I like seeing pictures of men before I have sex with them. I don’t think that’s shallow. Neither do I think that’s asking too much on gay apps. And, yes, I absolutely am judging you based on your pictures and appearance — especially when our interaction is going to be strictly sexual, I need to know if I am attracted to you. That’s going to heavily influence whether I want to have sex with you and whether I will enjoy having sex with you. (Obviously, right?)
Of course, there are some men who don’t want to send pics of their face because they aren’t out to everyone. These men often refer to themselves as being on the “down-low” (DL) or will say they’re “discreet.” (Please note the spelling, as discrete means something different, guys.)
Just to clarify before I go any further, I’m not talking about men who use a headless torso for their profile pics but will proceed to send you a face pic upon request. I’m talking about those discreet guys who refuse to show their face, even upon request, and will say so in their profile.
Now, some of these men are married to women (or have a significant female partner) and are cheating on them. Others aren’t cheating on their spouses but simply aren’t publicly out for whatever reason — maybe internalized homophobia or fear of rejection from their family members. A number of these discreet guys aren’t exactly sure of their sexual identity but know they have attractions to other men and want to explore that in a way that’s private and confidential.
So for one of a million reasons, there are a number of discreet guys who aren’t out yet. They still, however, have a sex drive and want to have sexual relations with other men. That’s why many of them are on apps like Hornet.
Often I see profiles that shame men who are discreet. These profiles will say things like, “Be OUT! Need to see your face!” or “Don’t care if you’re DL. Not my problem.”
This is undoubtedly true. A stranger on the internet who isn’t completely out as gay or bisexual isn’t your problem, which begs a question: Why do you care so much? There are plenty of men who are willing to show you their face, so why are you getting so annoyed by those who aren’t?
Usually I wouldn’t bother writing about this, but I think this is a problem among gay and bi men.
Shaming isn’t how we should respond to men who are closeted, confused or figuring out their sexuality. Of course I don’t think it’s right for men to cheat on their wives with other men. I’m not going to sit here and say, “I’m so glad you’re getting blown by dozens of men in saunas unbeknown to your wife. It’s important that you explore your sexuality behind the back of the love of your life.” No. Obviously not.
But I do think we as a community need to create a welcoming space for others so they feel they can come out and talk to folks about their sexuality. Blasting men in the closet on gay apps isn’t doing that. In fact, it’s doing the exact opposite. It increases these men’s shame, pushing them deeper into the closet. It makes them feel more alone. More isolated. These men then internalize their homophobia even more, because this time the hatred of their sexuality isn’t coming from straight people but from gay and bi men.
Again, I’m not saying you have to have sex with them. I think you can politely decline, saying, “I need to see your face to know if I’m attracted to you. Sorry.”
That’s what I do.
So, yeah, I get it. You want to see their face before you bone. But let’s also remember that a number of us don’t feel like we’re able to come out. In a sense, those who are out are lucky; we are arguably privileged that we felt safe and accepted enough to be comfortable in coming out. So let’s do our part in creating that safe space for other men — one where they, too, can feel comfortable coming out.
A simple way to do this is simply by not shaming them.
Featured image by amoklv via iStock