Judge Matthew Bullock was an African American nudist pioneer. He tried to join several naturist clubs starting in 1950 and was rejected (along with his wife and children) because of his race. Bullock finally broke through the color barrier in 1971 and became a member at Beechwood Lodge in Pennsylvania.
Born in Boston in 1920, Bullock’s first exposure to social nudity came through skinny dipping activity at a boys club and summer camp. While in college in 1938, Bullock read Among the Nudists, by Frances and Mason Merrill and decided nudism there term he preferred to naturism was a practice he wanted to pursue. He writes after reading the book he thought “This is for me!”
Bullock’s participation in organized nudism was delayed until he graduated college summa cum laud Phi Beta Kappa and completed his law degree from Harvard Law School. As well as a four year tour in the U S Army. After these accomplishments he got married and moved Philadelphia with his first wife and daughter. He made a request to join the nudist club at Sunshine Park in May Landing New Jersey. In the letter he indicated he was black for fear of he and his family being turned away at the gate. Seventeen years later in 1967 he received his response in the form of a note saying he letter had been found in the effects of the now deceased owner of Sunshine Park.
When asked “Why is there only a handful of Black people in nudism?” Bullock response was
I’m really not the one to ask, since I am an ardent Black nudist. However, I can venture some thoughts on the subject.
I suspect that various traditional subterranean attitudes also discourage interracial nudism, including Black women’s traditional vulnerability at the hands of White men, White men’s traditional envy of the supposed virility of Black men, and Black men’s and White women’s shared sense of oppression by White men. Moreover~ not only has nudism not reached out to encourage participation by Black people, but it was not that long ago that Blacks were actually excluded, as my own experience indicates
Bullock who later moved to California and became an original member of the Southern California Naturist Association. Bullock, died at the age of 93 following an extended battle with leukemia.1)The Pioneers Biographies of Nudist Leaders Who Made a Difference Matt Bullock
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