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Remember in school if you had to make a public speech to picture your audience naked? It would make giving the speech easier. I found myself giving a speech about being gay to an audience who were actually naked; in fact I was naked too. Now it’s not what you may think and I’m jumping ahead a bit. I’ve always enjoyed being nude, laying in the sun getting a full tan. Whoever came up with the idea of wearing a bathing suit to swim really missed something! Skinny dipping is the only way to swim and an added benefit is that you dry off faster when there is not a wet piece of clothing around you. Until a couple of years ago I was a closeted nudist, well I was a closeted gay man too but that’s another story. As part of my coming out I decided to join a Rochester based gay group to enlarge my circle of gay friends or to be accurate to begin my circle of gay friends. I took a deep breath and called the Gay Naturist Group ROMANS. As luck would have it they were having a clothed dinner get together and then a nude swim the very next day. I was told right off the bat that this club was not a sexual club and if I was looking for that I needed to keep looking. I remember thinking great but do I believe them, a group of gay men getting naked together and not having sex involved could this really happen?
My plan was to go to the dinner which was at a local diner and if there was anything that I didn’t think looked right I would be pleasant, eat dinner and go home. After all I had to eat and they couldn’t disrobe at a public restaurant. I went into the diner and found a table of six men looking like they were waiting for others to join them. I asked if this was the ROMANS group of course it was which I already had guessed when I first entered. I sat down drank some water then looked around. They all looked normal and the conversation was about everyday things; what I did for a living, movies, current things in the news, farming; one of the members is a farmer. Dinner came and went very fast and now it was time to go to the pool. I had to decide was I going to try this, something I’d always wanted to do or was I going to go home and always wonder if I should have gone.
Luckily I decided that you only go around once and I didn’t want to be eighty and have any regrets. The swims are held at a local health club with the straight Rochester Naturist Club. I found this out when I entered the men’s locker room and found women disrobing. It was really at that point that I knew it was too late to turn back even if I wanted to. The other nudist told me that it was the first fifteen minutes and after that you will begin to feel comfortable. I took my clothes off fast and headed to the pool covering my privates with a towel. I dropped the towel and entered the pool in one swift movement. I remember swimming a few laps and the feeling of being totally nude was different then swimming with a suit for sure. I decided to take a break from swimming so I backed myself up against the pool wall and took my first look around. The room was full of sixty or so nude men and women and even a few kids. The only person who had clothing on was the life guard who looked strangely out of place. There was a hot tub with way too many people in it but they were all talking and laughing having a good time. The guys from my group came up and asked if I was doing OK. I had past my fifteen minutes and I was comfortable and wondering why I waited so long to try this.
Over the last two years I’ve developed life long friendships with the members of ROMANS. We have our monthly meeting in members homes and when you are invited to someone’s home you get a better understanding of them, what they are like, who they are, what they enjoy doing. I’ve gone to Florida and Toronto to nude beaches with the group. I’ve also done many things with my clothing on with the group: movies, museums, gay men’s chorus and of course more dinners.
This year the group was asked to participate in the Northeast Naturist Festival at Empire Haven. This is the largest gathering of Naturist in the area. Programs are held on a wide variety of subjects. Trust Building, Body Image Acceptance, Sweat Lodges, and How To Be A Good Listener just to name a few. We had been asked present a seminar on Gay & Straight Naturist Group Partnership which leads me back to why I was standing in front of a group of naked people giving a speech. My presentation was about our group and drawing parallels between being Gay and being a Naturist. Naturists are often discrimination against because people just don’t understand what it’s all about. It still strikes me as odd that people outside the Naturists movement don’t separate nudity from sexual activity. Naturists often have to “come out” as Naturists; do the neighbors know I have people come over and swim in my pool nude? Naturist more then any other groups I’ve been associated with have an understanding of what we face as gay people. However I was still a little nervous giving my speech. This was the first year a gay group had been on the program. What did they really know about us if anything at all. My fears were put to rest at the end of the speech when I thank the audience for making my group feel welcome and part of the program. I received cheers and applause proving the true existence of Gay & Straight Naturist Group Partnership.
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