One of the most unexplored topics of our community history is the growth and development of bare (naked, nude) culture within the modern GLBTQ movement. For far too long, we bare practitioners (naturists or nudists) have been ignored and overlooked by the overwhelming majority of our society. The purpose of this posting here is to offer a brief and minimal accounting of our heritage.
The reason for the brevity of this posting here on ReNude Pride is based on the fact that there is very little knowledge and research on this subject. The gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) community and clothes freedom (naked, nude) seem to generate very limited interest. Prior to the Stonewall Inn Riots on June 28, 1969 (exactly 50 years ago this year), the modern same and dual gender loving bare practitioner communities were denied, disregarded, ignored and undocumented except in matters of legal and social prohibitions.
Even before the Stonewall Inn Riot, clothes freedom among the same gender loving people was probably no different than that within the mainstream culture of society. Swimming was the most popular activity where nudity was permitted. It wasn’t until the reign of Queen Victoria was well underway that the swimsuit became popular. When that happened, it became fashionable to swim in clothing but that was a practice that was limited to the aristocracy and upper classes because of the costs involved.
As the 20th Century progressed, the costs of the swimming garments decreased and the product became accessible to the majority of the population. The slow rise in income and the lowering prices of swimming attire led to a gradual increase and social expectation of modestly dressed swimmers. By the time of the World War I, public swimming almost always involved the wearing of the garments.
Nudity as a personal preference saw a rise in popularity as the twentieth century progressed with clubs and organizations for the purpose of promoting social and accepted nakedness attracting newer members. Those who weren’t so inclined often chided those who were and this gave rise to the term “nudist” as a distinction for those who preferred naturalness.
World War II halted the growing popularity of the clothes freedom progress. Immediately following the end of the conflict, the hostilities between the two opposing philosophical sides, the free enterprise system and the communist system, continued to stem the growth of the nude popularity.
Throughout this time, there was virtually no distinction between the mainstream nudist organizations and “homosexual” (same gender loving) practitioners. There were few groups that specifically supported sexual minorities and none that endorsed “homosexual” nudity.
The 1950’s brought a series of fitness magazines that quickly gained a fairly large number of homosexual male subscribers. These periodicals depicted muscular men in very little briefs. As the decade progressed, the minimal briefs that the models wore became less and less. By the middle of the 1950’s, magazines began featuring models wearing nothing whatsoever.
An appreciation of male nudity, not only in print but in real life, soon followed. This has remained with us even today.
The 1960’s ushered in a new decade, one that would change forever the way society approached both social nudity and political protests (social unrest). The youth culture exploded throughout the world and along with it an upsurge in dissatisfaction with the politics of acceptance and a revolutionary opinion towards civil rights and social justice for everyone.
Accompanying the rise of concerns for freedoms and respect not only for racial equality and gender equality came an increase in expectations for individual freedom. This led to demands for fairness towards all. These ultimately produced the Stonewall Inn Riot on June 28, 1969, that sparked the recent movement for equality and justice for all persons, no matter their sexual preferences.
The Stonewall Inn Riot also entered new identities into the everyday language. Same gender loving persons were no longer generally referred to as “homosexuals.” The terms and labels such as “gay” for men who loved men, “lesbian” for women who loved women and “bisexual” for persons who loved others of both genders rapidly became common in daily use.
The new identities did cause some problems at the traditional resorts that catered to nudist clientele. Many of these facilities enacted discriminatory and exclusion policies to keep themselves “family” oriented and keep same gender loving persons away from their property. This exclusion practice eventually led the gay, lesbian and bisexual bare practitioners to form their own clubs, groups and organizations to satisfy their desire to enjoy social nudity.
The arrival of the 1980’s saw bare practitioner groups that slowly began to offer serious competition to exclusionary nudist facilities. New nudist facilities that were created during this decade opened doors in an attempt to build their business and to attract newer customers and members. Blatant discrimination was no longer seen as a viable alternative to the clothes freedom movement.
The 1990’s brought a significant growth for GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer nudist community. This led to accommodations and facilities that catered specifically to members of those communities. These latest developments led to many of the traditional nudist establishments and resorts to abandon completely the remaining restrictions against GLBTQ participation.