarantee equal access and freedom from stigmatization by those who choose clothes freedom.
Given the prevailing attitude towards our bodies, it is not surprising that historians and other academics have largely ignored the nudist or naturist movement as a serious topic of study until recently. Those who do address the topic seem unable or unwilling to challenge the status quo. In Hiding From Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law, Martha C. Nussebaum states that even though the rationale for laws against public nudity are weak, “many people really do believe that premature exposure to the sight of adult genitals harms children, and the intrusion on personal liberty that is involved in restricting public nudity is probably not great enough to worry about.”[2] Nussebaum dismisses the right of the body to exist in public space as inconsequential, although she sees no logical reason for its prohibition, revealing her own biases and learned prejudices. Ruth Barcan, in Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy, argues that while we might seem to possess more body freedom now with the proliferation of nudity through various media, it is always restricted by regimes of representation which privilege only certain bodies, insist on sexualizing the body, and highlight the vast differential between actual permissible bodily practices and those representations.[3] Barcan’s observations and conclusions are astute, but what both Nussebaum and Barcan fail to see is a growing movement that not only questions regimes of corporatized, commoditized representations of bodies but also demands access to equality in the public sphere in spite of social myths centered on childhood sexuality and the hysteria that subject currently evokes.
San Francisco has had a reputation for being a wide-open town, providing fertile ground for the outsider, the marginalized, and the freethinking since its initial surge as the way station to the California gold rush of 1849.[4] Andrew T. relates how San Francisco has the reputation for always being a place for renegades, as well as a place that affirms human sexuality more readily then many other places.[5] Indeed, in San Francisco the push for nudist equality, for normalizing the naked body in public space, may be traced at least to August 21, 1965, when Jefferson F. Poland, leader of the San Francisco Sexual Freedom League, along with his girlfriend Ina Saslow and friend Shirley Einseidal held a Nude Wade-In at the Aquatic Park near Fisherman’s Wharf. The group had notified the press, and reporters and cameramen were on hand as well as a crowd of about five hundred mostly male curious onlookers. Handing out fliers and holding signs proclaiming, “WHY BE ASHAMED OF YOUR BODY?,” other supporters were on hand to form a picket line. Once out of the water, Poland, Saslow, and Einseidal joined the picket line, naked. The police arrived and the trio was arrested.[6]
Almost forty years later, the nude body in public space is becoming more normalized in San Francisco due to the efforts of a core group of activists. At Seventeenth, Castro, and Market Streets on any warm, sunny day, men will come to sun and lounge naked. Men may often be seen walking through the neighborhood naked as well. Andrew T. finds what has happened there “amazing in terms of people’s acceptance and in terms of emboldening [himself].”[7] Andrew gives a great deal of credit for the success of the movement as well as his personal increased comfort level with public nudity to activist George Davis as well as events such as a dance project he participated in with the Dandelion Dancetheater. The Dandelion Dancetheater describes itself as “being situated at the crossroads of dance, theater, community activism, healing, and new performance forms.”[8] The event Andrew was involved in took place in a warehouse space in San Francisco’s Mission District around 1998. All of the performers were naked at some point during the event, and each night the event would begin with a march, led by a drummer, as naked as you dared, around the outside of the warehouse space. Some people were top-free, some were dressed, and some were naked. The dance, being about body acceptance and the exploration of who may be named a dancer, incorporated all body types: classically fit, obese, young, old, and other-abled. Walking around the block naked night after night in the mission was a big breakthrough for Andrew. Seeing people engaging in public nudity, Andrew related, gave him the feeling that he wanted to be a part of this, to be a pioneer for change.[9]

A bunch of guys [were] outside of a bar, and they were like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ I’m like, ‘This is who I am. I don’t like clothes. I don’t wear them unless I have to.’ And they’re like,’ Aren’t you afraid you’ll be arrested?’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s not illegal.”[10]

