Wednesday, July 18, 2018

30 Days and Counting

Letter from the Editor

As August 17 approaches on my seventh year attending The Gathering, I’m vividly remembering my first in 2010. I was kinda scared to death and yet crazy excited. I knew all of two people going to The Gathering - one was my dear friend, Rick, our Executive Director, and the second was a man I met at nudist pool parties in Atlanta. That was it. Out of 500+ men, I knew two.

What ensued for me upon arrival was nothing short of life altering. The men I met every day were incredibly kind. Completely non-judgmental. Many many returning GNI members took me under their wing to ensure I was enjoying the experience. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a volunteer where I ensured we had popcorn popped for the dining hall after the performances. It was a glorious time to be working the popcorn machine (back when we were able to pop fresh popcorn) and soooo many men would stop by to say hello.

The night the disco opened, my cabin-mates and I walked down together to see it. One of my cabin-mates, Ian, nudged me to get on one of the pedestals to dance. I protested, “I don’t know how to dance.” and “Everyone will be watching me.” He encouraged me further by saying, "You will dance up there before this week is out." I don’t have words for how it felt to get up there finally and dance my heart out - free of judgment, full of freedom - amongst the men who just wanted to be themselves.

To bring my journey down memory lane to a close - walk peacefully under the stars at night, hang out by the campfire, go to the disco and dance your heart out, discover the freedom to be yourself…all of this is possible and so much more.

If you’re on the fence about going, take the leap. Listen to your intuition; your body and soul need this experience.  I'm also thrilled to mention that I met my fiance at that first Gathering. We're getting married in Oct. So...ya never know who you'll meet!!

This One Time at Summer Camp...

Camp is 30 days away.

You've checked out the schedule for the social hours, you've heard about yoga, the Pocono Eagle, Mr. GNI, Mr. Bare Bear, Miss Lace, Body Electric, and all the other events at camp...

With so many options for activities to participate in, it might get a bit overwhelming. Here at BuffBuzz, we are here to help! Take a glance at some of the images from years past and see if it's something you're interested in! Make The Gathering the best Summer Camp experience of your life!

Letter from the Assistant Editor...

I'm Chris G. I grew up a dancer. A dancer whose shape and size were not typical. A dancer who was told numerous times he would never succeed or be successful in the dance community because of his weight, yet here I am teaching dance and performing to this day...

It's odd. I'm not only looking forward to The Gathering for the regattas, contests, parties or anything of the sort. I'm looking forward to the introspection that will occur by stripping away that which protects me from the mirrors, clean windows and metallic car doors that show my truest reflection. I've struggled to understand why I couldn't just love my body. And while that question may not be answered 100% at camp, I know that this experience will be one that will allow for that self reflection and self love. Maybe fully, maybe not...but this is more than just a summer camp. It provides for the community a safe space where you come as you are and leave a more humbled version of yourself.

Love your body. Love yourself. Love your friends. Love your enemies. Because in the end, we are all struggling for that one basic need we all share in common: the need and want for love.

I cannot wait to meet as many of you as humanly possible at camp. If you see me, say hi!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Happy Naked Pride!

Photo Courtesy of

In June of 1969, the Stonewall riots in New York launched a powerful worldwide movement establishing June as the official month of Pride but its significance and meaning to the LGBTQIA community has since broadened dramatically. Pride month conjures up images of go-go boys dancing in speedos as floats slowly sail past the throngs of allies and supporters lining city streets for miles on end; drag queens decked in full regalia wearing dresses, eyelashes, high heels, wigs, and feather boas dancing to the tunes of old-school disco; bare chested leather men in harnesses and bare-butt chaps marching in step with their boys, masters, pups, and daddies; and average “guys next door” types with nondescript “dad bods” living a quiet life proudly walking hand-in-hand with their husbands celebrating their marriage that was once forbidden and illegal.

Pride is a microcosm of a much larger and diverse community. But where do naturists fit in? In many festivals, nudity is frowned upon and often enforced with strict anti-nudity legislation. With the exception of a couple of annual events, naturists are not readily accepted into mainstream Pride events. Naturist materials at Pride events are often censored or stored out of public view citing “decency” clauses. The perception that nudity equates to sex is overwhelming in public opinion; naturists are called upon to educate the public - oftentimes mostly of our own community’s gay and bisexual men - in terms that we represent every aspect of society. We *are* like everyone else looking for love and companionship, but we enjoy social and recreational nude activities with other men by proudly participating in local, regional, and national nudist communities, identifying as a “home nudist,” or finding the simple satisfaction of quiet time on nude beaches alone or with friends.

