As those of you who follow ReNude Pride or who visit here regularly already know, I could not allow this observation of GLBTQ Bare History Month pass without posting pictures of one of the most popular naked past-times, skinny-dipping (swimming nude). The man in the above image is bottom’s up in an indoor pool. Judging by his hair style, it is probably the late 1950’s to early 1960’s, before The Beatles became famous.
“The Swimming Hole” by Thomas Eakins, 1885
Swimming nude has been the primary source of aquatic pleasure for almost the entire time of mankind. There was the widespread belief that humans did not need to be “covered up” while engaging in a water activity, be it for hygiene or for pleasure (swimming). The above art work by artist Thomas Eakins verifies this practice. The less worn in water was considered both healthier and safer.
The modern obsession with bathing suits or swimming suits didn’t really materialize until approximately halfway through the reign of Queen Victoria in the 1800’s. Up until that time, most men and women bathed and swam totally naked and without shame. Queen Victoria herself swam clothes-free (although not in public) during her youth and early adulthood. Swimsuits, introduced during her reign, were worn by the wealthy and upper classes but didn’t really gain popularity until the turn of the century (twentieth century).
Although their weren’t the terms gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer (GLBTQ) that were used back in those days, it is safe to assume that GLBTQ peoples followed the mainstream custom and swam without covering, just like everyone else. There was no need to bring additional attention to those who were attracted to those outside of the opposite sex.
Skinny-dipping didn’t become widely understood or used as a term for nude swimming until after World War II. The term was primarily used the the southern USA and mainly among the rural areas. The widespread mobilization of troops and sailors brought unusual numbers of men and women into the service of the country and persons encountered many from outside their native areas. The term gained in popularity and widespread usage.
The above photograph shows us interracial bare men poolside and in close physical contact despite the practice of racial segregation. They all appear to be completely comfortable with one another. Following World War II, U.S. President Harry Truman ordered the integration of the military services. This action led to the easing of racial restrictions in other areas. The above picture, based on hair styles and photographic texture, date from about this same time, the late 1940’s.
The above image features a skinny-dipping couple from approximately the same period, the late 1940’s. This is a unique picture as the two men are physically connected even though they were photographed outdoors in a large body of water. Neither one seems tense given their closeness.
By the early 1950’s the growing popularity of skinny-dipping and the gradual elimination of the racial divide saw African-Americans being featured in magazines that were geared to the same gender loving and bisexual audiences. The above model, Monty, was a favorite for both black and white readers.
The men above are enjoying a river skinny-dipping splurge during the early 1950’s given their hair styles. We have no idea where the bottom-up skinny-dipping diver jumped from! There is no diving board visible in the picture.
Next Friday is the fourth and final Friday during the 2019 GLBTQ Bare History Month series here on ReNude Pride. I plan to feature pictures from the very early days of photography. Please return here then!
Happy GLBTQ Bare History Month!