An online journal celebrating the joys of living bare with pride! This site usually publishes every Monday and Friday. I may be irreverent but I am no way irrelevant! My preferred personal pronouns are he, him, his.
African-Americans constitute almost 13% of the population in the USA yet they represent almost 50% of all categories in HIV/AIDS related statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 1999, alarmed over the effects of HIV/AIDS on the Black American community, the CDC, U.S. Public Health Service, representatives of organizations serving African-Americans and persons of faith met to address concerns over rising infection rates. One of the results of these meetings was the decision to observe February 7, annually, as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). The first NBHAAD was conducted on February 7, 2000.
NBHAAD mandates four (4) key components present for a successful awareness campaign. Each component is designed to build individual and community strengths in combatting HIV/AIDS. The four elements are as follows:
Get educated: know the facts about transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Get involved: learn about opportunities available in community prevention efforts.
Get tested: know your status and encourage/empower others to do the same.
Get treatment: to receive proper healthcare and support needed to successfully live with HIV.
KNOWLEDGE = POWER!
Get tested in order to know your status.
Get active! `~ Get involved! ~ Take control!
Basic Facts: HIV/AIDS:
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
AIDS is a result of HIV infection.
HIV is not spread by everyday, casual contact. HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk.
Only a doctor can diagnose AIDS.
Remember: It is not who we are but rather what we do that puts us at risk for HIV infection!
Analysis proves that people learn and retain knowledge most effectively from people they perceive as most like themselves. NBHAAD is an African-American based organization to provide direction, guidance and implementation to the Black American population specifically. It represents a resource that is accessible, authentic and dependable.
Legendary openly gay film star, Kory Mitchell, (sometimes known as “Kory Kong”) born in Germany of African-American and German parents, became an HIV+ gay porn industry advocate and educator of HIV/AIDS prevention skills. He was quickly identified as the “Magic Johnson of Gay Pornography!” On the very first NBHAAD, Kory and Magic appeared together throughout the day to encourage involvement with NBHAAD and the options available to living and thriving as HIV+.
No matter his career in gay pornography, after Kory became established professionally, he had “blessed” tattooed on his back shoulder and a cross tattooed onto his abdomen. The purpose was to remind his fans of his Christian faith. Shortly after his diagnosis as HIV+, he had the word “hope” tattooed onto his neck. Instead of the letter “o,” he had a red AIDS awareness ribbon used.
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Friday, February 10, 2023, and the proposed topic is: “S’Naked!”
Given the body language, physical contact and hair-styles of the naked/nude men presented in the vintage photos below, there remains little doubt over the authenticity of these pictures. The bigotry and disgust directed towards any hint of same gender love supports their validity. Remember, “back in the day” the idea of “gay-for-pay” had practically no audience whatsoever! Segregation was the law of the land in every state except Illinois and homosexuality (gay) was viewed as severe perversion!
Introduction and Justification:
As a part of ReNude Pride’s annual observance of USA Black History Month, this photo-essay offers proof that decades before the 1969 Stonewall Inn Riots (SIR) heralded the modern gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer+ (GLBTQ+) civil and equal rights movement, the USA African-American culture ventured into limited existence. General society accepted, condoned, endorsed and practiced homophobic policies and prejudices during this era. Government, law enforcement, and religious institutions extolled and sanctioned this discriminatory behaviour, but bravery and courageous African-American GLBTQ+ pioneers cautiously followed hearts and souls down the trail to happiness.
These photographs confirm not only their sexuality during repression; they also provide evidence of their comfort and practice of their nakedness! Indeed: the pilgrims of bare practitioners!
These historic and vintage photographs discredit and dispel the popular and widespread myth that the African-American GLBTQ+ community and culture didn’t exist before SIR in 1969. Bare practitioners (same gender loving naturist/nudist) are inherently and naturally African-American as they are with other ethnicities and races everywhere!
The above couple, from the early 1960’s exemplify the growing acceptance of their same gender loving status among themselves and their community of peers. It didn’t happen overnight but slowly, it began to gain momentum as the “age of love” started to emerge onto the popular culture.
ReNude Pride appreciates, salutes and supports the bold and proud initiative of the men featured here today! Their efforts and energy made it possible for advances in GLBTQ+ community and culture everywhere!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Tuesday, February 7, 2023, and the proposed topic is: “National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!”
The month of February, annually, is designated Black History Month throughout the USA. Here at ReNude Pride, in addition to the historical feature, we also honour the same gender loving (gay) and the bare practitioner (naturist/nudist) lifestyles of the African-American culture. In addition, we recognize that this culture is not restricted to focus only one month out of the entire year!
