No two people have the same journey in life. There is always something unique that we all go through, and every person will always face their own individual struggles. It is not necessarily that one person’s struggles are harder/worse than another person’s. They are just simply different.
Similarly, we all have our struggles based on our identities in this world. We all have our own labels that we apply to ourselves to help us figure out places that we belong with others, and we also have those labels that others apply to us. Each label/identity is completely unique, and it is very important for us to respect the individual battles that people of each identity has to go through. However, in life, it is much more important to not look at the things that make us different from one another, but instead at the things that make us the same.
For me personally, two of my identities are “Gay” and “Naturist”. As I touched on previously, each presents its own challenges and has some views in American society that are different from one another. However, there are also a lot of similarities between the myths that are applied to each identity by a society that largely does not understand either. The overlap between those myths was something I have found quite interesting as I have learned about the experiences of different nudists/naturists from online forums, and I wanted to explore some common perceptions that these identities seem to share in society:
1: Many people think that both are only about sex and being promiscuous
This was one of the hottest topics I read about when I first began to learn about naturism. For naturism specifically, many people are raised to always cover up their bodies. They are taught that the body is “immodest” and that we should only “save it for our significant others”. In reality, the naked body is just a naked body. There is beauty in accepting the different variations between our bodies and accepting ourselves, and there is nothing innately sexual about nudity.
Similarly, many people view queerness as being innately sexual as well. Many people treat being queer as if it comes with a requirement to be promiscuous, which is also not inherently true. In either the naturist or queer community, there definitely will be people who are more sexual than others and intertwine that with these identities for themselves, and that is 100% just fine in my book! However, that comes down to the individual person. To be either a nudist or LGBT is by itself not inherently sexual or “naughty” or anything of the sort!
2: Having to “come out”
One of the things with belonging to both the queer community as well as the naturist community is the idea of needing to “come out” to people. Once again, I would like to state that this is not an attempt to compare what it is like to “come out” as Queer vs. Nudist, but instead recognizing that this is a part of the process in both identities.
Coming out is always scary. For one, it is not something that you do one time and then everyone just knows forever. Coming out is not a singular event, but instead a life long process. You will always continue to meet new people as you go through life, and sometimes you find yourself in a scenario where you have to tell them an innate truth about yourself. I’ve done it when starting new jobs and bringing up “my partner” while using he/him pronouns to describe them, or when I have talked to friends and told them about my interest in checking out nude locations to gauge their reaction and answer questions to let them know how I am most comfortable.
Arguably the hardest part of “coming out” is telling those people who we are closest to in life (our parents, siblings, best friends, etc.). It can be the most difficult to tell the people who we are the closest to and force them to address whatever preconceived vision they have of us and make them change how they essentially view us. It will always be tough, and all we can do is hope for the best and recognize that even if these people don’t accept us, we can find the people in our life who WILL accept us and surround ourselves with that love and support to help us find our own happiness.
3: The attitude of these identities being “predatory” towards children or that it is bad for kids
Where to even begin with this one…
Being queer has for quite awhile been made to be associated with being a predator. I know of stories from decades ago where people were afraid of things like gay people being teachers because that was painted as if we are trying to “recruit” younger generations and raise them to become part of our powerful gay army in the quest to destroy society’s rules and take over the world!!! And sadly, this is still often the case when lies are spread to try and convince people of false things such as that gay people are more likely to molest children (entirely untrue). In addition, queer people are too often portrayed as if they could not be good parents, when in reality being a good parent has nothing to do with your sexual orientation or the gender identities of the parents. Children are not worse off for having two mothers or two fathers or any other arrangements of queer parents. The only thing that matters is that children are in a loving and safe environment with ample opportunities to learn and grow and feel supported, which can be accomplished no matter what arrangement of people are raising them.
Similarly, there is quite a taboo with people in most recent times of nudity when it involves children, especially in American society which is what I am focusing on. Even in my parents generation, nudity was much more acceptable as people still showered in school and I’ve heard of boys being able to swim nude at places like the YMCA. Now, however, things have changed quite drastically. Due to the false association of nudity and sexuality, people tend to believe that raising children in nudist environment is sick and confusing. As a society, we wrongfully have linked the naked body as something sexual, which means that children being naked or around naked adults must also be sexual. In reality, being around nude people can be healthier for children, giving them greater self confidence and a more realistic view of what people look like. And from what I’ve read, many naturist resorts are very tight knit and will try and look out for one another, which means being in an environment like this could potentially be much more safe than people imagined since everyone is looking out for the best interests of each other’s families.
4: Both are seen as innately “immoral”
From my experience, there are people who will never look at who you are as an individual to judge your quality of character, but instantly put you in a box the moment they know one specific label that you fall into. There are people who could hear that Mother Theresa spent her free time getting a tan on a nude beach and despite her wonderful acts, would still think she was a bad person because she bared it all in a public environment.
There are quite a few “crutches” people lean on to say queer people are immoral. So often people might say “being gay is called bad in the Bible” as they have no issue going to Red Lobster and eating shellfish without seeing the irony. People often say that nudists are just exhibitionists who want to flaunt their naked bodies against others wills. Nudists are painted as old, retired people who want to hang out naked and reminisce about their hippie days when they did bad things like drugs and listened to that inappropriate rock ‘n roll music. In reality, neither of these identities is inherently immoral. There may be immoral people who use these identities, but just being a lesbian for instance does not make you an automatic bad person. It just makes you…a lesbian. And you could be a good person or a bad person who is also a lesbian. But those are not inherently associated in the same way being nude is not inherently associated with being sexual.
All in all, we are all just people who are trying to live our lives to the fullest. If we do so in a moral way with beliefs that do not make another person’s life harder, which neither being “queer” or “a naturist” inherently do, then we should be free to live our lives in whatever way we seem fit. This article was just my two cents of common similarities I have noticed between these two communities, and I would love to hear more in the comments if there are any other similar myths/beliefs that people have encountered between the two communities!