Ethical Discussion: “The Gymnastic Art”

NOTE: some pictures in this post are a little more ‘revealing’ than usual. Just this once…

tumblr_nbea5qb_Qqh1rq3lrmo1_500Some time ago (I forget exactly which post) I published this picture and asked the question “what’s wrong with it?’. Yes, guys, it will enlarge if you click! Four French guys, in their gym hall, enjoying sport in the buff (“as nature intended”?). Like-minded guys, training, exercising, “au naturel”, unencumbered by tight sweaty lycra or anything else, and offending no-one.

In our curious household of four gay men, two lesbian women and two straight kids, bare feet rule, guys rarely wear shirts, and the adults, who have access to a private gym where “naked is normal”, frequently train that way, including wrestling and acrobatics along with resistance and weight training. The whole family, occasionally joined by other friends, will swim together naked in a secluded swimming hole by the Clinch River where we never see anyone else.


The kids grew up in this environment (mainly with their mums rather than their dads, actually – it is only recently we’re all sharing one home) – as babies they would run around together naked, and, thinking of themselves as brother and sister (which they are not) have never really given this ‘carefree’ (or care less!)approach to clothing much thought. We have our own private training cabin too, and have  no dress code there either: my son Leo, in particular, is often found with his group of male friends training naked, sometimes with other dads in attendance as well.

But our two marvellous kids (Leo’s mine, Dave’s daughter Jaymee) are now 13 and puberty calls! Jaymee has taken to avoiding training when the carefree clothes-free boys are ‘in’, although she still works that way with her mum and her partner Clare, especially when practicing their ‘endurance’ performance. So we decided to have a ‘family’ discussion on all of this, also including in the debate Dave’s brother and his gay partner who, as it happens, first got me into this naked mindset fifteen years ago (see Loving the Boy). Certainly there are people out there who would protest our attitudes!





Well, young Jaymee is a pretty astute cookie for a 13yo. She understood our concerns perfectly. We never, for example, introduce the young’uns to the large (but private) gym when other members are allowed to be naked (and allowed to indulge their sexual preferences later in the evenings)… there is minimum age of 18 there at such times (although Dave and I were allowed in a bit early, and took full advantage (see The Power of Love!)).  But such stuff is clearly a sensitive issue, especially to our local bible-thumpers, and we want everyone to remain respected members of our community (we’ve had to work hard for that, overcoming occasional bouts of homophobia for example).

So Jaymee, bless her, has set our rules. In the family, it’s OK, anything goes. She is happy to rehearse her duo with Leo, for example, in any state of dress or undress they happen to be in. But she won’t appear naked if any of Leo’s friends are ‘in’, and doesn’t expect to be present when they are naked. Especially his best mate Chris, who has a serious crush on her and keeps showing up at the gym centre where she is training an acrobatic routine with two other girls. For that matter, Leo’s current favourite is one of the other members of that trio, so Leo and Chris show up there a lot, and in that gym (large public center where we four guys all work, coaching) there definitely is a dress code! None of us has an interest in breaching that code!!

I still have to work on Leo, discouraging him from shedding his shirt and shoes at inappropriate times (in school breaks, for example)… basically, he just hates wearing a shirt, liking to show off his body to all passing girls as well as working on his tan. To be fair, he has worked long and hard to get into the excellent shape he’s in, and deserves a bit of recognition for that, but he does tend to overdo it. Jaymee’s in excellent shape too, especially compared with most of the lethargic girls in school whose main exercise is pushing buttons on their i-phones!

We never forget that ‘gymnastics’ is ‘The Naked Art’ and, although performed by naked boys in ancient times, it covered a range of sports rather than what we recognise as gymnastics today. The meaning of the word has moved on, I think: few recognise it’s relationship to nudity today and, in the German language, it actually means ‘High School’.

Some more pictures, then, hopefully justified here as boys enjoying their ‘gymnastic’ sports, enjoying what their bodies can do in an uninhibited way and, in general, without any sexual connotation.






Stretching and gymnastics:





And outdoors is even better:


… (you don’t necessarily have to go up a tree though):


Not sure if this is yoga or ballet!


Next one definitely ballet!


Skinny-Dipping (or, at least, bath time while camping!)

all the comforts of home

And, finally for today, to the ‘just plain weird’ – but huge fun to be doing!! I hope that I made our position on naked sports versus child protection clear enough here… at least enough to explain how we do what we love to do, and why! See you next time…


The first part...The second part...Cover 3 Thumb

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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