October 30th Protest against the Nudity Ban in San Francisco.
Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation to the Board of Supervisors that would ban nudity in San Francisco, with the exception of very few permitted events. I guess, while the rest of the world is moving forward, Scott Wiener and his supporters are trying really hard to move it backward.
When I heard that our body freedom was threatened I decided to organize a protest against it. I had never organized a protest before but had been to a lot of anti-war protests. George David helped me organize it and was very supportive in every way he could be.
Some cricumstances were against us. Besides having very little time to promote the protest we had a few other issues.
Originally, we planned to protest on the steps of the City Hall. We got a permit, in fact, the permit guy bent over backwards to help us out with the permit. But because of the Giants parade the next day after our protest they had to cancel our permit due to construction in front of the City Hall. It was all barricaded, we got pushed back quite a bit by that construction. We lost some of our participants who later told us they couldn’t find us. Some of the media people were also lost, apparently. We lost one artist that way who brought his painting, and another artist who was really eager to participate who got stuck on the East Coast because of the hurricane. So sadly a few people weren’t there that really wanted to be.
I brought my daughter Inti (11 years old, almost 12). She brought her nude art. She is a great artist and she agreed to participate in our protest. We also displayed Bunny’s art (my 9-year-old son). I unloaded all the signs and left Inti with George Davis. It took me a long time to find parking. When I finally got the the protest there were a whole bunch of media people, in fact, at that moment there was more media than participants. We had about a dozen nudists and, I would say, about the same number of clothed people participated throughout the couple hours that we were there.
We made our speeches. The speakers were George David, Ckiara Rose and me, Gypsy Taub. You can see the speeches in the video (later I might post their transcripts too). George talked about Hitler exterminating nudists just as he exterminated Jews and gays (and gypsies – although almost no one ever mentions them). Ckiara talked about us being born with certain rights and that we don’t need to ask the government for those rights. She asked if anybody had died from seeing us nude. Check out her speech – I really enjoyed it. CKiara is my good friend. She is a sex worker, a model, an activist, a writer and a mother. I made my speech (the transcript is posted below).
I really enjoyed listening to my friends’ speeches and enjoyed making my own. I think this was the very first speech I have ever made, and it felt really good to say what I had always wanted to express. Especially to do it naked in front of the San Francisco City Hall was certainly a treat.
Unfortunately, I got there a little late and didn’t get to talk to the media. I am not used to media presence. Most of my prior organizing was around 911 truth, and we almost never got any media attention. 911 is by far the most important political issue in America – and isn’t it a shame that media wouldn’t touch it with a 6-foot pole?
The media at the protest did get to interview a few other people and I am very content with the fact that we got so much media attention, and mostly content with the coverage. Though the coverage was not in depth, at least they did put some good quotes in and I feel that they were sympathetic with us even though they had to look unbiased and had to add some quotes from supporters of the Nudity Ban as well. I love the fact that a few media outlets quoted my favorite of our signs that I made. It read: “The only Wiener that doesn’t belong in San Francisco – and had Scott Wiener’s face in a red circle crossed out with a red line).
I am grateful to all the journalists who came. I am also grateful to all the protesters, both naked and clothed, for coming to the protest. And also, very thankful to our informal media – photographers Jaguar (Graig Brook) and Keely Wong (student of journalism).
After the speeches were done we went on a naked march. Unfortunately, only a few participants joined us for the march. It would have been great to have people with clothes on supporting freedom of choice to be nude – but I think people may have felt that they didn’t belong in our parade clothed. It’s a petty, and I want to make it clear that our message is about freedom of choice and not about having to be naked. If you choose to stay dressed you are just as welcome in our protest as the most naked one of us.
We also had an awesome marching band for our march. I have to say – there ain’t nothing like marching down Market Street naked with a marching band! I think there were about 7 of us naked, plus a few dressed people who were mainly taking pictures. It was a lot of fun to dance around San Francsisco naked to the marching band. It is so liberating! Everybody should do that at least once in their lifetime. In fact, it’s very addicting. You might just want to do it again and again!..
We carrie signs with classic nude art. We also had a few text signs. One said: “War is obscene, not nudity” _ Kelsie carried that one. My favorite sign was a painting of a women where you couldn’t see her head but you could see her breasts and in the center of the painting was her vagina between nicely spread legs. The painting is called “The Origin of the World” .If it wasn’t a classic painting from a museum in Paris they probably would have arrested us for pornography. It’s really sad that most people have never seen this painting. I certainly hadn’t until a few days before the protest. Another sign read “Nude is not lewd” and another said “Human Body Is Beautiful”. Inti (my 11-year-old daughter) was carrying a poster with her nude art on one side and her brother Bunny’s nude art on the other. Bunny is 9 years old and, like Inti, loves to draw. Inti was also handing out fliers about the Committee Hearing regarding the Nudity Ban.
People’s reaction to nudity was mixed. We got quite a few hostile angry remarks, mostly in the most crime-ridden areas of Market Street. We went to Union Square, and that was really nice. A lot of tourists were taking our pictures, as well as a lot of local people. All in all it was a very positive fun experience! Please watch the footage of the protest.
I hope you join us on November 14th for our next protest at the steps of the City Hall. We will not give up until we win this battle. We refuse to go back to the Dark Ages!
