On Wild Swimming – and On Being Happy in Your ‘Skin’

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My previous post on ‘Hard Body’, and earlier mentions of training naked (for example, NKD Training), has generated some interesting comments both on the posts and by e-mail. It was one of the latter, from elsewhere in Tennessee, that drew my attention to a relevant blog with a slightly porn-sounding title which is actually anything but. It has recently blossomed into activity, the posts largely referring to the old-style habit in both USA and elsewhere that boys swimming classes, both in school and at (for example) YMCA, “required” the boys to swim naked. Indeed, they seemingly did this in the presence of girls (who were obliged to cover up) and would also mount the podium naked to receive prizes for winning – and seem to have been regularly photographed doing so.  Without thinking it the least bit inappropriate.

So why do 21st-century guys (with a few notable exceptions) seem to have this horror of being seen naked, even by their mates, and disappear into individual cubicles to change for sports?

Of course, there are exceptions:

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..and we can only hazard a guess at what those two are doing, or why they want to do it up a tree. But generally, if we want to see ordinary guys enjoying themselves in the wild, we need to look back at vintage stuff:

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Generally speaking, straight guys were as much into naked combat or swimming as gay guys, although declaring oneself as the latter was rather harder to do.

tumblr_nsd5dexxgd1slz0h0o1_540One of the comments was inspired by this image I posted last time. My correspondent and I speculated on ‘where did these American fitness mags go’ – and the answer seems to be a fear of them appearing pornographic. Can this be why perhaps so many modern fitness gyms demand that guys keep their shirts on – even when they are plastered with posters of shirtless guys showing off their large muscles? Surely not – isn’t it that more a fear of upsetting their female clientele?

So. Should guys do stuff naked together or, maybe, a better question is, can guys do stuff naked together without being instantly labelled as ‘gay’ with all the wrong associations of that term (as perceived by the general public, lawmakers and campaigners)? Naked gatherings (of mixed sex) are encouraged in some European countries (e.g. the Frei-Korper-Kultur of Austria and Germany) while French swimming pools insist on the minimalist clothing to be worn by guys (Speedos OK, longer shorts absolutely not [for unspecified ‘hygeine’ reasons]): Dutch swim pools are often costume-free in the evenings, like those YMCAs used to be, except that it is again mixed bathing rather than just guys.

So why does a small majority think we’re perverted for doing our weight training naked in private – mainly to avoid getting too hot) and going wild swimming in the River (in a secluded spot away from those who do not wish to see)?

cover1-thumbcover2-thumbcover-3-thumbWell, I am gay, and my sporty friends predominantly are. The books left and right tell our story, and help to support this blog (HINT!). However, my seriously clothes-shedding son is absolutely straight, and his similar-undressed training mates are straight too, with one exception which is not an issue for either side. And, yes, us gay guys do enjoy the sight and touch of each others bodies, when the circumstances are appropriate. But not in sight of the young uns, and not in any inappropriate setting.

OK. let the debate continue! Comment or email to gymacrobat@gmail.com as you wish! Menawhile I will continue to populate the blog with images of young men of entirely unspecified sexuality enjoying being at least shirtless with their friends, and possibly more:

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Shall we train naked now…?

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Hey, its raining bud…

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…we may as well take all our clothes off now…

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Playtime!

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…and then the shorts come off…

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Togetherness in the bathroom mirror…

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…maybe getting ‘gay’er?

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…and in the bedroom…

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“He’s my friend”

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“He’s my gay friend!”

And, finally, to ensure that we do not discriminate against the ‘definitely gay’ couples, one more bedroom picture!

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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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2 Responses to On Wild Swimming – and On Being Happy in Your ‘Skin’

  1. Platinumboy says:

    Another factor in the equation must be “women’s equality”. I’m all for it, mind you, but I believe that this issue is a big reason why “male only” facilities are practically non-existent or underground. For some reason, female-only establishments are OK, but if men want their own place (except for gay sex clubs), “society” is offended. Why? Personally, I think that single-sex facilities to which each gender can retire and “unload” (no pun intended) are important to a thriving society. Women can complain/comment on the situations in their lives while the men can do the same with each other. Who knows? Maybe the divorce rate would drop if we had single-sex gyms again. By the way, I remember one comment from a man who went naked swimming at his local YMCA every day after school in the 1960’s. He not only swam naked as an underage teen, but frequently did his homework naked in the lockerroom. He stated that the adult men at the YMCA who also swam naked would frequently help him with his homework. The men would remain naked while helping this naked boy complete his homework. The writer stated that he never felt threatened and none of the naked men ever made advances toward him. Imagine that same scenario today. This was common enough for the television series “Eight is Enough” (1977-1982) to do an episode where the Father takes his youngest son to the YMCA to learn to swim. The Father assures his son that it’s OK to be naked because that’s how everybody learns to swim. The two rush back into the lockerroom amid female screams from the pool area. It illustrates where we were and where we are.

    • tonycavanagh says:

      I really appreciate these comments, Platinumboy – in fact, you are now probably writing more on this blog than I do! Love the final anecdote… keep them coming, and thanks!

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