Nudist Pride is about owning who we are. Nudist Pride is about celebrating our diversity as gay, bisexual, and gay-friendly men. Naturists embrace the differences of our various body types, our shapes, and our penis lengths because for naturists, those things are trivial and non-issues. We engage in a much different - dare I say deeper? - level when clothes are cast aside leaving nothing behind but heart-to-heart sharing with each other. Our hearts are touched; our lives are changed; the healing of our self esteems begin; we thrive. We may not be able to dance naked on a float during Pride month in public, but we can rest assured knowing that we belong to a dynamic, growing, visible, and exciting naked community. Celebrate. Be proud. Get naked. Live. Happy Pride!

A Letter from Miss Lace 2017, Iona Mink

GNI Miss Lace 2017, Iona Mink (Photo credit Brian Becnel)

Dear GNI Campers,

I am Iona Mink, your reigning GNI Miss Lace 2017 and I thought I would sit down and tell you all a bit about where Iona came from and what I have been doing since being crowned. Since being crowned Miss Lace I have been very busy promoting GNI whenever I can. I have attended RuPaul’s Drag Con and Bette Midler’s Annual Hulaween Extravaganza.

Attending GNI Gathering is the high point of my year. I look forward to it and start counting days to the next year the day I get back. There is a sense of camaraderie and friendship that is so welcoming. You can do as much as you want or nothing at all and both are good. The first year I attended The Gathering I had just turned 50 and if someone would have told me that I would be dancing buck naked on the center go-go platform in the dance club I would have told them they were crazy!!! Well... that was exactly what happened.

There are several contests and events that you can participate in. There is something for everyone. The contest that spoke to me was Miss Lace. Being a former dancer I was in several productions of La Cage Aux Folles so the Miss Lace Pageant was right up my alley. The first year I competed for the crown it had been 25 years since I was onstage in front of an audience. Nerves were very high but I felt so safe and supported from the other queens and the audience welcomed and cheered me on. It was a moment that I will never forget! It took 3 other times before I took the home the crown. Each time I felt the same love and support.

If there is a queen inside waiting to strut her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent I say strap on those heels and shashay the runway! Unlike some of the other contests, there is more preparation needed for Miss Lace. You have to pack wigs/dresses/makeup/heels. There is a talent portion to the pageant, which could be anything from lipsyncing to singing live, from doing a dramatic reading to tap dancing.

I love my other title brothers and we always have a good time when we get together.

I look forward to welcoming a new queen to the Miss Lace family. But fear not, Iona Mink is not going anywhere. Who knows you may just see Iona Mink on RuPaul’s Drag Race!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

World Naked Gardening Day 2018

Submissions from our readers for World Naked Gardening Day 2018. As much as we asked, our outside-USA nudist brothers are missing from our WORLD celebration of naked gardening.

Brooks from north Georgia, USA

Bryan from Kansas, USA

Davey from Pennsylvania, USA

Jason from Atlanta, USA

Jason from Atlanta, USA

Jay from Atlanta, USA

Jay from Atlanta, USA
Gerry from Michigan, USA
Roger from NY, USA
Hugh from Vermont, USA

Mickey from Pennsylvania, USA

1/2 Week GNI Raffle with Mr. GNI Leather 2017

A message from Mr. GNI Leather 2017:

Brian Ballone, Mr. GNI Leather 2017 (Photo Credit: Brian Becnel)
I am eager to announce that raffle tickets to win one of 3 half week prizes are still available. 
The drawing will be in early June, so hurry now!

You might be my invited guests at The Gathering: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 through Sunday, August 26, 2018. 

That’s right… enjoy half a naked week with me and over 500 men at GNI’s The Gathering, in northeastern Pennsylvania, to vacation, play, and help choose Mr. GNI Leather 2018 and most importantly enjoy my step down speech! You could even become Mr. GNI Leather 2018. 
 • No cash value for the invited guest if they do not attend. 
• Transportation to The Gathering is the responsibility of the invited guest. 
• All rules of GNI apply including this is a naked event. Clothing is not an option. 
• Invited guest must be 21 years old at the time of arrival. 
• Adding first half week and/or early arrival is the responsibility of the invited guest. 
• Add-ons are the responsibility of the invited guest. (E.g. linen rental, GNI membership if not already a member) 

Tickets are $20 each (plus $3 shipping) and you get my "Duck It No Pants" Donald Duck pin as a thank you. 

PayPal to or email me for the address to mail a check.

I look forward to seeing you…ALL of you…at The Gathering!

Brian J Ballone 
Mr. GNI Leather 2017

Monday, May 14, 2018

GNI Board 2018 Elections Results

The results of the 2018 GNI Board of Directors' Election is in! We had three (3) very qualified candidates running for two (2) positions. We would like to thank the three candidates for running as well as everyone who voted in this year's election. Over 20% of our members cast their ballot this year.

And the winners are ...

