Unbelievably, 1st April 2013 saw the second anniversary of our founding as an organisation and thought it was about time that I, as chairman, explained what is passing over my desk and map out a possible future path. When my colleagues and I embarked on this mad journey to gain greater acceptance of naturism in British public life, we knew it would be a long, hard road and the support of others was of great importance. During NAG’s short life we have grown to more than 200 supporters and we are continuing to grow. Of course, this is nothing to the membership of British Naturism, believed to be about 10,000, but they do have a 58-year start on us, so give us time.
Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve had to do over the past two years is to convince some in BN that their perception of NAG as a threat to its existence was erroneous, and believe that as an organisation, we still have some work to do there. As a first step, last Autumn I was able to tell BN’s membership directly what the Naturist Action Group was, and perhaps more importantly, wasn’t with the clarity that had not been achieved before and the passing of this information to you is overdue. Anyway, I am sure the relationship between NAG and BN will improve, as we both want to arrive at the same destination, even if the paths we take diverge from time-to-time.
The Naturist Action Group has been
The following text has been upload on behalf of John Paine:
As part of our work on The London Question we want to demonstrate that naturism in a setting such as Hampstead Heath is a life-enhancing – not life-disturbing – situation. After the razzamataz of the 2013 London WNBR a few weeks before on Saturday 8 June we thought that a more sedate naturist event in London would also help promote the cause of naturism in our capital city.
We invite you to join NAG for a ‘clothing optional’ Naturist Picnic at Cohen’s Field in the north-easterly part of Hampstead Heath. So from 2.00pm onwards, on Saturday 29 June 2013 we look forward to many naturists and friends joining us at Hampstead Heath. A pedestrian access near Kenwood House, on Hampstead Lane, is the nearest. Some bus services also stop near there.
Bring your own picnic and suitable drink; musical instruments would also be very welcome. You may shed as many clothes as you feel comfortable with on the day. If the weather is not good enough to hold the NAG Naturist Picnic on that day then we shall hold it instead on Saturday 6 July 2013. The same details will apply.
You can also download our leaflet on this event to pass on to other NAG supporters and interested friends. To get some idea on a possible attendance please let us know if you are likely to attend this special naturist event. See our website naturistactiongroup.org for further details.
In the latest series of articles about The London Question for H&E Naturist, John Paine explains that London isn’t as bereft of naturists and naturist events as we first thought. More can still be done however and now that the small matters of the Queen’s jubilee celebrations, the Olympics and Paralympics are almost over, NAG is looking to resuming its investigation. Read John’s article Naturism is happening in London prior to publication.
It has been pointed out to me that in my enthusiasm for taking The London Question beyond the naturist community that I have been clumsy with my words. The use of the phrase “flash-mob type” has given the wrong impression to people for which I apologise.
This year, London has already played a major part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and, of course, we are currently enjoying the Olympics. For both events the Metropolitan Police Service has – is – mounting large security operations and we saw no strategic advantage for naturism in adding to their woes. This summer we shall be conducting a “proof of concept” and quieter demonstration at a time and date yet to be determined, with just a few selected participants. Next year, well that’s another matter entirely and NAG will not rule out civil disobedience as a means to gain publicity for issues that effect UK naturists.
Chairman, Naturist Action Group
Last May and June saw the World Naked Bike Ride being staged in the UK. As I write, they should be putting the finishing touches to the London ride, which hasn’t been easy to organise this year because of one or two other “smaller” events occurring. If the past is anything to go by, however, it should be well attended, and for many naturists it has now become a fixture in their calendar, while others will participate in as many rides around the country as possible.
Officially though, the WNBR is not a demonstration in favour of naturism but against car use and, with its slogan of ‘as bare as you dare’ it attempts to draw the public’s attention to the dangers encountered by cyclists on today’s roads. True, body image issues somehow crept into the mix during its formative years in California but even then it was, and still is, a side issue. Perhaps this is why British Naturism’s EC was originally reluctant to give its blessing. Whatever the reason, a fair few of them have now participated in London or at a ride more local to them. It is still nevertheless true that the WNBR has nothing to do with naturism or its promotion as a lifestyle to the general public.
