I try to steer clear of politics and religion in my blog, but this has become increasingly difficult since I began a series of posts called NAKED IN AMERICA, a project intended to document our visits to nude and clothing-optional resorts in the Eastern United States.

I already knew there was a lot of confusion about social nudity in the United States, but I thought the most perplexing part of the equation was going to be about the perceptions people hold related to the inherently sexual nature of nudism. (Despite the ongoing nudist mantra that the two are not inextricably linked.) That’s a thing, for sure, but that’s not the main theme that has emerged during our visits to about a dozen different resorts between Florida and Vermont. To be blunt… I had never realized before how eager naked people are to Make America Great Again!

Before I lose roughly 50% of my readers, I should try to provide a bit of perspective. While I’m most certainly the liberal university professor type, I really consider myself a moderate, capitalist, would-even-vote-for-a-thoughtful-Republican-if-the-timing-were-right, kind of guy. My father was the epitome of the American rags-to-riches story, growing up in the Depression, served in World War II, and eventually established his own small business where he struggled with all the things that keep small business owners up at night. He voted for Ronald Reagan for President, and supported Arnold Schwarzenegger in his bid for the Governator. My dad was pragmatic, and wise, in a common-sense sort of way. A true role model!

I haven’t a clue what my father would do were he alive today. One thing I know though, he wouldn’t be caught dead at a nudist resort! In fact, I have vivid memories of him ranting at the dinner table over those damn hippies who had taken over an old camp on the Russian River in California. He never knew that his own son – me – became an avowed nudist in his early twenties and raised his children to run around naked, just like those crazy long-hairs at the river. In fact, I think he would have gone so far as to say that such behavior is… well… un-American!

My parents were also enthusiastic RVers, though they could never afford one of those super-fancy rigs you see on the road today. But their 28-foot trailer looked like any number of those we’ve seen in nudist parks all up and down the East Coast, except for one thing. No political banners or adverts!

Perhaps that’s the moderate part of me. I have some deeply rooted thoughts and concerns about the upcoming presidential election, (while I continue to reflect upon the last one) but there are no signs on my front lawn. No stickers on the back of my car. And I don’t have a baseball cap with “I’m Riden with Biden” stitched on the front. Like my dad, I’m a lead by example kind of guy who will wait for someone else to change the topic to politics, and maybe still, push off to another subject before things get dicey. It was different back in the day when you thought somebody from either side could cause another person to reconsider their beliefs, alliances, and ideals… but today? It seems most people know which side of the fence they live on, and aren’t so keen about the grass on the other side.

But back to our research project. Apparently, most of the people who enjoy social nudity, at least in this part of the country, live on the red side of the fence, proudly displaying huge banners and flags waving above their RVs adorned with elaborate decks and cactus gardens, fervently supporting the campaign to Make America Great Again. I mean, not just a little cardboard sign on the lawn, or a sticker near the doorbell, but enormous banners blowing in the naked wind.

The funny thing is that I keep reading impassioned philosophical statements based on that “deep-seated truth about social nudity”  – that is, it’s impossible to have a pre-conceived opinion when meeting a naked person. But I guess that assumes you didn’t drive through the camping area first to see the wide array of RVs flying their glorious banners. While every now and again we’ll notice a small rainbow flag hanging over the door of a residential Park Model, I don’t believe we’ve seen a single thread of support for “the Blue team.” Does that mean Democrats are simply more private about their political opinions? Maybe they’re just not excited about the current election ticket? Or maybe… they’re someplace else… with clothes on.

I have another blog post spinning in my head about the evolution of AANR and TNSF, the two major advocacy organizations for clothes-free recreation in the United States. Decades ago it seems these two entities were almost feudal in their rivalry, as the former was an outgrowth of the rigidly rule-bound American Sunbathing Association that dated back to the 1930s, while the latter rolled out in the 1970s, advocating for the right to get naked outside the walls of the nudist colony: free beaches; in the forest; at isolated hot springs. If I have the story right, TNSF sought to rebel against the establishment of which AANR was most certainly a part. I’m guessing if my father had been a nudist, he would have belonged to an AANR club, ranting to his friends about the naked hippies on the beach that just won’t get with the real movement.

