There is a debate in nudist circles about whether nudists should have to be “out” to be considered worthy of complete acceptance. As a member of national organization, I have seen this play out in their letters section of a publication, where some nudists have been critical of those who choose to use pseudonyms to write articles. The argument for everyone being out seems to be that if we are not ashamed of our bodies, we should not be ashamed to admit who we are, that we should not live in the shadows.
This denies reality and could fracture our cause.
In the real world, nudists are not a protected class. We can be picked apart, made fun of, and discriminated against without repercussion. In fact, due to the dastardly anti-labor laws in this nation known as “right to work,” we can be fired for any reason. Due to deep-seated misconceptions about the human body, we are viewed suspiciously by the small-minded among us. Therefore, if a troublemaker wanted to make an issue of our nudist practices, we could lose our livelihoods.
When I read notes or articles that demand the sort of purity some nudist circles push where you have to be out to be legitimate, I am left to wonder: Will you pay someone’s bills when they are ousted from their job for being out? Will you pay for therapy and mental health support when they are ostracized by communities of which they are a part? Do you realize you are part of the closeting problem; that by insisting that we be out you delegitimize our lived-in experiences?
I am out to people close to me, but until I make a good living as a nudist, it is impractical for me to be out with a more public profile. When the privilege of publication is prevented due to anonymity, we lose a significant perspective in our movement. The story of the closeted nudist, or the one protecting her paycheck, is pushed into a sort of second-class status because we are not privileged enough to guarantee maintenance of our lives and livelihoods were we out.
Insistence that we step out from behind the veil of anonymity stifles the diverse voices of our community. It creates a caste system of purity and sends the wrong message to those who fear anti-nudist societal punishment. It’s hard enough being a nudist that there shouldn’t be rejection from “Big Nudism” simply based on closeting.
This community needs to meet people where they are and where they can be, to be a nurturing influence. We are a wonderful community already pushed into society’s margins. Let’s not marginalize our own members simply because not everyone can achieve the glory of true openness that I’m sure most of us long for.