Should LGBTQ add an ‘N’?

Glen Ocean West
Latest posts by Glen Ocean West (see all)

Disclaimer: The opinions of this article do not necessarily represent those held by Nude Movement Incorporated, its board members, sponsors, partners, donors, or those held by friends, family members, colleagues, employers, clients, lawyers, service providers, or any other entities associated with such parties. This blog is intended for open thought and diverse discussion of difficult issues with a goal towards positive social change. The opinions of this author may change over time, and different authors may exhibit opposing views. We invite you to have an open mind.

Photo: Laurence Barnes (Instagram: fkklad)

I was wrong.

Three years ago, I proudly severed myself from the two famous ‘n-words’ that typically describe our community.

‘Naturist’? ‘Nudist’? ‘Nah…no way. Let’s do away with those labels. I’m ‘normal’, and I want everyone to know I am – because that’s how I feel inside.’

It was an authentic sentiment at the time. I wouldn’t have written it if it weren’t.

But in late 2018 and early 2019, I was harassed and discriminated against in two major areas of my life, no matter what I called myself. The pain from those experiences gave me clarity on who I am.

The first situation was at home. I moved into a new shared house in Sydney. After initially saying my at-home ‘naturism’ would be fine, one of the housemates decided they actually weren’t OK with it, even though I had already moved in by then.

I have a text message from them saying this: 

“What possible reason would a normal person have for exposing themself in front of other people?”

What I went through with this person gave me a big ‘aha’ moment. I’m also LGBTQ, and I know what discrimination is like, so when I was literally being asked to put my clothes on it felt like someone being asked to not be gay. It felt that fundamental.

At the time, I tweeted my raw feelings on NudeMovement – without context, which unfortunately is an adorable bad habit of mine:

Now I’m telling the story.

Let me describe more what the full force of being discriminated against is like. Once someone decides you’re in the ‘bad’ person category, based on your identity, they treat you as a subhuman.

What this housemate did to me was horrific. They started to hurl abuse towards me about things completely unrelated to nudity. It was pure hatred. I’ve now learned that people who commit discrimination – like this person – are often ‘normal’-seeming people, who typically have very quiet and polite personalities.

That’s what’s appalling about discrimination. It’s a type of ‘rationalisation’, an example of which was most Germans’ views during Nazi rule. It doesn’t require a lack of empathy – it’s not psychopathy – it’s just ‘bad beliefs’, like Sam Harris cogently explains in the example of terrorism committed in the name of certain religious beliefs.

Suffice to say, I moved out of that place.

Photo: Zihnioglu Kamil/​Sipa/​Shutterstock

The second situation was at work. I was harassed and discriminated against specifically about going nude in public. I won’t get into too much detail, but at work I was directly challenged by my boss about my ‘nudity’ many, many times. I now realise their behaviour was grossly inappropriate and did not belong in the workplace whatsoever.

I never minded defending myself – every single time it happened – but I now realise it was abusive because of the power structure of the workplace. Your superiors who have the power to fire you at any time should never harass you about your beliefs or personal life, when it has nothing to do with either the workplace or any of its policies. In fact, it’s illegal.

But that was only half of what happened to me at work. The worst stuff was from one of my other superiors. It took me months to realise that I was being severely workplace bullied, and in a health-impacting way. This person simply hated me, and once I looked up the legal definition, I saw it was clear and demonstrable ‘bullying’. I had no clue what it was because this never happened to me before, but the experience was bad enough that I had to formally complain to HR and see a psychologist as a direct outcome of the situation.

All because I choose to live openly as the person that I am.

“Naturism is a being word.”

Once I experienced true discrimination, I finally realised the truth:

I am a naturist. I am a nudist. It’s who I am, no matter what. It’s part of my identity.

When I started Nude Movement, the whole aim was to make social nudity ‘cool’ again – repackage it, strip it of problematic pejoratives or preconceived notions, and appeal to the young ‘mainstream’ by making it a completely new thing – rebellious, even.

But now I’ve lived in the real world some more. It’s become clear that Internet fads and social media crazes are not going to cut it if we want to gain real rights to be who we are. We’re being persecuted, and I’m not going to just smile back at the camera anymore.

I said ‘be who we are’ – not ‘do what we do’ – because this was my epiphany when being discriminated against.

