In some parts of Europe, nude swimming remains a cultural phenomenon, common if not always required. Scandinavia and Germany are very nudity-tolerant places, for example.

Oh, the shock to this young American to arrive at a spa with my friends and discover that if I were not willing to expose my jiggly bits, that most of the facilities were off limits to me. Germans feel that bathing suits are very “unhygienic” in hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas.

And few sun-worshiping Berliners see the point in (even minimally) clothed obeisance to Helios.

At least at had the desensitizing experience of group showers in high school and the military. That helped me get over my embarrassment and plunge into my new culture, as it were.

I think it’s a shame that we Americans are becoming more rather than less ashamed of our bodies.


Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.