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.