In 1607, the first permanent English settlement was established in the “New World” (North America as it is known today). The location was Jamestown, Virginia – which remains a tourist attraction. The first slaves captured from Africa were brought here and sold or traded in late August, 1619. Thus established, slavery was a binding and legal institution throughout the colonial era and up until the conclusion of the American Civil War (fought over the slavery issue) in 1865.
Despite the Declaration of Independence stating the basic “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” clause, the United States of America did not recognize slaves as people but instead as property. Slaves were denied (legally) property rights, education, freedom to travel and most importantly, their dignity. It was as though these captives from Africa did not exist. This situation implanted the idea of racism that remains a major issue in the USA legal, political and social structures even at this time. The killing of a slave – for whatever reason – was not considered murder nor a crime. The stealing of a slave wasn’t seen as kidnapping and/or enforced detention but rather viewed as property theft.
For almost a century and a half after the US civil war, the history of African-Americans was, for all intents and purposes, completely ignored here in almost every public school system. In the minds of educators, administrators and the general public, “they” (Black Americans) came here as slaves and were freed after the civil war and that was enough acknowledgement of African-American history.
In 1926, noted Black historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week in February, annually, to be known as “Negro History Week.” This particular week was selected because it contained the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and the birthday of Frederick Douglass, a noted Black American advocate for abolishing slavery (February 14).
The initial Negro History Week in 1926 was received with limited recognition. The state departments of education in Delaware, North Carolina and West Virginia endorsed the observation as did the public school administrations of the cities of Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Carter G. Woodson wrote in The Negro Journal in support of the celebration: “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”
Regardless of the lack of “official” support for Negro History Week, within the African-American community the reaction and response was dramatic and overwhelming. No matter the ignoring of this occasion by general society and the public school systems, Black churches, fraternal and social organizations and individual educators enthusiastically adopted the concept as an essential cause. It became a distinct and popular annual event involving competitions (both athletic and academic), enactments and festivities. Carter G. Woodson’s ideal instilled a sense of determination and pride within the Black community and race. This achievement earned him the title “Father of Black History Month.”
Throughout the 1930’s, Negro History Week continued to grow in acceptance, slowly but surely. It contradicted the White American myth in the South’s “lost cause” that argued that slaves had been well-treated, fairly cared for and that the Civil War was nothing more than a war of “northern aggression.”
The ongoing development, growth and success of the original Negro History Week soon produced positive results not only within the Persons of Colour community but also in the society in general. The number of states recognizing the designation gradually increased as did the number of businesses, local and national, who identified the opportunity for expansion and increase of profits.
The first observance of the entire month of February as Black History Month occurred at Kent State University in 1970. Then-President Gerald Ford was the first president to acknowledge and publicly recognize Black History Month during the celebration of the USA bicentennial in 1976, fifty years following Carter G. Woodson’s and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History first Negro History Week observance.
The twenty-first century has brought remarkable achievements to the contents of Black History Month. In November, 2008, Barack Hussein Obama was elected the very first African-American president of the USA – ever! His two terms of office were from January, 2009, until January, 2016.
In November, 2019, Kamela Harris was elected the very first woman vice-president and the first African-American vice-president. Her first term of office is from January, 2020, until January, 2024.
Carter G. Woodson is indeed proud of his Black History Month and the fact that his community’s history is still being made, today!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Friday, February 3, 2023, and the proposed topic is: “Photo Essay: Man-2-Man!”
I recently gave a presentation on “Being a Bare Practitioner” at the Deaf Gay Alliance (DGA) Holiday Dinner in Washington, DC, USA. The DGA sought clarification of bare practitioner as the purpose of the address. This delivery to the DGA was facilitated in American Sign Language (ASL) through a certified ASL interpreter. The above photograph and the others below were projected electronically on a large screen for the audience.
For this occasion, I both began and concluded my address with the following:
“As committed, dedicated, honest, open and sincere bare practitioners (bisexual or gay naturists/nudists), all we desire is for the world to see us as we perceive ourselves: all naked, all natural. Nothing to hide and without reason for shame. As bare practitioners, we boldly, confidently, inclusively and proudly embrace our same gender loving sexuality and our body and clothes freedom preference together. This embracement personifies our soul and allows us the fortune of being soulmates within all of our brotherhood. We are proud of our nudity and our same gender love. They are not cause for embarrassment, fear or guilt. That is simply what and who we are in our life.
We also wholeheartedly encourage and endorse the human rights of everyone to patience, respect, tolerance and understanding.”
