Here’s another update on the San Francisco situation. It is an email received today from George Davis, who originally started the Body Freedom movement there, and is still campaigning against the City Ordinance which made public nudity illegal. Though George started the campaign, it was largely taken over by Gypsy Taub, and the two headed it together for some years. Sadly a personal spat between the two happened last year and they are now campaigning separately ( does this scenario sound familiar?). If I get a report of how George’s speech goes I’ll post it here:
I’m planning to give a speech at San Francisco City Hall on February 1 — the 3rd anniversary of the city’s criminalization of public nudity. Since this speech will be about the Body Freedom Movement, I will make this speech while legally nude — as I did recently in Times Square in New York City with the full knowledge of the New York City Mayor’s Office and Police Department and with no permits required by that city. Since not everyone can be in front of SF City Hall at noon on a Wednesday, I will pre-publish the speech that I intend to deliver. It is also quite possible that the San Francisco Police and Sheriff’s Departments will physically prevent me from speaking.
Body Freedom Speech – Steps of San Francisco City Hall, Wednesday, February 1, 2017
By George Davis
Hi. I’m George Davis, a well-known Body Freedom activist and co-author of Naked Yoga [holding up copy of book]. I have been promoting better public physical and mental health for decades. Paradoxically, I am better known and respected among those that follow the Body Freedom Movement in London and New York City than I am here in San Francisco where I live.
For those unfamiliar with the Body Freedom Movement, it’s a reality-based movement that emphasizes the obvious fact that our bodies and our harmless, pleasurable desires and impulses are normal and natural and need not be suppressed.
You would think that a simple truth like this would be an easy sell. In fact, a majority of citizens, especially those who try to think rationally, agree with the principles of Body Freedom. However, while the support is wide, it is also shallow. Supporters of Body Freedom are constantly intimidated by belligerant opposing forces — fundamentalist religions, state mind-control factions, and angry people looking for someone they can bully. The opponents of Body Freedom spend a lot of time, money, and energy to shame people about their bodies and pleasures.
Several methods are used by Body Freedom opponents to make people ashamed of their bodies:
• pressuring media to censor nude images — even in new media, like FaceBook and Instagram;
• passing and enforcing anti-nudity laws;
• ridiculing and isolating non-conformists;
It’s quite possible that everything is about to change. We now have a new First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, whose nude images are all over the Internet. If she isn’t ashamed of her nude image, why should any of us be?
Some of you may be unaware that San Francisco’s law that criminalizes public nudity makes an exception for “parades, fairs, and festivals” that have an official police permit. This includes the Gay Pride Parade and Festival, the How Weird Faire, the Folsom Street Faire — in fact, all of the San Francisco Street Fairs and “Sunday Streets” events, are exempted from the anti-nudity law, as are the Bay-to-Breakers, and September’s San Francisco Body Art Show, of which I am a co-producer.
However, this ordinance fails to make exemptions for political, artistic, and theatrical expression, all of which are allowed in New York City without special permits. I would like to point out that I recently made a Body Freedom speech while nude, at noon in Times Square with the full knowledge of the New York City’s Mayor’s Office and Police Department and international media. I needed no permit to do this. Also, Andy Golub body-paints nude models in Times Square and in other New York City locations without a permit. Last summer, a local theater company put on a nude performance of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn also without a permit. All of these activities are verifiable with photos on the Internet and I want to mention again that they were done without the use of official permits. The permit process here in San Francisco is basically an invitation to the police to censor events on behalf of the city government.
New York City may be the art and cultural avant garde center of the United States, but that’s no reason for San Francisco to brand itself as a provincial backwater with fewer civil liberties, less freedom of expression, and more censorship than New Yorkers have.
So, what I plan to do this year is to go to local media figures, to city supervisors, and to the Mayor’s Office to persuade them to amend the city’s anti-nudity laws so as to allow public nudity for political, artistic, and theatrical expression in public places, including the city parks. I will find out who supports or opposes this amendment. If public officials stonewall on the subject, we can take that to mean that they refuse to support the amendment. Next year, on February 1, 2018, I will either give a celebratory speech for the passage of the amendment or expose all the city officials who have refused to support it.
Thank you and let’s hope that next year I can give the celebratory speech and that we will all have our freedom restored.
George Davis (415) 722-2968 – firstname.lastname@example.org