M. Danny Allman joins the board for the first time and Nick Roessler returns to serve a second term.

Here's a little more information about Danny and Nick: 

Ever since I attended my first NakedFest in 2014, I knew I had found a group where I belonged.  Since then, I have attended a GNI-sponsored event each year. There is a sort of magical camaraderie that exists between everyone at camp. The only word I can use to describe what causes the enchantment is: “nothing.” Having nothing separating us from each other removes the veil of elusiveness and awkwardness that surrounds everyone in the real world. Because of this magic we share at the Gathering, I am running for a seat on the 2018 GNI board.

I kicked off my social nude roots by attending a Party Naked Pittsburgh event right after I graduated college. Since that time, I have become a regular camper at Roseland Resort in West Virginia and finally went to a few clothing-optional beaches on Maui and Florida.

Between check-in, tours of camp for newbies, or working Bingo nights, I always volunteer in some capacity each Gathering. Between events, I have distributed GNI pamphlets around my current city of Baltimore and advertised GNI on my TrueNudists profile to promote our mission. I love being a part of this inclusive group of men and I want to do my part in keeping GNI alive!

I have been a member since 2006. I was 23 when I attended my first Gathering; I drove alone from Michigan, arrived without knowing anyone, and made some of the most significant friendships of my life all within 48 hours of being there. This kicked off the next 12 years of volunteering at camp; working in almost everything from the auditorium, to being Rick Johnson's assistant, working in the dance club, and serving on the board. During this time I have also been honored with the Murray Kaufman Natural Man Award for my activism in the naturist community, and I also have been honored with the title of Mr. GNI 2013. These experiences have taught me a great deal about how The Gathering is created and what makes camp so special to all of us, which is why I ran for a board position again. 

Congratulations, Danny and Nick!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Get Naked All Over - Australia Naked Beach

Get Naked All Over - Australia Naked Beach 

Listen to waves lap on the beach just steps away from your beachside room. Sip tropical drinks with brightly colored umbrellas delivered to you at a moment's notice. Feel the heat while soaking in a bubbling hot tub. Savor the flavors and scents of fantastic meals shared with good friends and loved ones. Touch the stars on a beachside bonfire. Imagine 7 full days of luxury paradise on a private naked beach. 

You can do all of this ... and more ... February 21 - 28, 2019.

In GNI's first international event, we are heading from the Pocono mountains to tropical Australia - to Turtle Cove Resort near Cairns in north Queensland - for one week of private naked programming.

Turtle Cove, Australia's only LGBTI clothing-optional resort, offers four classes of rooms for the conscientious traveler - Garden view, Absolute Beachfront Suites, Coral Sea View, and Coral Sea View King Deluxe; rooms are double and triple occupancy, and will be reserved on a first-come basis; a continental breakfast is included. Lunches and dinners can purchased with an optional meal plan through GNI or guests may pay-as-they go charging meals and beverages to their room. Some beverages are included in the meal plan and additional guests can be accommodated.

Throughout the week, sign up for one of the numerous local excursions Queensland has to offer - snorkel the Great Barrier reef, hike in the Daintree Rainforest - the world's oldest rainforest, soar above the tropical forest canopy in a treetop skytram, or sit poolside with a good book, nap under the palms, or socialize with friends over cocktails. We'll work with the locals to offer some additional naked opportunities around the area for those that want to explore and see what Australia has to offer.

GNI is also planning beachside BBQ's and bonfires, dancing, buffets, and entertainment throughout the week. Once the week has ended, sign up to join us for an optional excursion for Gay Mardi Gras in Sydney before heading home or exploring other parts of the region. 

Take a few minutes and peruse the information for GNI's inaugural international event at Australia for more information before you sign up. 

Registration for GNI Australia is OPEN! Unlike registering for The Gathering, registering for Australia will be a bit different. The GNI Business Office will personally handle all of your reservations (other than travel to/from Australia), verify all of your accommodations and resort details, and guide you through the planning process. There are two ways to get started - you can print your reservation signup form here or submit your reservation signup form online. Once you've submitted your information, the GNI Business Office will contact you to discuss every aspect of your holiday in detail. Once we've confirmed everything with you, GNI will set up a personalized installment payment program for you.

There is just way too much information to include in an article so we would like to refer you to the GNI website or visit Turtle Cove's website and see for yourself what an amazing resort this is. Booking this week can *only* be made through GNI; if you contact Turtle Cove directly, they will refer you back to us. Of course, if you have any questions, you're welcome to contact the GNI Business Office anytime. 

This is a high-end travel experience comparable to other gay-related travel opportunities and destinations hosted by other gay travel providers. If you're looking for something much different from the rustic charm of the Poconos, consider joining us for GNI Australia where we will be sure that "naked" is not just an option but the norm. 

See you on the private naked beach.

And if you can't join us for GNI Australia, plan to join us for the GNI Gathering in the Pocono mountains - August 16 - 25, 2019! (GNI Australia is an event in addition to our regular annual Gathering.)