A World Naked Learning Moment

Taking place annually on the first Saturday in May, World Naked Gardening Day came and went last month as it does every year: with increasing enthusiasm from nudists and non-nudists alike. It’s one of a handful of similar “World Naked” holidays and events with a similar aim: Getting people to get naked doing something they already enjoy. In the case of World Naked Gardening Day, it’s as much a day to appreciate gardening as it is to celebrate body freedom, and if you search the hashtag on Instagram or Twitter, you might be surprised how many of the posts are from folks who wouldn’t ever call themselves nudists or naturists, who might have never stepped foot in a nudist resort or might never join a nudist organization, but who wouldn’t waste an opportunity to have a little fun and post thirst-traps with their houseplants and garden tools. Anything to try something new, throw off their clothes, and make the social media censors short-circuit. And I love that! So how can the nudist community replicate it?

I’ll be quite honest, there was a time when I wasn’t completely sold on World Naked Gardening Day, for no other reason than that it seemed specially tailored to those who… well… have a garden, a home, free time, privacy. In short, it felt like a made-up holiday that leans into the stereotypes people might have of nudists: that they’re primarily older, retired, middle-class, rural and suburban homeowners. As a young-ish, apartment-dwelling, nudist urbanite, I don’t always see my living situation represented in nudist literature or marketing or photography, and World Naked Gardening Day felt a little like it upheld that tradition of ignoring younger generations of nudists. In hindsight, that was a narrow and bitter perspective. Gardening isn’t just about elaborate landscaping, greenhouses, and vegetable plots. It’s just as much about potted houseplants, window boxes, and the little herbs people grow on their kitchen counter, and that’s what you’ll see if you scroll through social media: Plenty of people in their gardens, tending their flowers, lawns, and hedges, but just as many people in their apartments posing strategically with their succulents.

Frankly, maybe I was just salty because I have yet to be able to keep a succulent alive longer than a few months even though everyone keeps saying they’re the easiest plants to care for. My apologies to every succulent I’ve ever bought, may you rest in peace.

While I do enjoy taking time to care for my plant babies in the buff, something else I really appreciate about World Naked Gardening Day is that it explicitly connects human nudity with the natural world, a core tenet of nudist and naturist philosophy since those terms first came into use but which, in the 21st century, can sometimes play second fiddle to hot tubs and coffee selfies. There’s a lot wrong with the world, and while some of the world’s problems can be remedied by nudism’s ethos of body acceptance and human connection, there are also serious issues stemming from our relationship with the planet, the careless destruction of ecosystems, pollution, and limited of access to natural spaces. I’d like to imagine nudists and naturists as active champions of environmental stewardship and sustainable practices, advocates for our parks and trails and beaches, and World Naked Gardening Day feels like a respectful nod to that.

As I touched on earlier, World Naked Gardening Day also successfully taps into something else that the nudist and naturist community could really use: Attention from young people on social media… not just young but diverse and with seemingly balanced participation of men and women. What’s different about gardening, and why does it reach such a wide age range compared to other mainstays of the nudist community? Part of it can be chalked up to a miraculous, social-media fueled surge in interest in houseplants among millennials and gen Z, which was noted by a number of news outlets years before the pandemic hit but which was certainly further accelerated by it. Many attribute the plant parenting trend to the economic reality that younger generations face, such as low rates of homeownership, reduced access to their own gardens, and financial insecurity that puts raising a family just out of reach. Regardless of the reason, young people love their plants and the benefits are being felt in more ways than just hashtags on social media.

I know that many nudists love the traction that World Naked Gardening Day has achieved, but if we’re looking to be a welcoming community for more and more folks, we can’t just revel in the success of the hashtag. We need to learn from its success. The holiday itself was started long before the current plant parenthood trend among young apartment-dwellers, but there’s no reason it can’t still be a lesson in pinpointing interests, causes, and hobbies that span generations, especially ones that young people have embraced and incorporated into their lives, ones that are not only fun but have a feel-good, positive message. That seems to be the key to the success of both World Naked Gardening Day and its younger, more athletic sibling, the World Naked Bike Ride. While World Naked Gardening Day gives observers a time to connect with and care for a little piece of the natural world, the World Naked Bike Ride promotes human-powered transportation, raises awareness about the vulnerability of cyclists, and challenges fossil-fuel reliance. It’s worth noting that by sheer numbers—and because the nudist community is relatively small—both of these World Naked events appear to inspire participation from mostly non-nudists. Also worth noting is that both events aren’t just about having fun, they’re also about something—making the world a greener place—and I think that strikes a chord with young people who care deeply about the world they’re coming into and want to shape it into something better.

So give us a list of more examples! Tell us what to do!

Naked hiking to promote nature conservancy? Naked yoga to promote wellness and meditation? Naked art exhibitions to promote the arts?

Yes, yes, and yes, but hold your horses! A quick list of ideas and solutions can be helpful but it’s only going to get us so far. What I’m suggesting is a mindset among nudists and naturists—especially those who are leading the nudist movement and community—that stays tuned into the world around us. There is immense opportunity for nudists when we seek to understand how what we’re working towards is connected to the bigger picture, how our values and joys intersect with what else is going on in society and the environment. There’s opportunity in recognizing how cultural events like the World Naked Bike Ride and World Naked Gardening Day bring joy and positive change and ignite important conversations. There’s opportunity there when we acknowledge that the nudist movement shares more than just nudity with these events, but also an appreciation for the natural world. Seeking to be a part of that change for the sake of creating a better world means that nudists and naturists see themselves as part of the world and are invested in improving it in more ways than just making it more naked-friendly.

If nudists want to join the fun and have an impact, the nudist community would do well to seek out and embrace these moments and opportunities out of a shared belief in a common cause, not—and I say this with the utmost respect—with an agenda just to convert more non-nudists into nudists. The point is this: Let’s keep our eyes, ears, and mind open to what positive and impactful trends and causes young people are embracing and we might have a shot at giving them an excuse to have some fun, challenge fears about the human body, make some change… and do it naked. Not only for our own sake but with the goal of being part of public awareness in a positive way, to help people get more comfortable in their skin, to be a force for change, and to have an impact on the culture and misconceptions and stigmas around nudity… and if people end up calling themselves nudists and naturists because of that involvement, awesome! But I’ll settle for a greener planet where people are a little less worried about seeing naked bodies and a little more willing to connect with one another. I think that’s our goal, after all, isn’t it?

On Seeing & Being Seen

Last year, after my first visit to Olive Dell Ranch here in Southern California, I mentioned to a close, non-nudist friend of mine that I’d just gotten home from a day spent hiking and swimming at a nudist club, to which she responded, “I could never do that! Not unless my body was like… perfect!” And, caught off guard, I didn’t really know how to respond in the moment, because obviously that’s not a prerequisite to visiting a nudist venue, but it’s also difficult to dispel those deep-seated insecurities with a quick comeback. Besides, we laugh together about everything and we respect each other for having different views, so who am I to tell her how to feel about her body?