~ Roger Peterson-Poladopoulos ~
Deaf Gay Alliance speech
4 December, 2022
Photo-Essay: The Bare Practitioner:
Brazilian-born and openly gay model and emerging actor, Felipe Ferreira, provides the selfie posed photographs used in today’s posting for ReNude Pride. Neither my spouse, Aaron, nor I are personally acquainted with Mr. Ferreira. Author’s note: those of you who know me are aware of my attraction to and obsession with men’s hirsute axilla (hairy armpits). That’s why this post is introduced with the reflection of Felipe’s underarm fur!
Until the publication of this collection of Felipe Ferreira’s self-images, he cautiously and frequently concealed his genitalia (penis and testicles), pubic hair and his armpit hair – as in the picture above. He often used his hands in order to restrict full public exposure. Prior to these, pictures of his full nudity showed only his buttocks, rarely his frontal nakedness, unless it was in a shower photo.
Mistakenly, both Aaron and I assumed this was due to a “size matters” issue. The actual size of his penis or because of his sparse amount of pubic hair. Now, we all know otherwise; he just needed to relax and increase his level of self-acceptance! Not all of us reach the same level of confidence and self-identification at precisely the identical moment in time.
In the above photograph, we can see that his penis isn’t miniscule and his supply of pubic hair appears sufficient!
He did not pose with poise and pride exclusively for ReNude Pride to feature him in this post entry! Felipe was selected to appear here based on the reflective (mirror) nature of his selfies. My spouse, Aaron, and I both admire his physical attractiveness and his pride tattoo in being publicly same gender loving (gay). A remarkable adornment and quality! This tattoo first caught Aaron’s attention when Felipe began his modeling career back in 2017.
Felipe also depicts and reflects the discovery and recognition of himself as an emerging bare practitioner with this recent series of self-photography. Up until the release of this portfolio, he had been very discreet and modest in posing and engaging in “captures” of both his penis and pubic hair.
The inclusion of his genital area and pubic hair give us the broadening and extension of his “comfort zone” with his body and clothes freedom. Here, his discretion begins to fade away and he appears mature and self-assured!
This particular collection of selfies positively and publicly confirm and represent Felipe’s acceptance and acknowledgement of his bare practitioner pride in our community and in our culture. His blatant and bold chest tattoo highlights and voices for his soul.
In offering a summary of his personal characteristics, Felipe Ferreira gave this quote below:
“Gay and naked is who and what I am as a man. It isn’t a problem or a reason for shame. It is just me!” ~ Felipe Ferreira ~ model and actor
Probably the reasoning for the inclusion of the picture immediately above in this visual image file is obvious to all viewing here: it discretely places the focus on the manly bulge that is displayed inside his athletic shorts. It is best that no further comment is expected nor necessary here!
His progress in both acceptance and disclosure of his full body has bestowed many beneficial attributes to Felipe personally and professionally. This gallery of self-photography excels in exposing his physical (body) appeal but also his skill, talent and his ability to persevere!
Felipe has been criticized and demonized by executives in the fashion industry for a) openly admitting that he is same gender loving (gay); b) publicly and willingly posing nude and c) being filmed performing in soft gay pornography. Fortunately for him (and us), his following in our community and culture has now exceeded his critics!
Welcome aboard as a fellow bare practitioner, Felipe Ferreira! Naked hugs to you and everyone else visiting here! Stay bold and proud!
Author’s Note: The next post entry for here is planned for Friday, January 27, 2023, and the proposed topic is: “A Guy Without Boxers!”
Awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, by His Majesty, King Gustaf VI Adolph, on October 14, 1964.
Civil and Equality Rights Advocate
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Founder, 1957, President until his death
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Posthumously given by President Jimmy Carter in 1977
At birth, he was originally named Michael J. King, Jr., the son of Reverend Michael J. King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. After attending a religious conference in Germany in 1934, his father changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr., and his son’s name to Martin Luther King, Jr.
He married Coretta Scott and they produced four children: Yolanda, Martin L. III, Dexter Scott and Bernice.
The Reverend Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 and directed the campaign for civil rights and equality until his assassination in 1968.
He organized the National March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on August 28, 1963. At this event, he delivered the keynote address, “I have a dream…” More than 120,000 people attended this gathering, At that time, it was the largest political rally held on the National Mall.
The Reverend Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. was honoured by a state funeral in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on April 7, 1968.
Naked hugs on Dr. King’s holiday, 2023!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Wednesday, January 18, 2023, and the proposed topic is: “Prevention Routines!”
It’s the beginning of the new, nude year, 2023! No better time than the present to take a look and remember the reasons for this site. I started publishing ReNude Pride in January, 2017 – this is now my blog’s sixth anniversary! In honour of this occasion, I believe that this subtle reminder is long overdue so this post entry serves as an official notice not only of my personal, blatant and proud sexuality but also of my honest cultural identity: I am a confident nudist!
