BE A NATURIST
What it feels like to ...
IFIRST became aware of naturism when I was 10 and saw Carry on Camping. There were people playing tennis naked and the Carry On team were feeling sick about it and I thought, “That’s a very strange reaction to a naked body.” I was still shy getting changed in front of people but I was quite happy to jump naked into the river in the middle of nowhere.
Embarrassment starts to kick in about 13 or 14 years of age. I never saw my parents naked and yet if you go back 100 years, people would have a bath in front of the kids so nudity was not unusual.
As I got older, I used to go walking or cycling and look for places that were quiet so I could strip off. But there were pressures of time and in Scotland the weather’s not always good.
It wasn’t until I was 42 – I’m 52 now – that I thought I’m going to explore this further and went on the website of British Naturism and found out where my local swimming club was, which was in Haddington.
The first time was a bit scary and, as most men are, I was worried about getting an erection, but it didn’t happen. Most people were middle aged and there was one woman in her 80s and I thought, “I don’t want to offend her,” but she was obviously not bothered. Everybody was friendly and welcoming and I started to research it a bit more and found other places to go. I was happy I’d managed to pluck up the courage to go along and thought: “Why did I leave it so long? I could have done this 20 years ago.” For me, it’s a feeling of warmness – that we are all the same; there are none of the differences of some people wearing suits and some wearing jeans and all of that.
I then went to a camp in Carlisle which was my first experience of naturism in the open air; there was a sense of community there that you don’t get at an ordinary camp site. My younger daughter, who’s 24 now, was also a naturist for a time – she was quite withdrawn when she was younger, but I took her along to one of the swims. Naturism boosted her confidence and I’m a much happier person too – coming out as a naturist also gave me the courage to come out as gay. It was easier having done the one to do the other.
Weather is an issue for naturism in Scotland – just like anyone else, we put on clothes when it’s cold, although sometimes you can find if
you’re naked and it’s raining, it’s not as bad to walk about naked as it is to walk about with clothes on. Going abroad is good – my boyfriend, who’s also a naturist, and I go to Lanzarote. Most of the Spanish territories have the right to be naked enshrined in their human rights.
British Naturism did a survey 10 years ago which suggested there were a million naturists in the UK and another one two years ago suggested that had increased to five million. I think naturism is definitely growing. Visit bn.org.uk and nakedscotland.org.uk