Betrayal and the Exhibitionist Writer

I’m writing a piece for Headmaster magazine, an über-cool magazine for homosexuals. Potential contributors are given an assignment by the editors which they then have to finish within a month or so. Their assignment to me is to look at some old photographs (to be revealed in the magazine) and to write an essay or a short story in response to them. So what it’s done is sent me back to my photo albums to look at photographs of men I’ve been in love with, or just loved having sex with. It’s also got me thinking about betrayal. How far will you go as a writer when writing about others? If I show you their pictures, even if they were taken ten, even twenty years ago, would that be betrayal? If I blacked-out their faces, is that okay? And if I showed you the picture of a man I’ve been having sex with recently, who is as beautiful and as sexy as any Bel Ami boy, would you think badly of me? Would I feel guilty? Ashamed?

For the past couple of years I’ve been writing this blog (and a book) about the men I’ve had sex with. I’ve fallen in love with a couple of them, the way romantics like me do, but mostly they’ve been one-night stands, men who I will never see again. Men of whom I have no image to show. One or two of them I’ve met online, so I guess I could download their images and show you. But there’s a tacit agreement that what gets shown on Gaydar (or Manhunt, or Gay Romeo, et al) stays on Gaydar. Is everyone agreeing to this confidentiality contract? I’ve been thinking about taking a secret camera into some of the saunas and sex clubs that I visit on a regular basis. Is that wrong?

It’s one thing to write about someone, but another matter entirely when you show their picture without their consent. That’s what I’m thinking. I met this guy over fifteen years ago. I was living in another country then. We were both in our early twenties. He was the most beautiful man I had ever had sex with up until that point, so I asked him for a picture, a memento, evidence, proof that it had actually happened. He was a tourist from somewhere else. I’ve tried to Google him – I’m not sure I remember his name correctly; there’s nothing written on the back of the picture – but I can’t find any leads. I have nothing bad to say about him. I think his name was Jérémie.

A guy I’ve been having sex with lately is German. He is the guy who looks like a Bel Ami porn star. I met Stefan online, so I have access to his pictures. I’d like to show people what he looks like, but I won’t – that would be a betrayal of trust. And yet, I will write about Stefan without scruples or shame. I don’t mind talking about how smooth his body is, so smooth that his skin catches the light like glass. He has a hairless arsehole and no hair on his arms. He has a bit of hair at the curve of his back. But that’s about it. Even on his head he does not have much hair. I find it all such a fucking turn on. Smooth men are my ideal. There’s something about smooth men that gets me excited, something to do with the femininity of hairlessness, and with the youthfulness of it. And envy. I have been hairy from a young age, and I don’t always like it. I don’t always like the masculinity it dictates, the role it dictates. Stefan has no intention of relinquishing his role as He-Who-Gets-Fucked. That’s what he comes round to my place for. It’s been nice having him round – especially after a long time of not having sex-friends around to my place; mostly I go out for sex. But things have changed in the last few months and I’ve grown unsatisfied with the sauna, with casual sex, with the men I meet in those places. I’ve been wanting a different kind of contact. It might also be because I’m becoming more of a homebody. Now that I have a break from teaching, I just want to stay at home and write and read and plan new projects and have the kind of sex Stefan and I have been having: intimate, joyful, unburdened sex. And it saves money.

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