Is ‘The Castro’ About to Become Family-Friendly?

Tomorrow, Tuesday November 20th, could become an historic day for The Castro neighborhood in San Francisco.

The famously gay neighborhood, which for decades was one of the only places in the country where same-sex couples felt comfortable being openly gay and expressing love for their partners, will be voting on whether or not to ban certain levels of nudity heretofore legal in the area. explains the specifics:

Supervisor Scott Wiener’s proposal would make it illegal for a person over the age of 5 to “expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza” or while using public transit.

Exceptions would be made for special events and parades, like during Gay Pride and the Folsom Street Fair.

What is most surprising to most people who aren’t familiar with the neighborhood is that there actually was a place in the major metropolitan area where grown adults could walk around with their genitals exposed.

While some people maintain that The Castro should remain true to its roots, others say that The Castro would be wise to become more family-friendly. And ultimately, maintains Supervisor Wiener, “I don’t think having some guys taking their clothes off and hanging out seven days a week at Castro and Market Street is really what San Francisco is about. I think it’s a caricature of what San Francisco is about.”

What do you think? Should The Castro remain nudity-friendly or try to go a bit more mainstream?


Image courtesy of Flickr/Orin Zebest

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  1. Why would the Castro be wise to become more family-friendly?

  2. I’m going to speak from personal experience here:
    I work in SF, I’ve gone to the Castro countless times since turning 21. I imagine that I’m speaking for many gay people in the Bay Area that the Castro is that one place where we can express one part of our beings–sexuality–mostly uninhibited. That being said, I agree with Scott Wiener.

    If nudity is part of the Castro’s identity–that’s fine: people who love to be in the Castro or consider it home don’t have to give that up as an ideology. Also, like this author said, that’s what Pride and Folsom Street Fair is for.

    Speaking only for myself as one gay man in the LGBT community: I would love to see a clearer separation between sexual orientation and sexuality. I understand that the two often go hand-in-hand, but keeping the clothes on shows, “Hey, we’re not just all about the sex and nudity. We’re fathers, mothers, community members, workers, educators, etc.”

    Also…I can’t even sit down and enjoy my Hot Cookie without wondering who’s bare buttcheeks were on the chairs–legit gross.

    • Any seat is covered with bacteria. Whether or not the previous sitter was clothed is irrelevant.

      • I did not see Bacteria Highlighted as an issue – so why have you fixed on it so quickly? P^/

        … and then you have to consider other issues too – that some are not that expert in applying preparation H and can leave unwanted residues behind that cost at the Dry Cleaners. I could go further but I’m sure you can use your imagination – and of course Olestra does not take that much imagination … and Aspartame ….

  3. For many the whole issue around nudity and The Castro is rooted in the whole Queer Political Paradigm. Anything that shows that queer is different from Heterosexual is all that matters. Hetro Normatives don’t do public sex so doing it is to define queer – Hetro Normatives don’t do public nudity so doing it to define queer…. etc etc etc.

    As a Queer Guy of decades in the open – very public – very loud – and a lover of both Nudity and Sex, I have never found it necessary to get publicly nude to define or express my sexuality – and Public Sex is a pain and I’s a total wuss and like my comfort.

    I think the issues is not about what makes the Castro the Castro – it’s the politics of defining queer and who owns the concept. So for me it’s put your shorts on time, and the size Cock Rings is not really the issue but can become relevant due to the size of the Dick. P^)

    • “I think the issues is not about what makes the Castro the Castro – it’s the politics of defining queer and who owns the concept.”

      I love this line and stand behind it wholeheartedly. I’d also like to preface my opinion with a “So for me,” because I’m just one of MANY in the LGBT spectrum. So for me…I would like to be able to invite friends and family to the Castro to show them one historic piece of my identity without having to worry about naked men displaying their junk and accessories for my GRANDMOTHER to see. (I can see it now, “Kaleb, this is what you people do?!” Gah!)

    Discussion about this on queerty (a gay man’s forum)

    I dont know the area however i hope The Castro remains nudity friendly – just put down a towel when you sit is all I ask (and remember which side you sat on for the next time)
    And to the few guys who are exceeding The Castro’s liberty by wearing rather large cock rings… please stop.

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