Castro Nervous About Nudists

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010  |  Updated 7:45 AM PDT
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Castro Nervous About Nudists

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Anything goes in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood -- and that's making some people awfully uncomfortable.

At issue: a group of about a dozen nudists who've made the new plaza home. Bared flesh is nothing new for the neighborhood, and exposed genitals have been known to make an appearance now and then, but this summer there were more than anyone can remember seeing before.

Parents are less than pleased. They're uncomfortable walking with children nearby. Other adults are uncomfortable as well, and would like to enjoy the plaza without being surrounded by unclad crotches.

This is just the latest battle in the neighborhood's tension between quiet, conventional families and sexual libertines. A few years ago, a sex shop caused a fuss when it displayed some erotic art in the window. But even that pales in comparison to real-life sex organs on display, and occasionally fondled.

There's not much the police can do. Crackdowns on nudity are a low priority for the SFPD, and unless a citizen is willing to sign a complaint, the police won't make arrests. District Attorney Kamala Harris has indicated that she won't prosecute arrests for nudity unless there's an element of sexual assault. And as far as the city is concerned, confronting the public with swinging genitals isn't assault.

Other cities have adopted a more hard-line approach. Los Angeles strictly forbids nudity.

The nudists say that their exhibition isn't sexual -- at least, not usually. But sexiness is in the eye of the beholder.

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