Changing Society's Attitudes – it happened with homosexuality, can we do it for naturism?

(This article applies mainly to Britain.)

In the 1960s homosexuality was illegal and generally considered to be wrong, sinful. Yet now it is almost universally approved of. How did this change come about? Might the same process be applied to naturism?

1. The law. In 1967 sexual acts between adults in private residences were legalised. This was ahead of public acceptance, but helped to change the public's opinion on homosexuality.
2. Having a voice. Up to the seventies there was no gay representation in the media. Homosexuals might be talked about, but never got to talk themselves. In the late seventies, and more so as time went on, homosexuals were able to go on radio and TV and write and sing about their lives, instead of just being talked about.
3. Exposure. Once it was legal, gay people started to show themselves in public, to come out. This happened more and more as time went on. As the public began to realise that homosexuality was common and that many of the people they knew and loved were gay, they began to accept it.
4. Campaigning. Many years of quietly campaigning for acceptance got almost nowhere. Then more radical activists started to make a noise and they got seen and heard. This extremism helped the quieter campaigners too as the powers that be would go to the 'sensible' ones for advice? So quiet and aggressive campaigning are needed.

Now how can we apply this to naturism/nudity?

1. The law in England says that nudity per se is not a crime. People are often prosecuted under other laws, laws about harassment, alarm or anti-social behaviour, so we need to show that it is not alarming nor is it anti-social.
2. Naturism is not a big topic in the public realm. The subject comes up occasionally, usually as an eccentric activity you might try. There is no naturist program on telly or radio that I know of. There are people available for comment (in BN and other places) but they never seem to be seen. So although the attitude is usually benign, we are not getting a voice
3. There are celebrities who admit to going naked at times, this is good. But the telly and newspapers have adopted a sort of 'zero tolerance' to nudity (or at least genitals and female nipples) and this is very bad. Even shows shown late at night often have pixelation to cover up those parts. I think we need to complain when we see this, it is stupid and offensive.
4. There is the WNBR, which gets publicity and is very friendly, this is a very good thing. There is Stephen Gough, a more extreme campaigner, which is also good. We need these different levels of campaigning. Stephen's extremism gets publicity and gets a lot of support of the sort 'why are we spending thousands locking up a harmless man'?. What I don't see is anything in between. I don't see naturists having marches or petitions and stuff. (maybe I'm just not looking in the right places).

50 thoughts on “Changing Society's Attitudes – it happened with homosexuality, can we do it for naturism?”

  1. I was recently told that the homosexual lobby in the U.S. has more $ than any other except the NRA. I know that there are nudist groups like AANR & others that lobby for nudist causes, but nothing drives successful legislation as does campaign contributions, like it or not.

  2. Paolo has hit the nail on the head in my view, we should be proud to announce to anyone who asks, that we are naturists. Is not our own reticence to confess a sign that we might feel somewhat ashamed of what we do? My textile friends don't care, at first they were a bit curious but now it is a case of live and let live. That being said, I respect their wishes and wear clothes when they visit. Not everyone is comfortable with nudity and I am not going to make them feel uncomfortable just because its my right etc. In fact, my approach supports the views I express when we talk about it, naturism is non sexual, non-threatening, inoffensive nudity. As such, I am slowly normalising the idea of naturism in my small sphere of influence. One set of friends have told me not to dress if they visit and I am out in the garden, small steps done by many people creates a large influence.

    • Good for you Richard. May we all grow in that direction.

      Virtually all of my friends know that I am a nudist and nobody cares, though no one has invited me to not dress when they visit. My wife however is a very different matter. She is locked tightly inside of the closet and will not even give a hint to friends and family.

      Subversive though I am, I regularly send around nudist friendly articles to my regular list which includes some of her best friends and her mother. I can speak for myself, so long as I do not reveal any of her secrets.

      • I am all for letting people know about naturism & many people find out about my naturist lifestyle choices every week. From grocery delivery people to parcel & postage staff. I don't see it as 'confessing' to something as Richard Twining puts it, because I have done nothing wrong to confess to.
        I would not however try to be subversive and devious to try letting people know about my wife's chosen way of living. Her wishes about her own privacy or 'coming out' are hers alone, I would not dishonour her or make folk aware of something that she had chosen not to divulge.
        I make my choices, others make their own.

  3. I cant really say a lot since I live in a different country which is totally unable to change anything on its own, yet Im not sure that right to live naked and equality for gays may follow the same path.
    The first difference is in numbers: gays are somewhere among 3 and 6 percent of the population, which I think far outnumbers the naked people. Being gay is a state of being while being naked is often considered just a lifestyle, one is a state the other is an "action". Also being gay isnt per se connected to nudity, while nudity itself is considered sexual, which is why many dont even want to talk about it.