Strip and join in!
In a brief summary, please allow me to offer this alternate title for today’s posting:
Queer Eye For The Bare Guy!
Give yourself a moment or two and explore our same gender loving (bisexual or gay) naturist/nudist perspective on what – in our opinion – is acceptable, decent and normal!
At the risk of being judged or labelled provocative, repulsive and/or suggestive, understand that the photograph series for this entitled photo-essay may be interpreted by some as offensive. That is not my intention!
Please consider yourself as so notified. Please continue reading with both caution and with an open mind!
Happy Sixth Anniversary ReNude Pride!
Relax! The above photograph represents two bare practitioners – either bisexual or gay men (same gender loving) – who are likewise proud naturist/nudist. They’re comfortable together, their hands are touching their partner’s body and they’re facing one another, implying their physical intimacy. A truly bold and dynamic duo confidently sharing and showing their bare practitioner community and cultural identity!
Our partner with the lighter complexion (right) is visually attentive to their mutual physical connection – implied penile contact. We have no insight as to whether either man’s penis is erect (excited) or flaccid (relaxed). The absence of any apparent sexual stimulation reduces this image from the realm of pornography into the environment of erotic and/or placid. Innocence enters upon the scene in the eyes of same gender loving men. Guilt may be opinion of opposite gender loving men.
A difference in perception from viewers of the same gender but from different sexual agendas and attractions. The diversity of men!
The photograph immediately above this paragraph better represents not only the variances of comfort experienced by men of divergent intimate attractions but also by men of various ethnic and/or racial heritages. Some will feel negative reactions because of the racial backgrounds of the two men and others will respond in animosity because the visual shows two men both accepting and comfortable with one another and their nakedness – totally without any apparent guilt or shame.
Personal notation: My spouse, Aaron, selected this particular picture as his favourite due to the “reception of divine inspiration” as indicated by the uplifted and sanctified expression on the face. Aaron’s reaction alone would incur the condemnation and wrath of religious extremists from innumerable faiths.
Admittedly, importantly – and fortunately – there are many among all of our communities and cultures who are bold and brave enough to act and to think for themselves. Their uniqueness is among the qualities that make life bearable (bareable) for those of us who live around them or are influenced by them. Ideally, this insight and worldview is not restricted to just one particular culture or community.
Our lighter complexioned partner above (right) is unable to refocus his attention from the obvious: why is his penis being supported by my shoulder?
Too many times in today’s world modern couples avoid any open dialogue with other couples regarding sexual positioning and roles. For what reason?
Aaron and I were married on August 15, 2015, after living together for almost five full years. We have both noticed that in our close friendships within our circle of same gender loving male couples, that there are numerous similarities in feelings and reactions. Many times an honest and open interaction with others has enabled us all to discuss and explore options, alternatives, remedies and possible solutions. Many times this has permitted resolution of the issue before it escalates.
Subtle message: support does not always imply or require submission or surrender.
Now is the time for some personal perspective on the poses used in this photo-essay. Aaron, my spouse and I, using a camera tripod and one of his 35mm cameras, attempted to recreate each of the positions the models posed in these shots. Our results were extremely less-than-satisfactory!
The first pose was relatively easy as both are standing and leaning using the other for balance. The groin area and hands offered the physical contact. We’ve had much experience there!
The successive poses with the flaccid (soft) penis of the darker model resting upon the shoulder of the lighter-skinned model is where we encountered numerous challenges! The first issue was penis size.
Neither Aaron nor myself have a penis comparable to the one portrayed. We don’t have the bulk (thickness) nor the length. Our own perform fine when we’re intimate – no complaints from either of us – but as for the subject of the image: no competition!
The second major discrepancy is comfort. In attempting to replicate the positions, one has to stand and the other kneels. Having to pose, reset the camera lens and focus the camera timer and then recreate the pose? Too much time involved and we were unable to accomplish our goal. If we could have eliminated the camera adjustments or hired a professional photographer – perhaps! Otherwise? We love and respect one another too much to have to repeat this performance – again!
As bare practitioners (in our situation – Aaron and I – a gay naturist/nudist couple), our nakedness is not only a fact of life, it is also our way of life. Body and clothes freedom is the foundation of our “comfort zone.” It is a characteristic and not a dynamic of our sexuality. Our nudity is not always foreplay to engaging in sexual intimacy. It reflects our comfort, dependence, happiness and trust in being us – together!
Trust me, we found comfort, relaxation and satisfaction in a better position after Aaron put his camera away!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for tomorrow, Tuesday, January 10, 2023, and the proposed topic is: “6th Anniversary Treat!”
