I've been following a shop on Castro Street in San Francisco though Facebook. It's a place I enjoy shopping for gifts, silly little things. I don't live near (near being rather relative in such a compact city) the Castro, so I don't get out to the neighborhood often. Over the past week, the owner of the shop has been posting complaints about activities in the neighborhood.
The first was last weekend. As some may know, nudity is fully legal in San Francisco so long as the nude person isn't lewd about it. A city supervisor wants to pass a law changing this in some ways, and there was a "nude-in" protest at 17th/Castro last weekend. Lots of nekkid men with picket signs. Now, this protest was pretty well publicized, meaning that if one didn't want to see/have their child see the human form, they could easily avoid the area. The Castro doesn't have many places kids would want to visit, anyways, save for maybe this shop.
The owner of the shop posted a long screed--apparently, the Castro Theater, a San Francisco gem of a movie theater with an organ, ornate fixtures, balconies, was playing a "Sing Along Little Mermaid" all weekend--about the offended parents who took their children to the theater only to be confronted with, well, things their darlings shouldn't see. OK, I can almost see the complaint, if the parents weren't aware of the protest, but they'd have to have been under a rock to not know the protest was happening.
Last night, the owner of the shop posted yet another long complaint--this time, there were a pair of men in "breakaway" pants being "suggestive" on the streets. Again, the owner said she was fielding complaints from outraged parents who were not going to shop in her store because of it. The owner said she was considering a "citizen's arrest" of the two men, for what I am not sure as they were not nude and lewd, just being suggestive.
My feelings on the matter are simple--this is Castro Street, in San Francisco. It isn't a "Middle America" street. It is the symbolic heart of gay pride in a very gay-friendly city. This is a street where "Ken" dolls, with very anatomically correct parts, are in store windows. Where leather "bears" walk the streets. Where one might see outrageous things. This owner has been in her store, in this colorful neighborhood, for decades. I really doubt that the antics today are any worse than what was seen in the Castro in the 70s and 80s.
Does every inch of space on the planet have to be completely accommodating to children? Or should parents take the responsibility of realizing that it is the Castro--or the Haight--and plan accordingly, be aware that they might see things that they aren't comfortable with? Are families owed a Disney-fied city? I don't think so. Parents need to take a deep breath and realize that not every street in the world is a theme park, sanitized for their protection. When they head to the Castro, they might see outrageous things. If they don't want that, stay in Pleasanton or San Jose!