Brattleboro at the crossroads

Brattleboro at the crossroads


July 23rd, 2007, 12:09 am #1

A small town in Vermont is on the front lines of a struggle over public nudity. What happens here may provide us a glimpse of future attitudes and policies regarding public nudity in our own towns.

A few days ago, Brattleboro Vermont passed aan ordinance banning nudity for the next thirty days along shop fronts, main roads and within a certain distance from schools and churches. This development must seem strange to those who haven't heard how it began, but I think it is an interesting story and not necessarily a defeat for naturism.

Brattleboro Vermont has attracted the attention of naturists since last summer when some teens of the town began loitering nude near the town's shop fronts, gathering nude in a city parking lot and having spontaneous hula hoop contests in the nude.

Brattleboro is a town of artists and free spirits in a state with no law against nudity. It does not follow that these teenagers are nudist, but they obviously have a very European level of comfort with their bodies.
The very public nature of their nudity seems a pointed effort to startle their parents and peers.

Even in tolerant Brattleboro, the teens took their nudity to a level that could not be sustained.
The publicity the teens generated attracted a few individuals from out of town who apparently felt that they could also roam the town's main streets in total nudity with no consequences.

Brattleboro merchants were concerned that nude teens loitering in front of the shops would drive away customers.
A small number of Brattleboro residents object to nudity elsewhere in town. In the midst of this debate, a few incidents of sexual display served to agitate the small but vocal anti-nudity faction of this town.

As a result, Brattleboro restricted nudity in the most sensitive parts of town while they contemplate more drastic restrictions on nudity. The city council was not unanimous in their choice to restrict nudity.

I hope that the citizens of Brattleboro will accommodate nude recreation in at least part of city parks, designated nude hours at city swimming pools (if any) and tolerating nudity on one's private property even if it is in view of one's neighbors.

I can understand that however unjust laws forbidding nudity anywhere may seem, it seems plain that we are years behind Europe in the acceptance of public nudity. Of course I think Europe could be more welcoming toward public nudity than they currently are.


Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 23rd, 2007, 12:03 pm #2

I have read that story a while back where a man was walking up and down the street in the nude in front of a restaurant.

To me, it's not so much as whether they are nude or not, but why are they walking up and down the street as if they are trying to attract attention?

People who are clothed don't walk up and down the same part of the street over and over again, nor do they do loiter. If they happened to be nude while waiting for someone or window shopping, that is one thing, but if that is all they do when they are nude, get a life!

They can be nude anywhere and do anything, but chose instead to walk up and down main street.

I got too much to do, nude or clothed, than to wander around aimlessly just because it's "legal" to do so (or "not illegal")

This is what causes towns to put up ordinances and laws against public nudity, the idiots who abuse it and use it to cause public nervousness. Young people who do anything out of the ordinary, (wear leather clothing, peirce their bodies in a thousand places, spiked and died hair, pants hanging half off their butts, etc) and hanging out in gangs waiting for anyone to tell them to get lost ("it ain't illegal for us to stand here!") will cause the town to react with laws and force eventually.

Same with nudity when not used properly.

Now if an art show that showed tasteful and good nude pictures in town and the spectators are encouraged to come and view them in the nude, and done so with an organized help from the locals of that town, that would be used in a proper way and with dignity. It would be controlled and shows nudity in a right way.

There are right ways and wrong ways to be nude in town.

May the Lord bless the town of Brattleboro the ability to allow good nudity that glorifies God.

Boyd Allen
"May the Lord protect our nudity from the sight of those who will not benefit, and may he allow us to be seen by those who will."



July 23rd, 2007, 11:59 pm #3

Some good thoughts, Boyd!

I have heard it said, "Your words are the only gospel some people will hear".
I think it is also true that for some people in Brattleboro, the elderly naked exhibitionist from out of town and the local young man who was nude and publicly pleasuring himself are the the only examples of outdoor nudity they have ever seen.

I am sure that many people in a town like Brattleboro are familiar with family naturism and perhaps even have practiced it a time or two. But for nudity to be allowed in parks and recreation areas, nude citizens and visitors must be on their best behavior to win over a critical mass of the public, to convince those who don't really know what we are all about.

And frankly, if I were on the city council I would probably vote to restrict nudity along the shop fronts and other high traffic areas because it seems to be attracting voyeurs, exhibitionists, and other unsavory elements.
Brattleboro is not a Bavarian village, but is situated in a nation that is both prudish and lecherous at the same time. Until America exhibits a more enlightened attitude about the nude human body, public nudity will have to be regulated and monitored.

For example, in some other nations, it is customary for pre-adolescent children to play naked in public parks and city streets. Here in the US, no child should be unchaperoned, but nude children would be even more likely to attract unwelcome attention from perverts. I think that the total ban on children such as exists at Hippie Hollow Park in Texas is taking things too far, but pre-teen children should probably confine their nudity to access-controlled and guarded portions of parks unless they are on their home streets in plain view of their parents.
Teens should be given much more latitude to roam where they please whether clothed or nude, but last summer's loitering was clearly hurting business in the commercial section of town.

Many of you reading this have heard accounts of nude recreation in the English Garden within the city of Munich, Germany. For a long time it was a happy co-existence between clothed citizens and nude citizens. I understand that many people have ceased to engage in nude recreation in this park, primarily because of excessive gawking by foreign tourists. I have also heard that families have felt uncomfortable with what some described as in increasingly sexually-charged environment. Could Munich have done more to prevent the demise of the coexistence of clothed and nude citizens? It's a much larger place and more heavily trafficked than a little Vermont village known as Brattleboro, but I still think that the areas of intense nude visitation could have been better protected.
Some nude beaches in the USA have descended to chaos through neglect.

I think that national naturist leaders need to identify local naturist leaders and work with them to put an end to the chaos and help people who want some measure of nude living in their home town. It is their right, but they will not get their rights without outside help and self-help. Neither one alone will achieve this end.

I must remind all my friends here that what happens in this little corner of Vermont will have a deep impact on the rest of us. Brattleboro is years ahead of attitudes in my home state and this is likely true for many of you.

Boyd Allen
Boyd Allen

July 24th, 2007, 10:56 am #4

You wrote: "I have heard it said, "Your words are the only gospel some people will hear".

I think you meant "action", not "words".

But I know what you mean. If I had the money (time seems to be abundant) I would take the road to Vermont and see what is really going on. I would love to be able to help the people come to peace with it.

The Naked Ambassador, nice little title.

But I'm sure I'll find stones tossed in my direction, but will also find wonderful people as well. It is said that it gets darkest just before dawn, so it may be that the naturist cause will find some darkness and political persecution just before the dawn of true freedom.

Are we ready?

Boyd Allen