The naked bike ride is not the only occasion when nudity is used in protest to either a greater or lesser effect. Spencer Tunick famously uses the naked body to show planet Earth as a vulnerable place, and the other week, an email popped into my inbox from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) telling me about the “Run Bare to spare Bears” they were organising for July. It is a protest against the Household Guards’ use of real fur in their Bearskins. Why I should be so honoured is anybody’s guess but PETA has form with the naked protest, with their long-term campaign “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” that see celebrities and super-models appear (coyly) naked. Anyway, this particular protest is a five-kilometre run (that’s three miles in old money) around central London, naked. The idea is, like WNBR, runners bare as much as they dare, or wear flesh coloured garments to give the impression of nudity. I don’t know if naturists also participate in protests organised by PETA but logically, if they see the WNBR as an opportunity to chip away at public perceptions of social nudity then these campaigns should be thought of in a similar light. Again though, any naturism is just an unintended consequence.
I am not making any judgement about these protests but maybe naturism has something to learn here? These protest groups are gaining public awareness for their respective causes, through the naked body, which always draws the public’s attention because it is a rarity for our streets. If enough of the public begin to share their concerns then those who can effect the desired change in government policy or law become interested, although there is a counter argument that too many naked protests will reduce its effectiveness. This, however, is what naturism needs to learn; the occasional need for civil disobedience; for direct action, to achieve indirectly, a goal. I accept that what is being proposed here will not please everyone, some will undoubtedly take the view that protests do not necessarily achieve anything (it didn’t prevent the first Gulf War for instance) but NAG exists to give UK naturism a higher profile and a sense of equality under the law; to argue for more and better facilities for naturists, and it can bring these goals to the public’s attention by such actions. The question is; will naturists come out to protest naked on their own account? If they are prepared to do so for causes not connected with naturism then logic says they should.
The Naturist Action Group is trying to find an answer to the London Question; why the capital of roughly 7 million people has so few facilities for naturists. Part of the answer is to encourage – persuade – local councils or institutions with leisure facilities that social nudity will not bring it into conflict with the very vocal moral minority. BN did just that at University of London but we also need to look at the potential for outdoor facilities. NAG’s latest progress report for the London Question shows that some parks have the capacity to accommodate a multitude of activities enjoyed by Londoners, including naturism. We are aware that it already occurs – hidden away – in some of the larger parks but there are inherent dangers with this that we’d rather avoid. This is why NAG believes that park naturism should be discrete, but out in the open, just like in Germany, with the public enjoying the facilities and not worrying what the family in plain sight are wearing… or not wearing… as the case maybe. To achieve that aim, however, we need to demonstrate to the relevant authorities that naturism can be conducted without harm or alarm to the park’s other users, and this is why we are planning a kind of flash mob-type event that will take place at short notice in a central London park. We cannot give any details yet because it will be weather dependent, but we do need to have contact details of as many naturists in the London area as possible, willing to demonstrate park naturism’s viability. If you are prepared to do something for naturism then please contact John Paine (firstname.lastname@example.org). [The email printed in HEN was incorrect; sorry.]
A SLIGHT CHANGE OF SUBJECT
While out on their fact-finding mission to Munich on behalf of The London Question, John Paine and Peter Knight learned of a ‘Naturist Parade’, apparently similar to Gay Pride, which took place in the good old days of the DDR (East Germany). Their informant could tell them very little beyond that and a Google search has failed to turn up anything. Have you heard of this parade? Can you tell us about it! If so, we would be pleased to hear from you by emailing: nag AT naturistactiongroup DOT org
An edited version of this is blog will appear in the August issue of H&E Naturist.
The latest report about progress with The London Question, following a meeting in central London last March has been released and can be read HERE.
If you are interested in helping the Naturist Action Group to answer The London Question, contact John Paine, our project co-ordinator who is waiting for your email!
Issued on behalf of John Paine.
Apologise to our regulars but issue two of our (occasional) newsletter is now available to download from the website. You’ll find it under ‘Downloads’
Not so long ago, I came across two surveys that reportedly gave an insight into British sunbathing habits and supported the notion that nude sunbathing is as popular as ever, if not more so. The first was by CruiseCompare.co.uk, which asked 1,271 people if they had ever sunbathed nude while on holiday, and astonishingly, nine per cent said they had. Of that nine percent, over half (59 per cent) then went on to say that they felt more comfortable (secure) sunbathing naked while on a cruise ship.
