It was no average protest in Venice Beach, CA, yesterday: A topless parade marched along the L.A. boardwalk with protesters being harassed by religious zealots during the annual Go Topless Day, an event put on by a New Age religion, LAist reports. Did you get all that? Let's go through it one more time, because it's not something you hear every day…
The eighth annual Go Topless Day hit L.A. yesterday, bringing out both male and female demonstrators wearing pasties, bikini tops, or nothing at all, hoping to send a statement that gender equality doesn't stop at the top. “We’re working toward freeing women’s nipples and obtaining equal gender topless rights that are enforced worldwide,” Lara Terstenjak, head of the Los Angeles branch of GoTopless, told local site Yo Venice. The organization also held marches in cities including New York and San Francisco yesterday, but L.A. could have the biggest impact, as Venice Beach is in the midst of fighting for the right for women to go topless on the beach.
Of course, it's no surprise that participants were met by religious counterprotesters yelling profanities and holding signs, but there's a second layer to this story that is surprising. As the LAist explained earlier this year, Go Topless Day is run by a New Age religion "that's all about cloning, extraterrestrials, and sex, and, one might say, freedom." "Maitreya Rael, the spiritual leader of the Raëlian Movement who inspired the creation of GoTopless in 2007, makes it clear," Terstenjak said in a statement released by GoTopless. "He says, 'As long as men are allowed to go topless in public, women should either have the same constitutional right or men should also have to wear something to hide their chests."
No matter their opinion on The Raëlian Movement, demonstrators yesterday seemed to embrace the chance to send a clear #freethenipple message. For more on the story, you can read all about The Raëlian Movement in the aforementioned article — but not before surfing over to their complete coverage of the protest.