So now, my question is, “Where did all those naked hippies go when they came home from the nude beach?” Were they lured into a boardwalk clothing store where you could buy two graphic tees and get a “MAGA t-shirt” for free?

But here’s the part that really baffles my wife. Given our extensive travels through naturist Europe where taking your children on vacation to a naturist resort is as wholesome as a trip to Disneyland, she has continued to grapple with the proclivity of lingerie dances and the Friday night Foam Parties advertised on resort bulletin boards. Not all of them, for sure, but as many as not, which is significant given our tendency to avoid places that market to the “sexy and adventurous” crowd.

I suppose that is simply a microcosm of my inability to understand the implications associated with being a liberal or a conservative in 21st-century America. I can’t seem to get past the prejudices of my youth that Liberals adore getting naked with friends, smoking pot, and free love for all. Conversely, I thought Conservatives were God fearing, hard-working folk that disdained pre-marital and extra-marital sex, let alone, getting a little down and dirty in your see-through thingy on the dance floor after a day of fruity cocktails by the pool.

I know this all sounds pretty judgmental, if not outright eccentric, and maybe I’m missing the point altogether. That is, that “America at its greatest is when you’re naked, at least mildly inebriated, and getting frisky with your half-naked lover on the dance floor.” Truthfully, I can’t say that doesn’t sound like a fun night on the town, but it really doesn’t do much to help your average moderate American guy on the street – if there is such a thing – to distinguish social nudity from sex. And strangely enough, it seems that my liberal, open-minded, “I voted for gay rights” friends have decided to avoid such tawdry behavior altogether. As best I can tell, most of those folks chose the prudish resort down the road where swimsuits are required in the pool and the big excitement for Saturday night is a huge bonfire.

I am well aware this piece is full of sweeping generalizations, and loaded with assumptions about people who vote Republican and drive big RVs. But remember, my own dad fit that profile, albeit years ago, and I still remember him as one of the wisest and most thoughtful humans I have ever known. Even though he would have never understood my affinity for removing all my clothes whenever the opportunity would present itself.

But I think the phenomenon is thought-provoking, at the very least. We hope to travel west soon and check out some other naturist places outside of this heavily-populated bubble called the Northeast Corridor, though I suspect the trend will retain a similar trajectory as we head toward the Pacific Ocean. Maybe I’ll be surprised and find a commune of naked Democrats hiding in the hills of New Mexico or camping on the Arizona desert, but unless we stumble into Burning Man, I sort of doubt it.

30 thoughts

  1. I am also quite frustrated with the Red side of the fence unabashedly sharing their opinions in an aggressive manner in my neighborhood here in Central New York, and on social media especially. I also find that the Blue side of the fence is less likely to be as vocal here.

    I am disappointed to hear you are experiencing this in Nudist venues. When I have visited resorts in the past I have not experienced this, but it has been a while. It seems we are becoming more divided as a nation and that includes both the nudist and textile worlds. With or without clothes we are still a reflection of the society we live in. I am all for an open and thoughtful conversation about policies and political opinions as long as it can remail civil and respectful. Unfortunately, as you have stated here, many people have no desire to listen to any opinion but their own so I’m finding it pointless to engage. I’ll make my opinions known when it is time to vote.

    Please continue to add to this conversation as you travel to other parts of the country and keep us posted if we can find a venue that we can visit and be less likely to have forced to have these types of opinions and conversations thrust upon us.

    1. Thanks Chip. It’s a difficult conversation for sure. I think what’s most disheartening is that I’ve always liked to proclaim that people who participate in social nudity are more willing to be open-minded and engage in thoughtful discussion, EVEN IF they don’t agree with the other opinion. But, like you, I find that kind of discourse very difficult to come by in this age. It’s not especially shocking that people disagree, but I don’t recall a time in MY life when opinions have become so dogmatic and decisive – on both sides. And unfortunately, when I want to take my clothes off at a naked place near home, I find myself on the “wrong” side of the fence with the silent minority. What a strange time this is.

  2. Dan, excellent article. Your observations are remarkably accurate. My Democratic naturists friends are shocked at the number of avid Trump supporters in nude recreation and the “swing” to sexually-oriented behavior allowed or encouraged in too many of the clubs and resorts over the past 25 years. It’s going to be the undoing of what little progress we’ve made with public tolerance.

