Ask Not What The Young Naturists Can Do For You Personally!
Prompted by a discussion in our main Young Naturists and Nudists America FB group:
Jordan’s Views On YNA and Nudism:
I co-founded Young Naturists America about four and a half years ago. While my partner in crime, Felicity Jones, is a bona fide third-generation nudist, my parents had never identified as nudists or naturists. As a kid we would travel around the USA and when possible, we would stay at nudist resorts / naturist campgrounds. They never pressured us kids but I guess we just took it as an opportunity to run around and have fun with other kids (back then there were lots of kids in naturism).
During those early years, I remember that my parents always put a strong focus on why we did things as opposed to what what we did. For us, as a family, we were taught that we are all equal and that we should not judge others based on appearances.
As I grew older, many of those values stuck with me. When I reached my early teenage years, I kept thinking and wondering why society puts such great importance on what a person looks like or the stuff they have. I could not wrap my head around the fact that people cared more about stuff than they did about substance.
As I grew older, these issues kept bothering me.
As the internet developed and expanded, I noticed that so many of these issues were becoming more and more apparent. Throughout my early 20’s I was pretty absent from social nudism, for many reasons. But when I reached my early 30’s I decided it was time to revisit those childhood safe-havens that I remembered so fondly.
I quickly discovered that like society at large, the nudist community had changed as well. Just like in mainstream society, based on my world views, many of the changes were not positive. The fond memories of judgement-free and acceptance-based communities were not there. In their place, new nudist clubs had evolved that were far less accepting and much more restricting.
Being a single guy, most places would not let me visit. The places that did allow me to visit were not filled with kids and young parents. As I researched more and more, I quickly discovered that not only had this new nudist movement become more judgmental, it became increasingly more exclusionary.
My research led me to discover that so many clubs had restrictive rules for people. They weren’t accepting people’s self-expression and the clubs had this new un-trusting attitude. Nudists, I thought, are supposed to see the human body as innocent, but these newly discovered rules say otherwise.
I found it so upsetting that a club would bar entry to men and women that had nipple piercings, but allowed earrings. As if to say – you are welcome here as long as you behave like you have absolutely no sexual parts (kind of like those old ASA nudist magazines where they would blur out the genitals and made the people look less human and more alien).
I decided to see if things could be changed. At the time, I was a member of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). So I thought…what better organization to speak to about such issues, which I believed were so out of touch with what the naturist movement should be about. Long story short, I got no answers.
At the same time, I noticed a shift in society at large. The internet had spawned off new ways to connect and communicate. But as it became easier to connect, more and more people were becoming more judgmental and far more critical.
So I reached out to Felicity, whom I had met at Rock Lodge Nudist Club in NJ. After passing her mom’s vigorous 2 hour investigation I got her approval to include her in this new venture that is Young Naturists America.
Growing up in a clothing-optional, nonjudgmental household offers you a far different outlook on life and human interaction. What we as childhood naturists have taken for granted, was the simple fact that while we may not have some of the superficial social issues to deal with within our close surroundings, others still have to deal with far greater social pressures.
This is what lead to YNA becoming a more value-driven movement.
YNA is a social acceptance movement and NOT just a nudist focused organization. The nudist movement has so many issues today and is nowhere near as value-driven as what it used to be (at least how I remember it). YNA is here to educate the public about a vast majority of social issues that many may not even realize exist.
Body Image Issues – We feel the naturist movement can and should do way more to address body image issues today. YNA has published a ton of articles about body image and probably more in the last 4 years than all the other main nudist organizations combined.
Sexuality – Sex and sexuality should not be a source of shame. Yet most of the nudist clubs and organizations will go out of their way to discourage such discussions. Since mainstream society behaves in much the same way, we use our platform to explain and educate people about sex and sexuality issues.
Social Acceptance – Nudist clubs and organizations say they promote acceptance but they really send mixed massages when they discriminate against genders (mostly single men but even single women, too), freedom of self expression (such as nipple piercings) and so forth. We are encouraging clubs to change their policies and have been severing relationships with those that don’t.
Censorship – Today’s society is reverting back to the days when Modigliani’s art was considered pornographic and unsuitable for public display. Statues are being removed from public view, art is still being censored, artists are being arrested (Andy Golub is a great example) and the female nipple is deemed evil and has become a symbol of our religious value driven and patriarchal society. Felicity herself was arrested for being top free during a completely legal art performance in NYC’s Wall Street.
Legal Issues – America has, in a way, launched a war against the nudist community. Nude beaches are closing and more legislation is getting passed that hinders our ability to practice and enjoy our way of life. By publishing, promoting and informing the public when such issues arise, we are helping to open people’s eyes to such issues. We also help NAC (the only true legal maven when it comes to legislation) increase their reach and awareness (we also encourage people to donate to NAC as they are over worked and far too under funded).
Felicity and I are constantly engaging with mainstream America. We engage with the biggest media and news outlets regularly, we constantly are researching and raising awareness about social and acceptance issues and we are always working with and supporting the art community (just like we did for Andy Golub’s 2014 New York City BodyPainting Day).
All of this does take time and we do rack up expenses. Right now, we have to work other jobs in order to keep YNA going. We rely on our members to help us fund this venture. But too many people, while they do support what we do, don’t see value in helping us keep the lights on.
So with that in mind, we would like to ask people to help keep us going. Though it is difficult to ask, we do need money to survive. Yearly membership is only $22 / year – for that you get the satisfaction of knowing we can keep at it. While we do offer member benefits, we don’t want you to sign up for those reasons.
If the fact that we don’t have events in your area deters you from signing up that is great! We would rather have to close up than have to create more events just to get more members. Events are expensive and time consuming, and we would rather not take away from our advocacy work. If we have to spend most of our time doing events, then we won’t have the ability to promote core issues we feel need to be discussed.
So unless more people donate, or more people really step up and start shouldering the responsibility, we will be forced to have less events.
For those who feel we don’t need money then just tally up the costs of filing corporate taxes, site management, development, research assistance and don’t forget TIME! if you don’t think our time has value, then by all means, don’t support us.
I wrote this post as I feel that every now and again, it is good to remind people what we are about. Please feel free to comment below with any thoughts you may have. Are we doing a good job? A bad one? Is there value in what we do? Or any other thoughts.