As a nudist, I think a lot.
I think about authenticity and what it means to be true to ourselves when we are shoehorned into a society where no one really wants anyone to step out of line. I think about how being my authentic self, as a nudist, could mean that someone might be alienated by me. Perhaps even someone who has known me for a long time. For the many years I was fully closeted, I was worried a lot because I was going around in secret enjoying myself. It was a lonely existence.
As a young adult, I lived in an apartment with a childhood friend. I wore little and was told that that made him uncomfortable. We shared a bedroom and when I tried to sleep nude, I was told in no uncertain terms that was forbidden. I thought if I can’t be myself with one of my best friends, then who else is going to be ticked off? Maybe that set me back a few years.
As I hovered around thirty, there came a point where I couldn’t take it any longer and I told select friends and family. Part of it was due to the fact that I was now occasionally going to a nude beach and I felt weird lying about it. I didn’t need anyone to know about this part of me, but I didn’t want to hide either. I wanted both of my “selves” to meet each other. When I told those first people, there was a collective…. acceptance. I was surprised and relieved.
When I was in a graduate program, it was with a group of people who were relatively hippie-ish, and that is perhaps where my nudism was met with the most positive reaction. And so then I told a friend here and there, pretty much anyone I felt was trustworthy. A family we hang out with now has a pond and the husband once surprised everyone and jumped in naked. I joined. Then we warmed by the fire – naked among the clothed – and it was perfectly normal. The husband told me for years he had been trying to find someone who would jump in. I sense a tradition in the offing.
As I’ve crept into my forties, I’ve been more and more able to land within my own authenticity. Though I closed the TFV Twitter, I do keep an account where I’m clothed in it, but I identify nudism as an interest and will comment on or like some posts. I have connections there who probably, unless they examined my page before we got in touch, didn’t know this aspect of my life, even though I’ve known them for most of it. It’s a quiet way I’m working for normalize naturism. Why have the discussion come just from a naturist page?
I think about marginalized communities and what it means to be considered less than. Less than the prevailing winds. Less than what society’s culture has decided for everyone else. Less than what is considered normal or polite or decent by those who conflate nudity and nudism with sexual activity. I have tremendous sympathy for all the communities that are searching for acceptance in our increasingly polarized and mean country, who just want to exist without having to be preapproved by those inclined to disapprove.
As nudists, many of us are familiar with the closet, as I noted up above. Those who deal with their own closets – whether it’s stigma attached to mental illness, body shame and shaming, the inability to express their attractions or to be ostracized for daring to express their gender identity – should be a mirror to our own struggles and should allow us to flow empathy in their direction. Nudism is built on non-judgment, on self- and other-acceptance, on living and let live.
I think about the tenuous political position we are in. Here in Vermont, Democrats have tried to outlaw nudity every few years in our legislature. Their laws typically go nowhere, but it can put a stressor on things if they misunderstand that the openness we have with our bodies has nothing to do with the sexual activity they are afraid of. That’s not what nudism is. Republicans are no better, historically, when it comes to nudism either and the current rulings by judges of all stripes regarding free nipples should help us realize that our wonderful community needs to remain together.
It’s why I cannot understand how a nudist, a member of such an accepting community, can support the current president, a symbol of not accepting pretty much anyone. I’ve never worried if someone supported a Republican, Democrat, or other party’s politicians, even if their politics are different from mine. But I cannot figure out how this guy gets any of our support.
I think about the peril of our natural resources. The Earth can go on without us on it, but I’ve rather been enjoying my stay. But with rampant wildfires, powerful hurricanes, increased tornadoes, and fluctuating temperatures, the Earth is telling us that it is sick of what we’re doing to it. And at some point, we won’t be able to go back. If it’s not already too late. And that’s where my naturism comes in.
As a naturist, I am never as calm as I am when quietly nude in nature. I thank the planet for sustaining me and do my best to be sustainable. A warm summer breeze, fresh water to play in, and aged rocks are all subject to calamity if we continue on our path. Food and water will dry up and we won’t be able to provide our children or subsequent generations with the general joy we shared while here. When I see these disasters, it seems that greed will always prevail, but we cannot accept that with finality. As naturists, again, our community can help turn the tide by reminding people what we’ve had and could have if we change our ways. But only if we can influence the powerful to change there. So, as we advocate for our own rights, we should never lose sight of the big picture.
There is nothing I like more than zoning out and just being, but as a nudist, I think a lot.