Is the city of San Francisco going all Puritan on us?
City lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in most public places, a blanket ban that represents an escalation of a two-year tiff between a devoted group of men who strut their stuff through the city’s famously gay Castro District and the supervisor who represents the area.
Supervisor Scott Wiener’s proposal would make it illegal for a person over the age of 5 to “expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza” or while using public transit.
Oh my — that sounds almost…civilized. But what’s the penalty for violating the law?
A first offense would carry a maximum penalty of a $100 fine, but prosecutors would have authority to charge a third violation as a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and a year in jail.
Well, I suppose you can’t send someone to the penitentiary for dropping trou in Golden Gate Park. Still, this represents a significant step forward for the forces of propriety and prudence. And we should all congratulate the city for their courageous stand against the hedonists and exhibitionists who…
What’s that? What “exemptions”?
Exemptions would be made for participants at permitted street fairs and parades, such as the city’s annual gay pride event and the Folsom Street Fair, which celebrates sadomasochism and other sexual subcultures.
They’re absolutely right. A San Francisco gay pride parade without naked men waving their wicks in the wind would be like the 4th of July without the hammer and sickle, or a Veterans Day without a burning American flag.
And what about the defenders of the status quo au naturel?
The proposed ban predictably has produced outrage, as well as a lawsuit. Last week, about two dozen people disrobed in front of City Hall and marched around the block to the amusement of gawking tourists and high school students on a field trip.
Stripped down to his sunglasses and hiking boots, McCray Winpsett, 37, said he understands the disgust of residents who would prefer not to see the body modifications and sex enhancement devices sported by some of the Castro nudists. But he thinks Wiener’s prohibition goes too far in undermining a tradition “that keeps San Francisco weird.”
“A few lewd exhibitionists are really ruining it for the rest of us,” he said. “It’s my time to come out now to present myself in a light and show what true nudity is all about so people can separate the difference between what a nudist is and an exhibitionist is.”
Trust me, Mr. Winpsett. Getting rid of public nudity won’t make a dent in preventing San Francisco from staying weird. There’s plenty more where that came from. We haven’t even begun to deal with the women yet.
And, of course, civilization would come to a halt if we couldn’t tell the difference between nudists and exhibitionists. It’s a question that needs to be stripped, um, bare of all extraneous issues until the matter is boiled down to its naked essence.
Sorry — couldn’t resist.
Is this the beginning of the end for San Francisco’s Culture of the Dangling Penis? Probably not. But as long as these weirdos are willing to stay in San Francisco and leave the rest of us alone, most of us couldn’t care less where they hang their maleness.
Photos from Zombie: This Is What a Blue State Looks Like: Rally for Nudity in SF