This is an announcement honouring the celebration of “good news” from our government legislators!
The U. S. House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Congress, just passed the Marriage Equality Act. The U. S. Senate (the legislative upper chamber) approved the same measure several weeks earlier. It now is awaiting the signature of President Joseph Biden and then it officially becomes law. This legislation enacts the federal mandate that assures the complete recognition of all interracial marriages and all individual marriage equality unions throughout this country.
My spouse, Aaron, and I are an interracial couple. He’s African-Canadian and I’m Greek. We also are a same gender loving male couple. We were legally married in the Commonwealth of Virginia on August 15, 2015. Our marriage is now totally legal everywhere within this country!
Because of the U. S. Supreme Court’s reversal of its previous legalization of abortions this past June, this action by the Congress prevents an automatic reversal of the marriages of all same gender loving couples and of the marriages of all racially mixed marriages. Multiple Christian extremists organizations have threatened to implement judicial review of marriages, hoping for a “return” for supremacy of the conservative religious concept.
Aaron and I are dancing bare all day today!
Aaron and Roger Peterson-Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Monday, December 12, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Resolutions Solution!”
The title “Bare-dom” and posting were originally planned for today’s entry here. However, the feeling on my part, as the author of ReNude Pride is that this particular posting is more prominent and more relevant. “Bare-dom” is now planned for publication in February, 2023. I apologize for any confusion!
The term political correctness is a concept that began with the advent of the first inauguration of then-incoming President Bill Clinton in the 1990’s. The phrase was synonymous with the words “thoughtfulness,” “sensitivity” and basically “polite.” It essentially implied “respect and treat others as you expect them to treat and respect you.”
Unfortunately, the idea was never accepted or followed by the religious-right extremists nor the U.S. republican political party. Once George Bush #2 came into power, the principle rapidly fell into disfavor then totally abandoned.
The election of President Barack Obama brought the theory but not the original phrase back into practice. Regrettably, when he retired, the practice did also. Now even the thought of such a notion as decency has disappeared from the ideals and minds of the American public. The thinking these days is now: nogooddeedgoesunpunished!
The context and point here is simple: we need to return to the basic “ground rule” of decency for everyone. This country, especially, is now too multicultural and varied for us to automatically assume that all the people who live here have identical beliefs and values. That path of thinking is now misinformed, obsolete and no longer relevant. Probably, it is something that is no longer true even within the same family, much less the neighborhood, community, city and state.
Even within the same religion, there exist varying traditions. For example, within Christianity, there are differences in when certain holidays are celebrated and/or observed. One assumption doesn’t apply to everyone anymore.
Observation: not included on the above listing is December 26: Boxing Day in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other realms throughout the Commonwealth!
My spouse, Aaron, and I have discussed this quite a number of times among ourselves and with friends. There is no doubt in our minds whatsoever that all of us need to be considerate of one another and work together to restore an element of humanity back into our daily lives!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry for here is planned for Monday, December 12, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Resolutions Solution!”
The Red Ribbon symbolizes World AIDS Day and HIV/AIDS awareness!
Proudly show that you are aware and that you care. Wear your red ribbon!
Basic Facts About HIV/AIDS:
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
AIDS is a result of being infected with HIV.
HIV is not spread through everyday, casual contact.
A physician is needed to diagnose AIDS.
“It’s not who we are, but rather what we do that determines the risk factor of HIV infection.” ~ Red Cross HIV/AIDS prevention education ~
Follow protocols for reducing HIV infections:
Do not share needles, syringes or drug use tools.
Avoid contact with body fluids.
Treat everyone with care and respect.
Since the first World AIDS Day observance on December 1, 1988. The date was first conceived in August, 1987, by James Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.
Each year, Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have released messages for both patients and health care providers on World AIDS Day. They have also publicly offered prayers for a world living with HIV.
In the USA, the White House (presidential home) began observing World AIDS Day under the administration of President Clinton and the iconic display of a 28-foot massive Red AIDS Awareness Ribbon on the North Portico of the building. It was the first banner to prominently hang from the White House since the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
by Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai
It was in the late autumn of 1978 that I came into this world. My mom would always tell me that I was an overdue birth; as it I didn’t want to leave the womb. I see it like being cuddled up in bed. Who’d want to leave such a comfy spot? To this very day, that has still remained my all-time favourite activity.
So being born in 1978 meant that I grew up in the 80’s. Wow! What a decade! Madonna, Punk fashions, Hurricane Gilbert and skyrocketing food prices – if you’re Jamaican – and…AIDS!