 Public nudity is not illegal in San Francisco except in the parks and for decades the police ignored this fact until recent actions by local nudist activists challenged longstanding police policies.[11] The San Francisco Police Department regularly cited people engaging in public nudity as recently as the fall of 2010. However, the District Attorney’s Office would not prosecute. George Davis has been a nudist activist for many years, and many nudists such as Andrew T. credit him with doing much to change the police department’s policy regarding complaints over public nudity.  Davis worked as a cab driver in San Francisco in the 1970s before moving away. When he returned to the city in the early 1980s he noticed a major conservative shift in mass culture, even in San Francisco. Davis believes one of the barriers to having public nudity achieve more citywide acceptance is the lack of a gender balance. During the 1970s, Davis said it would have been easy to find women willing to participate, but since the 1980s it is nearly impossible.[12]
Davis first began his activism practicing nude yoga at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. On July 29, 2004, Davis was cited for committing a public nuisance after a nearby clothing store merchant complained. “You have a man standing in front of the cable car turnaround doing yoga nude, with a bus full of children from a Christian school next to it,” said Harriet Gibson, the storeowner. “We don’t need that in our city.”[13] But prosecutors dropped the charges. “Being naked in San Francisco is not a crime,” explained District Attorney spokesperson Debbie Mesloh, “unless the gentleman had lewd conduct or was obstructing traffic.”[14] Since then, Davis has run for mayor of San Francisco and for supervisor of District 6, always campaigning naked with a nudist platform. Davis has twenty-three citations and eighteen arrests for indecent exposure and was handcuffed and sent to prison for seven hours since the District Attorney’s pronouncement. The result of all of these arrests and citations was zero trials and zero convictions. Davis also has fifteen letters from the Office of Citizen’s Complaints describing police dealings with him as harassment. It was not until he and fellow activist Lloyd Fishback protested in front of city hall naked during his supervisoral campaign in 2010 that the police harassment stopped.[15]
Rusty Mills tells of frequent confrontations with the police when going out with a group of friends for nude urban excursions in the evenings. Mills and his group knew what they were doing was not illegal, but the police did not. Mills took the approach of arguing with the police about it. Some of the nudists with Mills thought this would make it worse, but Mills related that it did not; in fact it made it better. “They [the police] realized they weren’t dealing with someone who was easy intimidated.”[16] Mills said several others began taking this approach as well, not backing down when confronted by police who were challenging their right to be legally nude, and he feels it made a huge difference in the long run. Mills began his urban nude excursions around 1988 and eventually ran into a few others who were engaged in the same activity. However, it was with an Internet group he founded around 2002 that led to an explosion of contacts with urban nudists and their supporters.
Even at events such as the San Francisco Folsom Street Fair, a leather and fetish celebration, and the San Francisco Bay 2 Breakers, which has a history of celebrating the absurd through costumed participation, the police would intervene when public nudity occurred according to nudist advocate, Mitch Hightower.[17] The first year for naked runners, 1993, six who ran naked in the Bay 2 Breakers were arrested as soon as they crossed the finish line. Five of the group opted to challenge the charges; one member accepted a plea bargain. Attorney William G. Stripp filed a demurrer to the court on their behalf substantiating that the charges were illegal, and the charges were immediately dismissed. That was the first and last year naked participants in the foot race were arrested.[18] 
