Gay Pages Autumn 2015: Nudism

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I like to be naked anywhere, anytime, who wouldn’t? Apparently most people, from my Grindr hunt for other nudists. Most guys contact me with, “I’d like to try that,” like I’m proposing bungee jumping off the Eiffel Tower. It’s not that complicated, really. Just take your clothes off. Or better yet, if it’s Sunday morning, don’t put any on. What’s to try?


I’ve been naked in public all around the world, from two weeks in Bali without once touching any sort of fabric, to the gay beach in Reunion which is a story that my editor said was too long to publish, but was a really great story. (I said it was a great story, he said it was too long to publish.)

Bali has many gay nudist resorts, but we only tried two, one in the north and one in the south. Of course as soon as you add the word ‘gay’ to a nudist resort it becomes a little more than that, with porn and lube freely available, which personally defies my puritanical idea of nudism – it isn’t a sexual thing at all. Most guys say they wouldn’t know how to behave, but the point is you behave exactly the same as if you were clothed, only with the sun warming your balls. 

The nice thing about nudism is it cuts through the shyness and other reservations we all have when meeting new people and very quickly becomes comfortable. People literally have nothing to hide and open up far quicker than textiled encounters. (Textiles: The equivalent of muggles in Harry Potter, implying those who are not in the circle, in this case people who are not nudists.)
“But what if I get hard?” is the next question that comes up. And so what if you do? Being naked is natural and liberating and reminds us how awesome our bodies are. In reality though, it’s the opposite that you should probably worry about. So many people equate nakedness with sex, like that’s the only time we are naked. Well that’s sad, you are missing out on a whole new type of sensuality, feeling the warmth on your skin and the breeze on your dangly bits, if your dangly bits haven’t retreated into the belly button formation. 

Don’t be embarrassed if that happens, it’s actually the normal response, especially if you are new to it, as your penis seeks shelter while it figures out why no demands are being placed on it, like a tortoise being out in the yard for the first time. 

If you must know, it’s my default response, and I usually try and think about Channing Tatum naked just to make it look a little less like a vagina. But who cares, ultimately? We’re not nude for anybody’s pleasure but our own, so what does it matter? And the nicest thing about nudism is that it takes all sorts of people, many of whom are not oil paintings, but are attractive simply by being comfortable in their own skins. 

We often have friends over for a naked day at the pool and there are usually a couple of new people in the group who are unsure how to behave. A new guy joined us recently and I stood up to introduce myself as we do in the civilised world. “A naked guy just shook my hand,” he mused with a nervous laugh, in the same tone as he might have said, “A unicorn just licked my dick.”
Now there are two ways to handle this situation. One is to pretend that you are a lesbian with no interest in seeing a penis, subversively trying to sneak a peek without being obvious for fear of being inappropriate or appearing letchy. But we’re not lesbians; we are normal healthy gay men who love nothing more, so this is just awkward. 

We don’t do it that way. Nudism is not about sex but we are still sexual beings who enjoy the sight of a naked guy. I mean, who didn’t rewind the five second scene at the end of Zack and Miri make a porno where Jason Mewes comes out of the bedroom full frontal, dangling deliciously as he walks towards the camera? (Don’t feel bad, he admits he did fluff himself quite a bit before opening that door.)

We order pizza and play a game to lighten the mood and to let everybody get over themselves. We stand in a circle and pose five questions, and everybody has to vote on who has the attribute in question. The questions are things like, “who has the longest penis,” and “who has the furriest ass.” A bit of fluffing beforehand is allowed. Whoever gets the most votes doesn’t pay for his pizza.
After that, nobody has any more inhibitions and comments on people’s anatomy flow easily in a spirit of fun. Not only are people not shy to let it hang out, but they are also not shy to look. They behave naturally, in other words. Then we eat and drink and swim and lie in the sun talking shit just like at any other gathering. 

A lot of people have a problem with nudism, mostly because they don’t understand it – which says a lot more about them and their hang-ups than it does about us. There was a lot of controversy around the opening of Trafalgar Beach to nudists at Mpenjati in Natal, by local residents arguing that it would “attract perverts and rapists to the area,” and others citing it as abnormal to walk around naked anywhere but in your own home. Sound familiar? On a radio interview I did a few years ago to promote a novel, one man called in and accused me of being “just like the man who abused me,” by virtue of the fact that I am gay. 

And how about “I’m not homophobic; I don’t care what the gays do behind closed doors, they just shouldn’t flaunt it in public where children can see.”

The Hibiscus Coast municipality has adopted the internationally recognised code of conduct which includes things like no lewd behaviour and covering up erections with a towel, recognising the fact that sometimes hard-ons happen. Also, no photographs are allowed unless everyone in the picture agrees to it, so no worries about your junk ending up on Tumblr.

It’s 2015, and just like we are slowly winning the fight against homophobia, it’s time people got over themselves about nudity. It’s how we were born, it’s natural and it’s good for the soul. Not only is it liberating, but sunshine is a proven factor in fighting depression. It’s the exact opposite of what the residents of Mpenjati argued. So get out there, get naked, and don’t forget to send me the pictures. 

Anybody interested in joining the community and finding other nudists nearby should create an account on Look me up, I’m joburg_guy.

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