Nude activists strip for body freedom

JANE WARNER MEMORIAL PLAZA — San Francisco’s nude activists got naked again Saturday afternoon to celebrate International Women’s Day, and put the city on notice that their federal lawsuit will go forward at last.

Photos by Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay

Calling themselves “body freedom activists,” the nudists filed a class action lawsuit against The City more than 15 months ago, accusing police of wrongfully arresting group members for stripping during protests.

Filed in November 2012, the lawsuit’s progress stalled after the group had a falling out with their previous lawyer.

Led by nudist Gypsy Taub and candidate for District 8 supervisor George Davis, the group announced they recently hired Gill Sperlein, a lawyer specializing in free speech, to represent them.

Taub told SFBay:

“Almost every piece of clothing sold in stores today is made to emphasize one area of a woman’s body. Women are commonly treated as sex objects and at the same time are subjected to severe body shame. They are both admired and hated for their sexual powers. We need to end the war against women.”

Saturday’s rally, in which no one was arrested, stands in stark contrast to the last month’s nudist protest in Jane Warner Plaza that ended in three arrests.

Taub referred to those arrests as she railed against the nearby San Francisco police officers who stood ready to handcuff more protesters. She reprimanded SFPD for making those arrests while holding a video camera.

During last month’s protest, figure model Gamelia Numu was the first arrested. He was tackled to the ground after being given a five-minute warning to cover his nude body.

San Francisco’s nudity law bans people being naked in public, except for permitted parades and protests.

The nudists, however, claim they’re being discriminated against by city officials who have denied them proper permits for such events.

On a brightly-lit Saturday afternoon that also witnessed hundreds of naked bicyclists riding through nearby city streets as part of the World Naked Bike Ride, nudists in Jane Warner Plaza were surrounded by community groups.

Just 20 feet away, a children’s bake sale was being set up, while a Girl Scout troop slung their addictive Samoas and Thin Mints cookies. At the corner of Market and Castro streets, political activists set up a table for David Campos for state assembly.

Taub’s children, 11-year-old Nebosvod Gonzalez and 9-year-old Daniel Gonzalez were also present at the event to hand out flyers. They were fully clothed.

Advertised as a topless protest on funcheap.com, the political rally drew more than the usual protestors. Women from as far away as Visalia bared it all to show their support.

Lily Phajit said she jumped at the chance to be topless in public:

“I think it’s awesome. Guys can do it, why can’t I?”

The topless women joined the body freedom protestors who were naked except for their genitals, which the men covered with socks and the women with strap-on dildos.

Taub removed her clothing entirely before making a speech to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Taub, originally from Russia, operates her own internet television show called MyNakedTruth.tv. Having once worked as a sex worker, Taub is committed to fighting for what she calls body freedom, the idea that a person’s body is theirs to do with as they please.

This includes a person’s right to sell their body, have a child or not, be free from assault and decide whether or not to cover it, Taub told SFBay:

“Our society is tragically out of balance — and as the women suffer, so do we all. Our society also lashes out against men who favor their feminine side, who are softer, gentler and more compassionate and are not the macho stereotype that is glorified on every billboard. Our society devalues the feminine while glorifying violence, war and oppression.”

Davis, who is running to replace Scott Wiener — author of the nudity ban — as District 8 Supervisor, also made a speech where he outlined his reasons for running.

Noting the district seat once belonged to Harvey Milk, Davis accused Weiner of ignoring the wishes of his constituents, accepting campaign donations from developers intent on gentrification and violating San Franciscan’s first amendment rights by banning nudity:

“I want you to have the right to be nude, just like I want you to have the right to be a Christian.”