this is Gypsy Taub.
I would like to post a discussion about Pride Parade and different opinions regarding nude vs partially dressed rule at the Body Freedom Lovers Pride Parade contingent.
There were a number of message exchanges that I don’t have time to dig up right now. If I missed your message please forgive me and please repost it here.
My favorite message of all is from a beautiful kind sister who was the only woman (besides me and my daughter) to attend Pride last year (2017). Her pen name is Nagna, her messages is posted at the end of this thread.
Pride is the only parade where I insist on having full nudity. All other events that I organize are clothing optional.
You may disagree with me, but realize that no one is stopping you from registering your own contingent at Pride with your own set of rules and boundaries. I have never held a gun to anyone’s head and never forced anyone to attend my events nor be part of my contingent. If your vision of body freedom is different from mine then by all means you are free to register your own contingent.
I want to post people’s comments because I feel that this discussion is important.
Please post your comments here on this page.
GYPSY TAUB (email alert) –
Dear body freedom lovers,
join us, we have a nude contingent in Gay Pride Parade this coming Sunday, June 24th.
In order to march in the parade you need to be fully nude. Jewelry and adornments are fine but genitals and breasts need to be visible. When people cover up their genitals it becomes a body shame parade, not a body freedom parade.
SAM L (MEETUP) – 6/21/2018
We’re looking forward to 2018 Pride! We have a good number of attendees and friends but want more. Please see our Pride Meetup page for all the details. Our founder and friend Gypsy Taub just wrote to many (or all) of you the email copied below. It has good useful information, but there is one difference: I had already made the commitment that marchers did not have to be nude. This was against Gypsy’s advice, but I became concerned about turnout in her absence. However, it remains extremely important that as many marchers as possible be nude, at least in showing genitals and breasts.
I’m sure most of you will be nude. My idea is that we will place all nude marchers at the front to make the best impression. Anyway, if you are afraid of marching nude, you’ll find it is amazingly easy in our group because there will be other nude people with you.
SAM L (MEETUP) – 6/27/2018
Gypsy recently posted about her reasons for requiring nudity for our marchers at the Pride Parade. When I had to take over the Parade marching part of our Meetup presence at Pride, with little advance warning, I chose to explicitly, in capital letters, to allow non-nude persons to march. I encouraged all marchers to wear as little as possible. This is a very important matter for many reasons, and is not at all simple, so I want to express myself at length.
One of Gypsy’s main reasons for demanding full nudity, which she described as uncovering at least genitals and breasts, was the notion of women’s genital caution and/or shaming. She spoke of women wearing panties as sometimes having the motivation of shaming of other women’s exposure of their genitals. Now, Gypsy has vastly more protest experience than me and has experienced this phenomenon. But we all understand that very often women cannot be nude at certain times because of how their bodies work and how they choose to address those needs.
Using sanitary pads vs. other means of addressing menstruation is entirely a free health choice by a woman. And when those needs occur, everyone should respect her choice to cover her genitals. Anyone, male _or_ female, who is having a genital-region discharge has the right to cover that region. And I believe that in only a tiny percent of cases, when a woman wearing underwear marches in a nudist march, does that women intend any criticism or disrespect towards the fully nude women and men. I have no doubt that happens as Gypsy says, but in a high percentage of instances? I just can’t believe that.
On the other hand, we all share Gypsy’s opposition to exposed-genital-shaming. Our group exists primarily to rid society’s fear and shaming of bodily and especially genital exposure. That was why I asked that the nudes in our group lead, and why Gypsy requests a similar order in other nude marches, as I have just now learned.
So two related items concern me. The biggest one is whether we allow non-nude but otherwise-minimally-dressed people march in our group at Pride. I believe that most women will understand and agree that women who wear underpants in that march are giving reasonable, non-judgmental, and full expression of support for nudism. So I believe we should not mandate nudity at our Pride March or any others.
Now, what about the order of those marchers? Does asking or requiring marchers wearing underwear to be behind the lead, fully nude marchers send a message that women who are menstruating have less importance than than the nude women and men? One of our important messages is that we all have the right TO wear items that really matter for our health. And that medical or health states or needs should never make us secondary in our right to represent our beliefs.
In this I can step up: before we knew the weather that day, I was concerned that I would get dangerously cold while marching naked because of my disability. Yet being a paraplegic willing to be naked in front of many thousands was a critical message to deliver. I might have needed some protection from the cold. How is that different from covering the effects of menstruation? Yet, I still think we should encourage the nudes to stay in front. I hope and expect that the order of marchers is seen as expressing the status of _nudity_ instead of the status of the _marchers_. But I am torn on the matter.
