The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself. ― Mark Twain
In this sixth installment of Nudist Planet’s Bare Voices Brian from the USA tells his story.
Bare Voices Brian USA
I’m currently living in Orlando, Florida (USA) and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. Attitudes here, in the US generally, is that nudity is simply unwelcome or even outlawed.
The personal impact of my region’s societal bias against nudity was directly felt in my growing up. Being raised by a father that taught me to feel shame for my body and the fact that, as a male, I had a penis. I was taught early to “hide it” whenever I was putting on a swimsuit. He was unable to instill in me or my 2 brothers a healthy sense of self or any appreciation for the male body. Through his religious beliefs, he also taught that nudity was sexual and anything (outwardly) sexual was a “sin”.
Oh my gosh…I hadn’t thought about it in so very long, but my first recollection of consciously being publicly nude was when I was approximately 12 years old. I was camping with a local chapter of the organization called the Boy Scouts of America and we had approximately 15 boys on the trip. We were camping near a small creek. As I recall, early evening on the Saturday night, the leader removed all of his clothes and ran into the creek. We all gasped and laughed so much. Then I, along with most of the boys, followed him into the creek – without our clothes. I remember feeling so free.
My nudist life now
I guess I use the term nudist more often than anything. People don’t really understand naturist or they think naturalist. Nudist is just simple. I prefer to be nude as often as I am able. I’m nearly always nude at home and have a private property with a pool which I also enjoy nude.
I’m quite fortunate to have a number of friends where I live who are nudists also and host many social gatherings – pool parties, cocktail parties, movie nights, hot tub parties, etc. Because the weather in Florida is so warm for so many months of the year, we start having pool parties in April, even if we aren’t actually IN the pool.
Possibly my most favorite location for nudity is the ocean. Again, I’m very fortunate to have access to a nude beach on the Atlanta Ocean about 1.5 hour’s drive from my home. I’ve been able to facilitate large meet-up of men at the nude beach three times now with the third one this past April. Approximately 40 men have been to these large meet-ups and it’s just incredibly amazing to have camaraderie like that.
I would have loved to hang out nude with Wayne Dyer but he has passed away somewhat recently. He lived in Hawaii and was an amazing author and humanist. So, I would then choose Paulo Coehlo, a Brazilian author. He has written some of the most moving books. I’d love to sit by the ocean with him to discuss his life and what has inspired him. And I dream of being nude in Barcelona. I’ve seen so many photos and a number of friends have gone there. I love hearing about their nude adventures.
I am a member of Gay Naturists International, GNI. Serving as its staff photographer and Communications Manager. I’ve been with GNI since 2010. I joined GNI at the suggestion of its Executive Director. He and I went to university together in the early 1980’s. We’ve been friends since. After a difficult breakup of a 2-year relationship in 2010, I mentioned a clothing-optional resort I would love to visit on a weekend getaway back then. He said to me, “If you like Island House (in Key West), you’d love GNI!”. And, he was exactly right. It’s an organization that has changed my life.
GNI hosts an annual Gathering in Pennsylvania in the US in August. It’s a major camping event for up to 10 days with 400-600 nudist (primarily) gay men from all over the world. We arrive as strangers and leave as brothers in nudism. It’s a place of complete acceptance regardless of shape, size, color, etc.
Raising kids and being out
In addition to the regret of being taught shame for my body, I do regret not having exposure to the nudist lifestyle prior to being in my 40’s. My (adult) female children all know that I’m a nudist and accept that aspect of who I am. One of the girls and her husband have experienced the nude beach when they’ve visited me in Florida. I regret not raising them with some nudist experiences, even if it was just in our home. When I’m at the beach or nudist resorts, I’m so appreciative of families with children who are introducing the young ones to the acceptance and joy of being nude.
Most of my friends are nudists. I am only out as a nudist to two colleagues currently and out to maybe 3 at a former employer. I recall the two current colleagues were completely accepting and their reaction was “no big deal”. Whereas my fiancé and I met at the GNI event, he’s not a nudist at this time. So technically, he’s a non-nudist. He has no concerns and is fully supportive of my nudism at home.
There are days I want to be completely out about my nudist life like when I want to share that I did a nude 5K recently. I simply said to most colleagues that I did a 5K and left out the nude part. I think that I would consider doing just about anything nude – if one can do it clothed, one can do it nude.
What I get from nudism
First and foremost, the single most important benefit of being a nudist has been the acceptance of my own body. Nudism has been instrumental in helping me to heal and let go of the shame I learned as a young boy and teenager.
Secondary benefits include learning to accept other people, men in particular, for who they are, regardless of their body type, shape, size, color, ethnicity, etc. The lack of judgment that I’ve learned over these past 10 years has been far-reaching in my life.
Also, I do less laundry. Since I don’t live alone when the temps get a little cooler, I will tend to add a shirt and socks but do try to remain without pants if it’s not warm enough to be nude. And I do always put on clothes to answer the door.
I wish governments would sanction safe spaces for nudists to express themselves be it in metropolitan areas, rural areas, coastal areas, etc. Likewise, I wish governments would stop criminalizing our bodies.
For changes within our community, I’d like to see nudists fully embrace the “nude is not lewd” mantra, particularly in the gay nudist community. So many gay men who want to identify as a nudist are doing so with the ultimate goal of having a sexual encounter. Nothing wrong with sex or a healthy sexual life but if we are going to have Nudism accepted, we’ve got to stop allowing sexual arousal in nudist spaces.
Inevitably, the newbie will say, “But I’ll get an erection”. I work tirelessly to explain that whereas an initial arousal is possible, nudism goes to one’s intent. In the majority of nude social gatherings that I attend, my intention is be among nudists not to have a sexual encounter. My intention drives my behavior which, in turn, maintains “nude is not lewd”.
After that aspect of nudism, I do my very best to share my experience of full acceptance and non-judgement. To be able to accept oneself FIRST leads to all sorts of amazing things for the individual. He’s then able to be with other men without judgement. His social network continues to grow. It’s an amazing cycle of acceptance, love, & support.
In June 2017, I was able to be in Toronto, Canada for their Pride celebration. On the festival grounds, approximately 20 city blocks, nudity is completely permitted. I was in heaven walking up and down the streets seeing all the sights and being stopped to have my picture taken with tourists. Most often, these spectators were intrigued and so supportive.
Tell your story
Each of us has a story to tell. An outlook on the world and on naturism that can be beneficial to others. Share yours here by contacting Kenn. I’ll send you a list of questions to get you started.