By Duncan Heenan
I was in a pub a while ago and asked for a pint of Guinness. The barmaid said apologetically that they didn’t keep Guinness. I said I was surprised, because it is quite popular. She replied “Yes, a lot of people ask for it, but there’s no demand.” A crazy statement, but it got me thinking…there’s no demand.
Most naturists who I know would like better acceptance of naturism, more naturist facilities and opportunities generally. However, most of naturists I know also expect someone else to do the work of campaigning. Campaigning is imagined by some as an aggressive sort of ‘in your face’ confrontational thing – and very few of us fancy ‘doing a Steve Gough’. But my experience of campaigning and talking about naturism is not that people are opposed, rather that it’s just something they never really think about. Once you start talking about it, most people are quite interested, or at worst indifferent – but very rarely anti. So I think a lot of people, and organisations, seem to think like the barmaid, that there is ‘no demand’ for naturism. And that’s probably because they so rarely hear about it. After all, it’s quite reasonable for a Local Authority not to consider having a naturist beach, or a pool operator not contemplating a nude swim session, if no one has ever even hinted to them that anyone wants them! So if we want naturism accepted and catered for we have to show that there is a demand. NAG and BN are doing their best, but it needs lots of naturists to make this demand known in lots of ways.
We can all help in this by “micro-campaigning”. This does not mean doing anything except bringing naturism to people’s attention when appropriate. That doesn’t mean wearing a placard saying ‘I am a naturist’, but it might mean emailing the tourist office of where you are going, to ask what naturist facilities exist there. The answer may well be “none”, but at least they will then know that people would like some. There are lots of other simple ways of letting people know that naturism is popular; and don’t forget a recent poll indicated that about 3.7 million people in the UK practice naturism to some degree. You are not alone.
Nowadays social media and the internet provide us with lots of opportunities to tell people that there is a demand for naturism. For example, why not make a comment favouring naturism on Trip Adviser when you have been somewhere? Or complaining at a lack of facilities. Nearly everywhere you go and everything you do now has a website, and most ask for comments, so why not give them your genuine opinions. How about commenting to your local Leisure Centre that you’d use it if it had a naturist session? It’s especially important to do this with places which have no naturist awareness – make them aware! Most newspapers have an on-line service now and lots of the articles now invite comments from readers, which stay online for all to see. It’s as easy as clicking a mouse to give a naturist slant in this online conversation. And of course there’s old fashioned writing (or better, emailing) to your local newspaper. You don’t have to initiate issues unless you want to, just give your naturist viewpoint on what the story is about. Editors are always looking for new angles, and will usually print your views. If every naturist just wrote one letter a year, just think of the impact of 3.7 million letters in the press.
Many of us nowadays have our own social media such as Facebook or Twitter. These can also be used directly in your own account, or indirectly by ‘liking’ someone’s Facebook entry or re-Tweeting a positive naturist comment. If you haven’t already, sign up for the forum on a naturist website, (google will find them for you) and there you will get both support and find lots of other ideas of how to spread the word easily. But never forget, it’s the textile world we need to be talking to most, not just other naturists. As much as anything, let them know that we have money to spend and votes to cast to get what we want.
Guinness used to have a slogan that could apply equally to naturism – “I don’t like it because I’ve never tried it.” And if you’ve never heard of it, you are unlikely to ever try it.