ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
Gender can be a perplexing thing. Despite being flexible and malleable, it defines and confines who we are and how we express ourselves, especially through behavior and dress. Men in particular are bound by the dictates of gender. To be a “real man”, being manly and masculine (or at the very least not outwardly effeminate) are tantamount. Expression of one’s manhood, especially in public, must remain within a narrow range of acceptable social norms. Little boys are conditioned as such from birth, almost as a universal absolute. But this ignores the full story of male identity. There is a large spectrum of male experience that is deemed off limits by popular society. The men in this portrait series fall outside traditional notions of manliness and masculinity. They possess an effeminate manner, dress, or look, a “girlishness” that is as much a part of being male as weightlifting and football. They boldly embrace expressions of male identity which flaunt the confines of conventional conceptions of manhood and what it means to be a man.
Thus far, True Men has only been photographed in New York City, and has not been published. If i can secure some funding, I will be broadening the project’s scope and reach. To be more inclusive and provide a wider perspective on this fascinating area of male identity, I’d like to photograph men in other regions of the United States from many racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. The idea is to show the universality of this hidden side of male experience. I hope to deepen the viewers’ understanding of manhood and to remind men who may identify with those photographed in this project that they too are true men.
Brian is a Brooklyn based photographer whose work blurs the line between portraiture, documentary and fine art photography. He has worked for Reader’s Digest, Smart Money, People Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, XXL, TV Guide and other publications. His work has appeared in American Photography, Communication Arts, Shots Magazine and the Photo Review. His controversial essay Black Girl was published on Burn Magazine in 2010