Owning Naturism: An Interview with Héctor Martínez

“I want to make naturism a normal topic of conversation in Mexico.”

Héctor Martínez, the dynamic young founder of NNG (Naturaleza y Nudismo Guadalajara), has recently been elected president of the Federación Nudista de México, that country’s national naturist organization. Héctor and I have enjoyed a steady dialogue over the past year or so, and we wanted to publish an interview on the heels of this election. This interview is in English, to help supplement the excellent content that Héctor and his team have been producing in Spanish.

The conversation you can read below has to do with Mexico, but Héctor’s excellent ideas pertain to naturism everywhere. Naturists all over the world can apply the successful tactics and strategies described here.

Note: The word “nudista” is used in Spanish, at least in Mexico, because “naturista” has a different connotation. There have been “tiendas naturistas” in Mexico for longer than anyone can remember – these are very common stores that sell natural remedies and organic products but have nothing to do with the social nudity aspect of naturism.

NS: How did you get started in naturism?

HM: It was by accident, in 2013 when I read newspaper coverage of the WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride) in Guadalajara. I had to wait until the next year to participate, in 2014, and when I did, I realized that I had never felt so free, happy, and fulfilled. I had never felt such joy. I decided I couldn’t wait another year for another WNBR, so I started searching for other nudist opportunities. I found the Federación (Nudista de México), contacted them, and they put me in touch with someone who hosts a nudist temazcal [info on what is a temazcal, here and here]. Soon after that, pretty much organically, some close friends and I started organizing nude events in different locations, like a nude baby shower we did once, or birthday parties at people’s homes.

NS: Do you have a favorite naturist location or activity?

HM: No, anyplace is good and any reason is good – it’s more about the people involved. I’d say my favorite is to be with like-minded people where you can express your true self. People who are genuine and open. I’d also say my favorite NNG event so far was this year’s spring festival, because it was a terrific location, there were lots of people, and (laughs) those of us who were organizing weren’t as stressed out that time.

NS: You’ve had, by now, lots of experience getting people involved in naturism, and stellar success. What are good ways to interest people?

HM: Be open and genuine about it. Normally we judge people by their personality traits to assess whether they would be likely to participate in naturism or not, but the thing is, you never know. We have to just speak truth, we have to own it. Also, social media is key, and we have to get rid of anonymity. We have to show our faces, smile, and convey confidence through social media. People see the respect.

NS: Following along those lines, could you contextualize the success that you’ve had with NNG? What’s been the key to success?

HM: The consistent use of social media. When we started NNG, it was hard to find much online other than content written in English. So we created a lot of our own content, podcasts and videos in Spanish, which has been critical. Transparency and creating a real expectation – making the videos as close as possible to reality. People will come to an event and say, I wanted to believe the videos were real, and I’m so glad I did.

NS: I know you’ve had to deal with censorship regarding your videos. Would you add that to the list of keys to success? Social media, transparency, creating a real expectation, creating content, and fighting censorship?

HM: Definitely. The censorship guidelines are ambiguous and the acts of censorship are arbitrary. We had one video censored by YouTube that was not returned to us, and there was nothing for anyone to complain about, we had covered the body parts that some people get upset about. Yet other videos that might have been less carefully covered were returned.

NS: And you’re up to, what, 2000 YouTube subscribers now?

HM: (checks screen): 2143.

NS: That will definitely jump! What would you say has been the most successful event NNG has hosted so far?

HM: It was the spring festival last March that I mentioned earlier. There were 75 people in attendance, which was our largest number yet, plus it was just such a great day.

NS: So now you’re getting started as president of the national federation, and I understand you were elected as the leader of a team of five people who presented a prospectus for what you want to accomplish. What are the main objectives?

Héctor Martínez (center) with (clockwise from top left),
Arturo Gutiérrez, Jacqueline Cuevas,
Candelario Banderas, and Jazmín Baltazar.

HM: We’ve summarized the points on a video, and the text is online too – the video and text are both in Spanish. The objectives are: (1) to consolidate and represent all nudist groups in Mexico; (2) to achieve greater recognition for the organization, and greater cooperation not only with institutes like the tourism office, universities and museums but also human rights organizations; (3) to be an inclusive organization working with groups or individuals not represented by the kinds of institutions above; (4) to publish the first edition, online, of the Atlas Nudista de México; (5) to create at least one more officially recognized nude recreation area similar to Zipolite’s official recognition as a nude beach in 2016; and (6) to have built, by the end of the two-year period, a federation with hundreds of members and many affiliated groups. I would add that I also want to push the federation to be a greater voice internationally, both within Latin America and in the greater world.

NS: It’s a strong platform, and I saw you guys won with a significant percentage of the vote.

HM: It was a margin of about 3 to 1.

NS: So here’s the big question we’ve been leading up to. In your opinion, what is the future of naturism, and how do we get there?

HM: What’s needed is people willing to ‘own’ the lifestyle, to come out of the closet, show faces and show ownership. We need to promote naturism as something powerful that can transform the world by promoting inclusivity, transparency, ownership, and communication. We need to get young people involved in active leadership – and here’s the thing, that’s not a criticism of current leadership. I am absolutely not saying that older people should step aside. It’s just that there needs to be continuity. We need all kinds of people involved, and we need to move forward with new media formats as they continue to be created. New people need to get on board and bring their knowledge.

NS: In the US it’s common to hear or read about older naturists asking where are all the young naturists, and wondering how to get younger naturists to their clubs.

HM: A major flaw I’m seeing is that naturism sometimes seems stuck in formats like magazines and emails that younger people simply don’t read. It’s not that younger people aren’t interested, it’s just that they don’t tend to read these forms of communication, and the result is that the continuity between generations risks being lost.

I’m young, relatively, and the way I see it is that there are pros and cons associated with youth today. The major advantage is that we (younger people) have inherited a more diverse and inclusive society. We have less shame and more ownership of things like saying, ‘I’m a vegetarian,’ or ‘I’m bisexual.’ The new generation not only is not ashamed but is proud to own statements like these. So those of us who are naturists are not ashamed to talk about it, to be up front about it. On the other hand, the disadvantage is that the young generation is at a life stage with little economic stability, very little income to be able to afford things like membership at a nudist club or going on a vacation to a nudist resort.

In fact, at least in the situation I’m looking at, leading naturism is a full-time job with no pay. Not only will I be president of the federation for a two-year term, but also, as it turns out, I’ll be heading a larger Latin American group at the same time, because it had been previously agreed that the president of the Mexican federation would lead the recently created CLANUD (Confederación Latinoamericana de Nudismo)* for two years as well. The only way to make progress in all this is through the support of people who can help, which is why I set up a Patreon account. I want to be able to treat this position with the seriousness it demands, as a full-time job, but the way the federation is set up, according to Mexican tax regulations, there is no budget for a salary.

NS: Smart. Do you have any concluding remarks?

HM: I’m very grateful for your help and the help of many other people who have reached out in dialogue and continue to do so. I’m not going to let people down. I want this to be about generating opportunities. I want to make naturism a normal topic of conversation in Mexico, at dinner tables, in schools, on the street.

NS: Gracias, hermano.

HM: Gracias a ti. Estamos en contacto.

* CLANUD was signed into existence in April 2018 in Brazil, at the ELAN meeting of Latin American naturists.

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