The first Folsom Street Fair was held in 1984, and public nudity was discouraged from the beginning by use of  “informational tickets” that fair monitors would hand to naked participants explaining that the fair was meant to be a “safe-space” for everyone, thereby conflating genitalia with danger and harm. People would put something brief on, walk a half block, and get naked again, recalled Hightower. This cat and mouse game occurred year after year. The Dore Alley Fair began in 1987.[19] It was smaller, less public, and attracted fewer tourists than the larger Folsom Fair, so it quickly gained a reputation as being more sexually open and nude friendly. In the 1980s, Hightower described the Dore Fair as being more intimate, more about male bonding. The popularity of the Dore Fair forced it out of the alley and onto Folsom Street, resulting in a more restricted and policed event.[20]  Hightower remembers having an exhibit at the Folsom Fair in 2004 that was a jail. Everyone who they saw naked, they threw in the jail cell. Soon, Hightower said, the cell was filled with naked people. He believes that was the point after which people started coming to the fair explicitly to be naked.[21]
Rusty Mills and Lloyd Fishback were stopped by San Francisco Police officer Lorenzo Adamson while walking by the LGBT Community Center naked on Saturday, June 7, 2008, after supporting San Francisco’s World Naked Bike Ride, an annual event held in cities worldwide since 2004 to protest fossil fuel dependence and celebrate body freedom. Adamson told Mills and Fishback that they could not walk around naked; it was indecent exposure. Mills informed Officer Adamson that it was only indecent exposure if you engage in lewd behavior. Adamson retorted, “I don’t care about all that legal mumbo-jumbo. It’s not normal . . . it’s not healthy, and no other police officers would disagree with me.” However, Mills and Fishback were not cited and were soon on their way (See image #1, appendix).[22] San Francisco Police Officer Lorenzo Adamson made it clear in his exchange with Mills that he was aware of the law but did not care, citing it as so much legal mumbo-jumbo, and that he believed his opinion and the opinions of his fellow officers that public nudity was not normal or healthy overrode any legal concerns.
When George Davis ran as the nudist candidate for supervisor of San Francisco District 6 in 2010 with a platform espousing freedom of expression and freedom from censorship, he challenged and confronted police prejudice and harassment head-on. Davis campaigned nude all over the city. On August 18, 2010, Davis, along with three other campaigners were arrested and cited in front of  Macy’s on O’Farrell Street in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district. The following Friday, August 20, Davis and Lloyd Fishback began what they planned as daily protests in front of San Francisco’s City Hall (see image #2, appendix). On Monday, August 23, before anyone entered the courtroom, the nudity citations were dismissed and San Francisco Police Department’s legal department issued new nudity law guidelines. These guidelines specified that: 1. The police will no longer cite for Indecent Exposure (PC 314) unless there is obvious lewd and obscene conduct. 2. The police may cite for Public Nuisance (PC 372) with a citizen’s complaint. The police are to exercise their reasonable discretion on this issue.[23]
The actions of George Davis, Rusty Mills, Mitch Hightower, and the original five Bay 2 Breakers nudists who challenged their arrests may all be seen as working to influence both the police department’s attitude towards public nudity in San Francisco and the issuance of new nudity law guidelines. It is clear, however, that the defining actions in the struggle against undue police harassment of public nudists in San Francisco were George Davis’s actions in 2004 after his arrest at Fisherman’s Wharf for performing nude yoga in public and again after his arrest in front of Macy’s in 2010 for campaigning for San Francisco supervisor while naked.

