This past weekend, I modeled for an art group that I’m a part of called FRAG. One of the artists occasionally hosts figure drawing in his home, and while he’s also a part of my own figure drawing group Defining Bodies, I’d never modeled in front of most of the people who were there that night.
I’m not a great model. I started doing it when I formed Defining Bodies because male models are (still) hard to find. I usually only do it if we need a second model, since occasionally people can’t make it or have to leave early, so I never put too much thought into my poses before. Posing outside of this small group of friends seemed daunting though, so I tried to prepare: I started doing more yoga, studying poses (male poses in figure drawing books are always so boring and emotionless, focusing on muscles that I don’t really have, so I study female poses instead), and contemplating drawing/painting all over myself because I was worried the artists wouldn’t be all that excited about drawing some skinny white dude and thought I’d need something more to keep them interested.
It turns out I didn’t have much to fear: of those who had done figure drawing before, most of them were more used to drawing women and were surprisingly interested in my weird lanky body. I took turns posing with a friend of mine who’d never modeled nude before, sitting to draw whenever she took the stage, never once feeling as awkward as I was worried I would. Heck, I even had a cat join me at one point:
And then came a delightful turn: during a break, the other model suggested out of nowhere that I try some stockings she had brought. I’ve never worn stockings before! Ever! But there’s a first time for everything, and I agreed to try them out just to see how it would look and feel.
The answer: GREAT.
Again, nobody was bored with drawing me in the first place, which was good, but when I put those thigh highs on, the room changed. I felt like I’D changed, too.
See…in late 2016, after a lot of discussion with a close friend, we determined that I’m pansexual. It felt like finding the lost pieces of a puzzle, and suddenly a lot of things in my life and feelings I’ve had made more sense. It didn’t feel groundbreaking or anything, I didn’t feel like I’d changed in any way, I just now had a better understanding of who I am and who I’d pretty much always been. I didn’t flaunt it or anything, I just told some friends. My relationship with my girlfriend isn’t any different for it or anything like that. It was good to figure out that I’m queer, but I still haven’t really felt like part of any queer community or anything.
But there’s this voice in my head. With our terrible current administration and social media becoming more and more conservative, it tells me I should be more brave. I’ve become more open and vocal about my own nudism, testing the censorship of apps like Instagram and things like that. I think everyone who knows me pretty much accepts it at this point and if anyone has a problem with it, they haven’t voiced an opinion or anything. The one person who made it an issue and basically took advantage of me is out of my life, and I haven’t dealt with anyone like them since.
I still keep quiet about my queerness, though. I’ll wear a pan flag button to art shows, but that’s about the extent of it. I don’t think my art is particularly queer, even though I frequently work with queer models. It was never an aspect about myself that I was interested in exploring in art.
But putting on those stockings and stepping up on the stage wearing them with nothing else felt…kind of revelatory. And the artists were super into it. One of them was a friend I’d talked to about doing nude photography with, and while they didn’t have their camera with them, they took a number of GREAT pictures of me with their phone. I asked another one to take some pictures with my own phone and they were more than happy to oblige. It was electric.
As much as I’m now used to being naked in front of people, posting nudes online and such, I’ve still never felt all that attractive. That’s not the point of nudism, the point is being comfortable with your body, with yourself. I’m still not that happy about my body, there are many things I’d like to change about it, but I accept it and I appreciate all it’s done for me over 30 years.
But that night I felt powerful. I felt my queerness emerge. I actually felt sexy. I wanted to share the photos that were taken, the drawings that were made, and so I did. And now I’m writing this post to share some more.
I can’t be naked in public, and I don’t think I have the courage to dress in an overtly queer fashion in public either. If I get any thigh highs of my own, they’re not going to see much use outside of any future modeling I do. But it still feels good to acknowledge that queerness on the internet alongside my nudism for once, and it’s something to consider putting out there more when I figure out how to comfortably do it.
No matter how strange or out of place I may feel, I’m still proud of who I am.