He was already gay, so I could only “recruit” him to be a nudist. I say this in jest of course. Because he voluntarily approached me. It was effortless recruiting.
In all seriousness, I recently had the pleasurable opportunity to sit down over tea with an at home nudist who had been taking his first bold steps toward public nudity. He wanted a sympathetic ear and some honest advice about getting started. I addressed one of his main concerns — how to handle a potential erection — in a recent post. He had once been to a clothing-optional beach in his native country, and had indeed gotten a hard on. I assured him that this was normal, especially for a newbie and that with time and experience, it would happen less frequently.
However, what I most enjoyed was the opportunity to paint a positive picture of naturism for someone who still had a bit of a society-influenced blurred image. And his questions allowed me to relive my journey into nudism. This made me wish I had had someone to sit and talk with as well.
In the LGBT community we often highlight the importance of role models and mentors who can dispel myths. I hadn’t thought about how vital such people are for naturists. Could this be part of the reason the naturist movement lags so far behind the gay rights one in terms of social acceptance? The exchange encouraged me to be more open about my own naturist proclivities. You would think someone who runs a blog and associated social media sites about naturism wouldn’t need to come out of the closet so to speak. After all, pictures of my penis are all over the internet. But there were — and are — steps to be taken. For example, I did not have a Facebook page for my Nudist blog until after talking with this young man. This despite having a widely shared one for my travel and food blog. I was too worried about family, friends or co-workers discovering it and being shocked. Not to mention possible future employers. Yet, I recall the difference made in my life by those gays who had been open me despite the risks.
Be out and proud
And cowering in the shadows deprives us of the chance to find other naturists. A case in point: I worked with naturists for five years without any of us knowing so. This happened at a job in Spain. During a team-building workshop, one of the nudists took the risk and mentioned that she enjoys going to nudist beaches. This prompted myself and one or two others to speak up as well. We had not realized what a true team and community we honestly were. Without my colleague’s forthrightness, that knowledge may very well have gone unnoticed forever.
When I mentioned to my young apprentice that I was working on this post, he readily took to the idea. “For the first time [doing] public nudity, better to have [an] experienced nudist guy who will explain all the rules”. I think perhaps the only “rules” are to be comfortable with yourself and respect others. But there are definitely things one needs to think about and be aware of when going bare in public for the first time. And as practicing nudist, we can contribute to making the process easier. But only if they know who we are and how to find us. So I encourage all the nudists out there, whether at home only or public, to let it be known.