These questions primarily involve the choices of women in our events. Right now we have an extremely high proportion of men compared to women, though I haven’t tried to learn the numbers. I am very eager to correct that balance. Clearly, with _any_ policy we will be misunderstood by lots of onlookers. In a march we are both symbols and people: our message is shown by respecting both. Please give us your thoughts on the situation. Of course we don’t want to lose any of our men, but we absolutely need to increase the number of women. If we don’t, our work will have failed.
Pete Sferra (Assistant Organizer) (MEETUP) – 6/27/2018
I’m feeling a need to jump in and offer some support to Sam. Beyond the fact that I believe he did an outstanding job of leading public nudity activists at Pride, I think his last message was very well thought out, tactfully presented, and extremely warm and kind. He took the time to share his views, which I happen to agree with, and then asked that there be a dialogue. Why does this need to be some sort of battle for control, Gypsy? No one is going to argue that you have been one of the most outspoken and energetic advocates for folks who want to be naked in public. And yes, you have worked tirelessly and organized countless great events over the past five years. I am personally very grateful for your efforts and I have told you that personally many times. I have also contributed financially as often as I could. I truly believe in our cause and want to always support it.
But it seems to me that we are finally gaining much needed momentum and adding many intelligent and talented folks to our movement. Clearly, people are going to have some differing opinions and it doesn’t seem like a very productive strategy to simply say “If you don’t like my rules, go form a new group!” I’m sorry, but THAT to me does sound a bit tyrannical. All Sam seems to be saying is that we may want to simply be flexible when it comes to participation by women. There are precious few female public nudity activists and their presence on the streets greatly enhances our credibility.
Anyway, I’m totally on board with Sam and would love to hear other peoples opinions. It doesn’t need to signal some sort of “taking of sides” and I cringe at the thought of telling people to leave the group just because they disagree with something. Everyone joined this group and the Friends of Urban Nudity for their own reasons but I have to believe that most people are here because they believe in the basic right of being able to choose to be naked whenever we want. This particular forum added a number of other issues to the mission statement and while I don’t happen to agree with folks who oppose vaccinations, I obviously totally support the right of the organizer to include them. I want to be on board with activities because I’m a nudist. That’s my reason and my choice. Let’s all maybe think about keeping everything civil and productive and when there are disagreements, look for a compromise.
Those are my thoughts and I welcome those of others. Thanks!
it amazes me that you just decided to take over my events that I have been doing for the past 5+ years.
I don’t mean to sound arrogant but it was me who lead this movement all these years, it was me who risked going to jail for a long time, it was me who dealt with every possible bull shit that comes with the territory.
YOu offered to help organize the Pride contingent and I agreed. Obviously I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
When Michael Capuano from New York asked to be the organizer of the Valentine’s Day Parade he was very respectful of my vision of this movement. He even told me that he will send me his speech for me to evaluate in advance out of respect for all the activism that I have done. I told him that it is not my place to censor his speech and that he is free to say whatever he wants. I just asked him to learn more about our movement by watching videos of prior events so he can be informed.
The Valentine’s Parade went really well. I had absolutely no issues with Michael (short of a misunderstanding that was cleared up in the beginning). So I don’t see myself as a tyrant who mandates and demands as you are trying to portray me. I think it is tyrannical of you to make attempts to take over the movement that I have lead and to a great extent created over almost 6 years now.
I did make it very clear that everyone else out there is free to register their own contingent. Why not do that next year? Register your own contingent, with a different name, obviously and go get all the menstruating women to join it. You have been involved in this for a couple months and you assume that you understand all the reasons why people choose to or choose not to join the parades. Those reasons are way deeper than what meets the eye. And they have nothing to do with menstruation. Any woman who goes to the beach is fine using a tampon and hiding the string. So is any woman who joins our parades.
I am very busy with things that are way more important than debating over use of tampons in a nude parade. I am helping street kids get their lives back from their abusive parents and society. I really appreciate all the financial help that you have so generously provided for this project for the past year and a half. I appreciate you as a human being and as a friend and ask that you please register your own contingent next year.
GYPSY TAUB – 6/26/2018
thank you message about nudity being optional at Pride.
