National “Coming Out Day” Just Think About It

The year was 1972 and I was a young wife and mother. At the time I was fortunate to live on a United States Forest Service compound at Steamboat Ranger Station next to the North Umpqua River. Some of the best skinny dipping in the entire world!

Neighbors Jim and Liz would mention going camping near Eugene every other weekend. At the time we were all on limited budgets and I found it insane that they would leave some of the best free (at the time) camping area in Oregon to drive to Eugene. After my curiosity and numerous questions wore them down they shared that they drove to a nudist resort in Marcola. My thought process went into overdrive and I imagined all sorts of craziness. Skip forward past the roller coaster ride type of indecision to my first visit to the Willamettans Family Nudist Resort better known as The Willies. I knew at the time that I had stepped into a world of pure comfort and life changing.

After purchasing my American Sunbathing Association membership (ASA) I traveled to Fraternity Snoqualmie to attend a convention. I remember thinking as a TV news reporter explained that my face would not be shown on the news “what do I care I am way up in Washington.” After the convention I returned to the Willamettans to spend a couple days. During a volleyball game someone yelled “Hey Shirley you were just on the local news.” It was not long before extended family living in the area spread the news.

Skip forward to the days where I listed my volunteer work with The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) on my work applications at Target, Sony Disc Manufacturing and Value Village known as Savers in some areas. I have attended Chamber of Commerce, Oregon Tourist Bureau, City Council, County Commissioner, Oregon State Parks and other meetings as a member of AANR. Shoot I rarely get an eyebrow lifted at the mention of being a nudist. The shock value of the past is long gone.

I would much rather be the one to share my membership in AANR than have my employer, neighbors or family hear about it from others.

Why do I feel safe outing myself? I give the credit to those nudists who in the past worked so hard to dispel the stereotypes, break ground and create safe places to recreate nude. I credit today’s volunteers, members and AANR staff who do not hide behind anonymity. To business owners who provide me a safe and comfortable venue to enjoy family nudism. To AANR members who value the struggle and work that continues to be addressed and purchase memberships.

Everyone who chooses to protect their anonymity behind first names and perhaps nicknames on social media have their reasons and I can respect that. But let us give thanks and show appreciation for those that are willing to take the risks involved in gifting their anonymity to moving nudist rights forward.

I recently attended the AANR Fall Board meeting in Las Vegas. I was in attendance as an AANR member who traveled on my own dime. As I sat and observed AANR members from all regions go through a period of discussion, compromise and conclusions I was impressed with the procedure and accomplishments.

A group of AANR volunteers, who spent countless hours preparing, who gave up a weekend of their time, purchased their own meals and sat in a cold meeting room for hours on end. What was their true gift? They also gave up their anonymity years ago.

Frequently I am asked why I don’t participate on several of the nudist social media sites. The anonymity of the site members who post and have chosen to remain anonymous is huge. I find it very difficult to give credibility to an anonymous poster.

In short I wish everyone who continues to maintain their anonymity would at least acknowledge that anonymity in part is like a road block to moving forward.

I would like to suggest that AANR have a national nudist coming out day. It could be very much like the “Gay” community who provided a day of support for their family, friends and loved ones to move beyond the fear and be recognized. What a Public Relations success this could be.

Thinking out loud,
Shirley Gauthier