Ask Alex: Please keep talking about sexting

Hi Alex,

I enjoyed your most recent “Ask Alex” column.  I have a couple of follow-up comments/questions.

I’m a gay guy, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked for nude pics by guys I’ve met on dating sites/apps.  I always politely decline because I worry about the possible ramifications, especially since I’m involved in the local community and don’t want my reputation ruined just to give some random dude a momentary thrill.  However, quite a few of these guys have immediately stopped talking to me as soon as they learned that I wouldn’t be sending them any nude pics. I’ve gotten this reaction from guys ranging in age from 21 to mid-40s.  A few of them even said “How will I know if you’re real unless I can see some [naked] body shots?”  

I find this very discouraging and I’m not sure how to handle it.  At first I wrote these guys off as jerks with one-track minds, but it has become so common and so frequent that I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even possible to participate in the gay dating world without sending nude photos.

Any thoughts/suggestions?

Thanks so much for submitting your follow up question.

I should start by observing that I have had a lot of sex in my day, and not once was it ever facilitated by a nude picture of myself. But compared to the community of heterosexuals who are sexting I am ancient, and I am not gay, so I have been fortunate to never be faced with this conundrum.

Also, I am sorry I made you think about me having sex.

What I can offer in this situation is the mere reminder that putting something in digital form increases the likelihood that it will eventually be sharable with the world. Dan Savage has suggested that the debate over the morality of sexting is about controlling the sexuality of young girls, but I am uninterested in moral debates. I am a “do what you want when you want to with any consenting party / parties” sort of guy. My cautionary post was ultimately about the people on the Internet who are predatory bullies and use leaked sexual images to torment women (though men have been harassed as well). I suggest people take this potential situation into consideration and exercise caution accordingly. Further, I made some points about consent in the digital age, but in an age of hackers and stolen smart phones, broken trust isn’t the only thing that makes the digitization of pictures of your parts problematic.

In the end, for the same reason I would advise you not to email or text sensitive passwords or account information, I discourage sending explicit digital photographs of yourself. Even though the latter act seems WAY more fun than the former. Once it travels from your device to another, that data is just one easy step away from being shared with the world.

At the end of the day, regardless of community norms, standards, or expectations, I suggest that any action you pursue (sexual or otherwise), you pursue it because you want to do it and not because there is a palpable amount of pressure on you. The digitization of an image of your naked body makes it easier to share, and there are potential implications of these things being made public. If you understand, accept, and can live with this AND if you are interested in the act itself, go for it. If you are not, it’s not a can of worms (or dicks) worth opening.

Related:

Please submit your queries by emailing me at alexsteed [at] gmail [dot] com. In case you are cautiously interested, I will be keeping the identities of those in search of answers quiet in the column.

 

 

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Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.