Every naturist seems to have their own opinion of what the problems are and what needs to be done to advance our cause. My opinion is quite straight-forward -- do what works. And I look to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community as a good example of what works.
LGBT vs. Nudist Statistics
There are a lot of parallels between being a nudist, and being gay. (Or part of the LGBT group, more specifically.) There is a period of self-discovery, followed by a duration of keeping a secret, followed by a "coming out". Although we live in an America which is more tolerant of some things, it seems less tolerant of others.
There are some important differences too. First is that naturism is a choice, and being gay is typically not. Second is that discovering and "coming out" usually occur at very different ages for each group. The LGBT group typically "come out" in their teenage years. Naturists often discover the lifestyle and "come out" much later. Despite the differences, I think there is still a strong comparison between the two groups.
I previously mentioned a surprising statistic, and asked the obvious question: 8.2% of Americans have engaged in some form of same-sex sexual activity, yet most Americans think 25% of the population is gay. Per the NEF poll, 25% of Americans have gone skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing in mixed company, yet many Americans think we're a fringe group. Why are these statistics inversed? For the sake of this post, let's assume that these two groups have roughly the same numbers of people, somewhere between 8.2% and 25% of the population.
Last summer, a publication caught my eye: "A Survey of LGBT Americans" from Pew Research. In the back of my mind, I contemplated what naturists would say to those same questions. (I wish a similar poll was conducted on naturists so that we have a baseline.)
92% of LGBT adults find America more accepting of them compared to 10 years ago, and expect it to be even more so 10 years from now. Naturists might say the opposite, or say there has been little progress.
54% of LGBT adults say that all or most of the important people in their lives know that they are LGBT. (Only 14% haven't told anyone.) Do you think that many naturists are open about it? Not only that, but 70% of LGBT adults believe that the biggest help to making society more accepting is "people knowing someone who is LGBT."
The LGBT adults clearly saw Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres as important public figures advancing their rights. Although I once tweeted that Obama could fit in as a nudist, we really don't have any public figures that we can proudly point to. LGBT adults also point to the entertainment industry, with 70% thinking it's friendly. Most mainstream TV depicting naturists isn't so friendly, especially the news media. And what do LGBT adults think of the news media? Most think it's friendly or neutral.
The LGBT adults are active too. 52% have attended a pride event, 40% attended a rally or march, 39% are members of an organization, and 32% have donated to the cause. For naturists, I'm betting these numbers would all be much lower. (For attending an organized gathering or conference, participating in a protest, being a member of TNS or AANR, and donating to support naturist rights.)
In order to:
- Move America in the right direction for accepting naturists.
- Make society more accepting to naturists.
- Have celebrity support.
- Have a naturist-friendly entertainment industry (TV, movies, news).
We need to:
- Have at least 54% of naturists "come out" to most friends and family, with another 32% or so telling at least someone else. This would have the biggest impact.
- Have at least 52% of naturists attending gatherings, conferences, or other similar events.
- Have at least 39% of naturists be members of a naturist organization.
- Have at least 32% donate to naturist causes.
I've helped all of those metrics, and I hope all of you will do the same.