The trails at Olive Dell Ranch, June 2021

It’s also such a common train of thought: Everybody has a body, but not every body should be seen. Not those bodies. Certainly not my body. You hear it every day. Whether it’s the response to Britney Spears posting nudes on Instagram or a newspaper article about your city’s next World Naked Bike Ride or public discourse over “gratuitous” nudity in whatever new HBO series is currently airing or the punchline of a joke in some new movie or sitcom, throwaway comments about whose bodies should and should not be seen, which bits should stay hidden and which we can tolerate are unavoidable. From comments like, “nobody wants to see that,” to remarks about saggy breasts and floppy penises and fat rolls and wrinkles and knobby knees, it comes in the form of a universally shared inside joke at best, feigned outrage and vitriol and personal attacks at worst.

The comments are usually thoughtless, not made with any intention of malice, not made with any real goal to shame others’ bodies. If anything, they’re more a way to signal to others that, fear not! We, too, conform to social norms! We, too, know the rules and repeat the stigmas we’ve been taught! Fine. But the message remains clear, even if unconscious: Certain people with certain bodies don’t deserve to be seen. And so we simply perpetuate a system in which we never really see one another. Worse yet, the bodies that we accept as worthy of being seen nude are often not merely tolerated, but demanded, objectified, sexualized, and commodified, highlighting the contrast between “bad” bodies and “good” bodies, between bodies that should never be seen and bodies that the public feels entitled to see and consume. There’s almost no middle ground to just exist in one’s own skin.

I admit that, being a nudist, I may be biased, but I find that an incredibly sad way to think not only of others but of ourselves. I think most nudists would agree that overcoming the fear of being seen nude and of seeing others nude changed them, changed who they are and how they perceive themselves and others. That has been my experience, anyway, and I cannot count how many other nudists I’ve encountered who have excitedly, emphatically shared that same experience. So, is that what being a nudist or a naturist is about? Seeing and being seen?

Not quite. Nudism is not about seeing others naked or being seen naked, per se, but I also think it would be disingenuous to say that seeing and being seen are not part of what makes nudism so liberating and empowering. Overcoming the fear instilled in us throughout our upbringing and, for many of us, throughout much of our adult lives, by confronting head-on the anxiety associated with being nude in front of others is one part of it. Another part of it is a very sincere curiosity and a very human desire to know others and to be known for who we are, to be vulnerable, to be acknowledged and accepted and, yes, seen. Not seen for the sake of exhibition or attention. Not seen to show off or flaunt. Seen in order that the truest version of ourselves, warts and wrinkles and wounds laid bare, might be accepted and celebrated.

I don’t believe that nudists yearn to see naked bodies for the sake of seeing naked bodies, or that we yearn to put our naked bodies in front of others for the sake of having our naked bodies be seen. We already know what naked bodies look like; the novelty of undressing wears off fairly quickly. There’s something else there, though, because we do, generally, still yearn to be in the company of others without our clothes on. Were that not the case, we would content ourselves with lives of privacy and solitude, but privacy and solitude look and feel a lot like shame or oppression once you’ve known social nudity. It’s the company of others, the shared joy, the lowered guards. It’s seeing one another not for the way we’ve been socialized to dress but for who we are underneath. And, for some, maybe it’s something else entirely.

Perhaps that’s what makes me most sad about the “nobody wants to see me/you/them” comments. Because it’s not just about the body that’s being seen, it’s about the person being seen and understood and accepted. And I’m here to tell you that you do deserve to be seen for who you are and you do deserve to be known and vulnerable and celebrated for all of your parts and imperfections and uniqueness. I’m here to tell you, I want to see you. Not your breasts or your penis or your naked butt, but you comfortable in your skin and alight with joy and curiosity. Not for my sake, but for yours.

The next time I hear a friend say that nobody wants to see them nude, or that they don’t want to see someone else nude, maybe I’ll speak up. Maybe I’ll say, “I do.” Maybe I’ll ask, “Why not?” Or maybe I’ll smile like I usually do, like I’m in on the joke, like bodies are icky, wishing I could change their mind. Either way, I hope I can at least lead by example, without judgment or shame.

So You’re Not a Nudist. Great!

OK. So you’re not a nudist. You’d just rather keep your clothes on, thank you very much. Maybe you have had quite enough traumatizing public nudity in your high school gym class locker room and you have no interest reliving that experience. Maybe you feel a little uneasy about your shape, your imperfections, your psoriasis, that large mole, or a noticeable birthmark, and you’d rather keep those things tucked away. Or maybe you just don’t have any interest in getting naked—much less around other random people who are also naked—and any movement of people championing the right to do exactly that is… well… irrelevant to you. Those nudists are nuts.

Fair enough. While I do think dabbling in nudism might help you overcome some of those traumas and insecurities, you can keep your clothes on. I’m not going to fight you on that.

I am a nudist, and I have considered myself one for quite some time, but I am not naïve. I understand that most people simply are not nudists, that most people are not particularly interested in or knowledgeable about the nudist movement or nudist ideology, and I fully understand that a lot of people find it uncomfortable to see or even talk about nudity in general. I am at peace with that. In fact, almost all of my very best friends are non-nudists—or “textiles” as we affectionately call our less-enlightened, clothes-clutching counterparts—so I am under no delusion that nudism is a mainstream way of life or that non-nudists should just innately understand why nudists want to take off all their clothes and run around with each other in the sunshine.

I’m not here to convince you or anyone else of all the great things about nudism… I’m not here to tell you how great it feels to taste the breeze, the sea, and the sunshine on your skin, or to convince you of all the benefits of breaking down social barriers to connect with people on a more human level. There are plenty of other websites, articles, blogs, and Twitter threads out there that have those topics covered. Heck, I’ve probably even written some of them. No, instead I just want to convey why you, as a person who has no interest in becoming a nudist, can and should still care about what nudists believe in, what nudists stand for, what nudists have already achieved, and how we have contributed to the cultural zeitgeist. I just want you to see nudists less as weirdos and fringe activists and more as an integral—albeit quirky—part of the world that we all share. We are, after all, your neighbors, friends, and family members. We see the world a little differently, sure, but we value freedom of expression, connection with the natural world, and human diversity and unity, just like many of you do.


In a recent (adorable) BuzzFeed video on YouTube entitled Nudists Reveal Secrets About Nudist Communities, three nudists are interviewed on what it’s like to be a nudist, diving into everything from why they love it, what their first experience going nude with others was like, and how it has impacted their lives. They even tackle the deeply engrained public perception that nudists are mostly old guys (yes, there are a lot of old men… but we’re working on that, I promise). As much as I loved this video and seeing nudism represented in a positive light without sensationalizing naked bodies, it’s easy to casually consume and dismiss its content. It’s interesting and respectful and it raises awareness, but once the average person has seen it, they can carry on having learned a few tidbits about a way of life that seems quaint and quirky and completely removed from the way they themselves move through the world.

What wasn’t captured in that BuzzFeed video is a century-long struggle between nudists and their nosy NIMBY neighbors, moralizing mid-century matrons, meddling church leaders with far too much time on their hands, decades of recurring police raids, years of courtroom battles with the United States Post Office, and anti-nudity and anti-obscenity laws in nearly every state and metropolitan area, all of which eventually earning us the privilege of being interviewed about what it’s like to be a nudist as though it’s just as ordinary a way of life as beekeeping or veganism. And, yeah, it is just as ordinary, but it took a great deal of work to get here.

