The naked city, my ass

Keep your joint to yourself, jerk!

The author is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to the CN&R. He lives in Magalia.

The first stories I read about the outbreak of public nudity in San Francisco were scrupulously unspecific about where the nudity was occurring, but I immediately figured it was gay guys in the Castro. Just as immediately, I chastised myself for jumping to conclusions.

A few days later, however, I read a story confirming my first suspicion that gays were the ones parading around naked, an assumption based on memories of living on the fringe of the Castro some two decades ago during a year my wife and I spent living in San Francisco while I was working on a book.

We saw some bizarre and sometimes outrageous behavior over the course of that year, so it wasn’t particularly surprising to learn that naked gay men were now walking the streets of that neighborhood. But it is rather appalling, even though there is no law on the books in San Francisco prohibiting it.

I remember seeing guys on Castro Street wearing chaps that exposed their bare butts to children making their way to and from school. I saw other guys wearing black-leather S&M gear, advertising their proclivities, or pathologies, to elderly women who were on their way to Mass at Mission Dolores. I saw a guy in the hardware store wearing a padlock through his nose, a hunk of metal so heavy it was pulling his septum down over his upper lip. I saw open displays of sexual activity that would not have been condoned if performed in public by heterosexuals.

And, though I’m cheered by the current civil-rights gains being made by homosexuals, I’m dismayed by the exhibitionism and arrogance of some members of their community. And I don’t wish to wrap my disapproval in concern for protecting children, though I think that’s a point worth making.

Call me insufferably intolerant, call me old-fashioned, but in this particular dust up I’m siding with the people who have the right not to view your sorry ass, or mine, on the way to the market to buy a loaf of bread. I modestly assume that on any given day there are people who aren’t particularly anxious to see what were once quaintly called my “private” parts. Similarly, I am not interested in having some jerk’s joint or some prostitute’s pudendum on view just inches away when I board a city bus.