By Marc Toussaint
Hi, my name is Marc, born and raised in New York City. Catholic schools, strict teachers, music, and playing video games with local friends dominated my life. My parents emigrated from the Caribbean around 1971. They moved to a small seven-story tenement building where everyone knew each others’ first names. Birthday parties, baptism, holy communion, and yes, of course, graduation were all celebrated amongst each other. One time a family downstairs had a birthday party during my college graduation party. People were juggling back and forth attending both parties. Life was pretty much routine and stable. It was also an internal celebration for me because around this time of year, I was approaching my last chemotherapy cycle completing my cancer treatment.
Flashback to eight years earlier. I had noticed my ankle was consistently getting more and more painfully swollen. At first I thought it was a sprain or maybe it was my sneakers. A few weeks went by and the pain grew worse. It was very swollen too. My mom took me to the hospital. After the CAT scan, an advanced form of x-ray, the doctors also wanted me to have a biopsy, or a tiny sample, of my tissue from my ankle region.
Within a few days, I had my leg below the right knee amputated. After the cancer metastasized to both lungs, surgery left me with chest scars.
We as humans are so hard on ourselves. Shyness, negative thinking, anxiety and fear were the reasons why I felt ashamed of my body. Throughout the years, I hated the summer but loved the fall and winter seasons. It is so easy to hide and cover myself up. I allowed my perception to become my reality. It’s a classic case of dysmorphic or body image issues that many people experience.
It was a very hot, humid, and muggy day in New York. I was so anxious to get home to shower. After showering, it dawned on me, “Hey, Marc, no one is home so why are you putting clothes on with this heat? ” I was so conditioned to cover my body that even at home I felt timid and embarrassed.
Joining a naturist club was the furthest thing on my mind. I never could’ve envisioned people with scars, amputees, wheelchair bound, or with any abnormalities/deformities joining such a group. Were these people accepted in a nudist society?
Fast forward a few years later at a dinner party in the Caribbean. I struck up a conversation with fellow Americans, one female and two males, all within their late 20’s. They were from the Midwest working for a non-profit organization. We talked about freedom, politics and the definition of the word “naturist.” These three people were nudists and very proud of it. Long story short and three days later, I was invited to a rental beach property for dinner. By 7 p.m., it was dark outside. Somehow, I knew they were all going to the beach in the nude. They encouraged me to let go of feeling embarrassed and told me we are all the same. In fact, the nudist community accepts people from all walks of life. It does not matter about your ethnicity, shape, or profession. One of the above mentioned is a disabled nudist enjoying their freedom as we speak. Freedom is letting go and inviting mother nature back into your life.
All three of them were very encouraging. Without hesitation, I immediately removed my pants, shirt and everything. I did not want to take my time so I wouldn’t have any second thoughts. By this time all of them were swimming. I walked along side of the beach and felt the gentle night breeze against my skin. I felt so alive, free, and peaceful. I lay on the sand and looked at the stars and the last thing on my mind was whether or not I should wear my new shirt to match old jeans or buy new jeans, etc. It was the feeling of belonging that sealed the deal for me.
Why do we as humans rather wear hot sticky clothing, thereby making ourselves uncomfortable? I watched the group swim and we all walked the short distance back to the house. I told them how much I felt relieved. It was this feeling of oneness with nature. One of them said, “Yep, this is what being a naturist all about.” Being nude is just an afterthought. In fact, after the first few minutes, I was very relaxed. I didn’t think about it.
I learned a valuable lesson. The lesson is that mother nature intended people to spend time outdoors, not indoors. We can carry out normal activities without clothes. This moment was very therapeutic for me. It was very empowering indeed. I use the word “disabled” as a medical term but we are all “CAPABLE” of becoming a nudist.
Marc’s website, Disabled Naturist, www.disablednaturist.com, is a community centered around nudism practiced by people with disabilities. We aspire to teach people that live with disabilities all about nudism and serve as a gathering place for nudists from all over to come together and exchange ideas, knowledge, news and experiences. Our motto is our calling card: “We are all capABLE to become naturists.”