    1. In the words of my thirty-year-old daughter when hearing about those elements of nude recreation…. “Ew….!” (She and I BOTH agree with you.)

  3. I too have been where you are and noticed the same mindset. I’m also a Westerner. Nudist since I was born and now Naturist by political affiliation and new social norms.
    We wandered west from Florida last year and discovered many nude resorts on our travels. Some were clothing optional, not a good thing. The one’s that were truly Nudist were the best by far. But even they had their quirky owners with seemingly arbitrary rules. Hey! It’s their resort. Most had lots of space far off the main road. Nice. We love nature. And of course the pool, or two. Our travel and the people we met were most enjoyable.
    We’re Yumans now. Living in beautiful sunny Yuma Arizona. We have our own private resort for two on a half acre of sandy soil. We welcome friends and visitors often. Come sit by the pool. Have a Margarita. Watch the birds come and go. Listen to the palm trees rustle in the wind. Life is good.

  4. I’ve read somewhere that 40% of nudists are conservative. I think you see more displays at resorts versus normal homes as nudist resort visitors typically accept people for who they are. It’s the main reason why people are nudists! I have no issue with it and I don’t understand why anyone would take such great offense at someone else’s political opinion.

    As a conservative, I would never consider putting a Trump sign on my front lawn. My lawn was vandalized when I had Romney and McCain signs, and I can’t imagine the risk I would take putting out a Trump sign. I do strongly disagree that the red side is more vocal than blue. I think it is quite the opposite as proven by the wide range of protests the last few years. Newspapers, TV shows, movies, magazine articles, news stations, social media sites and nearly every other form of communication in this country leans heavily left. For a conservative, life is a daily bombardment of opposing views. A banner or flag that you may disagree with doesn’t even compare.

    A nudist resort is about expression and tolerance of others. And that is what we should be practicing, even if it is a lifestyle, a mannerism, or even a political belief that we don’t agree with. I don’t see a flag or yard sign as being “aggressive” toward anyone else. Many people are proud of their President and this is one of the few ways they can show that support. I find it unfortunate others in this “tolerant” lifestyle take such tremendous offense to that.

    1. Thanks Scott. I appreciate your candor. And believe it or not, I largely agree with you.

      I outed myself in my piece as a university professor, and I would suggest that it might be a bit presumptive to suggest that “liberals” have gotten a pass on the bombardment of opposing views. Indeed, many of the major media sources are loaded with bias, but the influence of Fox News and those who align with that narrative can’t be left out of that mix.

      But closest to home, I have been maligned by conservative relatives simply in my association with the liberal arts university community, with outright accusations of ruining young people’s minds with biased information and fake news. (I’ve got to say, that’s not only false, but hurtful!) Add to that recent uprisings amidst college aged students related to racial inequality, elitism, and other forms of bias, and the whole thing becomes a pressure cooker.

      I’m not saying that “Blue people” are picked on MORE than “Red people,” but simply observing that “Red nudists” are simply more apparent in their presence and fervor at nudist places than their Blue counterparts.

      As to intolerance, I have ranted about that for YEARS in this blog. Intolerance of Lifestylers. Intolerance of LGBTQ people. Intolerance of old nudists. I think we would agree on the idea that a nudist place should be an environment of acceptance of people for who they are, just as they are. To that end, I was quite careful in my post NOT to bash on the people flying red banners, but to simply observe that I feel like quite a minority when I drive into most nudist places in the eastern United States. That’s not even meant to be a judgment, but an observation. To that end, I might refer to a tag line at the top of many of my posts that reads, “the more you know about where you’re going, the more likely you are to have an enjoyable experience once you get there.” My words here are simply meant to serve as reportage of what we’ve experienced during our travels, knowing the very thing I find uncomfortable may be the VERY thing the next person is looking for.

    2. Scott, Since you put quotes around the word aggressive in your comment I might assume you are commenting on my post. Let me clarify a bit as I didn’t intend it to be read as posting a sign is aggressive. Sorry for the confusion. In my experience, when talking to people in my neighborhood and on social media to engage in civil discourse I have experienced some fairly immediate and aggressive responses lately. This tends to bring any meaningful conversations to a halt. I’m sure this happens regardless of which side of the fence you are on. It’s more of a commentary of where we are today.

