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!!!