Happening each July, it is truly a week of love and inclusivity where all are welcome and embraced. I wanted to make something that celebrated not only body diversity, but the spirit that is Bear Week.
I partnered with Steven Azar, owner of the Stowaway Guesthouse and CEO of the Stowaway Society for this photo project. The newly formed nonprofit's mission is to support a diverse community through the creation of safe spaces and affordable housing. The work is rooted in providing access to the artful traditions of Provincetown that bring out the best in all of us. When you stay at the guesthouse (www.stowawayprovincetown.com) it's likely you'll share common spaces with an artist in residence onsite. During your stay, you will experience the creativity the house embodies through the work of many artists who have passed through the space, time and again.
All the images were made on the grounds of the Stowaway Guesthouse, Provincetown, MA between July 12th and 20th, 2021.
“It's been a few years since I felt positive about my body. A lot stems from my last boyfriend dumping me for a male model. It was when I realized that for this person, I might have been smart or funny, but not good-looking enough. This project spoke to me in that I *was* good enough, and that I shouldn't be ashamed of who I am or how I look.”
“For the longest time, I did not feel comfortable as myself, and I let that hold me back. Luckily I found the positivity that the bear community provides, and I’ve been able to truly embrace myself. I honestly believe there is nothing sexier than confidence, and confidence can come at any size!”
“We live in a world that is often cruel to people in fat and trans bodies. They call us ugly, and they shame us for existing — we refuse to be ashamed. We are proud. We are beautiful. We are worthy of love. We will celebrate our bodies, and we will show that love to the world to do it.”
“To rediscover and redefine what it means to be an older gay man who is still potent, alive, desirable and part of this world. To not be marginalized to obscurity, but to be present. Despite the relatively new appreciation for mature men in gay society, with the Daddy figure and all of that, I still find that many gay guys are very uncomfortable with aging, and look at the signs of aging as a failure or a curse.”
“I did this to encourage folks who look like me to dream a new dream for their bodies. If only we are capable of seeing beyond the archetypes and sculpted bodies often visible in hypersexualized queer spaces. If only we are capable of seeing beyond the archetypes and sculpted bodies often visible in hypersexualized queer spaces. I also wanted to explore more spaces of my own inquiry into Black joy making and its meanings as central to my own life’s experiences.”
"I’ve been in other projects of Ron's and he's photographed many friends. Those he photographed nude seemed to me to have to possess exceptional bodies, whereas I volunteered to be photographed wearing period fashion, costumes, etc. In a sense, this reflected some of my body self-negativity. Yet I admired Ron and his work so much that when he asked if I'd to shed the outfits for a nude body positivity series, I quickly agreed, while thinking I'd deal with being shy later. Further, I underwent heart surgery last year and the chest scar surprisingly never bothered me, so posing with it clearly visible was a way to mark that positive medical experience. It was time to overcome my old misgivings. A good decision... and probably too late to change my mind now!
“After 2020 I wanted to make most of it with my first trip to Provincetown, this was the first time being naked in front of a camera. The idea of body positivity is something I gladly support as I like to feel comfortable in my own skin and everybody should. The experience was amazing, in a beautiful setting with so much history and surrounded by beautiful art.”
“We live in a very youth and good looks-driven society, so men of my age range and body type often feel ignored or invisible. Being involved in this shoot made me feel that we all bring our own unique style and looks to the world.”
Crown by Mike Sullivan
“I think all my childhood I've been called fat and I have always seen it as a cause for concern. My beauty was not enough. My health was not good enough. As an adult I know I have to actively work to know that I am beautiful and healthy. Even when I'm in certain spaces and I question my body's spatial volume and feel judged by eyes unseen. This photoshoot was a way to put my body forward as something that can take space and, hell, is even celebrated.”
“As I've stepped into pornography this year I'm finding there's a lot of reliance on archetypes – twink, daddy, jock, bear – and I don't fit neatly into any of them. I have to remind myself that I'm doing my own thing, that I like it and so do others. My value is not based on how much or how little I hit those limited marks.”
“I was happy to show off my bare naked, chubby, hairy, scarred body to the world. To simply say 'yep, that's me, my body isn't perfect, and I'm just fine with that,' and also hoping that with showing how comfortable I am putting my fat ass out there for everyone to see, other people with love handles, stretch marks and wrinkles might feel a little more comfortable with their own bodies.”
“We took part in this photoshoot because after many years, and despite what the media projects as a perfected and ideal beauty, we actually realized that we look like the majority of men in the world. It took us a long time to accept that we are all attractive in our own way and to own our self-worth and sexuality.”
“Personally, the older I get the more I struggle with my body image and its relationship to what a 40-something-year-old gay man is 'supposed' to look like. Gen X lost a huge chunk of our elders to AIDS and as a generation, we are sort of making up what 40 and 50 look like. I want to be able to show that we can be happy and cozy in our bodies as we age and that we don't have to conform to an unrealistic ideal.”
“After surviving and thriving after a debilitating illness, my body has greatly changed. I’ve dropped and kept off around 100 pounds so my current body is unfamiliar to me. Having grown up with a lot of body-shaming, I found this as an opportunity to show off my new body and celebrate where I am now.”
“As a gay man, I have lived so many different body types through the years, yet I have always struggled, emotionally and physically, with a bit of extra weight that has caused me — especially in the "perfect body" culture of being considered "hot" as a gay guy. I also have low self-esteem, based on the fact that I don't look like all the other hot, masculine guys...but doing something like this...naked and in power of who I am as a gay man, not perfect in body but confident enough to share not only the art of the photograper, but maybe allow someone else who has love handles, or a belly, or whatever, to feel sexy enough to be naked and be free and accepted by themselves.”
Frank: “I am not generally comfortable being naked around others. Doing a shoot like this pushes me past self-imposed boundaries and limitations.”
Nathan: “I’ve always had a standing policy to try and say yes if another artist asks for my participation. As a filmmaker, I value and celebrate collaboration. I’ve also always had a bit of an exhibitionist streak even though I’m squeamish when it comes to actually looking at pictures of myself.”