In many ways unseen by the general public, however, a lot of these little joys and privileges are still just as endangered as they’ve always been. There are still people fighting to shut down the few remaining nude beaches and to stop any new ones from being established. There are still states where it’s illegal to be a nudist (I’m looking at you, Arkansas). There are still laws in place that treat male and female breasts differently or that can land you on a sex offender registry for being caught urinating outdoors. There are still shockingly few spaces available in the United States to actually be a nudist, due in large part to decades of anti-obscenity laws.

Without decades of nudists advocating for the right to assemble and fighting local governments, there wouldn’t be nude beaches for BuzzFeed writers to visit and then write about how disappointing their experience was. Without decades of legal battles all over the country, you wouldn’t be able to ponder whether you’d like to maybe… someday… possibly try that nude yoga class you saw advertised at the studio across town. “No… I don’t know… Maybe not for me… What would my friends say?” Without decades of clothing-optional spaces being harassed and raided by cops, naked men and women being wrangled into police vans, you might still be able to be arrested if a prudish neighbor caught a glimpse of your naked body through a bedroom window. Without years of fighting against the USPS, you wouldn’t be able to send anything through the mail with even a hint of nudity, let alone sexual content. Without these struggles, there would be no World Naked Bike Ride for people to giggle at or complain about on Facebook. And I don’t think that’s a world that any of us want! Nudity, even if it’s silly or uncomfortable, makes life a little more interesting.

Unfortunately, all of that cultural struggle and all of those legal battles to carve out a space for ourselves has firmly planted the nudist movement in a sort of liminal space in our cultural consciousness: Neither completely erased nor fully actualized in its potential as a valid, accepted way of life, with a few legal protections here and there that keep nudists wrangled into small, socially palatable pockets but without much control over public perception of our own community, mentions of nudism in popular culture can be met with a grin or a wink while actual nudists struggle to organize events in their communities without causing outrage.

My friend Martin and me at a United Naturists event at Olive Dell Ranch in Southern California, July 2021

But we live in the twenty-first century and one of the most beautiful things about what society has evolved into is our ability to quite simply let other people enjoy things. We can do that. We can tolerate people liking things that we ourselves do not like or understand. We do it every day. Some people like music that I hate, but they are still allowed to roll all of their car windows down, turn up the volume, and drive down the street where I might be forced to hear a little bit of it while I’m out walking my dog. And that’s OK, because I share the planet with people who like different things. People can dress in ways that I don’t like, or do their hair in ways that I don’t like, or read books or watch TV shows that I don’t like, or have all kinds of beliefs or superstitions that I don’t share, but… you see where I’m going with this. Just because I don’t believe in astrology or like watching golf doesn’t mean that those things should be banned or criminalized or even stigmatized. Promoting nudism is of course about body acceptance, body freedom, and personal liberty, but it’s also about accepting that we can all enjoy different things while being respectful, causing no harm, and coexisting in the same world. We don’t need to go around policing behavior that isn’t harming anyone. That’s not the world that any of us really want to live in, is it?

I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah, sure, but nudity is different, because it’s wrong, gross, obscene, unnecessary, etc.!” Is it? Is it actually, though? People all over the world are naked right now. Showering, shaving, sleeping, making their first or second or third cup of coffee of the day, sitting on the toilet, having sex, trimming their nails, popping zits in the mirror, soaking up sunshine on a sandy beach, skinny-dipping with friends, enjoying a hot sauna, getting a check-up at the doctor’s office. The world is full of human bodies, roughly eight billion of them, every one with warts and scars and hair and buttholes and nipples and toes. How can that be obscene or gross or unnecessary? How can we honestly, genuinely claim to be offended by the sight or mention of the one thing that truly makes us all human: Having a human body? I just don’t buy it. I don’t buy that it’s normal or natural or authentic to be offended by nudity. We may be socialized to respond that way to nakedness, but that’s not who we are and we would not have survived as a species if it were natural to be offended by each other’s bodies.

And honestly, what is really so weird about nudity? What’s so weird about liking to be naked? Sure, maybe it’s a somewhat uncommon joy, but even then, is it really that uncommon? Given that we have accepted and embraced skinny-dipping as a beloved pastime and rite of passage, steam rooms and saunas as a staple of relaxation, and streaking as a light-hearted, harmless prank, it does seem that some amount of social nudity is already accepted as normal. Take a look, too, at the rise in people choosing to spend time nude at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, or browse the numerous Tweets where average, everyday people share candidly that they enjoy just walking around their own homes naked when they’re alone. It sure seems to me like a lot of people really do like to be naked. Maybe they don’t call themselves nudists, but those little moments of joy that they’re enjoying in the privacy of their own home are what nudists work hard to promote and support. Put into context, taking joy in nudity is no more or less weird than letting a bunch of little fish nibble the dead skin off your feet or bungee-jumping off a bridge or memorizing every episode of Doctor Who. And even if it is weird, who cares?

We just want to get naked in the most peaceful and respectful way possible, and we would love it if the rest of the world saw that and thought, “Yeah, that’s cool! You do you!” But it’s more than that. Nudists don’t just promote nudism for our own benefit. Many of the causes that nudists take up impact non-nudists as well, such as social media censorship which treats male and female nipples unequally, normalizing diverse and realistic body types, and seeing past social, gender, and racial barriers that hinder connection. We nudists aren’t just stripping down for the pure joy of it, but because we feel our little bit of joy and passion might actually make the world a little bit better for everyone. We feel like body acceptance might also help non-nudists learn to love themselves, like learning to see past someone’s differences and social status could also help non-nudists connect with one another. We feel like people should be able to choose how much or how little they want to wear without being harassed in public or online.

So what’s all the fuss and what are nudists still fighting for? The fuss is that in the United States, and in most countries, there are still hardly any spaces where a person can just be naked, let alone be around others who also like to be naked. Due to the anti-obscenity laws I mentioned earlier, nearly every single nudist space that wasn’t shuttered by local governments in the twentieth century has been driven so far out into the countryside that they struggle to attract visitors and remain solvent. The fuss is that, in some cases, a college professor’s career can be at risk if it’s found out that they just like to be naked in nature, even though there’s science to suggest that activities like forest bathing can be beneficial to our health, and even though thinking critically about what society deems right and wrong should be an integral part of education. The fuss is that, in many states and local jurisdictions, a neighbor can still call the cops on you if they peek over your fence or into your windows and catch of glimpse of your naked body. Those are not obstacles that people who share other hobbies, ideologies, or ways of life have to deal with, and frankly these are little injustices that don’t just impact nudists but anyone caught briefly rejecting the idea that bodies, butts, balls, and boobs are icky and obscene. We don’t want anyone to have to be afraid of being seen naked.

