Joining queer nudists for a weekend of body positivity and self-love can be liberating and empowering. Dean Arcuri reports.
We’ve seen a rise in male nudist events in our communities, from weekly events and festivals to workshops, providing spaces for men to bare more than just their bodies and connect in a different way.
Two big events that have helped redefine nudism for many Australian men are NudeManFest in Victoria and NakedMan Festival in New South Wales.
And while you may think that going to a nudist weekend is an intimidating way to join in or explore the nudist community for the first time, it’s not. It’s low key, low pressure, and wonderful fun.
In December last year at NakedMan Festival, Joe told us he no idea what a weekend like that would be like.
“I didn’t really expect anything and thought I’d just have a relaxing time,” he says.
“But I made some brilliant connections in both an intimate and emotionally positive way, and I’m surprised how much I’ve enjoyed myself.
“It’s nakedness and nature and I felt really welcomed.”
Joe had only been exploring his nudism for a few weeks at social events before diving into a nudist weekend away.
“Honestly I was concerned that the sex side of things would be really in your face, but it has been a welcome surprise that it’s not a driving force or focus,” he says.
“It’s really about a community of men connecting.”
The only major difference between the two events is that NakedMan holds a series of workshops as part of its festival, helping to teach festival goers about everything from erotic rituals and rope work to bush walks and body painting.
Located 90 minutes from Sydney’s CBD, you can strip off in a secluded space and get back to nature.
Besides respecting others, the main rule at both NakedMan Festival and NudeManFest is that you have to be naked. It’s an equaliser; levelling the playing field and taking the pressure off.
No-one is looking at what you’re wearing, and everyone’s exposed no matter your size.
NudeManFest organiser Kevin has been running the event for seven years, originally in his Riverview home before relocating to a campsite in Charmwood near Benalla.
“We have a very positive all-encompassing age group at NudeManFest, with guys from 18 to 80,” he says.
“Whether it’s age, physical attributes, or disabilities, you can find discrimination anywhere. It’s a very welcoming space, even for [trans] men. Men just come and enjoy the ambience.
“Some operations or scarring can create huge problems with body image or self-worth, but by stripping bare and sticking to it, everyone exposes themselves to a period of vulnerability. Once you get over that and realise everybody is just naked, it’s a normal thing.”
Kevin’s even has become a catalyst for other nude events and weekends for men around Australia.
“I’m really proud that people have taken the incredible weekend of bonding they’ve experienced here and opened that up to other spaces and communities,” he says.
“I’ve been a nudist for a long time, but when I began exploring it I found there weren’t any venues that combined social nudity for men alone. I had the space to do it, so I created one.”
“Growing up I always loved the idea of being naked. I was living in the country closer to nature and thought, what’s the point of wearing clothes.
“As I got older, I found like-minded guys that didn’t have a drama with it and realised I wasn’t on my own… that nudism wasn’t so taboo.”
While men have sex on site premises to explore sex, that’s not the main thrust of naked weekends like this.
“I always found it strange you can share your intimate body parts and nobody wants to know who you were at a sauna,” Kevin adds.
“No-one talks to you and you’re out the door when you’re done.
“Sex is a beautiful form of communication but it’s not the only form. I always tell people that if you come here for a sex weekend, have fun, but if that’s all you’ve experienced, you’ve missed the point.
“We treat each other as brothers. Not everyone’s attracted to each other sexually or physically, but you can still be kind, and still share a cup of tea and explore people’s life journeys.”
If you want to strip away the new year and lay it all out there to kick off your 2019, you can head to the NudeManFest in Victoria, being held as part of Midsumma Festival. For more details head to nudemanfest.com.au.
Or if you’re in New South Wales you can check out NakedMan Sydney at the start of February, at nman.com.au.