SAN FRANCISCO — Hanging out on a street corner has taken on new meaning in San Francisco.
Several dozen men and at least one woman took part in a naked protest Saturday in an area of the Castro District neighborhood that has become known for its nude visitors. Several carried signs that read, "Nudity is Not a Crime" and "Get Your Hate Off My Body," as they milled around, undeterred by the brisk weather and light mist.
San Francisco generally allows public nudity, but a city supervisor has proposed regulating the practice. Supervisor Scott Wiener's proposal would require the clothing-averse to cover up in restaurants. It would also require nudists to put a cloth or other barrier under their bottoms if they take a seat in public.
Mitch Hightower, the organizer of the so-called "nude-in," said it was not intended as a protest against the proposal. The goal, Hightower said, was to promote acceptance of the human body no matter what shape or form it comes in.
"The people out here believe there is nothing indecent or offensive about the human body," he said.
The event, which had been scheduled before Wiener's proposal was announced, was part of the unofficial celebrations leading up to the annual Folsom Street Fair, billed as the world's largest leather and fetish event.
Some of the protesters say elements of Wiener's proposal weren't necessary. For instance, putting down a towel is already etiquette among nudists, said George Davis, 65, who wore a black fanny pack, a fake lei and sandals at the nude-in.
"As nudists, why do we have to go to a special beach or a special resort?" Davis asked. "Why can't we just go to a park, which we're doing today?"
Passersby mostly seemed amused by the demonstration. Some stopped to take photographs with the naked men.
"It doesn't bother me in the least," said Michael Zaverton, who was visiting from Cleveland.
Zaverton, 58, said he has gone to a nude beach. Still, he hesitated as he considered whether he would participate in a more public display like the nude-in.
"It takes a little more courage 'cause most of these guys, let's admit it, are not body-beautiful," he joked.
But Heather Flynn was not as amused. The Oakland resident, who was heading to a nearby screening of "The Little Mermaid" with her 7-year-old daughter, walked by briskly.
"When you're at the corner of a kid's event, I think you should cover up a little," Flynn, 27, said.
Her daughter, Blanca, was more blunt. She scrunched up her face as she said the nudists should definitely put some clothes on.