Being an island didn’t mean that we were isolated from world issues, especially when your island is renowned for its culture, its beaches, its sunshine and sex. I saw all the AIDS prevention ads on TV: “AIDS kills,” “stick to one steady partner,” “use a condom,” and “you can’t tell by looking.” I grew up scared! I grew up being scared of actually growing up!
Throughout high school, we teens would laugh about stuff pertaining to sex and sexuality, there was little or no sex education in school and what we learned came from porn, the dancehall music or the local pastor. The radio broadcast the death of Freddie Mercury. I remember that so well because I was wearing a Queen t-shirt at that very moment! I heard of Arthur Ashe; in school we talked and laughed about the death of Rock Hudson – I didn’t know who he was at that time. But the dearest tragedy for me was when I learned that Olympic diver Greg Louganis was diagnosed HIV+. I was personally touched because I knew who he was. He was my hero, a gay Olympic champion! And, of course, during the 80’s and 90’s, they constantly reminded us of the growing numbers of new cases.
So as I fast forward a bit to young adult, HIV/AIDS was less and less stranger. It was now a reality. It had faces! And faces that I knew!
I made friends with people working in the local AIDS support association and the church I attended did volunteering and outreach. Being scared didn’t shield me from the harsh realities of my life. I wasn’t going to be spared. AIDS was not going to have pity. Not on this little island boy. No sir!… Familiar faces kept vanishing, boys I fell in love with kept getting sick: Julian, Everton, Fred, Frank. A church member was dying. I saw their faces. I saw their bodies lying on the hospital beds. I saw them agonizing. I saw them dying…I loved them. I loved them as hard as I could. I held them in my heart; it’s all I could have done.
There was only love, that’s what they needed, not pity or shame, but Love. I understood that. I had that gift.
Allisson was my elder. She and I were friends, we weren’t that close. She was the first child my dad got from his first relationship, so, we were as close as two half-siblings who were ten years apart could be. She had her life and her family: boyfriend, son and daughter. I checked in with her as often as I could. I still thank God for that last moment I spent with her. It was in the local store where she worked. Allisson was standing there behind the counter. She looked so thin, so pale, so not all together there. Nothing could have prepared me for that grim phone call I’d received a few years later…AIDS took my beloved sister.
To be honest I did my best to play it safe, but I also took my fair share of risks. I even slept with the enemy. Why I didn’t remember all those faces, all those bodies I saw, covered in sores, laying on those hospital beds? Why didn’t I remember the agony? I should have ran! But I didn’t…I wanted cuddles instead. It only takes one encounter. I slept with this guy twice in the Summer of 2005 I was diagnosed in the Fall of that very same year. Painful urine and a creamy white substance leaking from my penis made me go to the doctor real quick.
I was alone when I went to the doctor’s, I was alone when the doctor broke the news, I was alone when I went to the hospital to have his diagnosis confirmed. I was alone to face the stark reality that I was not going to be living a normal life. Oddly though, the news that I was HIV positive wasn’t as earth shattering. It didn’t have that devastating effect as I had imagined. I didn’t scream, or cry, or ask God why? Maybe it’s my way of dealing with trauma: in silence.
My explanation is that, growing up gay prepared me for days like these. If I could handle growing up gay in a homophobic society such as mine, anything else would be a piece of cake. I kind of figured that, somehow it’s kind of logical, sad way to think. I agree it’s a bit fatalistic: being gay isn’t a death sentence! But for me it was. So I imagine I was accepting my fate. My mom was right. A gay life is one of damnation and hellfire. And this was exactly what I deserved.
Since then, I’ve celebrated seventeen birthdays, visited six countries and changed two jobs. I have met my beautiful niece who is also living with the disease as she was contaminated at birth and I am currently in a stable long-term relationship. I am disciplined regarding my meds and my combat still rages more than ever. I can’t say that I have had to face discrimination regarding AIDS as not that many people know. I do my best to stay healthy, “Sound Mind, Sound Body.” I workout regularly and I combat negativity. I have grown to love myself, understand and own who I am and cultivate self-worth. I was young but now I am mature, I have seen my friends fallen by the wayside but I am still here. I had to learn gratitude.
Living with HIV is a daily reminder that I need to turn fear and trauma into triumph. I have had a new beginning, renewed hope. A fighting chance. I have to believe, not only in myself but in whatever higher power there may be. I need to believe that somewhere out there and also within, there is a greater power…love! Doesn’t love conquer all?
I am very appreciative of Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai for sharing his personal testimonial with all of us here on ReNude Pride on the occasion of World AIDS Day,2022. His courage and honesty is a remarkable and significant accomplishment that indeed reflects his dedication to dispelling myths and misinformation about being same gender loving (gay) as well as about living with HIV. He is a commendable guest author and I sincerely invite him to contribute whenever possible!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry for here is planned for tomorrow, Friday, December 2, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Seasonal Signs!”
