While traveling as a closeted man several years ago, the anonymous 24-year-old owner of The Travelin’ Bum Instagram account experienced a moment of “complete relaxation and serenity” and realized he was tried of living a lie. He’d been hiding his boyfriend of three years from others and wanted to finally bare his truth. Now he’s encouraging other travelers to uncover their true selves by snapping pictures of their bare butts on vacation.
He says it’s “to allow people to ‘free’ themselves from their secrets they have been holding in … bare it all and be their true self, finally.” It’s kinda like the Humans of New York photo-story project, but with butt shots instead of faces.
While The Travelin’ Bum reminds us of “nutscaping,” (NSFW) the fad that encouraged folks to take photos of their ballsacks dangling over beautiful landscapes, the bare butts seem more earnest than those mischievous nut sacks.
Regardless, The Travelin’ Bum Instagram account now has over 21,000 followers and each day the owner reportedly receives 100 to 150 messages from gay men coming to terms with their own identities, bodies and desires. They come in from places as far as New Zealand, Iraq, Patagonia, India and Iceland.
Many of the shots also have testimonies of self-acceptance alongside commenters leaving peach emojis and sexual come-ons. But the project also serves a third function beyond self-actualization and ass-preciation; a handful of the shots occur in non-nude interior spaces, like Grand Central Station and the Dolby Theatre, showing how a little gay nudity can really transform the concept of inhabiting public space.
“The LGBT community has gone through so much for generations, and we are slowly making strides for equality still in 2017,” the Travelin’ Bum told Elite Daily. “By stripping in public, it shows you are comfortable with who you are as a human, and I think people should be proud of that whether you are male, female, gay or straight.”