I do think it is a basic right. For me, nudity is the default. When people say, “Oh, you’ve grown a beard.” No, I didn’t grow a beard, I didn’t shave. “Oh, you’re naked.” Well yes, I’m naked, but it’s because I didn’t put on clothes. Nudity is the default.[24]

Following the release of the San Francisco Police Department’s new public nudity guidelines, an increase in public nudity occurred on the streets, especially in the city’s Castro district. According to the district’s supervisor, Scott Weiner, “Now it’s a regular thing and much more obnoxious.”[25] Supervisor Weiner introduced legislation to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that required any unclad person to put a cloth or similar barrier down before sitting on benches or other public seats and prohibited nudity in restaurants. George Davis believes, “Wiener might as well have shot lasers and fireworks into the sky announcing that public nudity is legal.”[26] According to Steve Adams, president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC), “As long as the people who come to look spend money in the neighborhood, that’s all I care about.”[27] Most of my interview subjects agree that an inadvertent effect of the new Weiner regulations is to acknowledge the lack of legal grounds for an outright prohibition of public nudity without going so far as to legalize it. Because of this, along with the many tourists’ positive responses, most of my interview subjects do not see a backlash coming.[28]
My interviews show the existence of a growing movement for nudist equality in San Francisco through the normalization of nudity in public urban spaces that has roots in the 1980s and 1990s and while having shown some significant successes, still remains fragile and vulnerable. My subjects believe that public nudity can teach the LGBTQ community that all bodies are worthwhile, have value, and are beautiful by upsetting body entitlement and looks-ism within the community.[29] Body acceptance is something everyone is entitled to, says Mitch Hightower.[30] Beginning in the 1980s, events such as the Folsom Street and Dore Alley Fairs have made the queer community aware of the possibilities body freedom presented. Through the efforts of activists like George Davis, Lloyd Fishback, Mitch Hightower, Rusty Mills, and the original five Bay 2 Breakers nudists who challenged their arrest, over time the San Francisco Police Department was forced to recognize that, in fact, public nudity was not illegal in spite of individual officers’ moral objections. People like Kevin Alves, Andrew T., myself, and others who appear naked in public spaces on a daily basis advance the movement by making the naked body visible in an urban environment, thereby normalizing the naked body in everyday discourse and commerce. We may also see how the activities of these people have indeed attached value to the naked public body; a monetary value which may be seen in the reactions and statements of business leader Steve Adams who sees the nudists as a boon to capitalism, and more importantly the value inherent in normalization, as the naked public body comes to be seen as natural and life affirming.


Image 1.
Rusty Mills and Lloyd Fishback are questioned by Officer
Lorenzo Adamson, June 7, 2008. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland.

Image 2.
George Davis protests police harassment in front of San Francisco City Hall, August 20, 2010

[1] Kevin Alves, interviewed by the author, Mar. 21, 2012.
[2] Martha C. Nussbaum, Hiding From Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (Princeton, Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004), 304.
[3] Ruth Barcan, Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy (Oxford, New York: Berg, 2004) 94-6.
[4] Nan Amamilla Boyd, Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2003), 1-5.
[5] Andrew T., interviewed by the author, May 3, 2012.
[6] Cec Cinder, The Nudist Idea (Riverside, CA: Ultraviolet Press, 1998) 591-93. ; Jefferson F. Poland, Sloan, Sam, Sex Marchers, 2nd ed. ( San Rafael, CA: Ishi Press International, 2006) 18 – 20.
[7] Andrew T.
[8] “Mission Statement,” Dandelion Dancetheater, (accessed Apr 18, 2012).
[9] Andrew T.
[10] Kevin Alves.
[11] SCOCAL, In re Smith, 7 Cal. 3d 362, (accessed April 19, 2012). ; San Francisco Park Code, Sec. 4. 01 (h) Disorderly Conduct., (accessed May 13, 2012).
[12] George Davis, interviewed by the author, Mar. 24, 2012.
[13] Phillip Matier, Ross, Andrew. “Au Naturel is Natural for Naked Yoga Guy,” San Francisco Chronicle., (Sep. 22, 2004).
[14] Matier, Ross, “Au Naturel is Natural.”
[15] George Davis.
[16] Rusty Mills, interviewed by the author, Mar. 22, 2012.
[17] Mitch Hightower, interviewed by the author, Mar. 28, 2012
[18] “Bare To Breakers 20th Year Run,” Bare 2, Apr. 17, 2012, (accessed May 10, 2012).
[19] “History,” Folsom Street Fair 2012, (accessed May 10, 2012). ; Mitch Hightower.
[20] Mitch Hightower.
[21] Mitch Hightower.
[22] “Naked Men Meet Cop,” Bay Area Reporter, 42:9, Jun. 12, 2008.
[23] George Davis, “New SFPD Nudity Guidelines,” Georgedavisdistrictsix’s Blog,  (accessed May 10, 2012).
[24] Andrew T.
[25] Malia Wollan, “Protesters Bare All Over a Proposed San Francisco Law,” New York Times, Sep. 25, 2011 (accessed May 10, 2012).
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] George Davis. ; Rusty Mills. ; Lloyd Fishback, interviewed by the author, May 4, 2012. ; Andrew T.
[29] Mitch Hightower.
Normalizing Public Nudity in San Francisco
[30] Mitch Hightower.