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.