Friday, June 22, 2007

Article: Naked Activists Fight for Right to Bare All

When Daniel Johnson of the Body Freedom Collaborative (BFC)—a group that promotes nonsexual nude socializing—asked the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation if they could rent Colman Pool, an outdoor pool in West Seattle, they were turned down flat. Parks department spokeswoman Dewey Potter says that while "it's not inherently against the law to be without clothes," the nude swimmers would be visible to park users, which could violate the state's indecent-exposure laws.

Johnson says the parks department's stance is unfair, given Seattle's openness toward the popular, headline-grabbing naked cyclists at the annual Fremont Solstice Parade. Johnson says that "the solstice cyclists... always get media attention, and it's kind of been a broken record for years." Now, Johnson says his group is leading the charge to get the city to designate park space for clothing-optional use.

Every year, BFC holds a clothing-optional picnic in an out-of-the-way area of coastline in order to avoid surprising other parkgoers who are not going au naturel. Occasionally, kayakers and dog walkers will pass the group, but Johnson says they've never had any problems.

Mark Storey, a self-described "card-carrying naturist," helps plan events for BFC and is a Naturist Action Committee board member. He describes his work with the groups as "massaging the social awareness."

"We're the only state on the Pacific coast without a nude beach," Storey notes. Indeed, Oregon and California both have several clothing-optional beaches, and while Washington has several nude resorts, all are private.

Storey says he just wants a place where he can be active and still be free with his body. "I've hiked naked for years. You just recognize what a nettle is and don't walk into them. Give it a try, and if you're not willing to give it a try, let us enjoy ourselves."

Potter says that while the parks department "require[s] an event permit for any group that wants to take up space in the park," clothing-optional events are not necessarily out of the question. "If it's not visible by the general public, they'll get a permit," she said.

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