I’m just saying that despite the numerous encouraging – if not a bit glib – posts in publications like Forbes or The New York Times, the “acceptance of social nudity” and the “mainstreaming of nakations” are not quite as pervasive as one might like to believe.
Reflecting back on my childhood, that goofy storybook called The Emperor’s New Clothes delineates my earliest fascination with nakedness. I not only remember staring at the cover trying to discern “the naughty bits,” but wondering – even as a child – what the world might be like if naked was more normal. Of course, that’s not the moral of this children’s fable, but instead, the king is tricked into total humiliation when he realizes everyone is laughing at him for being so gullible and self-absorbed that he didn’t even realize he was naked. At least, that’s how I remember the story in the shadowy corners of my childhood memory.
Strangely, I’ve thought quite a lot about that story in recent months. Not only the subliminal message it sent to generations of children about the shame associated with nudity, but in a more allegorical sort of way, related to my current thoughts about social nudity in general. As COVID restrictions eased and I found myself having to really get dressed to go to work each morning, (How many people weren’t actually joking about not wearing pants on those incessant ZOOM calls?) my typical proclivity for being naked at home took quite a hit. Mine is a job that frequently requires long workdays that stretch well into the evening. Even the ritual of getting naked for a glass of wine by the fire often seems like too much effort when you walk in the door, exhausted, at 10:30 pm.
It’s been affirming to hear from a few long-time readers in recent weeks asking if I’m going to resume blogging since I signed off in the midst of our travels last summer. I suspect the kind shout-out from Stéphane Deshênes on his podcast about Cap d’Agde helped a good bit with that, though to be honest, I still haven’t listened to it myself. After nearly two decades of advocating for and blogging about naturism and social nudity, I took quite a fall last summer as to my zeal for the cause. To lift a quote from those clever Wallace and Gromit shorts, “Geez Gromit, It seems you’ve lost the bounce in your bungee!”
Getting banned from Instagram was certainly annoying, but that happens so frequently to so many in the naturist community that it only seemed like a matter of time for me. But getting thrown off Twitter (with 30K+ followers) with a hard denial for reinstatement from the social media gods really… well… pissed me off! I had actually found a community in the Twittersphere as there were (and I assume still are) a substantial number of advocates for social nudity that were engaged in meaningful discourse about social nudity on a platform that had the potential to reach beyond the limited subscription base of AANR and British Naturism. I found it peculiar, knowing what other sorts of things show up on that platform, that my account had been identified as such as source of evil and malicious intent. It wasn’t just that some bot had identified too much skin in my profile photo, but more like someone had combed through my extensive thread – years of posts – and reported each and every one as offensive and unlawful. The follow-up correspondence from Twitter made it clear that if I ever attempted to post under a new name, any account traced back to my DNS (one’s personal identification on the internet) it would immediately be shut down and removed.
I find it ironic that one of my last blog posts had been a lobbying effort of sorts for the value of promoting the intrinsic values of social nudity on mainstream channels of social media, which in turn, spawned a tangly thread of comments from those who either shared or opposed that perspective. I thought it was an interesting and thought-provoking exchange.
Meanwhile, as all this social media craziness was going on, I was on a sort of rampage to broaden my perspective on organized social nudity while working to build a (self-proclaimed) comprehensive resource for other confirmed or would-be naturists. Given the opportunity to drive coast-to-coast across these not so United States, visiting every resort, nude beach, and naturist B&B I could find along the way, proved to be very enlightening, though not in the way I had expected. Positive experiences at such places were outnumbered by “less-than-pleasant” (to be kind) experiences, perhaps two-to-one.
Consider the innkeeper who refused my booking when I let it be known that I blog under a pseudonym. (That violated the proprietor’s ethical stance on promoting the acceptance of nudism. His place. His rules.) Or the number of times I was issued a hard ultimatum to reach the front gates by 5:00 pm sharp (after driving hundreds of miles in a day) or I would be shut out for the night. Or the burly old dude who gave me sketchy directions to pull up to an unmarked gate in the middle of nowhere wilderness, (at night) lay on the horn, (hoping I was at the right unmarked gate) to await someone to show up ten minutes later to open said gate. What’s more, nobody bothered to mention during the booking process that the “resort” was under renovation and the entire pool complex had essentially been demolished.
This is to say nothing of the places that simply refused me as one-night guest, especially if I couldn’t make it in time for the tour and introduction to organized nudism. (I finally stopped sharing my blog as it became increasingly apparent that nobody cared, even if there was the potential for free publicity.) And oh… I’ve been delicately avoiding the bizarre political undertones that exist at so many American nudist resorts.
(Photo: The Meandering Naturist comes out!)
