Friday, November 11, 2011

Open Forum Friday: That Face

I got a lecture not long ago from a guy on Manhunt. Yes, a freakin' lecture, like I was all of fourteen years old.

I'd logged into the site and promptly done what I ordinarily do when I cruise Manhunt—which is not to cruise it at all, but put it in a background tab and go about my business. Every half-hour or so I'll check back to see if anyone's tried to hit me up. If they have, as long as they haven't done anything egregious like asking Do you and your buddies want to fuck me?, or haven't flown off the handle because of some imagined slight, I'll respond politely. If something happens, fine. If it doesn't, I don't feel I've wasted a lot of time.

So I came back a few minutes later—I'd been in the kitchen, cleaning up from the day, actually—sat down, sorted through the email, and looked through what had accumulated. One of them was from a gentleman whose profile I examined before I read the letter. He was one of those slightly stocky but not unattractive guys in his fifties, a clean-cut type with a fringe of hair shaved short around his head. In his photos he wore striped button-down shirts and slacks. The shirts were of slightly different colors, and the pants of fewer shades still. Although the photos looked a little like action poses from the Sears & Roebuck Khaki Line for the Older But Still Active Young Granddad, the guy had a nice smile and a good face.

In a positive mood, I went back to his letter, which started, I'm sure you hear how nice your dick is all the time. Promising (and true) enough. You're not going to hear it from me, it continued. I frowned a little. In fact, you're not going to hear how nice your profile is from me because I think it's shameful you feel it necessary to have a photograph of your penis next to one of your face.

And I was like, what? My penis next to my face? Am I self-fellating in some shot and I didn't know? Then I realized what he meant.

There are two attitudes about posting photographs in profiles for sex sites. There's the one extreme in which the guy shows absolutely nothing. No photos whatsoever. Or else they'll all be locked, and when you ask the guy to unlock them for you, he'll reply, I'm very very discreet and refuse. And then there's the opposite extreme, which me. I post it all and unless the sex site has specific rules about what has to be locked (like penetration shots or photographs of cum), it stays unlocked.

Now, this older guy went on to chastise me for five very long paragraphs (on Manhunt!) about how terrible an example it was for someone of my advanced age to show both naked shots of my hard dick and smiling photographs of my ugly mug, out in the open, where anyone could see them. I was without class, he wanted to let me know. I was exposing myself to risk at my place of work, if my supervisor were to happen across them. And not just that, but I was giving the youth of America the mistaken impression that my genitals were nothing of which to be ashamed.

Think of the children!, the note could have ended and I wouldn't have been surprised.

I wrote back a chillingly polite letter in which I included my stock answer that I use whenever anyone attempts to tell me what I must and must not include in my profiles. I thanked him for his concern and told him when he started paying my Manhunt subscription fee—no when he started paying for my cable modem subscription and my computer both—I'd start listening to his damn advice. But probably not even then.

He wrote back something huffy like, I'm just trying to save you grief down the road! No skin off my back!

I don't lock my photographs on Manhunt for a couple of reasons. The lesser of the two is that I get annoyed by the one-word emails I used to get when I had some locked photos, which simply demanded, "UNLOCK." (Though I still get them from the idiots who don't seem to realize that they can see thumbnails of eight or nine photos without pictograms of locks on them.)

The bigger reason is that I just don't really give a damn. I'm not ashamed of my face; I'm not ashamed of what's between my legs. I'm not particularly offended at the notion that someone might think I'm a sexual being. I am. I don't have a supervisor who is going to "stumble across" my profile. I'm not running for public office, ever. And I'm not trying to pretend that Manhunt is a genteel dating site instead of a place where horny guys meet when they want to fuck.

I understand that not everyone is in my position, or feels the same way about their looks or body or sexuality. Some people do have sensitive careers they shouldn't jeopardize by flashing their dicks on Manhunt so that their elderly female audiences won't die of heart attacks, Clay Aiken. Want to lock up all your photos? It's your dime. Go right ahead. I don't really care. I'll never meet you if you don't unlock them at some point, but I won't be dictating what you can and can't do with your profile.

Which is why I was surprised, I guess, that this fellow was so vehement about ragging on mine. Did my free expression of sexuality truly offend him so deeply that he felt moved to write a five-paragraph essay about it? Was my dick so raunchy that he wanted to write a letter to the editor? Especially, if you think about it, that my dick shot was what got him to open up the profile in the first place?

