I like being naked. I like it alone, in groups, with friends, with strangers, while on drugs, while sober, while riding bicycles, while sitting in hot tubs or hot springs, and while lying on the beach or playing in a river. And, now that I am Facebook friends with some co-workers, this became a conversation… because I get drunk and say things like “hey, we should all be naked together in a hot tub” to my 2,000 Facebook friends.

While I am comfortable in my body and an advocate for self-love and body positivity, I wasn’t always like this. It took years and years and years of overcoming social pressure and religious indoctrination. Growing up in a Conservative Christian home means the body was something to be ashamed of. Nudity equals sex, and sex was evil except in the strict confines of marriage. The possibility of seeing a nipple on a movie means we were sent out of the room and even the image of someone in their underwear on a network tv show caused gasps and reddened faces around the room. I was told that pornography turns men into rapists and masturbation was essentially cheating on my future spouse.

While I was in high school I never showered after gym and when actors had to do quick costume changes during plays when I was a tech for the drama department I turned my head out of my own embarrassment (but often tried to play it up as respect for the actor). When a graduation party started playing “truth or dare” I excused myself from the party and stayed outside because of the rumors about the game, there might be nudity or kissing among people who weren’t dating (I was saving my first kiss for my wedding day) and I couldn’t be around that.

But, times change and as I ventured out into the world I was able to break through the mental barriers that had been established. A big part of it is because of my time in the military when I had no choice but to shower in a big room with other people. As awkward as it was at first I came to realize nobody really cared. Nobody stared or laughed or gawked, and many of us had the same insecurities. Our bodies all had weird hair and skin discoloration and rolls of fat and scars and different dick sizes and marks of an unknown source. All of our differences made us very much the same. This nudity was functional, non-sexual, and (most importantly for my conservative mind at the time) didn’t mean I was gay.

After leaving the army I found that I was quite comfortable nude alone and the concept of social nudity (nude beaches, clubs, etc) really appealed to me intellectually, though I had not seen it in practice. That changed at my first Burning Man. I didn’t get naked myself that year but nudity is not uncommon out in Black Rock City (despite some attempts to make it illegal by the local government). I’d estimate 10% of women and 5% of men are nude at any given time, with higher numbers being just topless. That may not sound like much but in a city of 60,000 people you end up seeing a lot of bodies… and all of them different, beautiful, and nobody really caring. Certainly there are some creeps in the crowd but most people will just give you a small, a hug, a gift, or a kind word. For the amount of areolas, penises, pubic hair, nipples, pubic mounds, labias, testicles, and butts in view at any time  it is a remarkably non-sexualized environment.

That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of banging going on, there certainly is. But it is saved for the right context and that makes it all the more special. When the body transforms from the beauty of the nude form into a sexual vessel the pleasure is even more intense and the moments of erotic ecstasy even more personal. Seeing your friends and strangers going about their day in the nude doesn’t take away from sex with your partners, it makes it more intimate.

Our society has decided that nudity equals sex, even though that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Nudity can be bathing, shitting, exercising, sleeping, relaxing, or just enjoying nature. Though you can find porn for each of those things I don’t believe the human body is primarily sexual, we are complex beings who can use these wonderful water-filled meat suits to do great things in our natural state. Seeing people naked, especially our friends and loved ones, takes away the shame and secrecy. We see each other’s beautiful flaws and realize our own wonderful form.

While the body isn’t just for sex I think we do view sex in a sheltered and shunned way similar to the body. People who have sex when others are around are usually viewed as perverts or something… that’s unfortunate. To see your friends and strangers in the throws of ecstasy is beautiful and fun, it can also be quite hilarious. Sex doesn’t have to be taken seriously, it is okay to laugh and enjoy the noises. When we went to the Orgy Dome at Burning Man the first time we were incredibly nervous but that quickly subsided when we realized it was a fun environment and people were not staring, gawking, or anything like that.

Since becoming more comfortable with my body it has had  a snowball effect on my life (both clothed and unclothed). I went to a clothing optional Pagan event that was wonderful. I’ve been to half a dozen nude beaches, skinny dipped in random rivers, and participated in two World Naked Bike Rides (which is the most fun you can have on two wheels). Being more comfortable with myself means being more confident and not taking life too seriously, it has also allowed me to see the beauty in those around me. I have a curiosity for the body that is beyond sex and is about love, appreciation, and a hope that those I care about can come to see themselves for the beautiful shining people that they are.


Note: The unaltered version of this picture was blocked by Facebook because it is obscene. If you ask me, it is a culture that is obscene if it seeks to shun people seeking to give people confidence in their beautiful bodies.

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