We’re going to write about some things that are sure to offend someone, if only because we may fail to present our case clearly. Plus, some folks are very thin-skinned. We’re going to mix up a big basket of apples and oranges which have little in common other than in the Public’s eye, they’re all fruits.
This is all about tolerance, about who is tolerated by whom and who isn’t. Why people behave out of the ‘norm’ isn’t an issue here, perceptions are. A lot of people live lives that are an anathema to the general populace, law and social correctness aside. We all have someone or some group that we don’t like, regardless of how ‘acceptable’ they are considered nowadays. You know who yours is.
Some folks don’t like people of different color, some because of religion, nationality, or sexual preference. Fat people, ugly people, tall or short, someone doesn’t like them simply because they exist. The law may prevent them from being discriminated against but that doesn’t change the feelings people have. That has to come from within.
Historically, ie, from the Beginning (whenever that was!), anything different from the norm has been perceived as a threat, and rightly so. If you don’t know what it is or what it does, it’s probably dangerous. This is a simple survival mechanism. Apply that to a group or society and the same notion holds, anything different may be a threat to that group and will be shunned. Over a period of time, with observation and experience, that ‘new thing’ may prove to be harmless or even useful to the group and can be accepted.
Here’s one example:
Enter the homosexual. In early Human days it was crucial that the tribe reproduce as much as possible since whole bunches of them died off and the stock needed to be replenished. That’s why Nature loves to make scads of creatures and cares little about individuals, quantity counts more than quality. Someone who didn’t reproduce was pretty much useless to the tribe (and Nature) and wouldn’t be welcomed once it was figured out that he+she=baby. A woman needed a man to care for her and her cubs and sex was the tie that binds. A practicing homosexual would not only fail to fit this picture but that gene (or whatever) would ultimately fade away.
Enter the Closet. By behaving outwardly heterosexual that same individual would fit in perfectly. Bear children, care for mate, bear children, bear children. This would assure the continuance of the species, strengthen the community, and provide for that ‘gene’ to continue on through the generations.
This worked out fine for future societies and religions, and there was no shortage of Laws and Holy Utterances to reinforce the idea of ‘keep it in the closet!’. Plus, folks had pretty miserable lives and it’s always nice to have someone different to hate and blame things on!
Enter Modern Times. Information has spread enormously, as has the Human race. Learning the part homosexuals have played throughout history has helped to make them seem less scary to the populace, plus there is no pressing need to ‘grow’ the species. And a healthy, wealthy society can afford some indulgences. The ‘reasons’ to keep them outcasts have dwindled to the point where it is mainly the religious institutions that ‘officially’ have a problem with Gays, and the more modern of them actually welcome them to the flock. It’s a far cry from burning at the stake.
So Gays have been largely accepted into our Society, although deep prejudice remains. We’re pretty new at this but the next generation may take it for granted.
Except, that is, for the Haters. They hate for a living, they hate their favorite target as much as a devout Christian loves Jesus. No law, no history, no logic, no socially correct do-gooders will penetrate their armor of hate. They are hate personified and they will carry their hatred to the grave. So we’re going to dismiss them here since they are sub-human and not part of this discourse.
To continue, and to hopefully speed towards some kind of conclusion (uh, oh… don’t see that happening soon…), Gays are ok now, but there’s a lot of closets out there, and each one has closets within. The LGBT community has opened a lot of doors and many types of lifestyles are now considered to be, well, if not exactly ‘appropriate’ at least accepted to the degree that they can’t be ridiculed openly in public forums. Oh, well, except by the religious folks again.
Now, if we open some of the inner doors of those closets we get closer to things that are a little less ‘acceptable’ to the general public, but deserving of giggles and daring peeks. S&M, porn and it’s stars, polyamory, swapping, spanking, fetishes, and so on. Stuff worthy of titillating discussion on TV talk shows or in movies. Anita Blake vampire books. Very naughty but fascinating! The public eats it up.
We can continue opening deeper and deeper doors until it’s too scary to continue or just too disgusting for any kind of social approval. One never hears about things like feces-eating on ‘The View’!
There are limits to tolerance; just where they are depends on the individual and the society.
So how is it that all these folks, as strange as they seem to ‘most’ people, get to openly enjoy their lifestyles in the face of a general discomfort about them in many, and great fear and dislike in others, while we harmless little nudists have to stay in our closet?
We’re not even talking about living our lifestyle in public, even when we feel it’s appropriate (beach, backyard, park, etc.). We stay in our little venues hiding our ‘shame’ from others. We live in fear that Social Services will get involved if we have kids, we can’t talk about our summer vacation at work, we lie to our fellow church members, mislead our relatives; we have to live in a secret society much as Gays and others have had to. We have to hide who we are.
So this is it (be sure to read the disclaimer at the end!) :
With all these other ‘fruits’ openly running around out there who are a whole lot ‘stranger’ than we are, Why is it such a Godawful thing to admit we’re nudists!?
Do this, pick any of the above lifestyles and picture the ultimate image. Got it? So, what does the average nudist do on a beach that’s ‘stranger’ than that? Where’s the threat? What is there to fear about us?
We may have our own closets and be in or out, but the nudist part of us is just like everyone else! Why accept me as “(fill in the blank)” but shun me because I like to suntan in the nude? Is that so strange?
We need a Champion, a Famous Someone of Respect who can be openly nudist and expose our lifestyle for what it is. Someone who can make it trendy for celebrities to attend nudist venues and publicize it. Someone who can go on shows like ‘The View’ or ‘Larry King’ and make a good case. Someone who can inspire more public figures to come out and proclaim their lifestyle preference.
But can we find one? It’s nothing new to hear about folk’s affairs, sexual preferences, thievery, drunkenness, drug abuse, cheating. All of these are ‘forgiven’ by the public, but could any public figure survive admitting to being a nudist? Don’t hold your breath.
What we can do is to be as bold as we can, to tell our friends and family and hold our heads up high. To challenge their misconceptions about our lifestyle and get it in perspective. Show them that we’re just ordinary folks that enjoy being nekked. Then maybe the next generation will be a bit more forgiving, and closer to acceptance.
Disclaimer (as promised): We know and like many of those ‘different’ folks mentioned and unmentioned. Can’t say that we feel like living their lifestyles but, hey, different strokes for different folks. We live in a time where a wide variety of human experience is possible. The gene pool is stable, plenty of people, society need not be a monolith of behavior; this is truly a time for self-expression.
The future may look back at this time and shudder, wondering what we were thinking by allowing this amount of deviation from the norm. It’s possible. Or it may look back and see this as the beginning of humankind’s Golden Age of Reason, expressed by the freeing of the human spirit to experiment in ways it never has before.
We, as a species, have far more to fear from hatred and unfounded fear than we do from discovering new forms of living to enrich the human experience. The ‘fruit’ that fails to satisfy will fall by the way; that which takes root will grow and add to the orchard of humanity.