For this week's open forum, I'm curious. What's your take on online sites and profile photos? Do you show all yours, or keep some concealed? If you're half-and-half on it—which seems to be the prevailing style in this part of the country at least—do you show your pearly whites and keep your bait and tackle under lock, or vice-versa? What's your reasoning for not showing everything? Or, if you're one of the types who'd never have a profile at all, or one with photos, what's your reason for not showing?

I'm fascinated about your experiences and thoughts on the matter.


  1. Hi Rob. That guy is a total ass! I hope u blocked him! Lol
    I usually do similar to u. Few if any pics locked. Saves me time having to unlock them for everyone. Exception for sites that specify certain types of pics that must be locked. It isn't like anyone outside of Manhunt can see your profile or pics anyway. The guy sounds like a closet case! Better off without him!

  2. TJB,

    I won't go so far as to say he's a closet case, if he's putting his face out there on Manhunt—that's bolder than many of the actual closet cases. But if he's so uptight that he can't stand the idea of being associated with a dick—and even more, so uptight that it drives him bonkers enough to pen a long letter to someone who doesn't really give a fuck—he's definitely got some issues with having a sexual side of himself.

    Either way, as you say, better off to keep a distance.

  3. I'm probably not a good test case, since my wife knows I'm looking for men, but doesn't want her family to find out, so even I'm not sure if I'm in the closet or out.

    My profile on sex sites is generally a face pic wearing sunglasses and a ball cap. Not particularly identifiable, but enough to know I'm middle-aged, have a full beard and am not covered with festering sores. Under lock, I have a picture of my hard cock and myself (neck to toes) in a pair of shorts or jock, with my belly in a natural state (actually, slightly pushed out) so there are no illusions.

  4. On Manhunt I have some pictures locked because of the penetration rule they have, but everything else is out there. I have some photos locked on the other sites, but mostly because they are "too hot for the mobile app" and I would rather lock than get guys on their phone asking what they are (used to happen a lot). I also make a habit of unlocking the moment someone shows interest, whether I think it will go anywhere or not.

    All of that is to say, I have seen tons of guys, myself included, that show both face and cock. Not to mention we show other pictures that give us away based on clothes or other identifying means. This guy seems to be stuck in an era where gays had to hide. Now, however, if someone at work said they saw my online profile, I would ask who in my track list was them. Online sex/dating sites are so common these days, it would be hard to judge someone for using one. Especially if someone found your profile using theirs.

    And as for the fear of being outed at work, I know that it takes a real bitch of a queen to think that every gay man should be out and proud. Normal people all understand the concept of privacy.


  5. Interesting question since we've all seen photos that show large giant sized weenies and others with tiny ones so it's not always wanting to show off what you have. The honest guys will show what they have, while others may show the good parts or the typical headless reflection in the bathroom mirror shot.

    Each person needs to put what they feel comfortable with and others like that guy shouldn't judge. A little note like hey did you know that's not allowed is ok, but that's about it.

    Why do I have no photo at all, simple, I don't have anything worth And I hate having my photo taken and seeing photos of myself.

  6. Show my cock online? I would never do that!

    My cock is my calling card--what gets guys talking to me.

    On the site's it's a mix and match for me. It's all out there-though the full face is locked until we've spoken. But now that you've posted my ass on here, I don't know if there is anything left to hide.

  7. Face pics: unlocked and numerous.
    Dick shots: locked and few.

    Why? I suppose it's because I prefer looking at faces first and genitalia second, and I prefer men who feel the same way.

    As for your chastiser: lord, what a prick.

  8. Jesus....he probably has lived in Connecticut his entire life, he wears pleated khakis, monogrammed Brooks Brothers button down shirts, suspenders, a bow tie, tortoise shell glasses and saddle shoes.

    He's the one with the problem. Not you. Remember his face - you'll probably run into him in a highway rest stop mens room trolling for cock. But run when you see him - he'll be so fuckin' obvious that an undercover cop will probably be about ready to bust him.

  9. I think it is pretty hilarious that the guy is trying to draw distinctions of class levels on Manhunt. Since when did sex become genteel? What a nutcase. This isn't the first whack that sends you crazy ass notes Rob. My guess is that men transfer their own insecurities and angst about the sort of sexual freedom you possess into angry diatribes. Whatever he's really pissed off about has nothing to do with you. And my guess is that if he had the opportunity to say these things to your face, he couldn't.

