A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” — Mark Twain
In this installment of Nudist Planet’s Bare Voices Jim from the USA tells his story.
Bare Voices Jim USA
I am not very good at writing about myself, which is why it has taken me so long to post anything here.
I was born in Montreal, Canada but my family moved to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles when I was 4 years old and I have lived here ever since. I was not raised in a nudist family, in fact just the opposite. No one in my family is a nudist. Being the only boy in the family and having five younger sisters, the need to be covered at all times was made very clear by my parents. In hindsight, I think part of the problem was that my parents were not comfortable with their own bodies. I never once saw either of my parents nude.
When I was seven, I started sleeping nude. I would remove my pajamas under the covers and make sure I was awake before anyone else in the morning so that I could put them back on again. By the age of nine, I would sneak out of the house at night and walk around the back yard nude. On the rare occasions when I was the only one home, I would be nude both inside and out. I would always have some clothes ready to put on as soon as I heard the car turn into the driveway.
Teen years and becoming a nudist
In high school, showers were mandatory after P.E. This was torture for me due to some major body issues. I could have been the poster boy for the 90-pound weakling except I did not even weigh 90 pounds. I must say that no one actually made fun of me or made me feel uncomfortable, the problem was just with my own self-acceptance. Obviously I saw the other boys naked, but quite honestly I have pretty much blocked most of that time from my memory. However, I did start driving nude when I was 18 going back and forth to school.
In the mid-70’s, there were a lot of news reports about people streaking at schools and sports events. I remember thinking how great it must be to feel comfortable enough about your appearance that you could do that. Also about that time, there was a story about nudity being allowed at Black’s Beach in San Diego. – Remember that at that time there was no internet to help people learn about the positive aspects of going nude and where it was possible to do so. – I can not remember the exact year, possibly 1979 or 1980, that one day in late summer I decided to drive down to San Diego and see what Black’s Beach was really like.
I parked at Torry Pines Beach and walked south from there to go to the nude area. I was wearing a shirt and jeans – I did not even own a bathing suit due to my bad self-esteem – and felt very strange walking along the beach. Coming around the point that separated the clothed area from the nude area I saw thousands of men, women and children, all nude, walking, swimming or laying out on the sand.
Comfortable and confident
I am sure most people who will read this already know that incredible feeling of freedom, but I still have trouble putting into words just how fantastic it felt to finally be completely nude in a more social setting. Needless to say that first swim in the ocean was also indescribable; I just stood there for what seemed an eternity but was no more than a few moments, and then I just stripped off all my clothes. It was the most freeing and, at the same time, the most normal feeling I had ever experienced. After that first visit, I tried to get down to San Diego every two or three weeks during the summer for the next few years.
Since then, I found out about other beaches that were closer to home. Until it was closed to nude use, my favorite was Rincon/Bates Beach in Santa Barbra, California. For the last few years, I have been going to Deep Creak Hot Springs. There you can leave all your clothes in the car and hike from Bowen Ranch to the Hot Springs. I used to drive there nude and then pull on a pair of shorts when getting out of the car to pay the entrance fee. A few years ago, I asked the guy who oversees everything if he would be OK with me staying nude, and he said he had no problem with it as long and no one else complained. Since then I have always stayed nude, even when there have been other cars pulling in behind me. So far I have never seen anyone else arrive and pay the entrance fee nude, though.
On the one hand Los Angeles is not nude friendly. There are no nude beaches in the county and the city outlaws nudity in any public park. However 2010 was a major turning point in my advocacy of nudism. In April of that year, I ran – walked really – in the first Bare Burro 5K at Olive Dell. For anyone interested in doing this, I say go for it. It was a lot of fun and the people at Olive Dell are great.
Then in June, I rode in the first Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride to be held in several years, going through downtown LA. There were about 80 to 90 riders, most of us nude. We met in a large private back yard in Echo Park. They even arranged for some body painters to be there. It was a strange experience when they opened the gate and we all came out onto the street. At first, I felt nervous not knowing what to expect from motorists and pedestrians, but after a couple of minutes people were cheering and honking in support. It actually felt normal to be riding nude. There is no way to describe the feeling of being completely nude riding your bike through downtown LA.
I am proud to say that I have ridden in every LA WNBR since then and I now have a stand I set up with signs that riders can attach to their bikes. And LA officials have been very supportive of our right to be nude as part of the WNBR and have even provided police escorts and security to make sure there are no problems. As for the public at large, judging from the positive reactions we get while riding in the WNBR I would say that 85% actively support us, 14.9% do not care one way or the other and at most 0.1% display hostility towards the riders.
Even though most of my nude time is spent hiking or at the beach, I prefer to refer to myself as a nudist as opposed to naturist. Referring to myself as a nudist leaves no doubt about my preference for being clothes-free.
Due to family and finances, I have not been able to be nude as much as in the past. Through my involvement in the World Naked Bike Ride, I have come to know some of the people at Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA). I am hopeful that sometime next year I will be in a position to join their organization as well as one of the national organizations.
Lately most of my nude outdoor time has been hiking alone above Castaic Lake on the weekends. For anyone in the LA area looking for a place within reasonable distance, this is something you should consider. It is not a nude area per se, but with reasonable precautions, you can hike nude without too much concern. The trails are not long and there is no easy way to get down to the lake but the views of the lake are nice and the area is quiet enough that you can just relax and enjoy the natural beauty.