On the behalf of ReNude Pride, it is a distinct honour that I introduce to all of you, Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai! He informs me that the Nubian-Ikigai is colourful nickname of sorts that references his spirit. Any more detailed explanation will have to come directly from him! Rohan is his given name.
He is from the priceless jewel of the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica! He openly identified himself to me as a proud bare practitioner – a man after my own heart! That is precisely how he introduced himself!
I first noticed Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai in September of this year when he posted a comment on my announcement of the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. He wrote that she was also the Queen of Jamaica as part of the Commonwealth. We have since become blood brothers! As a fellow subject of the Commonwealth, my Canadian spouse, Aaron, has a fondness for him!
Rohan currently lives in France with his partner. He is employed as an English language coach/tutor. His ambition is to compose his autobiography!
Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai on being gay:
Growing up, what were you taught about being gay?
This is a tough and tricky question to answer. I don’t know what angle to take on this, so I’ll take a human approach…What was I taught about being gay? Nothing…It’s funny, some boys can say that they learned about being a man, shooting a rifle or hunting and some girls learned about being a good wife. I picked up stuff along the way. I observed human behaviour and I listened attentively to what was said.
I understood early on that being gay was a disgrace, punishable by death, hell and damnation. I learned you’d be better off having Stage 4 cancer than being gay. I was taught that I’d better hide and stay hidden otherwise there’s gonna be gunshots and a lynching for my “batty-boy” (Jamaican derogatory term for gay man) head! Besides, who would want to be guilty of teaching anyone about being gay? I took the burden upon myself.
To your knowledge, were any members of your family gay?
My first gay experience was with a close cousin who happened to be a year younger than me. This happened during my formative years, I was about 8 or 9 years old. It went on for 2 years during the summer holidays when he’d come to visit from the USA. Let’s call him Kevin. Irony of this is I don’t know if he’s gay as we’ve lost contact. Who knows, it may have been his fault why I am gay today. I think there’s another distant cousin who could be gay.
Did you have any friends who were bisexual or gay?
Yes and not only. As an adult, my friends were gay and bisexual and also female. As a matter of fact, I’ve been in love with quite a few females. I do fantasize and have wet dreams about women (laughs).
At what age did you begin to realize that you are gay?
Another tricky question (laughs)! If I refer go back to question #2. I’d say, I was born this way (laughs). My relationship with my cousin was a natural progression. We were cousins, by blood; we met then became friends and ended up being lovers. It was beautiful. I wasn’t raped, traumatized nor shocked at what happened or at what was happening to me. I didn’t fight him off, I didn’t push him away. I didn’t look at him any differently. Nothing changed between us. I never put a label on it. I was too young.
Growing up, I categorically refused to label myself. Even to this day. The adults around me made me realize that I was gay.
When I was a teenager I had erections whenever I saw men in swimsuits. I remember my reaction the first time I saw a TV commercial and there was a guy wearing a red speedo, but prior to that, I remember always being fascinated by male nudity. I would sneak around to peek at naked men whenever I could. The male anatomy is the most beautiful thing in creation. I still believe so today. I remember being teased in school for being effeminate. So to this question there is no fixed answer as I have always been “gay.”
When exploring your sexuality, did you have anyone (family or friend) that you could ask or use as a resource?
No…I’m a self-taught, self-made individual (laughs). I was a resource for my friends. They came to me for advice especially when it came to sex and sexuality.
Does the gay social life in Jamaica help or hinder your involvement in the gay community?
No. I was determined to live. I especially loved cruising, despite the many risks and dangers. I couldn’t help it. At the time, I was a predator, I loved to hunt, I like to collect trophies (laughs). I took guys out on dates, I hung out with my friends and I went to parties. We learned that we had to be discrete about it. Keep it on the DL (down low) or under cover. It’s strange but I like being “out there.” I felt alive, I felt excited. In a way it was my form of passive resistance and rebellion.
When socializing with gay friends, what activities are especially enjoyable?
For me, nothing beats having great sex. Second, it’s the being together, sharing stories and laughing. The good times don’t last very long. I really enjoyed having my friends over to my house despite my mom’s strong disapproval. If not, I’d go to my friend’s houses. I miss having my friends.
Any special advice or thoughts to share with anyone who is thinking about “coming out” as gay?
This may sound harsh or blunt, but your sexuality is your own business. You don’t owe it to anyone to come out. Come out only if it frees you from pain and suffering. I’ve only officially come out to my mom: it became necessary. I didn’t come out to my brothers and sisters, they already knew or they simply figured it out. I haven’t come out to my dad, I don’t see the need. He left when I was ten years old, now I’m almost 45 and I don’t see how it matters.
