SF Pride is not exempt from city’s new “nudity ban” (told you so)

When San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener was pushing his peers on the Board of Supervisors to approve his second round of restrictions on public nudity – this time an outright ban – he and his allies bent over backwards to assure everyone the city’s famous street fairs would be fully exempted. These would of course include Folsom Street, Bay to Breakers, and San Francisco Pride.

Nobody in their right mind should have believed them.

It just didn’t make sense.  At the hearing a skeptical supervisor asked Wiener what makes nudity okay in one public space and not another. It was a question the nudity obsessed-Wiener wisely didn’t answer. The ban passed, and after the vote, a fellow supervisor representing the touristy North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf areas, in a seemingly nervous gesture, assured the gallery that this was a minor ordinance and would not change the character of San Francisco.

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In the weeks since the ban went into effect, the city has spared no expense enforcing Wiener’s flagship vanity legislation, giving it the highest priority. Recently nearly two dozen officers showed up to make arrests at a nude protest dance at Harvey Milk Plaza. That would be about six officers per exposed genital in a city where you can buy crack openly on the street (100 block of Turk, if you’re looking).

San Francisco Pride has now informed exhibitors that the nudity ban does in fact apply to them, and they risk arrest by crossing the nude line. Well, there you have it.

Reasonable people can disagree about this ban, but there’s no excuse for the disingenuous way it was it was sold to the people. If the anti-nudity crowd had nothing to be ashamed of they shouldn’t have been so deceptive about their broad agenda. This is what they wanted all along, and why they insisted on a citywide ban to a “problem” that was only common on one city block. Ban supporters have been quite vocal about their larger ambitions in forum’s like Wiener’s Facebook page, while using sophistry with the general public.

Castro nudity protestIn the wake of the Pride guidelines, Supervisor Wiener continued to say the parades are exempt, but you can feel the asterisks. “Pride is exempted under the parade exemption. My legislation has absolutely no application to Pride. I believe Pride has always included this language, well before the legislation. You can take that up with the organization. Since the early 1980s, nudity has been prohibited in San Francisco parks. My legislation didn’t concern parks. Civic Center Plaza is technically a park, meaning that nudity has been prohibited there for more than 30 years. So, while the law isn’t enforced during pride, to my knowledge, nudity in Civic Center Plaza has been illegal for decades and continues to be so, technically.”

Many things aren’t adding up.

Perhaps it should’ve been a surprise that in the end it was the nudists who had nothing to hide.

Chris Andoe
Chris Andoe is an author and seasoned activist. After meeting John Aravosis at a Chicago “StopDrLaura.com” protest in 2000, Chris was inspired to organize his own major demonstrations in St. Louis, which drew national attention. Since then, his activism has revolved around LGBT, affordable housing, and mass transit issues. In 2011 Andoe made headlines taking on the amorphous hacker group Anonymous for publishing nude photos of a Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesperson, saying “Puritanical shame-based tactics have no place in the capital of sexual liberation”, and he extensively covered San Francisco's jarring gentrification, from mass evictions to the nudity ban. Andoe was on the ground in Ferguson at the height of the unrest, recording events as they unfolded. Always in the fray, Andoe’s been interviewed by NPR, CBS, and has been quoted from CNN to The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

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