As you can see, I have come a long way in my nude activities, from being a secret, at-home nudist to riding in the World Naked Bike Ride. Even though I know I am not in great shape, I am now comfortable enough to be nude practically anywhere it is acceptable.
Advice and suggestions
Just a note for those of you who have read down this far, I do enjoy being nude almost anywhere at any time but it is definitely not about exhibitionism or anything sexual. I am not here for anything other than to share ideas and talk about what we all have in common, which is the simple joy of being nude.
It took me a long time to start letting my family know about my trips to clothing-optional locations and that I felt more comfortable being nude. The first person I told was my father while the two of us were on a trip to Lake Powell, Arizona. This was the first – and turned out to be the only – time the two of us went on a vacation without the rest of the family.
On our second morning on the lake, we beached the boat on a small strip of sand. There were no other boats nearby. We were going for a swim, and instead of putting on my swim suit after removing my shorts, I told my father that if he did not mind, I would stay nude. It was then that I told him about going to nude beaches. I tried to get him to do the same but he was not comfortable being nude even in that setting.
The reason I am writing about this incident is that a few months after this my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away 11 months after this trip. I am glad I told him when I did, but I have a lot of regrets about not telling him earlier and not talking to him about his feeling of not wanting to be seen nude. Please learn from my mistake and do not hesitate to let family and friends know that you are a nudist. You will probably be surprised at how accepting they are.
As for the rest of the family I simply told them about the Lake Powell trip and my preference of being nude when possible. All of them understood and had no issues with this. The only problem was that, other than my parents and one sister, none of the other family members are comfortable seeing me nude.
I am not married, but I do have a girlfriend. Unfortunately, she is not a nudist and has absolutely no desire to participate in any of my nude activities. It can be lonely at times being a nudist without the support and understanding of those close to you, but thanks to the web and sites like this I do not feel like some sort of freak anymore.
Loving the nude life
It has been asked if there is anything I would never consider doing nude. My answer is if it is something that can be done wearing a shirt, shorts and sandals then there is no reason it cannot be done nude. And that includes frying bacon which I have done on many occasions. My advise to anyone considering social nudity now is to just do it. For me, it was going to a nude beach. For others that are more outgoing, you may find a club or resort better for your first time. As literally thousands of nudist have said, their one big regret is they did not try social nudism earlier.
I have a few funny stories but considering how I have rambled on so much already I will just relate one here. My previous job was working at a small cabinet hardware supplier. We had a unit in an industrial building located in Santa Clarita, California. Other then the occasional times when the owner – my brother-in-law – was there, I worked alone. When we started in business we had almost 200 regular customers, but 10 years later, after the housing collapse, we were down to about 10. Three of those customers actually had units in the same building as ours.
It was my normal practice that at the end of the day I would lock up, take my clothes off, finish up all the paper work and get things ready for the next day. This would normally take about an hour. By the time I was all finished, everyone else on our side of the building was gone and I would simply walk out to the car still nude for the drive home.
In the last year we were in business, there were so few customers that on a hot day I would sometimes leave the small side door open after we closed so there would be some air coming in. I was not to worried about being caught as I could hear any car pulling in.
Well, I suppose it was inevitable that one of our customers that also had a unit in our building walked over from his place and, seeing the door open, just walked in. I was just walking from the back area towards the front when suddenly he was standing there in front of me. First, I started to apologized and tell him I was just changing to get ready to go home when I suddenly found myself saying that actually I was working nude and that this was my normal routine. I told him if he was uncomfortable to give me a minute and I would get dressed. To my surprise he said it was no big deal and I could stay nude if I wanted. We continued on with what he needed and he left about 20 minutes later. The funny part is as he was leaving it occurred to him that I may have taken what he said about it not being a big deal as referring to something else in size. Quite honestly that had never entered my mind but he apologized just in case.
After this incident, I made sure to let all my other customers know that if they came in after hours that I would be working nude. All of them assured me that it was not a problem. It turned out that one of them was also a nudist who vacationed at White Tail Resort but would never consider being nude in any type of public setting. Before we closed, all of these customers at one time or another saw me nude.
In the final month as we were closing the business, I was having to work very long hours, seven days a week. Since we were no longer selling I did not have to worry as much about customers coming unannounced. What I did do is let all the other tenants in our area know that I was a nudist and would be working nude. That way if they happened to be going by and see me they would not be surprised. Again I am glad to say not a single one had a problem with it other than to say that they would let me know in advance if they were coming by for anything. People can be very accepting.
The biggest change I would like to see in the world regarding nudism is acceptance of nudity as just another choice as to what to wear or not to wear. I hate having to put something on just to put gas in the car. I believe that if we could somehow bring about this change that it would open up people to be more accepting and tolerant of others. The national organizations are in the best place to start this; however since their main focus is on the resort business, there is no incentive to pursue this agenda.
We also have the problem of so many so-called nudists that feel open sex should also be included in what is permissible. They cannot seem to understand that being nude is simply a state of being where as sex is obviously an act that most people do not want to see in public. Until more nudists are willing to come forward publicly, I am afraid that lawmakers will always find it easier to ignore our rights rather than protect them.
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.