In a healthy nudist community, practicing non-judgement is essential, accepting people as they are is precious, and staying curious is where the magic happens. In this blog post, we’re sharing an excerpt from It’s a beautiful reminder of how the practice of nudism is nuanced, and how it can mean different things to different people based on their personal interests and experiences. Aboard our trips, we meet a variety of men from all walks of life. We’ve learned that holding an open, supportive space for deep conversation often yields the most amazing and memorable voyages.

If you think back to the last time you walked through a museum or an art gallery, there were undoubtedly a few pieces featuring nudity… maybe photography, paintings, or sculpture. Maybe a piece of film, a sketch, or some pottery, even. Nudes in repose, nudes in action. Nudes in daylight, nudes in candlelight. Nudes of common folk and peasants, nudes of gods and heroes. Nudes in nature, and nudes in homes, courtyards, battlefields, beds. Nudes that tell a story, nudes that refuse to.

Despite a few art classes here and there, I am not an art historian, nor am I an art critic, but it seems clear in viewing any of this art that the point is not the nudity. It’s not about the skin or the breasts or the genitals. It’s not gratuitous flesh. The nudity serves a role, reinforces a theme or message, and instills something in the work that a clothed image would not or could not.

A nude body in a work of art could betray human vulnerability, but it could also herald strength and power. It could celebrate the innocence of youth, or lament the ravages of time. It tells us about the people, the values, the standards of beauty and morality of the era. Nudity is the vehicle to tell that story, to humanize the image, capture our emotions, and connect us to different experiences and worlds and times.

Whenever I write or Tweet about queer experiences in relation to nudism, I tend to get a couple of comments that basically boil down to, “What does being gay have to do with nudism? Nudism is not about sex!” It’s always a little disheartening to feel… well… intentionally misunderstood.

I know nudism is not about sex. I wish the people leaving comments like these knew that being gay is also not about sex, but more importantly, I wish they could see beyond their own experiences and, in the spirit of boundary-breaking nudism, consider a new perspective.

One of the things I love about the nudist and naturist community is that, since none of us can help but see the world through our own eyes, we all come to it with a different perspective, each of us finding meaning in nudity and body freedom that’s inspired by our experiences and values. I may not be a religious person, but I love to see Christian nudists and naturists who find the practice of nudism to enhance their faith, their spirituality, their connection with God. It’s not how I view the world, it’s not my faith, but I respect that perspective and the idea that nudism can be a vehicle to finding deeper meaning in one’s spiritual practices.

And that’s just it. In much the same way that nudity in art can carry all sorts of meaning beyond just nudity, nudity in everyday life can also carry a different importance beyond just being naked. When you hear people talk about the reasons they love nudism, being socially nude, being nude in nature, etc., the list never starts and ends at, “I like being naked.” There’s always more: It feels good; It connects people; It liberates; It makes you feel like a part of nature, like a part of something bigger; It sheds all of the shame and expectations and allows you to just be. It’s not the nudity that we’re drawn to, it’s where the nudity takes us, what we learn about ourselves and others, what we overcome.

What does being gay have to do with nudism? Nothing! But also, everything! Being gay and being a nudist are both integral to who I am, so it’s just as hard for me to separate the two from each other as it is to separate either of them from me. I can’t imagine being a gay man who isn’t a nudist, and I can’t imagine being a nudist without my experience of queerness. I enjoy nudism because I like to be naked, and I like to be naked because it connects me to a deeper level of myself, to others, to nature.

I also know that mine is not a universal experience, that others will have other intersecting values that they couldn’t imagine separating. And I want to know, what does it have to do with nudism? Truly, I’m asking.

What does your interest in environmentalism and sustainability have to do with naturism? What does being a person of color or of indigenous background have to do with nudism? What does your love of photography, film, history, music, art have to do with nudism? I want to know all about it.

I want to know the ways that nudity enhances your connection to the earth and the responsibility you feel to care for the natural world. I want to know how nudity can be a liberating force for women to free themselves of all of the oppressive burdens placed on their bodies. I want to know how nudity can help historically marginalized, disenfranchised, and objectified groups reclaim their bodies, feel empowered, and find community. I want to know all of it, because these rich experiences enhance my appreciation not only for nudism but for the experiences and interests of others.

Is it the nudity that brings us together, or is it something deeper, something about the exploration and discovery that the nudity allows? We don’t need to challenge the importance that nudity has for other people in order to validate the importance it has to us personally, we can simply appreciate that embracing nudity might play a slightly different role in others’ lives than it does in our own. That’s a beautiful and radical thing.

We titled this post “My Naked Identity” because we realize the way people approach nudism is very personal, individual and ultimately full of choices. Certainly nudity can be a primary vessel for connection and unity. Of course there’s a secondary vessel too – our wooden vessel upon which we lounge, converse, laugh, dive, eat, and sleep. Nudity is the common denominator that unites our travelers from all over the world. It’s something that makes us all feel amazing, open, and happy to embark on an unforgettable trip. What about YOUR naked identity? What does nudity honestly mean to you, based on your personal experiences? Let us know in the Comment section below.