I’m pretty live and let live when it comes to accepting opposing ideas about politics, religion, and the like, but maybe not so much when you drive through the gates into a neighborhood that seems poised for a full blown political rally. I suspect that feels incredibly welcoming… to approximately 48% of the population!
The point being that even a devoted and tenacious naturist such as myself found it remarkably difficult to visit naturist destinations where I was not already a known member of the community. It should be said that there were a few notable exceptions, such as Squaw Mountain Ranch in Oregon that welcomed me to their Friday night potluck with open arms, or the beautifully developed Sun Meadow Resort in Idaho that provided one of the most comfortable accommodations on the entire trip, but alas, at this writing, Sun Meadow has recently announced that the property has sold and has gone completely textile. This was one of the few gems I visited amidst more than two-dozen stopovers, but sadly, they’re no longer in the mix. (I would have provided links to those to places, but for the first one, the website is down, and the second one is no longer naturist. Huh!)
It’s not that I didn’t meet friendly people along the way, nor was my journey devoid of some breathtaking moments of naked in nature, like walking to the bat cave at Orient Land Trust, (who asked me not to blog about my stay!) or my first visit to the stunningly gorgeous Black’s Beach near San Diego, of hanging with Frank and Nadine at the very hip clothing optional AirBNB in Florida. I’m just saying that despite the numerous encouraging – if not a bit glib – posts in publications like Forbes or The New York Times, the “acceptance of social nudity” and the “mainstreaming of nakations” are not quite as pervasive as one might like to believe.
My Twitter account was deleted while we were staying at a smallish clothing-optional resort in Europe last summer. I was in the midst of documenting our travels at the time, linking to my social media accounts in an effort to get the word out, “Hey, we just found this sweet little naturist place in Spain!” Once banned from social media, however, we paid visits to two or three other small inns where the accommodations were nice enough, the hosts were sufficiently welcoming, but we found ourselves amidst an aging clientele (where we felt sprightly and young despite the fact that we are neither!) that had uniformly succumbed to anchoring their naked bodies next to the pool one day after the next with little desire to see what might exist beyond the towering resort walls. I would initiate several posts in the subsequent weeks, but none ever went live. Truth be told, I had a great deal to say about the nature of naturism in 2021, but as my mother used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice…. !”
Am I done with naturism? Nope. I don’t think so. We have trips on the drawing board for the Caribbean this winter and back to Europe this summer – though likely to tried and true venues where we know what we’re likely to find there, including a few decent restaurants and accommodations with en suite bathrooms that would earn more than one star from AAA.
Will I keep blogging? Maybe. Perhaps I should change the name of the blog to The Cantankerous Naturist! I still have a lot to say about social nudity, but I may be done with the cookie-cutter best place ever and social nudity will change your life posts. I simply don’t know if there’s a place on the internet to have real discussions about the genuine complexities of nakedness, the future of naturism, and the actual reasons so many people are reluctant to partake!
And by the way, while I’m donning new clothes, I should mention that my name is Paul. (Hey innkeeper dude, can I stay at your B&B now?) Dan… as in Naturist Dan… is my middle name. I’m on faculty at a large university in the Northeast where I publish regularly under my real name and routinely work with high school kids in groups for 200-300 at a time as part of my job. I’m pretty sure that most of my (college) students know that my wife and I like nude beaches, as do most of my peers, though my wife is significantly more guarded about sharing our naturist doings with her friends. She much prefers nakation to vacation, but it rarely occurs to her to get naked at home. Too much of a bother unless we’re with naturist friends or headed to the hot tub. Nor does she care to complicate her life by explaining the concept of nakation to her not-so-open-minded friends. I respect her decision on that front.
As for the blog, when I upgraded the platform about a year ago, it greatly increased the administrative costs, (e.g. webhosting, etc) all of which will come due again in a couple months. That totally felt worth it when my posts were reaching 40-50k people via links on social media. But now, I’m not sure it’s worth it if I’m writing mainly to myself… and a few dedicated followers, of course, who probably don’t need my any more of my musings to convince them of the virtues of social nudity. (I could roll the web-hosting back to the cheaper package, but it would destroy the formatting of the current site, which translates into lots of hours in reformatting and loads of lost content. Nope – don’t think so.)
So, there we are there. An update from The Cantankerous Naturist. Life slows down a bit for me about this time of year so we’ll see where things go from here. As always, I welcome your feedback as I suspect there are others out there who share my frustrations within the context of sincere passion for naturism and all that it stands for. As in the past, I’m always keen for a good debate or a lively discussion. I am a university professor, after all. That’s what we do. I live in a world where critical race theory, non-binary identities, and sexual orientation are the core issues of nearly every conversation on campus. Now there’s some interesting fodder for conversations about social nudity!