I want so much to believe that we live in a world where we can be happy for other people who find something that makes them feel whole and that brings them joy. I want so much to believe that people can have different passions, hobbies, and perspectives, and share those with each other not for the sake of converting anyone to their own way of thinking but to connect with each other, understand each other better, and expand our consciousness beyond our own experiences. At the end of the day, I don’t really care if you don’t have any interest in taking off your clothes. I really don’t. I am not asking anyone to become a nudist or to even try it. Not today, anyway. My only ask is that you see the value in a world where others can enjoy and celebrate something that you don’t understand or care for personally, that you question why it’s OK to stigmatize and criminalize human bodies, that you even perhaps appreciate from afar that it’s pretty rad how much nudists have contributed to our shared culture and society. And you can chuckle about how silly we are to want to run around naked all you want, as long as you’ll support our right to do so peacefully and respectfully.

After all, we nudists are just like everyone else. Well… without the tan lines… or all the shame about our bodies… but aside from that, we’re not so different. I bet you’ll even find some causes that we can work toward together.

Getting Uncomfortable with Nudity

I have spent the majority of my life with social anxiety. When I was very young, I would cry when I was dropped off at preschool or Sunday school, and struggled to meet new kids my age or to talk to adults. I would literally hide under my mom’s dress. As I got older, just like everyone else, I had to push myself to either overcome those anxieties or at least occasionally pretend that I’d overcome them. Five-year-old me could never have given corporate presentations, managed stressful vendor relationships, or defended a research paper, but check in on me at 32 years old and these are things I can almost do without batting an eye. I had to work on it, sure, but it was worth it. In a way, getting naked can be like that, too.


If you have ever spoken to a nudist or read something a nudist has written, or listened to that one friend of yours–you know, the one who goes skinny-dipping at every opportunity–wax poetic about the feeling of stripping down, you have without a doubt heard the pitch that being naked just feels amazing. Liberating! Free! Relaxing! Sensually exhilarating! And if nothing else, they have at least told you that being naked is simply comfortable… definitely more so than being bound up in suits and jeans and boots and dresses.

And that’s true. All of it. Being naked feels good. It’s comfortable, exhilarating, freeing, all of those things. It makes your body feel alive and alert and aware. You can move more freely and experience the world around you without a mediator, without clothing filtering every touch or bump or wave or breeze. As a nudist, I’ll say it again: Yeah, being naked feels, like, really great. Five stars, would recommend.

And you know how else it can feel? Terrifying. Vulnerable. Cold. Awkward. Silly. And even uncomfortable.

I have felt all of those things in situations of social nudity. The anxiety of removing your clothes for the first time… maybe even every first time in every new setting. The vulnerability brought about by the exposure of all your flaws and imperfections and parts of yourself that you’ve grown comfortable keeping hidden. The strange new physical sensation of a cool breeze or the shiver that accompanies feeling nervous or out of place. The awkwardness of not knowing what to do with your hands because you suddenly have no pockets or not knowing where you should look when you’re talking to someone or how to approach someone to say hello without invading their space. The nearly dissociative, comical realization that you’re stark naked in front of a bunch of strangers and you never thought your penis or breasts or butt would just be hanging out there for the world to see. The fear that someone in your everyday life might find out, or might be at this event and make your relationship awkward, or maybe they could expose you or ridicule you. All of it. Those things are not comfortable feelings at all. They are not the feelings of liberation and freedom that you were promised. But they can all be part of the experience and are just as important as the warmth of the sun on your skin and the lightness of moving through the world unencumbered.

I don’t say that to scare you away if you were thinking about getting naked. I don’t say it to diminish all the amazing parts of nudism or social nudity or just simply getting to know your body. I say it to recognize that those experiences are totally normal and to be expected and to encourage you to embrace that discomfort and anxiety and push through to the other side, because the joy and freedom and peace of not caring what people think of your body are worth the work. I promise you, it’s worth it. At the risk of saying, “that’s the whole point of nudism,” about yet another thing, I do kind of have to say it: Being uncomfortable, at least temporarily, is kind of the point of nudism and social nudity.

Feeling comfortable naked requires unraveling the learned shame around nudity and our bodies. Learning how to feel comfortable naked requires getting uncomfortable on purpose, or at least preparing yourself for the discomfort you know might happen, and working through it mindfully. For some people, that moment of discomfort may last just a few seconds and they never look back. For some, the work of undoing all those years of feeling weird in their bodies will be quick and painless. For others, though, the discomfort may dissipate slowly across multiple experiences of social nudity. It may take you a little longer to undo all of that weirdness and to feel great being naked. And my point is that that’s perfectly OK and normal. You’re not weird if it takes you longer, and it doesn’t mean that nudism or social nudity are not a good fit for you. The work is worth it. I hope you won’t give up if it feels strange and unusual that first time you try social nudity, because I truly believe you will be glad you endured.


Worth noting here, however, is that there’s a huge difference between the discomfort of experiencing something unfamiliar and the discomfort of experiencing something that is a violation of your privacy or safety. If you ever find yourself in a socially nude setting and you experience something that feels wrong or unsettling, please report it to someone in charge of the event or facility.


Given the historical premise of the nudist movement, I would also argue that beyond the initial physical sensations or anxious discomfort, nudism pushes us to get uncomfortable with a lot more than just nudity. It pushes us to confront our prejudices, our preconceived notions of others, the barriers that separate us from those around us, and asks us to accept the wide diversity of what human bodies actually look like, of what life can be like.

Over the past century, nudism has so often been touted–mainly by nudists themselves–as the great equalizer, as the key to breaking barriers of social hierarchy and seeing past our professions, education, relationships, skin color, or national origin. Human social equality and overcoming prejudices have long been core tenets of the nudist movement, just as much as–and deeply intertwined with–corporeal freedom. The real-world application of that idea within the nudist community has succeeded to varying degrees, not always hitting the mark, but it remains a noble goal and one that we have to work towards consciously if we want to realize it.

Rethinking your preconceived notions of the people around you, learning to embrace people for their differences, and rethinking what a body is supposed to look like are all uncomfortable tasks to accomplish, but just like getting used to the sensation of others’ eyes on your skin and the wind across your body, getting used to the diversity of humanity is worth the effort, and is another core part of what makes nudism and social nudity so groundbreaking and impactful. Seeing each other for the unique individuals that we are and being seen for your own uniqueness, whatever it may be, are just as liberating and validating as getting comfortable in your own skin, in your own nudity.

So push through, make the effort, not just to accept your own body and feel great naked, but to appreciate what else nudism and social nudity have to offer. Feeling uncomfortable can be a sign that we are learning and growing, so don’t be afraid of it. Embrace what you have, your body, your nudity… but also the experiences that others share with you, their uniqueness, their life stories. All we have to do is put ourselves out there and be ready for growth.

Why bother saying all of this? Only because I know what it feels like to be uncomfortable but to have to push through it because the other side is worth it. Feeling relieved from that discomfort, from insecurity, from prejudice is worth it… and I personally think getting naked can be a great way to get to that place.

