There's a clothing-optional beach in Toronto called Hanlan's Point – actually, it's across the lake, on the Toronto Islands. It's one of only two officially recognized nude beaches in all of Canada, apparently. And somehow, until last week, I had never gone.
Oh, don't worry, I definitely knew about it. I've been invited, on several occasions, to go there for beachside birthday parties and summertime hangs with sex-positive friends. But I had never managed to actually go, and it's for a reason that's kind of embarrassing to admit: I was too nervous. But not about the nudity.
Being naked in public is no big deal to me, to be honest. Sure, it always feels weird for a few seconds when I first take off my clothes – say, when I'm about to get into the heated pool at my local sex club, or when I'm with a group of pals at Pride and we decide to walk around topless in the summer sun – but I quickly acclimate. Nude bodies are just bodies; they're not monstrous, or shocking, or worthy of judgment, as long as they're being displayed in appropriate settings. I've been going to events like all-nude Body Pride workshops and public porn shoots since I was 20, and I'm even more confident about my shape and size now than I was then. It no longer phases me to be naked in public (as long as I've consented to it and so have the people around me, obviously).
No, the thing that troubled me about visiting Hanlan's was much sillier. I was nervous about the travel. See, to get to the Islands, you have to take a ferry boat from a station at the southernmost part of the city. Because of the ways my anxiety manifests, the journey stressed me out on logistical and social levels. How would I know where to go? Would the ticket-takers look at me judgmentally, knowing I planned to strip nude on the other side of the ride? Would people think I was weird for taking the ferry alone, even if I was going to meet friends? How would I figure out when and where to actually get naked? Would people aggressively flirt with me, and if so, how would I fend them off? Did I need to bring a towel, a folding chair, a canister of pepper spray? What would I do if I needed to use the bathroom? And so on and so forth.