Gay men deserve as much respect as anyone else on this planet. We shouldn’t be apologizing or giving thanks or getting down on our knees to any other human being. We all have the right to live our lives the way we choose. Coming out should never be forced or felt like a rite of passage. That’s nonsense! Being gay is neither a mistake nor a punishment that can be erased or prayed away.
Rohan’s gravatar here at ReNude Pride!
Rohan the Nubian-Ikigai on nudity:
Growing up, what were you taught about nudity and being seen naked around other people?
Well, to answer this question in all honesty it might be necessary for me to point outthat in my country “social nudity” does not exist. People don’t just get naked and go walking around outside in nature or hang out together for the fun of it. This concept is reserved for the North Americans and the Europeans; as such those foreign notions are usually seen with an evil eye.
On the other hand, nudity wasn’t a subject. Nudity is or let me say baring skin was not a taboo. We live on a hot tropical island, my city was built on a beach, Dance Hall and Carnival are a mainstay of our culture. Being poor meant you bathed outdoors or in a river and if you like the rain, it’s a great time to take a rain shower.
But ironically though, we are also very religious, so modesty and clothing meant you were closer to God. So a constant clash between Christian and non-Christian, all in good fun of course.
Once youth reach adolescence, they become very body-conscious and modest. Was this ever the case for you?
Absolutely! Even to this day, I am still very body conscious. But I am taking it in stride. I work out regularly to gain a bit more confidence and overcome that shyness.
Have you ever skinny-dipped (swim naked) with others?
No, which is sad because I lived near a river and a beach…and I’ve seen so many men skinny-dipping in the nearby river as a child growing up (laughter). I think I may be hydrophobic. I don’t really take to water that much. I never really liked swimming, and to make things worse, with my extreme shyness and body-consciousness, skinny-dipping was a definite no – no!
Any awkward or interesting experience being socially nude (naked in the company of others) that you’re comfortable to share with us?
I have a few experiences with being nude in public; the most hilarious was when my best friend – who is also straight (opposite gender loving) took me to a topless bar. It was so shocking for me to see a woman topless in public. I remember being so nervous that my hands kept trembling like a leaf. My friend ordered us some sodas. I couldn’t take my eyes off her breasts though (laughs). She served us our sodas, but I was too mesmerized to see that she had put the bottle right in front of me. As I reached for my drink, I ended up spilling it all over the bar counter. She was very sweet; she simply smiled while my friend laughed his head off!
Any advice for anyone considering social nudity for the first time?
Go ahead. There is a lot to gain. Remove the shackles that enslave and the chains that bind. If it feels weird or awkward at first, it’s normal. Living in a society where covering up is the mainstream; we rarely ever get to see ourselves and others for who we really are. Before joining a crowd, though, make sure you’re comfortable being naked with yourself first. Social nudity may be like jumping off the deep end of the pool.
Compare your body type to that of others; this allows you to see that all body types are natural and there isn’t one unique body type. My personal technique is to watch a lot of porn. I also enjoy watching porn. Porn allows me to see lots of naked people without running the risk of being called a pervert. Plus, porn shows men, of so many varying body types and what’s more they are so comfortable. And that’s the key. Being comfortable and being around other people who are also naked and comfortable. You want to be around as much positive energy as possible.
And finally don’t be too critical. Avoid judging others: you may be surprised at how quickly you stop judging yourself in the process!
Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai!
One of the many amazing aspects of Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai is his candor and honesty – not to forget his willingness – in sharing his true self with others! Alex, my identical twin brother, and I had one another to rely on when we began to openly acknowledge our same gender love (gay) and our nudity. His solo acceptance of both who and what he really is isn’t just just brace and courageous but is also exemplary and inspiring!
In the words of Aaron, my spouse, “Fantastic job, Rohan! Congratulations on being you and proud of it! Welcome to our natural world!”
Taking into account the laughs that Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai shared with is in his interview, we’re all pleased to have him as an optimistic fellow bare practitioner! You’ve earned our admiration and respect, my friend! I am grateful for your participation in this interview on ReNude Pride!
It is a true honour for ReNude Pride and for myself to feature Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai here today. He’s a remarkable man and an awesome bare practitioner extraordinaire! We have to all make our distinct beginning in our own way and it is refreshing to see Rohan’s initiation into our community and culture in progress! Great job!
Rohan will visit here as a guest co-author on December 1, 2022, for World AIDS Day! Plan to join with us then!
Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride
Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Wednesday, November 30, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Bottoms-Up! November, 2022!”