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A word from our founder Stephen Gough

How did I become involved in all this naked stuff? Well, when I think back I suppose I was going along with the way most people cover themselves up without thinking much about it: it was just what I did because everyone else did it (unconscious living I think they call it!). Then one event that really sticks in my mind is after visiting Studland (a naturist beach on the south coast of England) I was sat with my family and friends on a ‘normal’ beach and I started to think, well, why not here? So I stripped off and enjoyed the sun to its full extent. The only remark I recall, on quite a busy beach, was on leaving the water, a man passed me and uttered “pervert” in my direction, an insight perhaps, into what for many people the naked body represents in this sick society.

My personal philosophy has been hung around the idea of ‘being myself’ for twenty years or so (I was even designing and printing 'T' shirts saying 'B YOURSELF') and for me that has been the way I've been heading ever since; trying to grapple with the concept - to be or not to be - and understanding the fear, in myself, standing in my way.

The change from occasional nakedness to more public expression came when I emigrated to Canada. I didn't find work immediately and I was asked to write a mission statement for the co-housing community that I had just moved into. I knew I was good at focusing on things when I went for a walk, so off I went, and I had the most beautiful experience, not only being able to focus, but feeling very connected and empowered, which moved me to tears. Well, you can imagine after such an experience I started to go for walks more often until I was going every evening and very often reaching a blissed out state. The resulting effect was the experience of ok-ness and the natural desire to want to express that in the way I lived my life. One of the ways I did this was being more daring in my nakedness at lakes and beaches because, I thought, if I'm ok, then my body which is part of me, is ok also, so why should I hide it?

Something else happened that focused my energy specifically on nakedness: in the co-housing community where I lived, the children, often initiated by my daughter who up until that point had been raised in a relaxed way, would often shed their clothes and run around naked in the courtyard, much to my delight and perhaps a little enviousness of their freedom. However, it wasn't long before I noticed some adults being uncomfortable, for whatever reason, with this spontaneity, and they sought through various subtle suggestions and comments to get the children to cover up for ‘their own good' of course! This alarmed me greatly, as I not only wanted to protect their innocence, but I was witnessing before my very eyes the process in which shame is passed down from generation to generation: adults too afraid to examine their own feelings of shame or awkwardness and take responsibility for it, instead, perpetuating that self-hate and fear by making our children feel wrong. The more I reflected on this whole sad conditioning process and got clearer on the significance it has played in damaging me, the more determined I've become to face the fear that has kept me from doing something about it: the fear of disapproval.

I'm like anyone: I want to be loved. As children the approval of our parents and significant others are tantamount to our survival: we will do anything to be loved, including give ourselves up. As adults the approval of others is less critical, although, still one of the most powerful of forces (just start looking at why you do things and you will see how high up the agenda pleasing others is in your motives). For me the connectedness I have experienced with myself, has acted as a countermeasure to my dependence on others for my approval of myself as a human being. It's not that I don't want approval from others, I still do, but it's not at any cost. I've come to realise, that if the words 'be true to yourself' are to mean anything, then one can't go around asking everyone "how would you like me to be"? One has to just do it and accept the risk that some people might not approve, or face the bigger consequence of not being connected to yourself, and the more I've experienced this connectedness the more important it has become in my life.

This may paint a picture to some people of an attitude of not caring about others, but how can one care about others if one cannot care for oneself? If I can't stand by myself to be all that I am and can be, then how can I give others the freedom to do the same? If I am not for me then who will be? My own experience is if I do something out of obligation or guilt then I feel resentful which eats away at relationships eventually destroying any love that was there. And if you take a look at society there's plenty of evidence of the resentment people have as it manifests itself in the form of anger and destruction. I believe that if I act according to what's best for me and in so doing I harm others, the mistake is not in putting myself first but in misunderstanding what's best for me.

So, my naked activism is firstly and most importantly about me standing up for myself, a declaration of myself as a beautiful human being, an expression of my ok-ness in the face of so much self-hate, and I invite others to join me in celebrating this, in a show of solidarity of what it means to be a human being not ashamed of ourselves in our most natural state.

Truth.. Simplicity.. Love

Steve Gough  

The above text was extracted from the original Naked Walk website which is no longer active. For more information about our mission - Click Here

Notes from a Cold Prison

(A chapter by Stephen Gough in the book,

Naked Hiking)  Click Here

Full Naked Walks Timeline

(Compiled by copying and pasting

from various websites)  Click Here

© Copyright 2019 Naked Rambler Organisation. All Rights Reserved.  Original Front page design from a tutorial in the Byline magazine, Issue 8, 2016. As described by Jeremy Griffin, executive editor of The Times.  Disclaimer - Published in Scotland