    3. I agree that the establishment media is largely owned and controlled by the Left. I’m shocked at the 40% statistic that you claim, yet so many articles that I read about the naturist lifestyle and its benefits are largely framed from a leftist political perspective. It does make me smile and feel more connected to other nudists if that statistic is correct because I too am a Trump supporter and I am a nudist. Do you happen to recall where you read it?

      1. Maybe Scott can answer this, but I would guess the percentage of people at “traditional nudist resorts” in the USA is significantly higher that 40%, just based on signage, alone. Of course, there are many people who participate in nude recreation that would never visit an “established nudist resort,” so I don’t know how you would arrive at an accurate statistic for such a thing. But rest assured, you would not feel out of place and most any of the places we’ve visited. (Though I suspect it’s clear, I often do!)

    4. I applaud you, Tim, for coming forth in your support for DT with a voice that suggests that you WOULD actually sit down with a guy like me in an attempt to have a rationale conversation. But to date, I would have to say most attempts at such discourse have been a fail for us, clothed or otherwise.

      Thanks for weighing in.

      1. Thanks for reply I def enjoy a good discussion but the trouble seems to be the 2 sides have moved farther apart than ever. we get together with a couple other couples to play cards and games and we discuss politics a little and get along pretty well even thou not ever one is trump supporters. but i think the comments and ideas that nudist are more open people does ring true we stayed at paradise lakes for a week and happened to be there for st patricks day even thou we did not know anyone we were invited to a pot luck cook out by a small group of the rv people and spent a good bit of time just having good conversation and meeting new people. the cook pout was not put on by the resort just individuals. nudist just seem to be more friendly. i do enjoy all your posts tks again

  5. Hey Dan,

    I hope this note finds you all still well and good.

    I identify very much with you recent missive and am very parallel with your outlook, approach, and values.

    I have visited some of the local resorts close to me and the outward display of support for the current administration is both a beat down, and polarizing. I find that I do not want to approach people that are so outwardly expressive in their political beliefs. My brain immediately translates this as a ‘line drawn in the sand’. A barrier, a forewarning of sorts that “here’s what we believe and if you don’t, you can go somewhere else”, kind of a thing. It doesn’t encourage me to want to go back. Most unfortunate.

    Thanks for airing that out. I would be interested in some of the other feedback you receive.

    All the best,
    Gary, Fort Worth, TX

  6. Seeing as I am a Libertarian (Our color is gold) and not a Red or Blue advocate, it looks to me that naturism is not and should not be related to any political position. It is just an activity I enjoy. In the course of enjoying it, I have found all sorts of political opinions among fellow naturists. In the city, where I live, I am surrounded by blue, left of center people for the most part. We talk politics sometimes but never fight over it. I find the opposite at resorts and cruises. Both major parties have been very puritanical at times, one of their features that drove me to the Libertarians. As to the sexy clothing issue, I am indifferent to what others do. It does not bother me so long as they leave me alone. That is my Libertarian streak showing through again. I mind my own business and ask others to do the same concerning what I do.

    1. Fair enough. And well stated. Though again, I will keep reiterating the philosophical foundation of my blog… While there will always be an inherent bias in my writing – I am who I am – I am more interested in calling attention to the phenomenon than implying alignment (or not) to a particular value system.

      When it comes to the sexy clothing issue, I’m feel quite indifferent about all of that, as it’s simply not something we’re interested in participating in. We’re not likely to be getting frisky on the nudist clubhouse dance floor anytime soon. BUT, the sexualization of nudity in a place that advertises as a family friendly nudist place (with AANR endorsement) drives my wife absolutely NUTS!!! She’s not really concerned about what others do either, but I think she’d enjoy the luxury of telling her friends we went to a nudist resort last weekend and not have them give her “that look” as they are trying to discern what going to a nudist place is all about. As advocates for normalizing social nudity, all this other stuff really clutters up the airwaves.

      Thanks for reading. I appreciate your thoughts.

  7. Some people see nudism as being about freedom. For them it is not a philosophy or an ideology. It is more of a libertarian concept. From my understanding of American thinking, that would tend to mesh better with a Republican mindset. It would also not be in conflict with a leather-and-lace dance because the libertarian concept is not about changing society. Their nudism is about freedom and not about fighting hypersexualization and objectification.
    This is one of our problems in the movement. There is a lack of agreement about what is “nudism” and/or “naturism”. It’s one of the reasons I created the Recreation-Ethical Nudism Scale. I wanted to explain the different points of view while remaining inclusive.