I always let people be partially dressed or even fully dressed at all our other events and parades. They just march at the end. And we actually had a parade where some dude just marched in the front almost the whole time even though he was wearing jeans. I was too busy to think about it at the moment, but later when i saw the photos it looked really stupid that way. He was told repeatedly not to be in the front but he just didn’t listen. He kept coming back to the front and I was way too busy to deal with him. In the end I wasnt even able to use those photos because it looked so lame.
I want to avoid that situation at Pride.
And also being dressed in the midst of a legal nude contingent is a declaration of body shame, not body freedom, If your girlfriend still has body shame issues then she is not ready to join our contingent at Pride. She is welcome to join us at all other events, such as the Nude Summer of Love Parade that is coming up in August.
When we have a fully nude contingent it looks amazing and our message is very clear. If you have women wearing panties the message is “vagina is dirty and obscene”. I myself am sick and tired of that message. Breasts are OK but vagina is something to be ashamed of. I am sorry but that really kills the body freedom message for me, and I am sure most women feel the same either consciously or not.
Having another woman there with panties on and me being there without panties kind of sends a message form that other woman: ” Well, I am sexually liberated but I am not a whore like Gypsy (or like the other women who are fully nude).”
Allowing partial nudity especially at a huge event like Pride also attracts people who just want to be in the center of attention. And I want to avoid that. If someone really wants to be in the center of attention of hundreds of thousand of people they should at least take a step forward in their own personal liberation process, step outside of their comfort zone and take it all off.
Another great option for people who disagree with my vision of our coningent is to register their own contingent and do whatever they want. I am sure you wouldn’t expect to join some other contingent and make your own rules. The Body Freedom Lovers contingent is no different. In the meantime I am not stopping anyone from exercising their freedom of choice. They are free to do so all day and all night in their own contingent. I am sure Pride will impose their rules on them too, so there will still be some restrictions.
Pete, if your girlfriend took her body freedom activism as seriously as I have for the past 5 + years by the end of those years she might have a different opinion about letting people be dressed at the Pride contingent. This is also true about everyone else.
My goal is to move forward every step of the way, to challenge people to step outside of their comfort zone. It is the only way change is possible.
In the meantime, Pete, I hope your girlfriend can make it to the Summer of Love Parade at the end of August. I am looking forward to meeting her.
Thank you all so much for coming to the Pride contingent! I saw the photo and you guys look absolutely AMAZING! I am really proud of you all!!!
NAGNA – 6/27/2018
Hi Gypsy and fellow Body Freedom Lovers!
After reading the e-mail exchanges over the past few days, I have been moved to write a message of support of Gypsy’s stance regarding keeping the Body Freedom Lovers SF Pride contingent fully nude. I am also compelled to lend another woman’s perspective to this discussion as it is focusing more and more on the perception that “freedom of choice” is being taken from women who would (supposedly) otherwise join the Body Freedom Lovers contingent should they be able to march partially clothed, an argument being articulated by two men. Everyone is different, but I wanted to respond with my perspective on keeping the contingent fully nude based on my experience marching in the contingent last year.
Marching with the Body Freedom Movement in the 2017 San Francisco Pride Parade was my first experience being nude in public. Sam’s assertion that the vast majority of people in the Body Freedom Lovers contingent are men was definitely the case when I marched. In fact, the only women to march last year were Gypsy, her daughter, and myself. Below are my experiences that illustrate how being completely nude allowed me to let go in the most literal and freeing sense of the word and allowed me to fully embrace everything that body freedom means.
Being fully nude allowed me face my internal body shaming demons that had been placed there by a lifetime of societal pressure for not conforming to an unattainable standard of beauty as a 250 lb. 5’9″ hairy woman. After over 30 years of apologizing for who I am, I was able to confidently walk the streets completely naked. I did so in order to show my 8 year old self that this is what real women look like: as varied as can be! I wanted to show her that there is nothing wrong with her body despite the only naked women shown by society on screen, in magazines, and online being average height, well-below-average weight, and with an impossible to attain standard of beauty. In the process, I hopefully helped some other women who might be going through similar body shame issues feel represented. Strolling down the streets of San Francisco completely naked while singing “All You Need is Love” and “Here Comes the Sun” while sending peace signs to hundreds of thousands of people made me feel so happy and free, as evidenced in this clip of last year’s march: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr1Z4GTSbtQ&has_verified=1
Being fully nude instilled a sense of camaraderie with all of the Body Freedom Lovers that I never expected! I developed a genuine camaraderie with the other women in the march by all of us having the ovarian fortitude to march together down the streets of San Francisco literally baring it all. I had never met any of the other Body Freedom Lovers before parade and was going into the experience completely alone. As a sexual assault survivor with PTSD, it was a huge step for me to take the plunge of diving completely naked with a large group of mostly men. While we were waiting to march I was able to have amazingly free conversations with men, even if there were gawkers (both dressed, semi dressed, and nude). I was so surprised at how non-pejoratively, genuinely protective, and respectful the men who marched in the contingent were. By the end of the experience I was able to bond with the genuine body freedom lovers who marched and I was even giving big naked hugs to the men who marched!
