Some people feel like they should have the right to walk around nude, and other people feel like they shouldn’t have to see it.

A nudist on Market Street. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images)

That’s the crux of a controversy that has San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood in an uproar, San Francisco Examiner reporter Dan Schreiber said on Thursday in a KQED Forum discussion.


On Nov. 5 at 10 a.m, a committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will discuss Supervisor Scott Wiener’s proposal to partially ban nudity in the city and he anticipates the full board will take it up later in the month.

While the neighborhood has long tolerated sporadic nudity, nudity is becoming more and more common, Wiener said, straining the tolerance of the neighborhood.

Some people have said it’s only because straight people with kids are coming into the Castro or people from Noe Valley are offended. But the primary people who have been expressing concern to me about this are gay men from the Castro. This is not about changing demographics. It’s about the Castro being a place where people live, people work and our primary public plaza has become a nudist colony.

Schreiber said the opposition is also coming from people who object to jewelry apparently designed to maintain an erection.

But Wiener said nudity itself is the problem, and he has been getting more calls about nudity than any other issue.

“Freedom of expression is not about taking your pants off at Castro and Market and displaying your genitals to passing cars,” said Wiener.

Forum also heard from nudist George Davis, a former candidate for mayor:

“This is part of our god-given body. Why do we want to say there is something wrong with our body? It’s not part any religious doctrine,” he said.

Some parents have congratulated him for being naked in public because it made their kids feel better about their own bodies, he said. He offered to pay $1,000 for a 500-word “intelligently written” essay from anyone who can explain how a child would be harmed by seeing a naked adult.

Daniel Bergerac, Castro district business owner, also came on the program to say that he thinks the nudists have become exhibitionists.

Calls to the show were mixed with some offended and others defending nudism as a form of self expression.


Debate: Should Nudity Be Allowed in San Francisco? 19 October,2012Laird Harrison

  • proudwomyn

    Only if you live in the neighborhood can you appreciate what a failed social experiment this has been. I don’t know where to begin but let me just say one of the architects of this experiment has a website where, for a price of $19.95, one can view “risky public sex” for thirty days. To my knowledge 99% of these “nudists” don’t live in the Castro neighborhood but are only using it for their platform because it is San Francisco’s most tolerant district. These same “nudists” wouldn’t dare walk around naked in their neighborhoods or in the Mission or Hunter’s Point. The media should stop making this about genitals because the issue is much bigger including the fact that these naked guys are confrontational, obstinate and rude. The Castro neighborhood has spoken: We want them out. Supervisor David Campos says he has no problem with public nudity and therefore I believe he should invite them to go around lower 24th Street. Our district would be happy to give his district our “nudists,” and he will find out firsthand why our neighborhood does not want these guys.

  • There is nothing wrong with exposing your own human body. Enough with the body shaming. Shame does nothing but make it more difficult to talk about our feelings and our actions, thus making discussions about sex – safer sex – more difficult. Shame and harm reduction do not mix. Loving your body, embracing yourself – that’s a positive thing. No one is harmed because of the nudists. If it makes you uncomfortable, look away. Let’s solve real problems like homelessness and poverty.

  • Don’t miss
    this chance to meet nudist woman and man. Whatever you like the naturist
    lifestyle or not, it’s an opportunity to try something new via~~Naturistpassion.c0m~~. Now plus info on camps, colonies, resorts, beaches
    and clubs for your nudi5ts experience.

  • Think of the children! THINK! I capitalise that because all too often when somebody shouts that slogan people stop thinking. Attitudes have consequences. Ever wondered why teenagers in the USA are several times more likey to have an abortion, about ten times more likely to become pregnant, and several tens of times more likely to catch a STD than teenagers in countries without such horrendous body shame. Does Wiener realise the harm that he is promoting?

  • nonotford

    If the issue is about confrontational, rude, or exhibitionist behavior, why not focus the debate on dealing with that specific problem? Maybe I am being naive, but it would be nice to deal with the offending behavior directly, while still allowing for people who are respectful to go about their business in the nude. It seems like the neighborhood could deal with actual nudists, vs the in-your-face exhibitionist jerks.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor