The Real Nude Beach Body Positive Photography Project: Interview with Klaus
Meet Klaus, the subject of my 3rd interview here for the Real Nude Beach Photography Project that took place at Gunnison Beach in 2017. Klaus describes his first experience at the beach, debunks common misconceptions about nude beaches and offers his thoughts on why America can’t handle social nudity. So check out the full interview below and post a comment to let us know what you think!
Age: 27 years old
Lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sexual orientation: straight
What do you do for a living? And / or what are your favorite hobbies?
Writing, reading, photography
How often do you visit Gunnison Beach?
Usually at least once a year.
Why do you visit the nude beach?
It makes me feel close to nature. Swimming feels so much better without a bathing suit separating you from the water.
What made you decide to visit the beach for the first time? How would you describe your first experience?
I went with my then-girlfriend a few years ago. She had joked about visiting a nude beach, and one day we decided to actually go check out Gunnison. We started out in the clothed section of the beach, and then walked into Gunnison. I took my bathing suit off, and it felt really liberating to be naked standing in the open air and swimming in the ocean. My ex was a bit nervous about being naked in front of other people, but eventually she took her top off and we went for a swim together. I think we were both surprised at how quickly you become at ease with being naked in a social setting, and it’s not nearly as big of a deal as it seems at first.
What do you like about Gunnison?
The natural scenery around Gunnison is beautiful, and the people at the beach are friendly and accepting. Everyone is equal at Gunnison.
Do you identify as a nudist or naturist? Why or why not?
Yes. I find that being naked when swimming in natural bodies of water or hiking in the woods are some of the best ways to truly connect with nature, and leave behind artificial things like clothing and technology. I respect the natural world, and I try to have as little of an impact on it as possible.
Has visiting the nude beach changed the way you feel about yourself?
Yes. I feel more confident about trying new things.
Has visiting the nude beach had an impact on your life in any significant way?
Yes. Visiting Gunnison was my first time experiencing social nudity, and it encouraged me to explore other naturist-friendly environments and activities, such as visiting a clothing-optional resort in Pennsylvania, and riding my bike naked in the Philly Naked Bike Ride.
Does the nude beach ever feel like a sexual environment to you at all? If so, why?
No. There is very little public display of affection at Gunnison, apart from an occasional hug. Gunnison is just like any other beach where people are relaxing, swimming, sunbathing, playing volleyball, etc. … except most people are naked. But there’s nothing inherently sexual about being naked.
What would you say to people who claim that the only people who visit the nude beach are the ones you “don’t want to see naked”?
Visiting a nude beach isn’t about wanting to see other people naked or adhering to society’s accepted norms of beauty. It’s about being confident and accepting of your own body, and not judging other people’s bodies. And it’s about enjoying the beach without having to worry about clothes or bathing suits.
How do you feel about your body? Has visiting the beach had an impact on your body image?
I’m more accepting of and comfortable with my own body, and I feel more inclined to respect my body and take care of it.
How do you feel about others seeing you naked?
I used to be nervous about others seeing me naked, but now I don’t mind it, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal.
Do you ever feel unsafe or intimidated at the nude beach? Do you ever worry about gawkers or people being there for the wrong reasons?
No, I’ve never felt unsafe or intimidated at Gunnison or worried about gawkers. However, during one of my visits to Gunnison, there was a man who was apparently taking photos of people without permission, but some of the beachgoers confronted him, and he went away.
Do your friends / family know you go to Gunnison? Who do you visit the beach with, if anyone?
A few of my friends know I go to Gunnison. I enjoy attending YNA’s meetups at the beach, or sometimes I’ll visit the beach alone.
Why do you think nudity is so controversial in America?
Skepticism of nudity seems to be ingrained in America’s history and culture and the puritanical ideology present since its founding. Also nudity, of women in particular, has been commodified by various businesses. It seems many Americans are comfortable seeing nudity in movies, advertisements or strip clubs, but not experiencing social nudity firsthand. Having more people become educated about naturism and try it themselves may be a way to change this.
Why do you think nude beaches are frequently being taken away?
This is a tough question. I would think that as younger generations of Americans, who are presumably more tolerant and open-minded than previous generations, start to get older there would be more nude beaches and nude resorts being opened, but it seems that the opposite is happening. It could be because people making decisions in local governments still have outdated, mistaken views about nudity. And it doesn’t seem like advocating for nude beaches is an important issue to a large number of Americans. If more people start calling for a change in perceptions and laws regarding social nudity, change is more likely to happen.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking about visiting Gunnison but is afraid to take the plunge?
There’s no reason to be afraid. You don’t have to get naked right away … but you should at least try it for a little bit if you’re going to visit Gunnison. People at the beach are just minding their own business, and they won’t judge you. Being naked really is the best way to experience swimming and sunbathing. You don’t have to bother picking out a bathing suit. You won’t have any tan lines at the end of the day.
*This participant chose to provide a pseudonym for this interview.
Read previous interviews from The Real Nude Beach Photography Project:
This interview for the Real Nude Beach Body-Positive Photography Project was published by Felicity’s Blog.