    Given that, I think the only path that can be followed is coming out. If naked people would start to do that, to be open about it, to speak with family friends and colleagues, then things would start to change. But I guess it could take many years to deliver some change in society. As it happened with homosexuality, only some nudist seem to be able to be open about it, and that means that numbers of coming outs risk to be even smaller.

    In my country, where one's freedom is considered optional by most people, I gave up to see any change happening on the matter in my lifetime, but I sincerely hope that Things could be different in Uk, because that could push some change elsewhere.
    Personally I believe that Stephen Gough is a modern martyr and we all should give him all the support we could. He's an extremist? Thats for sure, but he's willing to pay with his own life for his ideal. We all will not easily get any other champion of naked rights like him, he's giving people – even naked people – food for thought and an opportunity which I think we are missing.

    • I have to agree paolo, the real and almost urgent need is for all naturists/nudists to proudly talk about nakedness with many more people. "Come-Out" is an emotive phrase and I think it implies that a person is revealing and 'confessing' something which will always be a minority lifestyle, also risking a degree of isolation from previous 'friends' or social groups. Perhaps some groups that gather regularly might find it interesting to have "A Naturist/Nudist" in their social circle?

    • Roger that Paolo! You are absolutely on the mark. And I am with you on supporting Gough, though I think we are a minority among nudists and naturists. He is brave and is committed to making a point about his freedom and we should support that.

    • Isn't the idea to normalize nudity, not sensationalized it? Flash mob protests (to continue the homosexual parallel) could be compared to the guerrilla tactics of Queer Nation back in the 80s when guys were tired of the discrimination and would break the law or anger people just to get the discrimination noticed by the media. It worked, better for AIDS awareness then homosexual equality… but they did get on the news as "those meddling kids."

      • I agree. Flash mobs will likely suffer legal attacks and justifiably so. A method of public communication is necessary that is respectful of public sensibilities, but at the same time allows the message to be received that we want sanctioned facilities for social nude recreation and experience.

        One way is to have use simulated nudity such that no actual nudity is encountered, but observers get the idea that nudity is what is being portrayed. An alternative is to secure proper permits with proper public notice that an actual nude demonstration will take place at such and such a time and place.

          • I am speaking of our situation in the US. We are far from normalization of public nudity and have a very limited selection of legal public clothing optional venues. We have to work from where we are.

    • Conservatives can be a problem, but at the same time, I know many nudists who profess to be political conservatives. Many libertairians, who consider themselves on the conservative side of the spectrum support nudist causes as expressions of personal freedom as well.

      I note you said "ultra conservatives", I might substitute "religious conservatives" or "social conservatives" because that, traditionally is where the opposition comes from. They are against sexual expression of any type and are incapable, or unwilling at least, to separate the idea of family oriented social nudity from sexuality and thus use sexuality based arguments to foreclose any type of public nudity activity.

  4. Believe it or not, awareness is increasing by leaps and bounds, even though it hardly feels like it. I think Augustus' comparison to the struggle for gay rights is an appropriate one.

    The internet has created a much greater awareness of legitimate, family nude recreation (along with a lot of salacious associations with public nudity as well – but people largely understand the difference between the two) and many people today have taken advantage of nude recreation opportunities. Far more than would have ever been thinkable even 20 years ago. People ARE slowly becoming comfortable with the fact that public nudity is not necessarily a bad thing and many more are willing to try the experience for the first time.

    In the campaign for public nudity spaces and rights to go nude in public we are still back in the early stages of the game. For the most part, nudity adherents are still "in the closet" and still fear recrimination from law enforcement, employers, friends and family. We have not yet reached the point where there is a critical mass of nudity activists willing to stand up and take their message public that we want sanctioned opportunities to enjoy nudity in appropriate public spaces.

    That (wide-scale activism) needs to begin to happen around the world. People need to stand up, in large numbers, and say we want the right to be nude in public. Once that begins to happen in any kind of volume and regularity, television and other media will begin to pick up on the story and carry it to a wider audience.

    That said, the argument for pubic nudity rights is far different from gay marriage rights and for some time at least, the right to be nude will only be allowable in designated areas and at designated functions, and not in the general public at large. That is fine. That is a start. The first thing we need to have acknowledged is the right to establish designated areas for nude recreation and social activity. Once those places begin to be established, we can much more openly invite the general public to come join in the fun.

  5. I'm not sure we need marches and petitions(seeking improvements to the law) at present. That comes after we have normalized naturism in the eyes of the general public, for which we need public naturist events – fun things like the WNBR. Naked runs, beach parties on textile beaches etc..

    • You are exactly right Steffan, it needs naturism to go public & to get social nudity accepted where people wear a triangle of cloth over the genitals on beaches everywhere. Go on the beach naked, organize groups of people enjoying the sun & the sea. Go naked ; ; It's Natural !

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