Getting Out Again

When I first started writing this blog back in 2018, I assumed that there would be a lot more time spent talking about clubs I belonged to, resorts I was visiting, events I was attending. I never intended to become a travel blog, but I entertained the idea that some portion of my blog would be lighthearted trip reviews and practical advice for your first visit to a nudist club. And then it was winter. And then I moved across the country for a new job. And then I was completely broke for a year and trying to get my feet back under me. And then COVID hit and I spent the next year and a half trapped inside. Surprise! My content has been a little heavier than I expected, and while I do not have any regrets, I do look forward to diversifying, because nownow that the world is opening back up and I have my feet back underneath me and all the pieces are settling into place… now I’m looking forward to getting back out again and having the experiences that are so integral to social nude recreation.

So what does that look like? I’ll be honest, after fifteen months stuck inside my home, and even longer since I’d even been in a financial position to be involved, I was not sure how it would even feel to jump back into the in-person nudist world—as opposed to the online one that I’ve relied on for much of this time. Sure, I kept up my AANR membership and I stayed involved in various committees and projects within the nudist community, but it is not the same as spending time in the sun with living, breathing, smalltalk-making nudists. I was anxious! Anxious about visiting a new club with new rules, about remembering to bring all the right things, about being in a new environment with people I didn’t know, about navigating the expectations of socializing in a sort-of post-COVID world.

Despite all the anxiety, last week I finally made my first post-COVID trip to a nudist resort, which was also my first trip to a club in Southern California. Good Lord, I had almost forgotten what that felt like. For the sake of sharing and priming others who are feeling tentatively ready to get back out there—or who may be thinking about getting out there for the first time—I wanted to share what that experience was like.


As soon as case counts started dropping and regulations started relaxing in California, I started itching to get out to visit one of my nearby resorts. Once I was vaccinated, I thought to myself, I would get right out there. I started prepping by ordering some sunscreen and a new hat and some sitting towels and drying-off towels and a new bag. At long last, it was finally time. So, mid-week last week I made sure to look up the two clubs in my vicinity to verify that they were open and accepting new visitors. I then called both to confirm. One club, Glen Eden Sun Club, was literally so booked with newcomers that they didn’t have any first-visit tour appointments available and had to turn me away. Which, yes, that’s a bummer, but I am excited for them that they are seeing so many new folks! The other club, Olive Dell Ranch, seemed less overwhelmed with first-timers and did not require a scheduled tour for new visitors, so the decision had been made for me: I would check out Olive Dell Ranch.

It’s worth noting here that if you are considering a visit to a nudist resort or club for the first time, don’t just show up. Make sure to look up the club’s website to confirm their requirements for new visitors (and don’t be put off if the website looks a little outdated… that’s normal). I would also recommend calling a few days in advance in case they require a reservation or notice of your intent to visit. You might find that they’re perfectly happy to accept new visitors at the gate and that there’s no issue, but every club and resort is a little different. Some will require a reservation or a scheduled tour. Some will also limit the amount of single men who can visit at any given time, so if you’re a single man visiting a club for the first time, be up-front and let them know so that you don’t make the trip all the way out there only to be turned away. You may also find that holding a membership to a national organization such as AANR (American Associate for Nude Recreation) or The Naturist Society will make your first trip a little smoother, and it does usually reduce your day fee.

Without a doubt, though, you will definitely need to bring your ID, some money, a towel, and a smile. Sandals, sunscreen, sunglasses, a water bottle, and an extra towel also highly recommended.

Since I had already called Olive Dell Ranch the day before to let them know I was coming, I hit the road pretty early on Saturday morning to head out for my long-awaited visit. The club grounds sit about an hour to an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles. Traffic was light and I was able to make the trip in an hour and twenty minutes, which felt pretty quick given where I live in LA. What surprised me about Olive Dell compared to the clubs I had visited in Oregon was that the entrance was actually really close to the main road… so no need to navigate narrow mountain roads for 30 minutes hoping you didn’t miss the turn. It’s a straight shot and the GPS navigation had no trouble guiding me right to the gate. When I arrived, I was admittedly confused about how to get in. This has been a different experience at every club I’ve visited, so don’t feel too bad if you get confused, too. At one club, for example, I had to call before I started up the mountain so that I could get the daily gate code because there was no cellphone reception on the mountain and the gate was a mile or so from the actual club. At Olive Dell, I simply needed to park along the side of the driveway just outside of the front building and walk inside to register and pay. In this case, no, you don’t get naked just yet—that comes after you register, pay, and get parked inside the gates.

Registration was fairly easy, though there was some back-and-forth about whether I’d be able to get in. Maybe because I was a single man. A big point was made about my AANR Premier Membership, so I’m halfway wondering if they were pulling my leg and am halfway convinced that I might not have been admitted without my AANR membership. In any case, definitely consider attaining membership from AANR or The Naturist Society since it will help you appear a bit more trustworthy to the folks at the front gate.

From there, I asked for instructions on where to go, followed the road down to the main area with the pool and restaurant, parked, got out of the car and stripped down, grabbed my pre-prepared tote of towels and sunscreen, and breathed a big deep breath. This was perhaps the first time I’d visited a nudist space where I didn’t feel that little tinge of anxiety about stripping down right at first. Maybe that was because I was so excited to finally be there, or maybe I’ve just outgrown it. But, God, it was an incredible feeling to finally be there, to finally be nude outdoors again, to be around others who were all there to feel that freedom, too. I knew that I had been missing it, but I don’t think I fully appreciated just how much I had been missing it.

I showered, found a place by the pool, sunscreened up, and got comfortable. I felt a little stupid that I’d forgotten to bring a book or even headphones, but that was fine. Usually I would have spent my time reading and listening to my own music, but I was perfectly happy to just enjoy catching bits of the little conversations taking place in the pool, the sound of the birds, and the trees swaying in the breeze. I passed the rest of my day dipping in and out of the pool, taking a brief walk through the park grounds and a hike up through the trails in the surrounding hills, ordering a couple of beers at Thirst Aid (the bar near the pool), and playing ping-pong with a member of the club… just genuinely relaxing and connecting in a way that sitting at home just doesn’t quite achieve. As much as I’ve been naked at home during COVID, it does not compare to getting out of the city and being in a space just for nudists, just for social nudity and connection with nature.

The vibe at Olive Dell Ranch is perhaps a little rough around the edges, but in the way that feels like it’s lovingly held together with several coats of paint and the heart and soul of its members and visitors. Rustic? Sure. A little kitschy? Maybe. Warm and inviting and full of joy? Absolutely, one hundred percent. There’s something especially charming about the sometimes makeshift nature of nudist spaces in general, and I feel like this applies to Olive Dell… it’s a labor of love and you can tell it means a great deal to its regulars. It’s home, in that unique way that only a nudist club can be. The crowd was a healthy mix of ages and backgrounds and genders. I wasn’t the only young person or the only gay person. There were just as many women as men and while the crowd was definitely mostly white, there was perhaps a bit more diversity than you would expect. The music playing by the pool was also… honestly impressive, ranging from Blitzkrieg Bop to Jesus Loves Me, but mostly lingering on disco and soft rock, which felt somehow exactly appropriate for the setting and the generations-spanning mix of folks.

I made small talk with a few people and felt warmly welcomed… but I also was admittedly grappling with the awkwardness of being in a social setting for the first time in over a year—and also just not being terribly social to begin with—so there were some hurdles to overcome. I literally feel like I need to practice normal social interactions. Next time should be quite a bit easier, I’m sure. I am really looking forward to heading back out there, and also scheduling a time to visit Glen Eden for the first time.

