An issue has flared up on a couple of clothing-optional beaches in Canada — specifically, Wreck Beach in Vancouver and Hanlon’s Point in Toronto.

Apparently, some naturists are telling visitors in textiles that they must be naked to use the beaches, according to an article by the Canadian Press, which is dubbing the whole affair “a turf battle between nude bathers and their clothed counterparts.”

At first glance, it seems somewhat petty, and possibly criminal. After all, these are clothing-optional beaches, which means people in bathing suits and such are allowed to be there. And, as one person who was told by nude men to remove her clothes says in the article, she was a newbie to the scene and “wanted to do things at my own pace. If I decide to (undress) or not, that’s my choice.”

Her argument sounds reasonable to me. All naturists were beginners once, and we all moved at our own pace.

But the naturists are saying they are far outnumbered by clothed people at the beaches, and that many people are coming to essentially gawk at naked people. Naturists are saying they have become “a spectacle,” or as Ron Schout, president of the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) puts it, “just another show in town.”

Consequently, “fewer and fewer naturists visit the clothing-optional beaches each year,” Schout says.

Stéphane Deschenes, owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in Ontario, has this to say about the matter: “(Naturism) is about creating situations where there is psychological, emotional equality between people, and you can’t do that if one person is dressed and the other is nude.”

Hmm . . . Stéphane seems to be suggesting that naturists and clothed people cannot co-exist — though, isn’t co-existence the idea of clothing-optional beaches?

And should there be firm rules barring textiles in private naturist settings, such as  Stéphane’s Bare Oaks resort — where visitors “are required to be nude,” according to the article?

If you answer “yes” to the last question, then here is a followup question for you: What if it is a cool day, and you want to wear something to keep you warm? Dumb question, right? Obviously, if the weather makes you feel uncomfortable (i.e. cold), you can cover up. So, even in a private naturist setting, there are times when it is OK to be cloaked in textiles.

I found myself in such a situation last weekend. I attended ON/NO’s summer outing at a beautiful private naturism campground/resort by a lake in Ontario. Sadly, Mother Nature didn’t fully co-operate. The first half of the day was cool, and many people wore clothes to stay warm. Nobody criticized those who covered up — everybody understood the necessity. And even if it weren’t a necessity, nobody would have criticized anyone who chose not to remove their clothes.

I think there is a general understanding among the naturists I know: each to their own pace. The very fact that somebody is there means they are interested in naturism.

But I couldn’t see ON/NO putting up with gawkers, if some managed to get past the gatekeepers

So, I can understand the consternation of those at public clothing-optional beaches who feel people are coming to gawk at them. I saw it myself at the clothing-optional section of Oka Beach in Quebec. I was gawked at — but to be truthful, I didn’t care. Nobody made lewd comments to me. Nobody assaulted me. And the only guy who flirted with me was a naturist (but that’s another story — and I didn’t mind one bit).

But, personally speaking, I’m not shy about being naked in front of clothed people — probably because I have been a nude model in body acceptance workshops for clothed artists a few times.

Which makes me wonder about the naturists who are complaining on Wreck Beach and Hanlon’s Point: why do the gawkers bother them so much?

And isn’t it possible that some, if not all, of those gawkers may become naturists some day? Indeed, maybe that’s really why the gawkers are there. Maybe they are just trying to summon up enough courage to bare it all in public. Because, after all, if they only wanted to see naked bodies, they could go online and see myriad beauties . . .

— Jillian

P.S. Sorry for my absence here recently. Have been super busy. But I have about four posts to do here in the next week or two, including one on the Mike Ward ruling in Quebec.