Bi men are surprisingly honest!
In this Internet age where it is so simple to create an alternate online persona to act out different fantasies and needs I am surprised that all of the men I have photographed so far have used their real names and ages on their personal profile. Having photographed gay men over the years and created flattering images for their online presence, they invariably give me a pseudonym and shave a few years from their age. But with the opportunity to re-invent as well as the danger of exposure it is fascinating these men stick to the truth…at least as far as their profile page is concerned; obviously the truth becomes a much more grey area when we consider the websites are used specifically to enact infidelity. It raises interesting questions about why gay men feel the need to lie yet straight (bi) men are comfortable revealing their truths. You are left to wonder whether this is because as gay men we start lying from an early age…first to ourselves about our sexuality, then to others until we feel brave enough (if ever) to ‘come-out’; whereas straight men have no need for this until they begin to explore others avenues of physical intimacy.
Which brings me to the subject of this intimacy. After interviewing over a dozen men so far I was not sure how they viewed their sexuality. Gay men are gay because they need an intimate connection with another man. Straight men are heterosexual because that connection needs to be with a woman. Therefore the assumption is that bi men can make that connection with men and with women…it is not the gender they fall in love with but the person. After talking with candour to the men who have been part of the project so far I can see only a couple of them fall into this label. The majority of my subjects are perfectly happy in their heterosexuality but enjoy playing with another man. Their bisexuality has little to do with an emotional connection. They do not need to question their sexuality as they are comfortably heterosexual so this leaves them free to enjoy physical intimacy with another man without the hang-ups of labels. For them sex becomes a sensual and pleasurable experience to be enjoyed for enjoyments sake. So I am now left with the question of whether they can truly be labelled as bisexual – is your sexuality defined by who you have an emotional connection to, or who you fuck?
This subject was a broad-chested masculine man so I had no problems capturing signifies of his masculinity. From him I caught both the subtle and the blatant. I am still a little wary about including the manhood but as part of the intent is to normalise this muscle I may leave that decision till the exhibition is almost here. One particular shot from him does create a beautiful aesthetic landscape of skin & pores even if the focus is still a taboo subject.
Addendum….this subject does not feel comfortable granting me permission to use any of his images which places me in a very awkward position. There are a couple of his shots that I would love to use. Do I respect his decision or do I cross an ethical boundary and use the images regardless. I am confident he is anonymous enough never to be recognised but he has not granted me permission to use. Legally it is a bit of a grey area as he had already given me verbal permission to capture the images in the knowledge of where they would be used, but he has since changed his mind so it leaves me with a tough decision to make.