I admire Sam for providing his perspective as a paraplegic on his health needs that must be met in order for him to march, but I find it hilarious that as a man he is taking the time to tell everyone the health needs that require a woman to “exercise the choice” of wearing panties. In the interest of providing another woman’s perspective on embodying body freedom, here is my experience with menstruation and related health needs on the day of the march. I had an IUD placed a month before the march, and as a woman who suffered from heavy and painful menstruation flow, the recent IUD placement only exacerbated the bleeding and the pain, which was in full force that day. Having my tampon string showing and having blood leak down my leg was the farthest thing from my mind. If anything, I felt more empowered by shamelessly showing everyone the normal body functions that happen from the vagina. Some other women cannot wear tampons, I understand that, in Sam’s words though: “but a high percentage of instances? I can’t believe that”.
The point made by Gypsy about partially nude people being attention seekers is a true demonstration of how her experience makes her an excellent judge of character. While we were waiting to march in 2017, Gypsy informed a woman wearing pasties on her nipples that she couldn’t march with us if she kept them on. The woman took off the pasties and talked a big game about being excited to march, but when the moment came to step off she was no where to be found. Gypsy makes such a COMPLETELY valid point about anyone who does not like the full nudity policy to put their money where their mouths are and start their own contingents with whatever rules they would like.
Gypsy’s open heart and mind made me feel at home at the march and she continues to demonstrate genuine caring in our conversations after the march. The extent to which she made me feel safe at the march included confronting one onlooker who would not stop following me with a video camera when I let her know how uncomfortable he was making me. She made my big naked hippie heart sing by letting me carry the poster she had made of completely nude John Lennon and Yoko Ono! I have moved out of state and was unfortunately unable to participate this year, but had circumstances been different I would have been proud to march the streets of San Francisco fully naked again with the Body Freedom Lovers. I leave you all with a message I sent Gypsy last year after the march that sums up the impact marching completely naked had on me and a picture of the beautiful body art her daughter painted on me while we were waiting to march below.
Thank YOU so much, Gypsy, for allowing me to truly take ownership, pride, and freedom in my body by being naked in public for the first time. You allowed me to make a completely empowering choice about how I present myself and what I do and allow to be done to my body.
Big Naked Hugs,
I agree that you should request full nudity. I think it’s ok for non nude supporters to follow those who are fully nude. One can only hope that during the course of the parade they will gain the confidence to disrobe as onlookers are always cheering and supportive. When one visits a nudist resort, nudity is not an option and everyone is comfortable, welcome and in fact you forget about nudity and simply enjoy the experience. In clothing optional settings, you are much more conscious of being clothed or not. it’s not the same selfless freeing experience. If we are advocating body freedom let’s be naked. If we have legal sanction,let’s use it.
I totally respect the woman who chose to be fully nude in the parade and her reasons for doing so. But the fact that there are so few of them kind of speaks for itself, we have not heard from the ones who voted with their feet by not marching at all. One thing that has not been mentioned is the reality of the internet. Photos that are taken (and boy are they ever) can end up on some porn site, be endlessly reposted, can never be erased. They can have all sorts of unintended consequences for that person later in life, for their work, relationships, families, and even custody of children, not here, but in some places. and that is more true for women than for men.
Despite all that, if Gypsy was still here organizing the march, I would say that she should have it her way, in the spirit of Doacracy, namely “those who do the work decide how the work gets done.” But she is not here anymore, so the same courtesy should be extended to the new organizer.
In the many other marches, the women who chose to march topless was great to have since the march has been mostly men for years, with only one or two nude women, and one of two topless ones being the norm. Half nude is better than not nude at all, IMHO.
I remember Nagna! Her enthusiasm and sheer joy while marching was intoxicating . Tell her I said thanks for both her presence at the 2017 Pride contingent, and for her heartfelt testimony here.
Nude should be mandatory for your group. That’s the point. As you said, those who want to be clothed or partially clothed should start their own contingent. I am in Ohio otherwise I would be marching along side you all. Good luck.