  10. Kevin,

    I'm glad you have no festering sores.

    That said, why haven't I seen these photos?

  11. Ace,

    I used to see more face-and-dick juxtapositions in the midwest—and definitely a lot more in the south. I still see it occasionally in my new locale, but the norm is definitely dick OR face, one or the other, virgin or whore.

    I think the world would be a lot better place if everyone were honest about his sexuality, but I also know it's just an opinion, not something I would or could enforce upon anyone.

  12. Cyberi4a,

    I didn't do anything in my profile that's not allowed. He just didn't like me posting both lewd and clothed photographs in the same profile, all unlocked.

  13. FelchingPisser,

    Your ass is infamous now. It's a nice ass.

  14. Urbear,

    And that's fine with me. I get your philosophy. I'd rather see a face shot than an anonymous dick any day.

    (You can send me all yours though!)

  15. PDQ,

    Oh, I know I don't have a problem—at least, not that particular problem. And you know, it's not like we can really chastise him for being closeted when he's showing his face on a gay hookup site.

    That said, taking the extra step to reprimand a total stranger is a little weird and repressed.

  16. Mr Steed, I hope you kept the full text of that guy's lecture. Particularly about how terrible it is to teach the young that cocks are beautiful and should be shared.

    On ManHunt I have locked photos that violate the particular requirements for public ones. Like Ace, I use the locked/unlocked pics on my various profiles as a way of saying hi to guys who've checked out my profile. Gives me a way to open communication if the guy is at all inclined.

    There is very little about me or my life that isn't open in one way or another; if nothing else, I answer virtually any question someone may ask me. I use my openness as a way to have guys self-select: if they can't deal with any aspect of who I am (HIV, piggishness, slutty barebacking, et. al.) then they simply don't follow up with me. Saves on the grief tax big time.

  17. Loki,

    I am in total agreement with your theory. I do tend to get a lot of projection and absolute crazy from men whom I make comfortable with my openness and sexual candor.

    I think I'm straddling the line at which my sexuality goes too far for some people, yet at the same time I'm not so formidable or unapproachable that it keeps them from tossing all their insecurities in my lap.

  18. RedPhillip,

    Yeah, it's interesting that I have the same philosophy about allowing guys to self-select, but I wish it worked out as well in practice as in theory. A huge portion of the men who approach me do so without reading the profile at all. If they had, they would've seen a lot of signs of incompatibility.

    Let's make some dirty photos together.

  19. Interesting. I asked you a related question via an anonymous formspring submission a couple of months ago. You did answer, of that I’m sure, but I can’t find it in the archives so it may only have turned up on twitter.

    So, I teach at a University. Mid 50s. I’m not out.

    One thing that has become very evident in the past few years particularly in large lower level lectures is the number of students who are on their computers or cell phones throughout a lecture. The computers are acceptable - on the assumption that students are taking notes. Cell phones not so. My generation considers it rude behaviour to be texting instead of paying attention.

    I find that I can’t help but wonder and worry about what sites they might be looking at during class. Do I want a tweet propagating across the class: hey look at Prof’s cock? Hell no. I don’t even want them to find a face picture on manhunt or whatever. (Yeah, you could ask why they were screwing around on manhunt during a lecture but you also know that someone probably is.) So, I don’t have facebook, and my profiles on gay hookup sites don’t have facepics.

    I’m not totally comfortable posting nude pics (even on dudesnude!). My cock is also squarely in the average category so perhaps there’s some insecurity there. So, that leaves me with underwear pics. I’ll show plain pics in public but I’ll hide or protect those in which the bulge is a little more prominent, so to speak.

    One final consideration. There’s a (sometimes surprisingly) fine line out there as to what might be considered sexual harassment in a university setting. I worry that a student finding pics of my cock would be able to charge me with harassment. You might think that’s nonsense but the “power relationship” perspective is a strong one and can easily trump others, even what seems like common sense sometimes.

  20. Scotrock,

    Don't you have a no-cell-phones policy in your syllabus? I've found when I'm teaching that all I have to do is put it in there, and glower a few times when the rule is broken, and I don't get much in the way of people texting during the lecture. Of course, I'm not teaching lower-level intro classes to a massive classroom of people, so policing's a little easier.

    My own instincts tell me that it's going to be really unlikely that anyone's going to be checking out Manhunt during class and broadcasting my dick shots around to the other students—but everyone's got their own set of apprehensions, and I'm not going to tell you that yours is baseless or silly.

