It was a solar eclipse that introduced Paul Brenot to the naturist culture in 1998.
Brenot, a now-retired commercial and private airline pilot, filed for divorce two years earlier, he said. He was looking to try new some things; check off a bucket list, of sorts.
A self-described "space nut," Brenot said he found a cruise line offering a trip to view a solar eclipse, but there was a catch—it was a naturist cruise.
In that single trip, Brenot could experience three things he'd never done: take a cruise, view a solar eclipse and take it all off.
Three items checked off the list at one time, Brenot said.
So he got on board—and "found home."
"It was the people," Brenot said of that first experience. "You go beyond the physical. You meet the real person," Brenot said.
He went on a few more cruises, and began getting involved in the naturist culture.
Then, in 2002, Brenot moved into . He was looking for a place he could live the naturist life full time after his retirement—a place that was active, "not a place you go to to die," Brenot said.
In February 2005, Brenot retired—one day before federal aviation laws would have required him to do so at age 60, he said.
But retirement for Brenot has been anything but leisurely.
He began a new career as a Realtor in 2007. Then Brenot founded the nonprofit Pasco Area Naturist Development Association (PANDAbare) in 2008, hoping to bring the "splintered elements" of Pasco's naturist culture together, he said.
The resorts and naturist communities were working to promote their individual goals, but there was no representation for the area's naturists as a whole, Brenot said.
PANDA doesn't represent one resort or community, Brenot said. Instead it works to promote the family naturist culture and promote business and tourism.
PANDA also exists to educate people, Brenot said.
"We're probably not what you think we are," he said. "When you come in (to a community) and learn, it's not what you think."
The walls exist out of respect to non-naturists, not because they are hiding any wrongdoing, Brenot said.
"We do normal—naturally," Brenot said. "People are living from their hearts."
The biggest battle naturists face in relating to the non-naturist community are "the falsehoods," Brenot said.
"People think it's sexually based and it's not," Brenot said. "They don't understand why you would want to take your clothes off."
Community residents are required to pass a criminal background check, Brenot said. And residents include families with children.
"We've got people from every walk of life," Brenot said. "What's beautiful is the diversity, and they're all accepted."
The lack of information about naturist culture creates fear, and the way to dispel that fear is with knowledge—distributing that knowledge is part of PANDA's outreach efforts, Brenot said.
"One of the ways we do that is through our philanthropic work," Brenot said.
And that garnered plenty of attention locally and beyond. On Dec. 20, the Pasco County Commission voted 4-1 to approve a $3,818 tourism development grant to the organization's "Eurobird" project, which is designed to promote the area's naturist resorts to European tourists.
The grant marks the first time Pasco commissioners will use public money to promote the county as a destination for naturists, and it's likely a first in the nation.
"It's the first time we can find that a government has given money to a naturist organization," Brenot said.
And there's something you should know about vacationing naturists.
Of the seven cruises Brenot has taken, all of the ships' crews remarked that nudist passengers carry more luggage than anyone, he said.
"Nudists are known for the clothes they wear," Brenot said.
For more information, visit the PANDA website or email Brenot at firstname.lastname@example.org.