    1. Thanks Stéphane. I was hoping you might weigh in on this conversation, as I know you’ve worked so diligently to create the environment you have at Bare Oaks.

      I think you’re spot on with the Republican/Libertarian perspective, and while some of my readers may not believe me when I say this, I’ve actually appreciated the opportunity to hear THEIR perspectives as I try to ameliorate my OWN biases on the matter. And again, my intent has always been to document our travels, not in an effort to curry favor with the inhabitants or owners of one resort or another, but simply to get a bit more information out there for other, would-be curious naturists.

      Thanks again for checking in.

  8. Thats a pretty well written post. sounds like your dad was great and taught you a lot. in my case simular nudity would have never been expected ha. I think conservative does not mean quit the same as it used to. and the maga movement was brought on because way to many have been in wash for 40 and 50 yrs and have really done almost nothing worth while. there is no reason to have a political hack in any office that long. and if you look at most on both sides they have gotten rich while doing very little to help Americans. you did a good job with out been biased to speak of. it is funny but neat that i visit nude beaches and resorts mostly in usa but have been to a couple in europe. but my dear mother would not even wear shorts or a bathing suit to the beach. tks for an interesting look.

  9. Great article. I love the diversity at nudist resorts and clothing optional beaches in the US. Most of my experiences are based in Texas, California and Florida. What I enjoyed about the article was that it gave some insights into how your father viewed the nudist culture. My parents were born in the 1940s and both were accepting of nudist culture. Keep up the great posts!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I don’t think my dad would have ever come around to that; maybe my mom would have. They’ve both passed now.

      We were naturists before our children were born, and included our kids in our naturist wanderings. We eventually shared with my wife’s parents, but never with mine. If there’s a single regret, it’s that we didn’t share sooner, as the longer you keep it a secret, the more taboo it all becomes. Live and learn.

  10. Dan I felt it was a very thoughtful posting. I have observed many of the same things. Life has gotten so devisive that to have a civil conversation we now have to avoid politics and religion and any topics related to them. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but can’t we agree to disagree without a strident attempt at conversion.

  11. Tim Bailey was pretty spot-on with “…because way to many have been in wash for 40 and 50 yrs and have really done almost nothing worth while. …..and if you look at most on both sides they have gotten rich while doing very little to help Americans. ” They’re only looking out for two things… getting elected and getting RE-elected. I will simply state that my own personal life and finances, and my wife’s have been remarkably better under the current administration than the one before. I’m not the biggest Trump supporter out there, but the (D)’s in the Oval Office and in Congress generally make my part of the world a little worse. How soon we all forget the booming stock market and 60-year-low unemployment among all sectors (before Covid)???
    I’ve always enjoyed a polite and friendly debate with someone that I completely disagree with – – – as long as it stays polite and friendly. I once had a 2 hour discussion with a lesbian atheist and “no questions off the table” for her or for me. It was wonderful to see things from her point of view, and to explain things from the hetero, happily married, Christian perspective.
    I just find it disheartening when the blue side forgets all of the protests, vandalism, burning police cars & looting that happened by their folks right after Trump got elected and how so many conservatives get shouted down and their cars get keyed & vandalized whenever they put a Trump sticker on it. It seems that there are only two opinions left in the world “MINE!” and “yours” (which happens to be WRONG!!!).

    1. You know, I was in there with you up until the last sentence or so. Seems that both red and blue are pretty good at demonizing the other, and both sides walk away disheartened.

      But again, I really didn’t want this post to be hijacked into aligning readers to one side or the other, but simply to note that many nudist places on the east coast draw seem to draw more red patrons than blue. The blog is intended to give people an idea of what to expect so they can find a naturist place that they like once they get there. That’s all.

      1. Thanks for having your blog i think all nudist do just want a place to spend time with other like minded nudist. i met a real neat lady at paradise lakes last year and she had worked on air force one with a few different pres both dem and rep we talked for a couple hrs and never did talk about her political side ha ha. she sure had some good stories and other stuff about several of the ones that flew on air force one ha ha. maybe nudist from both sides get along better than the clothed people. thanks again for your good posts.