About 40K walked across San Fran in the 2017 B2B. Lots of crazy costumes, maybe 1-200 nudies. We nudies were so dilute some people never saw one. One group was doing a count and had gotten up to 88 when I reached them. Never did find out the grand total. Most of the nudies are ordinary people (mainly men) but there were maybe 3-4 “primpers” who just stood on the sidelines to show off their erections. Obnoxious but ultimately harmless.
This year I skipped the camera. For a general overview of the action, check out these pix on the SF Gate site.
I’ve done the B2B twice before. Both times saw a much larger group of nudies. I think a number of things went into the decreased presence. There doesn’t seem to be as much promotion. The organization pushing it has had the same website for 15 years with only small changes and didn’t bother even to have a Facebook presence. All they did was sell hats and tell everyone they were on their own. (I made up my own.) That’s not very comforting if one were a newbie who might not want to feel so alone. Maybe the lack of controversy is drying up interest. I’d probably go nude even if I were the only one – as long as it were still legal.
On the other hand, general public participation was also down. 40K is a lot less than the 70k it has been in the past. Registration has become much more expensive with the race scrambling to find a sponsor. This year it was Alaska Airlines. In the past it was Zappos. During its heyday, the SF Herald Examiner sponsored it and even promoted the nude option.
Little girl, giggling, “Mommy, that man is naked!”
Mommy, smiling, “Yup, he sure is!”
And that is how it should be… nothing special.
I crashed an anti-Trump rally they were having immediately next to the course. They weren’t expecting to have a naked person join in but still thought it was pretty cool to have a nude guy with them. (This is Frisco, after all.)
Lots of positive comments about freedom and individuality and the joy of being naked. A few people saying they respected what I was doing and wished they had the courage to do it too. I actually talked one couple into losing their clothes about half way thru. Have to be careful in doing this, one doesn’t want to come off as aggressive or creepy. I verified they were into the spirit of the thing before evenbringing it up.
There were three negative comments. Two were from guys who “didn’t like to see dick”. One was from a woman in a group wearing tutus and wrapped up in a wooden cage. I asked her what the meaning of the group was and she told me to back off. The only person I got that from all day.
These kind of events are really important. Ordinary textile impaired folks get to walk/run beside nudies in a crowded venue for 7.5 miles. They learn the absence of clothing means nothing. By the end of the course, most don’t even register anything unusual about a nude presence. People become acclimated to it … just as it should be.
Other events like the World Naked Bike Ride keep the nudies segregated. Granted, it shows the textile impaired that you can have a lot of naked people around and the world won’t end. This is a good thing but it still keeps nudists at a distance. Segregation is bad for every other social group and I’d argue nudists are no different. For many decades we’ve hidden away in our homes and resorts. A “nudist colony” has the same ring to it as a leper colony.
Landed clubs with high walls, expensive memberships, and gate security leave me wondering. Is it to keep the outside world away or to keep us confined? Despite often being posh, aren’t they really just expensive ghettos? What would one say of a club that only admitted one kind of race or ethnicity or political belief and then kept them confined? Can’t leave until you are back to looking “normal”.
Most men and women today don’t realize what a wide variation there is in penile appearance. Most don’t see a variety of female nipples or unsupported breasts, either. When we had to take showers at school or the YMCA pool was nude or military service was more common, you could see huge variations in all aspects. The females had their own showers & YWCA. Today, most younger people have never seen anyone of the same sex’s “private” anatomy but their own – and maybe some in the porn they happened to view. Not a good thing, encourages insecurity. Needs a reality check. Nude positive public events are a cure for this.
Had my butt slapped twice by guys. I laughed at it. Other’s may object to it. YMMV.
A number of people wanted their picture taken with me. I obliged.
There was a group of young people giving out hugs. It was a surprise. Here’s this girl suddenly charging down Hayes Hill at me who jumps into my arms and hugs me. Then two guys and another girl. One guy impacted so hard I staggered a few steps downhill from it. I suspect I was getting special treatment. (Other people may be much more protective of their personal space than I.)
They had cops all over the place very aggressively policing alcohol. It felt very strange to walk thru a half dozen police inspecting containers while nude. A police presence would normally result in fines and/or jail time. OTOH, the police can be a nudist’s friend.
There are always risks in being the tip of the spear in any movement.
After the first mile or so a lot of people just stepped into the street to walk. Registration gave you a bib number, a timer, a medal you could pick up if you wanted to, photos of you keyed off your bib number but they also corralled everyone into 6 starting groups based on how fast one anticipated going. They would match you to your designated starting area, make sure you had no alcohol and check your bag if you had one. The bag had to be completely transparent. But there was no way to stop you from simply stepping off the sidewalk into the race a mile or two after it started. You save $65 that way.
There was a lot of gay participation, of course, but they usually were wearing something tight, flashy and (in their opinion) “sexy”. Using clothing to accentuate sexuality rather than hiding it. In a sense, I think skimpy, revealing or super tight costumes are farther from being nudist than people who were just wearing clothes or ordinary costumes.
For a while, I hung out with a group of people dressed like Vikings. They were carrying a speaker, an amplifier, and a Honda generator to power the thing and playing dance music. No wheels allowed, at least not in the first half of the course. The longer it went, the more dispersed people became and the enforcement of the rules became lax. Wheeled devices and opaque backpacks started to appear after the midway point.
About a mile from the end the course was cut off and redirected down a sidewalk alongside a busy street to the finish line. However free bus transportation back to the starting area was located before you got there. Rather than walk to the end and then have to come back, like a salmon swimming upstream, I got on the bus and returned to the Embarcadero to meet with my wife and sister in law who had been spectators.
Clothed, of course.
Three days later my sunburn is healing. Never would have thought I’d get a sunburn on a San Francisco morning.
Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 and 2021 Bay to Breakers were held “virually.” The live event has been postponed indefinitely. (I keep having my registration transferred to the next one rather than getting a refund. Since the B2B was a community’s response to the Great Earthquake I think it proper that the event goes on eventually as a response to the epidemic as well.
Info on the 2020 Bay to Breakers is here.
Other B2B links:
Bare to Breakers 2018 – final (NSFW)
January 28, 2018 at 19:00
I’ve done the last nine Bare to Breakers, and it has changed from 2009 to 2017. It’s still a lot of fun, and being nude in the middle of a big city is a uniquely freeing experience. Those experiences helped inspire my novel The “Volunteer”.
January 19, 2018 at 02:53
Best article I’ve yet seen about Bare to Breakers! Thank you! I will be flying in from Houston this May to participate in my first Bare to Breakers – and I’m really looking forward to it. Thanks for helping me prepare!