I love being naked! From the nude beaches of San Francisco to naked bike rides in Portland, I take every chance I can to free my cheeks or wear my loincloth. But it wasn’t always this way. I grew up in a conservative religion where modesty was taught to keep us from having impure thoughts about others--leading to premarital sex, drugs, rock & roll, Hell, and the Devil. Sounded fun! So, i gave up religion at the age of 15. Since then, I have started questioning many of the seemingly senseless religious and societal norms in favor of my own personal experiences--nudity being one of my personal favorites!
Despite religion’s best efforts to convince me, public nudity didn’t make me some raging horndog, nor did it give me instantaneous sexual thoughts about others. Instead it simplified the situation. “Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina.” A quote made famous by Kindergarten Cop, 1990, said it so perfectly! Nudity is only as sexual as we make it. Otherwise, these places would be giant orgies--not bad in my book--I assure you they weren’t. Instead, I found excitement in my right to get naked during in this day and age. It was freeing to exercise my right as a human, and in numbers felt removed from the puritanical judgement one would normally expect. It didn’t matter what I or anyone else looked like, we all have flaws, and fat, and parts. Old, new, small, big, firm, saggy… It was all there! It was good to look at and be looked at, in our most basic and humbling form--our birthday suits.
What Can Public Nudity Teach Us?
Maybe it was the honest nature of seeing others in their skin, or maybe it was sense of vulnerability from someone seeing my flaws, only to share theirs in return, but it was real, and genuine, and my experiences taught me a thing or two about respect for others.
Public nudity is a great lesson on embracing vulnerability. Everyone feels vulnerable at one time or another--but when we are surrounded by vulnerability, yet vulnerable ourselves, we often find something so much more--connection and acceptance! When there is nothing to hide behind, we embrace each other as we are, and for who we are--It is nothing short of amazing!
Riding a bike in Portland is already vulnerable enough while wearing clothes. Now take off those protective layers, add thousands of other naked bike riders, and you have a very vulnerable situation for more than one reason. I can see why so many of my friends wouldn’t even consider it. But once there, the excitement and energy of everyone sharing the same vulnerabilities hits you. You look around. People are smiling, dancing, and meeting new and old friends alike. That’s the moment I realized I was a part of something special, a community of support that knows how to have a good time! As the parade started, I soon realized the crowd was as supportive as the riders themselves! I have never given more high-fives from random strangers on a bike before. Naked high-fives are the best high-fives!
Public nudity can teach us a lot about respect when it comes to others rights and life choices. To bare all, say all, or nothing at all--in an open and free way is to show vulnerability. Out of respect, we should allow others their liberties without need for comment, approach, touch, or judgment. It takes courage to show yourself to the world with all of your flaws. And it’s something I didn’t truly understand until I did it.
My lessons in respect came quickly when approached by an unsolicited guest at Baker Beach. As I laid there in all my glory, an elderly “man-imal”, cock out, shirt on, walked right up and said. “Nice small cock”. He then quickly corrected himself with, “I meant nice cock”. He then asked me if I was fishing… After a few more lines of small talk, he proceed to ask for a photo of my erect penis--I politely declined and dismissed him from further conversation. He was clearly only interested in his own perverted plans, and not respecting others rights to be there. Another lesson in respect came when women started slapping my ass and cat calling me at music festivals. Yes, I was wearing a loincloth, but I still wasn’t asking for it. I can handle the calling, but I completely get why women don’t like to be touched by random people, it is violating. Oh, the irony… But instead of getting angry, I often play into it, making it into a joke or as a way to make conversation.
Lastly, it is important to remember that clothing has its time and place. clothes keep us warm in cold weather, the sun off us during the day, and provide an opportunity for us to express ourselves (business suits are still archaic bullshit IMHO). But we shouldn’t let clothing define or hide the person inside! We shouldn't be afraid to show our vulnerability, and we should always remember to respect others rights without need to criticize or comment. For those out there that haven’t tried public nudity, I say try it once. It just might teach you something about yourself. In the right setting and with the right crowd, you might just let go of who you are for a moment and embrace the beauty of what it is to simply be naked and free.