Ever regretted sending someone your nude pics?
Luckily, the kind of work that I do doesn’t require me to be a particularly upstanding member of the community – I’m never going to run for Mayor, or be the subject of some tell-all expose in a right-wing tabloid newspaper. I’m happy to send nude pics of myself to anyone who wants them. Sometimes, I Google myself to see if any of my naked pics have ever made it onto the internet. I’m always disappointed.
But not all of us can be so generous with our nude pics. I have friends who have to be a bit cautious about what a Google search might reveal - barristers, accountants, PR advisers, professional people aspiring to big careers – it’s pretty common for recruitment firms or prospective employers to do an online search on a candidate before a job offer is made. Being queer isn’t any sort of barrier to landing your dream job or having an amazingly successful career, but – depending on your profession – having a less-than-pristine reputation can be.
The reality is that in today’s world of online communication and hook-up apps, the dating rituals that we’ve established for ourselves generally involve sharing some intimate photos. It doesn’t matter what your career is, if you’re using a dating app and negotiating the logistics of meeting someone new, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to send some photos to each other to establish what’s on offer.
The downside of this charming courtship dance is that even when you think you’re sending photos privately, you’ve really got no control over what happens to the photos you share with other guys – whether that’s on a dating app, a text, or a WhatsApp. You have to be prepared that there’s every chance that those photos may not stay private, that they could end up being published in relatively public spaces.
It’s not that we should be embarrassed about our bodies, or our sex lives. We’re queer guys who have sex with other queer guys – that’s no secret – we’re not pretending to be something that we’re not.
But if you’re trying to impress someone, land a promotion, or convince someone that you’re solid boyfriend material, then you might want their Google search on you to deliver links to insightful articles that you’ve written, news stories about awards you’ve won, maybe a photo of you doing some charity work or on vacation with your friends. You probably don’t want them to be presented with naked photos of you, or an Xtube clip of you displaying your talents with a butt-plug.
So, how do you try and protect your reputation while still connecting with other guys for the intimacy we need? Try to ensure that the photos you’re sharing with prospective hook-ups don’t contradict the image that you present to the world in your professional life, and always make sure that they don’t show you doing anything illegal.
If some intimate photos of you do emerge into the public domain, it’s not the end of the world – it’s probably not ideal, but we’re queer guys who have sex with other queer guys, and exchanging intimate photos with each other is part of how we connect with each other. The world has bigger problems to worry about than whether or not everyone has seen you naked.