Naturism is a being word. I don’t ‘do’ naturism. It’s not just a hobby to me – a past-time – a ‘lifestyle’. I don’t just do it for cool-looking Instagram pics to say, ‘Ooh, look at me’, and I don’t do it to be part of some ‘cool club’ or cliquey group.

Naturism is my identity. It’s who I am. I desire and feel it every day.

And I feel betrayed when I’m forced or pressured to cover up – because that’s not who I am.

To quote GLAAD:

The phrase “gay lifestyle” is used to denigrate lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals suggesting that their orientation is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured”.

I am also now offended if someone reduces my naturism to the word lifestyle. It may be a ‘lifestyle’ to you, and that’s totally fine. But to me, my naturism is me. It’s not optional.

All this time, I’ve been running away from the problem. I’ve been letting other people control me by controlling my fear of whether I’m seen as ‘normal’ or not.

But no matter where we run away to, people are discriminating against us regardless. They’re beating us over the head, with a club called the ‘n-word’.

This stops now.

I’m going to start taking up that club, and raising it in the air with PRIDE.

I will now say, “You can’t use that against us anymore! That word belongs to US. WE OWN THIS WORD – not you!”

We must reclaim our labels for ourselves, and be 100% proud of them. And if people are against us, then they’re bodyphobic bigots. We even have legal protections against this.

So should LGBTQ add an ‘N’? Not in the sense that we should join the chaos that is the LGBTQIA+ alphabet soup. I’m saying we could draw a string from their bow.

We have rights, and it is time to stand up for ourselves. Now is the time.

We’re 20 years behind LGBTQ in gaining real rights worldwide, and it’s time for us to step up. We’re not the only ones saying anti-discrimination is the way forward for our movement.

Discrimination, marginalisation and minority-ness is the overwhelming experience for the naturist right now – far more than LGBTQ people.

The question is, will you stand up?

9 thoughts on “Should LGBTQ add an ‘N’?

  1. jacobdrake Reply

    You know I will. I’ve been fighting this discrimination since the early 90s.

  2. jacobdrake Reply

    I just tweeted this so others can read who might not otherwise know about your blog.

  3. nuudman Reply

    Absolutely agree here.

  4. Naturism4life Reply

    Well written, thanks for taking time to do so!

  5. Dean Endrulat Reply

    Please keep in mind that even though I am pro nudity. I am very much a Republican. I am growing tired of people thinking just because I like being naked means also a liberal. Please understand that without clothes we are all naked and we need to have a strong Country to protect those rights.

    1. Glen Ocean West Reply

      Yes, we should be a unique group (and not assume political sides). Articles coming up will be about how we need to cast all other differences aside to fight as ONE unified naturist and nude rights group.

  6. Kai Fier Reply

    Keep “N” out of LGBT. It’s not a sexuality or a gender role. It’s just the enjoyment of being naked. Wanting to add EVERYTHING under the sun in a bs title no longer makes it unique and defeats the purpose of it. Might as well just add S in there now for straight.

    I will always fight for the right to be nude, within reason. But not this atrocity that’s being suggested. You should have the right to be naked within your own home. On your own property. Not to flaunt it around town for the rest of the world to see that DOES NOT want to. That is not the goal that a true nudist should be striving to go for.

    1. Nude Movement Reply

      If you truly believe social nudity is not only harmless, but in fact good for society – and what true naturist WOULDN’T say that – then you’d fully support the legalisation of nudity.

      This conversation is early days, but so far, I’d say the only limitation to have is that it’s gently introduced, over time, and with the provision that, balancing with naturists’ rights, it’s not OK if obviously intended to cause distress to other people, which is exactly how it’s been ‘legalised’ in the UK. Sounds sensible! And UK society hasn’t fallen apart.

      If you think for one second that nudism is not ‘appropriate’ for children – or it’s an ‘adults only’ thing (I hate that) – then you’re a ‘naturist’ for the wrong reasons. Or not a naturist at all.

      In fact – and I’m definitely not saying this is you – but with *some* people, being against legalisation could indicate they actually want to secretly keep it illegal, in order to get a sexual thrill out of it.

      True naturism is 100% non-sexual, including in all of its motivations.

  7. Duncan Heenan Reply

    An interesting and provocative piece of writing, but where’s it leading? It is a statement that you (Glen) are going to ‘stand up’ against discrimination, which is fine by me, but are you asking me to do something? If so what? If you want progress towards a clothing optional society you need a plan with definite actions, not just general exhortations. What are you actually going to do? What, in practice, do you want others to do?

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