    Some universities are stricter than others about sexual conduct between students and teachers. I'm not wearing your shoes. I think your reasons for keeping your face pics under wraps are fine and legitimate, if the notion bothers you. I might not be worried about it, but I recognize that my responses aren't everyone's, so you won't be getting a lecture from me.

    I will say that there's no shame in being of average endowment. A lot of us like that!

  21. Hey! you've seen most of me in my "Assets" submission. I can't go around offering too much of myself to other tops, especially ones as toppy as you, or I'll get a reputation.

    OK, I'll get a different reputation....

    I'll see what I can do.

  22. Posting his name so others can block this negative nancy would be going the community a favor. What an ass. If he feels like he is a profile critic then maybe he should start his own site where he can have his rules and then critique as he wishes, but Manhunt is not the place for that kind of BS.

  23. @Breeder: I confess I was surprised at how often guys fail to actually read my profile. Particularly the parts about having HIV. One occasion, where a guy had sucked me off and was looking to set up a second hook up to get fucked raw, I told him I was fine with that, and that since I was undetectable there would be very little risk. "Risk of what?" he asked. Duh. I told him 'what', and we didn't hook up again.

    Since then, if someone is looking to meet up with me I always ask them if they have really read my profile, that they understand I'm poz, etc.

    "Let's make some dirty photos together."

    Oh, hells yes! Any time you're game for the ride - in both senses - I'll be here for you. It would be at least a hundred kinds of awesome if the first pics I have of my hole filled with cock could be you fucking me. ;-)

  24. I though it over and realized that where I have seen most cock and faces is the Maine/New Hampshire/Massachusetts area. In Ohio you didn't see it as much. It was more likely they would have one picture of their chest and then everything else locked. I have noticed in Boston there are a lot of guys who show it all in their unlocked photos, but then have all their kinky stuff in the locked ones. A large number of locked pictures is a good identifier of a real pig.


  25. My experience is more limited to CL, which is more transitory and open to anyone under the sun than sites you have to register for, and therefore a lot more public and full of bullshitters.

    I fully get privacy, which has nothing to do with "in" or "out", so I really don't expect ads to have face pics. If they do, then bonus. In any case, they can always be exchanged after first contact.

    I most appreciate full body shots. It's about context. So that's what I usually post. Up close and cropped photos are rarely helpful, are in reality many times deceptive in their editing, and often just silly. If I'm after a good "old make out and take it from there" session, close-ups of "dicks and assholes" make me click next. Then there are the pics that I have to squint and turn my laptop sideways to figure out what they are. I guess these are pet peeves along with the same pics that I've seen for years.

    But I don't get why anyone would write someone to tell them that their post wasn't up to their standards.

    Another note: in public, the first things the draw me to a man is his face, style, bearing, and voice. Body is secondary, and it isn't always entirely discernible anyway. Cock is usually the last thing on my mind. I literally develop several hard puppy love crushes every day, but they only last until the next one comes along. So I think that fully/mostly clothed shots as long as they're full body and face are excellent. It's the sum of the parts instead of just the bits and parts.

    Long story short, I just like an ad/profile (photos & text) to give me the info I need to know if I'm interested.* Up front, this seems to be on the decline, and I long ago learned that getting info out of men on CL is no easier than getting cooperation out of a cat. It's become so frustrating that my interest in hooking up has dropped.

    *Unless I'm after a sleazy and totally anon thing. Sometimes the wild card approach has had an amazing pay off.


  26. I used to keep a few naked pics locked when I was in a relationship (not sure what that thinking was, since he was well aware I was online) - was also when I was in Nursing School.

    But in the last year or so, I've gone the opposite direction, and have a similar attitude to yours - I'm on a hook-up site, I have no shame about myself, and if you don't like what you see then stop looking. I figure if someone I prefer to not see the pics finds them, the bigger question may be what they were doing on the site(s) in the first place...

    I'm guessing the gentleman in question has a whole backlog of issues that need to be dealt with, and you just happened to trigger several of them..


  27. Ace brought up a good point about demographic culture.

    I am more shy with my pics in my hometown but when I travel I let it all out for the most part but I keep my sex pics locked. I find I avoid profiles with raunchy pics with superfluous texts and quotes from books the person has probably never read. I guess I am old-fashioned and like the element of surprise.