Last June I attempted to organize participation in Knoxville for the World Naked Bike Ride, an international protest against overdependence on oil. Metro Pulse was kind enough to let me promote that event in a letter to the editor. A few weeks later I was fired from my long-term employment because I "maintain a personal website containing nude photographs of yourself and others of both genders."
Most people who know this are shocked that a major corporation can get away with it, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it except go on. In my mind, it is their loss, not mine. But it does indicate how out of touch with the rest of the world people can be. These very educated, very successful people don’t seem to have a clue that nudists are not crazy, not perverted, nor even a fringe element of society.
The vast majority of Americans, four out of every five, see nothing wrong with nudists enjoying themselves as long as they aren’t forcing it on others. As a matter of fact, every fourth person you meet has been in a true nudist setting at some time in their life!
My friends think I ought to get the hell out of Dodge and live someplace where my lifestyle is more acceptable. I'm not convinced that’s necessary. The general perception is that people in East Tennessee are not like the rest of the United States. I don't agree. I think they are just less open about their true beliefs and more afraid to be different than the perceived norm. So, while I may have to leave to find gainful employment, I will not do so because of the perceived bias against my passion.
My main goal in attempting to form the East Tennessee Bares as a regional naturist organization is to provide support for those of us who want to regularly enjoy nudist activities. My secondary goal is to make the public aware that the nudist lifestyle is mainstream and that it is not a danger to society. My long-term goal is to see our local and state government recognize that nudists are a legitimate special-interest group and allocate resources that would allow us to enjoy our activities without fear of legal problems.
I’m a dreamer. That’s always gotten me in trouble and will continue to do so. But I’m stubborn. Despite my setbacks, I’m still promoting the East Tennessee Bares. Saturday, Nov. 19 there will be a clothing-optional gathering open to the public. If you'd like more information about it or the naturist/nudist lifestyle in general, pull up the website etnbares.com or email me at Dale@DaleOverturf.com.