by Rob Boyte
magazine, Nov. 14, 1997
The Naturist Gay-zette,
Naked gay men by the
hundreds! That's the scene at the north end of Haulover Park Beach on any good
weather weekend. Seems a lot of gay men do like to hang out together naked, getting
an all over tan, or sitting in the shade just enjoying the scenery. And of course
that scenery is enhanced by some beautiful head-turning buffed bodies.
But, the nude beach
at Haulover, ever so popular with gay men from Dade and Broward Counties, wasn't always there and it didn't just happen out
of the blue. Like every other of our hard-won freedoms, it has a history.
The nude beach
history actually goes back to Virginia Key in unincorporated Dade County in the 1970s. It was an unofficial nude gathering
place for the free spirits of the time, but when the City of Miami took it over in the early '80s, they enforced a city ban
on nudity and ended the fun.
The nudists at this
time had formed a group called South Florida Free Beaches, and began a "quest for a clothing optional beach." It took a while, so in the meantime they enjoyed nude pool parties at members' houses, or chartered nude
day sailing trips along the coast, or went to 21st Street on Miami Beach.
Now in the mid '80s,
21st Street was quite a gay place. There was the Seagull Hotel catering to gays, and the 21st St. beach was a magnet for lesbians
and gay men. Women could go top free with no hassles, and T-back bathing suites
and G-strings (anal floss) were the next-to-nothing attire. It wasn't a nude
beach, but as close as you could get.
So, in their quest for
body freedom the nudists were forced by the moralists to seek refuge on the gay beach, which was pretty much ignored by the
prudes. Strange beachfellows, forced together by a common enemy. But, the ambience was great, and if you remembered to move the G-string around you could get an all over
tan without so much as a pinstripe. However, 21st Street beach was just a temporary
beach head for the nudist group, who still wanted a totally clothing optional beach.
They focused their
efforts on Haulover Park in unincorporated Dade County. In 1990 the north
end of the beach was seldom used, had no lifeguards or parking lot and had a reputation for crime, gangs and sexual activity. South Florida Free Beaches came in quietly, dealt with the undesirable element, and
established themselves as a responsible nudist group, gaining the respect of park
officials. Signs alerting people that they may encounter nude sunbathers were
put up and other naturists joined and started using the beach. Soon, local merchants
and county officials saw that a dead beach was coming alive.
The nudist group convinced
the county law enforcement and park management that the north end of Haulover qualified as a "place set apart" for nude recreation
as stipulated in the Florida Statute on nudity. While Miami-Dade County has yet
to designate Haulover as an official nude beach, since 1991 it has existed as the "de facto" nude beach that we have today
and the county has put up signs that warn visitors that they may encounter nude bathers.
Now the strange
beachfellows, nudists and gays, are again thrown together, only this time it is the nude beach not the gay beach. And, as popular and well established as it is, this unique nude beach is still under constant scrutiny
by the radical religious right, who'd love to get rid of it.
So, If you enjoy the
nude beach, remember that many nudists are into family recreation, and while the kids might be used to seeing naked men, they
may not be ready to see naked men with boners, men stroking themselves, or any other public sex. Please keep a look out for this type of behavior (don't just look at it - stop it). If we don't police ourselves at Haulover, the police will gladly do it for us. Oh, by the way, the rest room is also being watched.
way to preserve our nude beach would be to join an organized nudist group such as The Naturist Society, International Men
Enjoying Naturism, or Gay Naturists International. Their newsletters will keep
you apprised of what's going on in the world of nude recreation and gay nudists. Most
users of the beach have no idea that the same rubes in the state legislature who attack gay rights at every turn, also try
each year to pass a strong anti-nudity law that would end our nude beach. So
far, each year they've been stopped by the concerted effort of the organized nudist groups.
So, get informed and get involved, to preserve our place in the sun.