If you’re anything like me, this is a weird time. The world is on its way back to something like it once was, but it’s not quite there yet. Everything is somehow both a total mess and also seemingly perfectly normal. You might be feeling anxious about getting out again, unsure if you remember how to be the person you were before COVID… but you might feel even more anxious about being stuck at home any longer, missing out on any opportunity to feel like a part of the world again. Maybe you feel like you’re ready to check out that nudist club or event for the first time after discovering nudism from the comfort of your home over the last year, but you’re not sure what exactly to expect. If this is your first time trying social nudity, I highly recommend checking out some resources like this book by Matthew McDermott, How to Take Your Clothes Off, which covers a lot of the little details and questions that new nudists often ask (or are too afraid to ask). I’ve read it and it’s worth reading even if you’re a seasoned nudist.

All that being said, now is the time. Now is the time to consider whether you’re ready to take the plunge for the first time or whether you’re ready to get back out there and experience social nudity once again. It might not be today or tomorrow, but soon. And I hope you have an awesome time. I hope you meet some friendly faces and that you feel that warm sun on your skin.

You deserve it.

Well, This Is Awkward

Well! It’s New Year’s Eve, and we are all hastily wrapping up our Holiday festivities and tying up whatever loose ends remain from 2019. At least that’s what I’m doing. I genuinely did have a lovely Christmas, and I hope you all were able to find some rest and peace this Holiday season as well, whatever your tradition.

I suppose I should apologize for disappearing for… what… at least seven months? I am honestly a little embarrassed, because when I started out on this blogging journey, I had every intention of diving in headfirst, of keeping the entries regular and of consistent quality, of devoting more energy to being an outspoken advocate for naturism. Alas, life happens.

Eight and a half months ago, I accepted a job offer for a position based in Los Angeles. Two weeks later, all of my belongings were packed into a truck and my partner and I left Portland for an exciting new adventure in Southern California. The job that I accepted was one I dreamt of someday achieving and, while it’s not the end of the line for my career, it is an excellent jumping-off point for all sorts of new adventures. Hopefully I won’t need to move across the country again any time soon. In a city like Los Angeles, the job opportunities are plentiful, so I do have faith in my ability to settle down here.

So, what happened next? What happened next is that I got to Los Angeles and hit the ground running. I started my new job two days after arriving in the city, and there have been myriad life changes, adjustments, new relationships, and hardships along the way that have made it increasingly difficult to get back in the saddle and start writing about life and naturism again. In no way do I intend to disparage naturism, but taking the time to write about it is a luxury I haven’t been able to afford. Moving to a new city is glamorous on TV and in movies, but it’s messy, and hard, and scary in real life. For a while after we moved to Los Angeles, for example, my partner was able to continue working from home for his employer, but that ended abruptly a couple months after we arrived. Finding new friends, getting new doctors, learning new neighborhoods, getting used to the weather… all of those things are easy enough on their own but add up to a mountain of seemingly insurmountable stressors when experienced all at once.

I can say that I do really like Los Angeles, though, and not in the same way that I said it a few months ago, through clenched teeth, trying to convince myself that everything was OK. It’s a huge, messy, beautiful city, with a million things to do and see and twelve million people to bump into along the way. All in all, I don’t regret the move, despite a few kinks that I haven’t worked out yet

About that naturism, though. You know, one thing I was unprepared for when I moved here was the lack of accessible nude beaches. I knew that Black’s Beach was the closest, but at 2-3 hours away by car, it’s not the easy day trip that Rooster Rock and Collins Beach were to Portland. It’s such a shame that a city with as beautiful and warm of weather as Los Angeles doesn’t have accessible nude spots within the city. Granted, with my limited calendar and increased time spent getting to and from work during the week, I haven’t had much time to scout out any non-landed clubs in the area (if you know of any good ones for younger people in LA, please let me know!), and I even feel terrible that I haven’t taken the plunge to drive out to one of the neighboring naturist grounds.

That all reads as a long-winded excuse. For me, though, it’s a reflection on the things that come up in life that distract you from the things you enjoy, and that’s totally OK. But it’s also a reminder of those things I love and that I should make an effort to make time for them as life settles down again (I hope) in 2020. Let’s not beat ourselves up for the things we can’t change, let’s not feel bad about the things we didn’t have time to do… let’s just remember why they’re important and make time to treat ourselves to those experiences that we love, to hold close the people we care about, and to cherish what time we have.

A happy new year to all of you! May 2020 be kind to you.

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Tats & Pubes & Nudists

Ah, the age-old debate around tattoos and pubic hair. Let’s also throw in piercings because that seems to get almost as much attention in online nudist circles as the other two. In every online nudist community that I have ever joined, be it the cloud of nudists on Twitter, an online forum, or Reddit, the question of tattoos, pubic hair, and body piercings inevitably springs up. So let’s talk about that. Not the tattoos, pubes, and piercings themselves, but why we keep returning to the topic.

First, not all questions about these big three “issues” are created equal. They tend to range in depth and agenda, but most of them fall either under the category of curious inquiry or moralistic judgment. To be completely honest, I have seen both of these angles discussed ad nauseam, but it’s the moralistic judgment category that I find most problematic. The reason it can be problematic is that it asks people to discuss and debate whether nudists ought to have tattoos, whether we ought to shave our pubic hair, or whether we ought to have body piercings. The problem here is not the tattoos, pubes, or piercings, but the willingness to judge others based on what they choose to do with their own bodies and to then pervert the debate by implying that true naturists and nudists don’t have tattoos, don’t shave their pubes (or do, depending on whom you ask), or would never pierce their genitals or nipples. Placing moralistic judgment on what another person does with their own body feels very contrary to the principles of naturism and nudism to me.

Here’s my question: Why do we care? Why in the world would I care what another person decides to do with their body, and why in the world should I think that my own preferences on how to interact with my body should dictate how others should interact with theirs? I do not think that most people who engage in these discussions online really care or have prejudices against tattoos or shaving, but when the question is posed and the discussion starts boiling, it’s not long before someone declares that if you are a real naturist and you really respect your body, you would not get tattoos or piercings. And here I am wondering to myself if the people sharing those views understand the hypocrisy of what they are saying. How can a nudist promote a lifestyle of body acceptance and body freedom and not value others’ right to do with their body as they please? It’s not like we nudists debate how we should style the hair on our head or whether we should wear makeup, after all, which brings me to a quick side note…

Why the obsession with genitals? Yes, obviously being nude reveals our genitals. That’s part of the package. But why draw attention to them? I don’t think this would strike me as quite so odd if there were just as many discussions circling the Internet around the way that nudists style the hair on our head or what we do with our armpit or leg hair… it’s that the pubic hair debate is always the prominent one. I will concede that one great thing about nudists is that we don’t look at any body part as taboo, whether in art or in conversation, which means talking about pubic hair is, of course, perfectly normal. OK, side note finished.