Gypsy Taub’s speech at the protest – Oct 30, 2012, San Francisco
Dear friends, dear brothers and sisters,
We are here today because Supervisor Scott Wiener thinks that it is up to him and not up to us to decide what we should and should not wear. Scott Wiener tells us that our bodies are disgraceful, disgusting, dirty and harmful to society. Scott Wiener has decided that it is time for all of us to return to the “good old days”, meaning the Dark Ages. He decided that it is time to go back to the all-consuming body shame and sexual repression that we have spent centuries trying to liberate ourselves from. He wants to do away with progress, liberation and freedom that the people of San Francisco have cultivated for centuries. When he sees a nude person he wants to publically humiliate that person, handcuff them and throw them in jail. That is his vision for the future of San Francisco.
There have been many like him throughout human history. The most successful at such policies was Adolf Hitler. Such policies have always, without exception, been present in every totalitarian regime known to humankind.
I grew up in communist Russia and know first-hand the tyranny of body and sexual taboos, the tyranny of shame and fear that lie at the core of those taboos, the tyranny of having to hide my thoughts and feelings about my own body and the bodies of others, the tyranny of self-hate that inevitably follows such upbringing. Russia has come a long way since then and has achieved impressive levels of sexual liberation. But not all of Russia. Look at what Mr Putin has done to Pussy Riot, the 3 wonderful young women who dared to challenge his fascism and hypocrisy. The name of that band alone is such a challenge to the old-school culture of shame, self-hate, fear of women’s sexual power and total moral degradation and self-destruction of such a society.
What we are witnessing today in San Francisco is a similar attempt by the same type of mentality to publically humiliate, imprison and destroy the beauty of human body and spirit. This legislation that would criminalize nudity in our city is nothing short of a cultural and spiritual coup d’etat by a self-proclaimed ignorant and blind man who is using the shame and darkness that haven’t yet been healed in our society to gain very intimate power over our bodies and spirits.
Scott Wiener and his very few supporters proclaim that nudity harms children.
Having grown up in the nightmare of sexual repression I personally go out of my way to raise my 3 children without body shame. We run around the house naked, we go to as many clothing-optional hot springs, beaches and festivals as we possibly can. People constantly tell me how amazing my kids are, how free and comfortable they are with themselves. My kids are living proof of how healthy it is to grow up in a nudist environment, without the tyranny of body shame.
My 12-year-old daughter Inti is here today to present her nude art work at the nude art contest and to march for body freedom with us.
It is amazing how in America blatant violence is perfectly OK for children to watch but God forbid if a child sees a boob. It is perfectly OK for a child to watch people degrade themselves in utter hate and fury, to spill guts all over each other but God forbid if a child sees a couple French kiss or express physical affection. Is it any wonder that America has set up military bases in almost every country on this planet? Is it any wonder that America has some of the highest rates of violent crime in the world?
In the 60-s San Francisco gave birth to the new paradigm, to the paradigm of peace, love, freedom, unity and celebration of life. Many of us in this city are doing our best to continue to carry that torch that lead so many out of the dark and into the light. Many lives have been healed and changed by this love and freedom, many have embraced a new vision of the future that would celebrate the beauty of human spirit.
Today that future is under attack. This proposed nudity ban is a backlash against the growing liberation of body and spirit in San Fransico. This is an attempt to crush and eradicate that liberation. Caught in their own shame and fear some of our public officials are willing to go along with this disgraceful move. But we need to remind ourselves and remind them that WE are in charge of our lives and that our politicians’ job is to represent us and not some small special-interest group with a dark agenda. We need to remind our politicians that if they betray public interest they will be removed from power one way or another. We should have no tolerance for abuse of power, no tolerance for tyranny against human body and spirit.
I want to read to you some quotes from my letter that I sent to all the Supervisors last week:
“The claims that San Franciscans are against public nudity are simply not true, not even close. There is a very small minority of people who are indeed against it. But it is a very small minority. Any Supervisor supporting this bill is going against the wishes of the majority and is representing a minority or, rather, as it seems, a small special-interest group.
Have you ever tried walking down the streets of San Francisco nude? Well, I have. I once joined a so-called Freedom Walk, a nude walk in the city, with a few other urban nudists. I myself was amazed at the level of acceptance of nudity that I experienced that day. Our walk lasted about 4 hours, and during that whole time I only heard 2 negative remarks. That is not even 1% of the population.
Many people took photos with us, exchanged contact information, cheered and waved and honked. The tourists were delighted beyond words.
May be in some other places on this planet people are not ready for body freedom. But the city of San Francisco is not one of those places.
You can’t stop progress, you can only delay it temporarily. Going back to the Dark Ages of body shame and sexual repression is not possible – no matter how hard some of us may try. I saw a great quote once that referred to the Arab Spring. It said: “You can crush the flowers but you can’t stop the spring.”
The Declaration of Independence states that we all have unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. I strongly believe that body freedom is an unalienable right given to us all by our Creator, and that no human being has the right to take it away. The day will come when laws against nudity will be ruled unconstitutional, just as we recently witnessed the Supreme Court rule that discrimination against gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.
Supervisors, I encourage you to act in the name of progress and freedom. I encourage you to exercise true democracy where the political leaders represent the majority and not small special-interest group. I encourage you to be true to the people of San Fracncisco. Please help us defeat the proposed Nudity Ban. Please kill this legislation! It deserves to die.”
Photos from sign making party October 2012: