I just posted in my album this photo that means a lot to me:
You see, this photo was taken in March 2013 when I was with the Taiwan Naturist Association. I decided to tell everyone who knew me that I was a naturist. True, people already had some idea that I was one from the time I was in the uni hostel. My roommates would always find it amusing that I slept without clothes. Once someone in my church read about a Christian naturist camp in the US and he made it seem like it was most inappropriate and of course I defended naturism but people generally thought I was just eccentric.
What I did was to post that photo on my Facebook wall. My Facebook friends include people who knew me from my earliest childhood, from school, uni, church and my profession. My family is religious and by "family", I mean my parents and brother. Naturally, my Facebook friends include clergymen of all kinds from a fundamentalist pastor to monks and at least three bishops and one former bishop.
I chose that photo because to me, it's so incredibly beautiful. I love how I was pointing out to the beauty of the earth that includes the land and the ocean. I felt certain that if there is any photo that would be least offensive to textile folks, this must be it. It's optimistic, so obviously non-sexual, upbeat and it's pulsating with the vibrance of life and the richness of this beautiful world of ours.
I don't know how many people saw the photo but within 5 minutes of posting it, I got a call from a friend who sounded worried. He said I was guileless and I did not understand the implication of my actions. The world is an evil place and I may have, in my innocence, overlooked how treacherous it could be. He urged me to delete the photo before some unscrupulous chap downloaded it and used it to blackmail me. I assured him it was all right. I didn't mind if everyone on the planet downloaded the photo. It's a photo with such a lovely scenery and I didn't think many photographers would be embarrassed of having taken such a photo – at least it wasn't so bad as some of my out-of-focus photos. He was not pleased with my answer. He asked me if I could think of the implication if my kids saw the photo. I told him I believed it was all right for kids to see it but since the law is rather strict on this, I had in my Facebook posting excluded anyone who was under 21 (I could have chosen 18 but I picked 21 to be on the safe side). Finally, he told me that someone was sure to complain to Facebook and I would be banned and did I want that? Now, that was the only argument that meant something to me. I don't like Facebook but all my friends are there and I've used it for years so it would be a bit hard on me to have my account deleted for posting a photo against its puritanical rules. So I deleted the photo from Facebook and posted this:
I thought that should be all right but no, it wasn't. A few of my conservative friends un-friended me. Someone told me my photos were distasteful and I was being decadent and did my wife know about my naturist holiday? I told them that of course I told my wife about it. In fact, I showed her all my photos and the one she liked best was a pic of me seated on a beach buggy with a woman leaning on the side of the buggy. The woman's husband was actually standing not far from her but you can imagine how conservative Asians would interpret that kind of photo!!!
A couple of days later, someone rang me up to say that he had heard some complaints from my church friends that although I concealed my genitals, the shadow of my penis could be seen. I had to look at the photo again to realise that it was true. But what puzzled me was why on earth would anyone look at a mere shadow when the thrust of that photo is the beauty of the scenery? The Pacific Ocean lies on one half of the photo while the shore can be seen from our vantage point atop the cliff. In the end, I removed the entire photo from my Facebook wall.
But the good thing from that episode is everyone who knew me knew I was a naturist for real. Whenever I post a photo on Facebook, my brother-in-law tells me that he and others would scrutinise the photo to see if I was clothed or did I just photoshop a cover over my body. But why that would bother anyone is something I can't understand. My Mum rang me up to ask me if I felt embarrassed at the naturist resort. I told her I didn't feel a thing at all and that was about it. Our conversation went to other matters; she was not bothered about naturism nor was she disapproving. She just wanted to know how I felt more out of curiosity because she had never been to a naturist group. That really showed her to be more progressive and balanced than some of my much younger friends.
Photos are a good way of introducing naturism to people. I don't think I would have made so much impact if I hadn't posted a photo but had merely written about it. Friends would still not be certain if I was a naturist. After that episode, I don't think anyone has the slightest doubt.