It seems perfectly innocent when the discussion revolves around what we prefer to do with our own pubic hair or what tattoos or piercings we have. It can be fun to talk about our personal likes and dislikes, our own grooming habits, or our aesthetic preferences, so I completely get it. And if we’re not wearing clothes, these are the things we are left with to personalize our style. I admit that I enjoy telling people about my tattoos if they are interested, and if I had piercings, I would probably enjoy swapping stories with other people with piercings. I wonder, though, if the discussion keeps coming back to tattoos, pubic hair, and piercings so often because there is still a debate simmering about whether nudists should have/do these things at all. Like I said earlier, nobody is discussing how we should be cutting or styling the hair on our head or how we should do our makeup, because we are all very used to the idea that each of us has free rein to do with our locks whatever we want (though I imagine you could find some negative opinions about unnaturally dyed hair in an online nudist community somewhere). When it comes to the hair on our head, nudists tend to completely avoid the discussion, as though we acknowledge that other people’s beauty routines are none of our business and that it would be silly to discuss it. When it comes to pubic hair and body modifications, suddenly it’s fair game. Fine. I won’t fight it because I do think it’s harmless, but let’s at least recognize that it is a little strange. Maybe we just run out of other things to discuss.

Regardless of any one person’s feelings about tattoos, pubic hair, or piercings, I think we all regularly get enough external input about what we should or should not be doing with our bodies, what we should or should not be eating, what we should or should not be wearing. It isn’t helpful to get that same kind of judgmental input from other nudists, people we should be able to count on to be free of judgment. As long as you are happy with the way that you decorate, groom, and adorn your own body—or choose not to—that’s all that matters. Let’s let each other make our own choices, let’s talk about it, share our experiences, share advice, and support each other’s choices even if they are not the choices we would make for our own bodies, and then let’s appreciate the fact that we have built a community where we can be as open and accepting as we are. I have always really enjoyed the diversity of body grooming and decoration that goes on in naturist and nudist circles, and being without clothes makes for an even greater canvas for creativity.

So do it, or don’t. Get your pube trimming on if that’s your thing. Get your full-body wax on if that’s your thing. Get your full bush on if that’s your thing. Get your genital or nipple piercings on if that’s your thing. Get your tattoo on if that’s your thing. You do you, I’ll do me, and I’ll support you regardless. It’s your body, enjoy it how you want to.

Finally, since I know you’re all wondering what I do with my pubes, I’ll tell you: Sometimes I trim them. Now you know, you wonderful naked weirdos, you.

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Prepare to be trimmed… sometimes.

Wellness & the Naturist Way

Remember the early days of naturism when physical activity was an integral, even enforced, part of naturist philosophy? Remember the days when members and visitors at naturist clubs were required to take part in daily exercise?

Me neither, thankfully. That sounds exhausting.

I wasn’t around back then, and I am fairly certain that none of us were. It seems so authoritarian now, to think of a club putting so much emphasis on exercise and physical form. We have come a long way in society in terms of respecting each other’s dietary and life choices and promoting acceptance for a more diverse array of body shapes and sizes—which is a great thing—but it has not stopped us from policing each other’s bodies regardless. Advertisements and media still idealize skeletally thin women and bulging muscles on men, we are convinced to associate guilt with food, and we internalize those messages whether we realize it or not. For example, is it not second nature for many of us to automatically congratulate each other when we lose weight or to criticize ourselves for eating fattening foods? No one needs to be told what to do with their body, what to eat, or that their body is not acceptable the way that it is, because that is no one’s business but the person to whom the body belongs. The idea of a nudist or naturist club in the twenty-first century pushing its members to exercise as was done in the early twentieth century sounds absolutely terrible, so I am glad that things have changed and we can allow people to enjoy a naturist or nudist lifestyle without dictating the way they take care of their bodies

Naturists and nudists do still like to tote the health benefits of being nude, perhaps as a quaint homage to our heritage of enthusiasm for wellness. When an article or study is released that lauds the advantages of sleeping nude, of exposing the skin to sunlight, or of not wearing a bra, naturists collectively rejoice and shout, “See! We told you so!” I bet there is an article out there somewhere on the Internet that vouches for the health benefits of doing almost anything naked, and these are not even naturist media sources but mainstream news and pop culture sites. While we bask in the media attention around how healthy it is to do all sorts of everyday things nude, we don’t talk much about fitness for the sake of fitness, or healthy eating for the sake of healthy eating. It may be true that the sun is good for our skin, that going to bed nude helps us sleep better, and that going bra-free is better for our circulation. It’s also true that exercise and a healthy diet are good for our bodies. Acknowledging naturism’s historical overemphasis on physical fitness, I do think it is OK to give those healthy behaviors some attention, too, as long as it is not done in a didactic, overzealous, or demoralizing way.

This is the part where I introduce a personal anecdote: First off, I am not a fitness fanatic. I only started exercising regularly about a year ago, not to lose or gain weight but to improve my overall health after moving into a very sedentary desk job. I do not especially like working out: It is tedious and I struggle at it. But do you want to know a really annoying secret? It does feel good. And working out naked has its own benefits, including a deeper appreciation and understanding for the way the muscles contract, how each joint bends or rotates, how the skin stretches and folds. My own personal experience exercising is completely my own and does not represent any kind of “ideal” wellness routine but it really has helped me feel more comfortable in and connected to my body than I did before. I am not saying that you should work out. I also won’t tell you whether or not you should see a counselor, eat healthier, or practice meditation, but those things might help you feel more comfortable in your body as well. Surely there are naturists out there who can attest to the ways that any and all of those practices have helped them feel healthier, more whole, or more fulfilled. What I will say is that nudism and naturism can be a much more holistic experience when we find new ways to appreciate and care for our bodies and minds and I encourage you to explore what that means for you.

There is no one right way to practice naturism, no one correct way to take care of your body, no one right way to show appreciation for the human form. We all do these things in the way that best fits with our own lifestyle and we all have a different relationship with our bodies. And that’s good. I don’t want to live in a world where someone tells me I have to exercise, eat or not eat certain things, wear or not wear certain things, meditate or attend counseling. I am glad that the emphasis on physical form and fitness that was prevalent in the early days of naturism has waned and made way for a more personal relationship with our bodies, but don’t let that keep you from exploring those practices at your own pace if you feel so inclined. I do think that taking care of your body, in conjunction with respecting and loving your body however it is, can be an important, personal part of naturism. You just cannot let magazines and websites convince you that fitness and health can only look like Cristiano Ronaldo or Gisele BündchenThat’s ridiculous. I mean, good for them, but… ridiculous.

Moral of the story: You do you. Take care of yourself, love your body, respect your body, and show that love and respect however works for you… even if it involves lifting cats over your head. Cheers.

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Is Nudism the New LGBTQ?

This is a proposal that I have seen floated on more than one occasion. “If the gays can do it, then we nudists should be able to do it,” “if the gays can have a flag, then so can nudists,” or “we should latch onto the success of LGBTQ activism,” etc. It seems logical. Nudists feel vulnerable and want basic rights, and this is an area where the LGBTQ community has made steady headway. We both have identities outside of the norm, and we both face undue criticism. So, is nudism the new LGBTQ movement? Is naturist the new gay?

