Visibility is the key to increasing public awareness and acceptance of naturism. I have preach and firmly believe this message. But I am increasingly realizing that simply coming out as a naturist is not always so simple. Naturism’s Risks can be significant and prices high for doing so. Recently, I had the pleasure to attend NATCON which is the Naturist Association of Thailand‘s annual conference. And while there, was privilege to meet some brave and extraordinary individuals. People who put their lives and families in jeopardy just by being there.
Hidden from view
Shortly after arriving at the docking sight, the conference participants left the rafts we would call home for the next couple of nights and waded onto the shore. There were too many of us for any of the four rafts to support all of our weight. So we gathered on relatively dry land to hear the welcome announcements and to greet each other. As part of this, instruction regarding photography were laid out. To further ensure that no one was photographed against their will, those who did not wish to be pictured were asked to come forward to be marked on each shoulder with a red marker. Some quickly approached the organizers to be duly branded. Others looked around and later stepped forward.
What surprised me was that of the 75 or so of us assembled there, a clear majority chose to be marked. My first thought was that we truly have a long way to go if even those attend a public nudist event are opposed to having there image recorded. After all being visible is the key and we need to proudly proclaim our practice. I couldn’t comprehend this apparent shyness and secrecy. But over the course of the weekend, I came to fully understand why.
Naturism’s risks can be serious
During one of those excited yet strained conversations in which you try to find topics of common interest with a new acquaintance, a young woman from Malaysia told me of the dangers being discovered nude pose in her country. Though she was in Thailand, any pictures of her nude there would likely cause her to lose her job and family once she returned home. Her husband didn’t know she was at a naturist conference and she was sure that if he should find out, he would ask for a divorce. And probably seek to prevent her from seeing her daughters.
There were others among the group who had similar fears. Even being seen naked in their own homes is punishable in some locations. And they could be jailed for this seemingly benign act.
The Duty is on the rest of us
It is indisputably true that no liberation movement has happened without a lot of personal loss and tragedy. Risk is necessary to advance a cause. However, asking someone to put there families and livelihood on the line, may be too high of a price. I think it makes it all the more imperative for those of us who live in more nudity tolerant places to lead the way. By making public nudity more acceptable in our own countries, we can begin to influence other and act as allies to those naturists in restrictive locations.