In the same survey, 17 per cent of all respondents said they had visited a nudist beach while on holiday and a further 11 per cent said they would like to, just out of curiosity.
The other survey was much more straightforward. This came from TripAdvisor.com who simply asked their respondents: would you bare all at a nude beach? Of its UK respondents, 49 per cent said yes compared to 30 per cent who said no, with the remainder undecided. They got similar results for Australia, US, Canada and Europe (which presumably means everywhere but the UK). Perhaps surprisingly, all five regions surveyed provided positive results in favour of nude sunbathing. Both Europe (55 per cent) and Australia (52 per cent) saw more than half of the respondents answering yes, while the US equalled the UK’s figure with Canada trailing just one percentage point behind. In the US, just 32 per cent of the respondents said they wouldn’t ‘bare all’ and in Canada it was even fewer, 29 per cent.
These figures are quite remarkable, considering all the negative news we hear from North America, and suggest that naturism – or at least sunbathing in the absence of clothing – is becoming more commonplace in much of the old world and English speaking nations.
Only lets look at those two surveys again. While they certainly give a positive spin on the idea of social nudity, the first is obviously an advertising puff by CruiseCompare.co.uk to support its business; to get more holidaymakers onto cruise ships. A question you would have to ask is where did the company find its 1,271 respondents? From its own customer database! Then of course the majority of its customers, who admit to sunbathing nude, will say they prefer doing so onboard a ship. The second survey from TripAdvisor.com is hard to understand because there seems to be no logic to it or its publication. The Internet site allows individuals to post reviews of where they have been on holiday or ask vox pop questions. This particular question was asked by someone who admitted to being in the undecided camp, fearful of getting “a nasty sunburn or… sand stuck in a sensitive area.” So we are left with a survey that has an unknown number of respondents for each region surveyed, who selected themselves for an unknown reason other than to get the Internet site’s name mentioned in the news media, which some would say was reason enough.
To put it bluntly, these two surveys are so full of holes they could be used as a sieve, if necessary and are of little use to naturism. That does not mean, however, that a survey will not be beneficial.
News that British Naturism will be going ahead with a new survey about the acceptability of naturism in the UK has slowly leaked out and this is very welcome news. It gives them, and naturism in general, the means to better understand the British psyche when it comes to nude recreation, which is so important when campaigning groups marshal their arguments in support of the lifestyle.
I have long advocated the repeat of the 2001 survey for two main reasons. First, it acts as a check against the original results, now a decade old, to see if more or fewer Britons find social nudity acceptable. Secondly, it allows BN an opportunity to refine the survey, to obtain more accurate results. I know I’ve mentioned this before but one of the weaknesses of the first survey was how it asked a good opening question but didn’t get underneath the answer given, which would have provided a stronger result. For example, one of the questions asked if the respondent had ever swum or sunbathed naked. The way it was asked, the answer yes could be given, even if they were a 20-something at the time and were now in their 40s or 50s, if not older, and had never been nude in public again. This – unfortunately – puts doubt on BN’s claim to represent 1.5 million naturists in the UK.
But lets end on a positive note. For all of its faults – and there aren’t many – BN’s survey is important because of what it represents, a move away from subjective arguments in favour of naturism to objective ones, based on field work conducted by experts. The reason why the Naturist Action Group is an evidenced-based campaigning organisation is because objective arguments make it easier to persuade politicians and businessmen and women to listen to us than if we used arguments that relied purely on conjecture or someone’s opinion. Naturism could follow those commercial surveys mentioned above, of course, but any flaws in them will soon be discovered and exploited by our opponents.
NAG continues to gather the data that will enable us to understand the justice system’s attitude and current practice when it comes to legal public nudity. This will enable NAG to put a strong case to organisations like ACPO and the Home Office that, while naturism may be lawful, the different parts of the justice system treat naturists who come into contact with it, inconsistently. This is not a project that will be quickly resolved; diligent work is slow and painstaking. We are also considering information gathered from the London Question which, if successful, could have implications far wider than just the capital. To be successful, however, naturism will needs to show the