I think my instructors from graduate school would advise heartily against answering the central question of this post before fully exploring all the information but, no, nudism is not the new gay. I know, I know… Why not? We are a persecuted group like the LGBTQ community. Well… no, we are not… not in the same way, anyway.

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Firstly, I should be forthright with my own status as both gay and a nudist. I think that’s important because I am writing as someone with experience and knowledge of both worlds. I will admit that there are striking similarities between the two groups, particularly in the language that we use to discuss our experiences. Nudists and LGBTQ folks both talk about a “coming out” experience, complete with the fears of rejection that surround it. We both tend to share stories of self-discovery, of the moment we realized that we were queer or that we enjoyed social nudity. Both groups also form communities and create spaces where we can gather away from the gaze of disapproving eyes. You could even say that both groups have put up with being an easy target of public mockery: Think of all the commercials and sitcoms where simply being naked is the butt of the joke (“I was in the pool!”), or where the humor is derived from implied same-sex attraction. They’re both tired tropes.

Similarities or not, there is a fundamental difference between being LGBTQ and being a nudist: LGBTQ folks do not have a choice and nudists do. Nobody chooses to be homosexual or transgender, it’s just the way we are and the LGBTQ rights movement has sprung up to fight for acceptance, protections, and recognition. LGBTQ folks are regularly targeted for simply existing, for walking down the street, for trying to get a job, for holding hands, for just being who they are in public, whether or not that identity is even outwardly expressed. Nudists, on the other hand, have chosen a lifestyle that they enjoy and suffer no harm from putting on a pair of pants to go to the grocery store. Nobody is out to hurt or silence nudists; no church or politician suggests lining up nudists and gunning them down. The similarities between the LGBTQ and nudist communities end where physical violence and legal discrimination begin, and this fundamental difference has rippled through history: Gay Germans were imprisoned by the Third Reich whereas German naturists were more or less left alone; while police were raiding the Stonewall Inn and arresting members of the LGBTQ community in 1960’s New York, white, middle-class nudists were quietly gathering in lush, remote oases without incident; gay and transgender individuals face threats of violence and death while nudists face verbal disapproval from family and possibly fines for public indecency. The point is that to equate the experiences of everyday nudists with those of everyday LGBTQ folks is offensive and reckless in this day and age. Suggesting that nudists should ride on the coattails of a marginalized group who has suffered violence and aggression is insensitive to those who have fought to end stigma and secure basic rights for the LGBTQ community. As a gay man and also a nudist, I have to say that it’s really not a great look for nudists to make comparisons like this.

Another difference between the LGBTQ and nudist communities is the origin of the respective movements in the public sphere. The LGBTQ rights movement was born of societal and legal persecution, as a unified voice to counter the violence and discrimination that homosexual and transgender people were facing during the middle of the 20th century, and it has been a long, hard-fought battle that has only recently begun to bear fruit in the form of marriage equality, but that still falls behind when it comes to job and housing security, parental rights, and overall safety. The naturist movement, on the other hand, was born of white, heteronormative privilege, as an escape for wealthy and middle-class Christian Americans to escape the diversity and clamor of the big city… and the nudists of the early to mid-20th century were able to do this with very little trouble. Sure, there were some scandalous news stories and prying eyes, but nudists were fairly successful in carving out their own safe spaces, plots of private land with gates and “no negroes” signs. LGBTQ history is one of resistance and a fight for inclusion, whereas the history of nudism has too often been one of exclusion, and this is an important factor to consider as we carry nudism forward into the 21st century.

Now that that’s out of the way, yes, nudists do face forms of persecution and public ridicule unique to our community. Self-disclosure, for starters, is a risky prospect for many nudists who fear the loss of their job or potential criticism and rejection from their community or family. That is a reality. I myself was far less open about my nudism while I was working in education and I am still very careful about the people I tell for fear of creating unnecessarily awkward interactions. Many nudists simply choose not to “come out” and are still able to enjoy a clothes-free lifestyle, but it is never healthy to feel that you need to hide a part of yourself. Being closeted sucks, right? Nudists, especially those who push the boundaries a little further than others, might also face fines or temporary jail time for indecent exposure. Laws and conditions like these are unjust. It is, in my opinion, a violation of human rights to criminalize simple human nudity, the act of just existing without man-made coverings. It is wrong, yes, but laws like these are generally not targeted persecution against nudists, and therein lies a very important distinction. Laws against “public indecency” were not created to justify aggression or legal action against us.

These are laws are generally intended to combat inappropriate sexual behavior but drastically overcompensate and impede on everyone’s rights. (Check out this great article by Jillian Page in the Montréal Gazette that discusses this idea further.) Likewise, the public ridicule and the deep-rooted stigma that nudists face for suggesting that we should be allowed to be naked in our own homes, in our backyards, at the beach, or—gasp—in public spaces, is harmful for every single human being on the planet. Every single human being has a naked body, was born naked, and is then forced to buy man-made garments to cover up in order to not face legal and social consequences. Our plight is not just our own, but everyone’s plight… they just might not know it. I think that’s another interesting similarity between the LGBTQ and nudist movements: The LGBTQ movement aims to increase acceptance of its own community and secure its own basic rights, and, as a result, all humans can feel more comfortable being exactly who they are and expressing themselves in the most authentic way; the nudist movement challenges the infringements on the right to be nude, to be human, particularly as it affects the ability to enjoy clothes-free recreation, and, as a result, it expands rights of everyone to simply be human, without shame. Each movement’s goals expand beyond its own core group.

It can be frustrating as nudists when we struggle to advance our own cause and see very little progress against prohibitive, anti-nudity laws, while other causes have gained the attention of the media and have become a part of public discourse. Those other movements, though, have earned their place in the spotlight. The #MeToo movement, transgender rights, Black Lives Matter… all of these movements occupy a very important place in our contemporary zeitgeist, regardless of any one person’s political leanings. As passionate as we may be about our cause, the right to be nude is not a terribly pressing issue in 2019 and our movement may never gain that kind of attention. And that’s OK. The discussions around these other contemporary movements are important, and they should be given their time. We can continue to focus our individual efforts on living and promoting the clothes-free lifestyle that we love and on spreading understanding and body-positive messages. We can (and should) even speak up about those other movements and support marginalized communities. Eventually, our time will come and it won’t be because we co-opted another movement.

A strong, concerted, nudist movement, whatever form that should take, can stand on its own two (bare) feet as long as we clearly communicate that there is a real human rights concern in criminalizing and ridiculing human nudity. We have a strong case that involves and affects everyone, nudists and textiles alike. Of course, there is no reason we can’t take cues from other successful movements, no reason we can’t fly our own flag of nudist pride, but we should also be very mindful that our movement is its own entity with its own unique history, and that other movements have theirs. If we truly want a popular nudist movement, we will have to identify our unique goals, highlight the ways that our movement will better the lives of individuals (even textiles), make our movement distinct and relevant, and be willing to confront some oft-unspoken issues within our own community, just as other movements have had to do.

So I suppose what I really want to say is that we got this. We got this all on our own, because our message as nudists is valuable and important all on its own.

[Edited on 1/22/2019 to clarify and strengthen the author’s views]