Sunday, August 28, 2011

Readers Reax: Castro Nudity,
News Racks, & Rainbow Flag

A number of posts last week generated several letters, which I'm sharing here. Good to hear from other Castro stakeholders and give their views a wider audience.

Reax to Castro Biz Owner Says MUMC Has No Clothes:

I met Isak Lindenauer last year in connection with the Rainbow Walk of Honor. I went to talk to him about including Harry Hay among the 1st 20 LGBT people to be included on it.

I found out Harry had already been selected, but we talked for a while about the history of the Gay Liberation Movement and LGBT history in SF from North Beach, to Polk St. to the Castro. I liked him and found him to be an intelligent nice older man. Reading the post
about him I thought I'd chime in.

Jerry the Faerie

Well, I must say my long-time friend Isak has surprised me. Known him since Berkeley in the early '70s before he became a purveyor of status-objects to the moneyed homo set and never realized he still had a spark of his old rad self. He seldom seems to want to connect with me when I see him (perhaps because of my scathing letters in the BAR? haha) but I do wonder if somehow he has connections with other merchants who might see things from his angle.

His suggestion of changing the funding and control issues are good to see and should be used as a strong discussion-starter on how and why the issue should be resolved. I do also wonder how much else he might dissent from the other merchants on other issues--sit/lie? It would sure be good to cultivate relationships with some merchants like him to show the issues aren't just us vs. them.

Yes, his letter is way too long for the Bay Area Reporter, though you'd think if the BAR weren't so firmly in the clutches of the real estate/conservative merchant set, there'd be a way for Isak's points to be made in a shorter fashion or as an op-ed. It makes me wonder even more about the BAR's agenda.

Alan Collins

About those twelve empty news racks in the Castro . . .

I do not disagree with decreasing the large number of racks, however, are you aware that we publishers have to pay for those racks through a program with the city of SF. As a monthly, my racks are used about 10 days per month.

The pedestal racks were put in to clean up blight that was being caused by the "individual" newspaper racks that were often covered with graffiti, etc, chained to light posts, etc.

My concern has always been that "out of town" publications have been given preference over the local neighborhood papers. (BAR / Castro Courier / etc). We have had difficulty getting space in the rack "lottery", but that has changed a little over the last several years.

It is probable that the number of pedestal locations could be reduced by (maybe 50%), but the danger would be the larger publications (SF Weekly, Bay Guardian, Chronicle, Examiner, Homes and Land) placing non standard (ugly) boxes to fill the void of the lost pedestal stands. For us smaller publishers, we would lose that battle financially as stand alone boxes cost 200-300 ea and are stolen, vandalized, damaged often.

Hopefully there is a compromise that can be reached.

PS- if you think the news racks are intrusive, wait until you see the 5' x 4' AT&T broadband boxes that will be going into public spaces like sidewalks.

Mitch Bull
Publisher and Owner
The Castro Courier


Tolerance or not in the Castro?

It seems that our neighborhood's tolerance has been pushed to the limit recently. The public nudity in Jane Warner Plaza has become an embarrassment to our community. Personally I am completely for freedom of expression and social tolerance, my prejudices are few and my personal integrity is intact. Provocation is a good thing - it prevents apathy.

However, I do believe that it's time to change the rules, just a little, and make Jane Warner Plaza inviting to one and all - not just a safe haven for compulsive and habitual exhibitionists. I understand the laws about public nudity in California and San Francisco. These exhibitionists can still satisfy their need to be provocative, if my suggestion is implemented. They just won't be able to lounge around Jane Warner Plaza if it is made into a park. Public nudity in parks is illegal in San Francisco. Ask any police officer in the city (as I did) and they will tell you that it is easy to cite someone for that offense.

We all deserve the right to enjoy the open spaces in our fine city. And we should all accept the responsibilities to exhibit behavior that is appropriate in public spaces, and to understand that what "works for me" doesn't always work for the majority.

Bill Kinzie
Herth Real Estate agent and Castro resident

Dear Bill Kinzie:

You don't know me, but I saw a copy of your letter about nudity in the Castro and I wanted to throw in my two cents.

First of all, to introduce myself, I have been a queer activist for 41 years. I have been a resident of the Castro for 20 years. I used to work at A Different Light bookstore.

You talk of tolerance, but your letter is about anything but tolerance. You want to do to nude men what straight folks did to queers in decades past -- push them out of sight, and restrict them from public spaces because their behavior is (in your view) "inappropriate." How well I remember a time when gay men cruising in the parks or drag queens hanging out in public spaces were considered "inappropriate," even by some in our own "community."

When I first moved here, neighbors used to go ballistic occasionally about cruising and sex at Collingwood Park at night because they thought it was not "appropriate" behavior.

I honestly don't know this "tolerance" you talk of in the Castro. I don't see it. Not that long ago, a lot of gay black men filed complaints with the city's Human Rights Commission against a bar in the neighborhood that they said was trying to keep them out because of the color of their skin. It wasn't the first time that people of color had complained about a Castro establishment's racism.

More recently, I was witness to neighbors calling the cops on a group of young queer people of color who were sitting in Harvey Milk Plaza enjoying the benches, as white men do all the time. From what I've heard from some queers of color, they don't feel comfortable in our "tolerant" neighborhood because they get hassled.

Then there's the intolerance towards those who are homeless. In the late 90s, I helped organize three shelters for homeless youth, a food program at MCC and a shower project at Mission High. I know how intolerant the neighborhood is toward those in our community who are homeless.

Even now, the Castro solution to poverty and homelessness is to call the cops on homeless folks. The Castro Benefits District has proposed removing benches and posting a guard at Harvey Milk Plaza. Tolerance?

The Castro has a long way to go before I'd call it tolerant.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca

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