Bare Assed in Vermont
By Will Baker
I recently read a newspaper article written by the AP about how things have changed in Vermont. It seems that an AP reporter determined that some Vermont residents, who live adjacent to traditionally used swimming holes, now have expressed concern about nude swimming. By the way, skinny-dipping is a 200-year-old rite of summer, which has been practiced since the Abenaki Indians lived here--and Ira and his brother Ethan Allen enjoyed doing it as well. The "angle" of the story is that, evidently, these "locals" indicated that they are particularly concerned with the gay nude swimming spots-given the recent debate and ensuing attention regarding Vermonts civil union law.
I can image the AP reporter who wrote the story. She probably blasted up here with her boyfriend for a weekend visit to one of our inns, maybe to do some mountain biking or kayaking. Im sure she works hard, and was looking forward to the kind of high quality stress relief that anyone that has visited our lovely state can attest to. So shes up here for recreation, but shes a reporter, therefore her eyes are always open. And maybe she was on a deadline. And I suppose that it is possible that she stumbled upon one of these "gay swimming spots" herself. Maybe she was foolish enough to even put her very expensive kayak in the water at one of them. And I can imagine her reaction: instant story.
Anyway, I find the writers premise to be somewhat dubious. She says: "A little nudity wasnt much of a big deal in the 60s and 70s. And the farther out of the public eye, the less anyone cared. But things have changed a bit. Vermont has a name, earned in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that led last year to the civil union law." Well, it seems to me that this reporter might possibly be projecting her or his views on the matter onto the reader. I am sure that, as far as she is concerned, with regard to Vermont, " things have changed a bit." Therefore, she might now associate Vermont more strongly with homosexuals than she did previously, if she did at all. After all, this quiet little "republic" was recently in the national spotlight after becoming the first state in the union to create something akin to gay marriage.
But speaking as someone that has been at ground zero during the entire debate (for background see the essay: "Vermont: the canary in the coal mine? "), it is my view that, as a result of the civil union law, things havent really changed much at all. Sure, some folks still harbor hard feelings over the affair, and that really is too bad. But if the reporter had done her homework, she would have found that, by and large life has gone on here with little interruption. The seasons move, and we have come together. And the writer could have determined this had she taken the time to do so. By the way, nude swimming is not banned under Vermont state law, and there is no move afoot to do so. There are in fact so many nude swimming holes in this state, with so many people swimming there, gay and straight alike, that it seems to me that it would be a very unpopular idea.
So if that reporter was confronted by what she or he felt was shocking behavior, on behalf of my fellow Vermonters, I apologize to you. We do sometimes get a little out of control. But please come again. As much as a pain in the ass that some folks here feel that you are--ironically perhaps even the disgruntled Vermonters you interviewed might feel that way, your visits and the money, which, you spend, helps to keep our taxes down so no hard feelings.