Occasionally, I am accused by some of “overthinking” a particular topic or issue. What I believe others are trying to communicate with me is that at times, I allow myself to dwell on a subject that isn’t worth all the energy and time that I devote to it. Take ReNude Pride for instance. Yes, I do put a conscious effort in planning, developing and composing this site – after all, it is my site. I’m the man who signs (types) his name to every post and signs off every composition with wishing “naked hugs” to everyone who reads here.
This blog is my responsibility. No one asked me to do this and no one pays me for doing it. It’s a job that I took upon myself to do and to all who regularly or irregularly read (visit) here, it behooves me to perform this task to the very best of my ability. I’m not trying to please everyone and I know for a fact that not everyone agrees with me, believes as I believe or gives a damn whether I publish here or not.
Several acquaintances and/or coworkers of mine – and the occasional friend (I do make a distinction between “acquaintance” and “friend”* see footnote below) have often invited me to join them for a dinner or a cocktail and I’ve had to decline due to my duties to ReNude Pride. I’m honest when I tell them that I need to work on my blog. They all, as well as anyone else, have the opportunity to read here – which is precisely why I avoid using proper names unless I have the person’s permission. Sometime’s I am brutally honest and I don’t want to invite a nuisance libel suit.
Most of these acquaintances are very uncomfortable when discussing nudity with me. It’s almost as though they are afraid that I’ll stand up and strip off all my clothing at that very same moment. Yet, time after time, they always ask me: “Aren’t you worried about someone at your job, or worse, one of your students discovering your blog and that you prefer to be naked?”
The questions that I just posted here (above) are a direct quote from a conversation with an acquaintance couple (gay) two weeks ago. I’m using them as an example of the types of interrogation that I get from those people, same gender loving or otherwise, who don’t know me very well.
To anyone with the same question reading these words, my reply is always the same: No.” I am an adult and I teach adults (university). What I do in my private life, as long as it isn’t illegal or causing another person any harm, is my business. My cohorts in academia who need to know about my blog and it’s contents already are aware of what I do. Due to the unbridled gossip that is rampant on the university campus, I’m certain that professional colleagues who don’t even know me are aware of me being a bare practitioner. Therefore, I’m completely comfortable with the fact that probably all of my coworkers know me as a naturist/nudist.
As for my students in particular and the university student body as a whole, the same applies. As is true at most campuses everywhere, what’s gossip for the faculty is usually “old news” for the students. Several times over my years of working here, I’ve entertained questions from my students regarding social nudity. On the occasion of these discussions, I’ve been open and honest in acknowledging the fact that both my spouse and I are bare practitioners. There’s simply no way that I could deny the truth when the actual proof is on the internet and contained in ReNude Pride. To attempt otherwise would make me a hypocrite.
If there are certain character traits that are universally despised, one of those at the top of the list is probably hypocrisy. In academia, that label alone is sufficient to bring many careers to a dead standstill. Personally, I’d rather be seen as nude in front of the entire university community than to be a clothes-wearing hypocrite.
When our current university president arrived on campus in his position, I scheduled a private meeting with him and acknowledged to him that I was both same gender loving (gay) and a bare practitioner (naturist or nudist). He laughed at my revelation and responded: ” I know!” His predecessor in this office had left him a file that contained this information about me. He also had made the notation that I consciously kept my personal life and my professional life separate.
As for being a member of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community (GLBTQ), there was no comment made or issue raised. This was during the later years of President Obama’s administration and marriage equality had been heralded throughout the USA by the U.S. Supreme Court. My university president was in no position to make any statement, on the record, for or against my being same gender loving. The mood in this country, at that time, was one of unity and inclusion. Whatever his personal views on that topic, he obviously knew better than to share them with me.
Now that my winter holidays are here, I’ve spent some time thinking about how I should respond to those coworkers or acquaintances of mine who are curious if I worry about my job should they discover that I’m gay or that I am a naturist/nudist or that I belong to both social groups. The simple reply, in the negative, seems to be just too curt or rude. In those situations, there’s usually an awkward pause following my dismissing of their concerns with just a “no.”
One solution that I’m considering is answering their question with my standard, “No.” I’ll then immediately ask them, “Why do people automatically assume that we who are GLBTQ bare practitioners feel any guilt or shame about being who we are?” In other words, I’ll shift the burden of responding back onto them. In doing this, it is now their turn to manage the pregnant pause and, hopefully, re-think their questions.
Society and culture have made remarkable progress over the past eighteen years. When this century was new, the GLBTQ community and the naturist or nudist community were still being challenged by the fact that many of their respective members were still living within their proverbial closets. That reality has changed now. Regardless of who they are, most people are now comfortable in simply being themselves.
I’m not implying that we live in a perfect world. There is still room for progress as old stereotypes and stigmas remain. Despite recent actions, humanity needs to improve its levels of acceptance and tolerance. Yet, as 2018 quickly draws to a close, there is indeed hope for better times ahead.
* An acquaintance is someone whom I’ve never seen bare and probably am better off without that visual image. A friend is someone who’s bare body is almost as familiar to me as is my own.