I'll cruise, get a cruise back. I'll open a thread and following the brief exchange of gratitude and pleasantries, perhaps with a bratty back-and-forth of scenario building added in, I'll be asked if I have a face picture. To which I will lie:
"Where are my manners, here I am unhooded"
But of course, I haven't forgotten my manners. Instead, I'm feigning a loss of speech and co-ordination while hopelessly lost in a horny tempest, when I'm really biding as much time as I can before I have to play my last card, the one to which I hold most preciously: a picture of me in grey sweatpants, sprawled on a sofa, my hair freshly faded, a wry smile curling across my lips, and a Valencia filter doing the Lord's work.
My public profile on Recon does not show my face, nor do my alts across other social platforms. From the words I have written to the heavily curated pictures I have posted, you can glean the contours of my body and the depths of my sexual depravities, but my face remains stubbornly absent. I'm by no means the only person for whom this is true - facelessness isn't universal, but it remains common enough to make the words "no face, no chat" equally as common. With social and sexual connection - the raison d'être of Recon itself - at stake, the question stands: Why do I choose to stay discreet?
I've never had my face picture publicly viewable, not since my initial forays into the world of kink, back in the halcyon days when the site was ghettoised into specific kinks, mine being bondage. I self-identified then as straight, the arousal wrought from image after image of male bodies contorted through rope and tape notwithstanding. I'm old enough to remember when smartphones weren't as ubiquitous, where you'd awkwardly fiddle with a point-and-shoot and a dusty mirror to get a half decent picture, the inconvenience of which I could parlay into a reason why my face wasn't currently available, buying a few more precious exchanges of wank-worthy fantasy. All the while I maintained that I would not only tread the preordained cishet trajectory of degree-mortgage-marriage, but that I would leave behind all evidence I had ever indulged in the world of latex and rope. It's only a phase, right?
The potential damage that being outed as a kinkster could wreak on one's professional life, and the stories of employers stumbling upon a person's alt - though quite how such a stumbling occurs is anyone's guess - are enough to convince many of us on here to stay hidden behind premiums and paywalls. While here in the UK, workplaces have made considerable strides in LGBTQ+ inclusion, the right to queer pleasure is still at odds with whatever image a given office wishes to promote, and it's the fear of jeopardising a glorious future in government, entertainment, or journalism that kept my exhibitionism in check, and my face obscured when I first signed up to Recon aged 19.
Maybe being 32 and having come to terms with the social realities that undercut QTIPOC progress, my ambitions for political office, or prestigious literary prizes, have once and for all been savaged. The scandals I once feared - a resentful flame leaking long-saved pictures to the press, my cinched and rubberised torso splayed on the centrefolds of red tops, reporters questioning my sexual proclivities and gender expression - now seem not only overblown but slightly laughable. I'm not going to be famous.
It sounds tragic, but I'm lucky enough to be out as both queer and kinky to almost all my colleagues, management included. I may not stay in the same job forever, but it seems unlikely I'll find myself in a position anytime soon where respectability, or at least the projection thereof, is a dealbreaker. But sometimes it's less about specific people finding out what we do in the shadows, and more about an aspect that kink prioritises more than anything else: control. To submit your identity to the masses is a deliberate loss of who controls, manipulates, or shares it on, and I have seen some of my pictures, despite being accessible only to premium members, plastered on alt Twitter accounts, who have no idea whom the layers of rubber obscure. When my face is finally visible, regardless of whether the motivation is sheer horn, intrigue, boredom, or blackmail, I will no longer be able to control where or how it appears. It's true that in an age of oversharing, this isn't so different from posting holiday snaps on Instagram, or political musings to Twitter, but privacy is less a matter of kind than of degree. Do I really want my gagged, graffiti-covered face to be that accessible?
But there is one more reason why I've continued to hide. If you're experienced enough to have a profile bursting with filthy images and a "member since" date that outs you as someone for whom this is definitely not a phase, the first conclusion facelessness provokes is: Damn, this guy must be fucking ugly.
I don't think I'm ugly. But I don't think I'm especially pretty either. Like most of us here, I've had my share of men who on seeing my face, have kindly said I'm not they're type, and others who've kindly left a load across it a few days later. The latter have suggested I may attract more attention if I made my identity more public, which while perhaps true, begs the question of why I would want more attention in the first place, especially if I'm happily taken.
I've learned more in recent years to not stake so much self-worth on the frivolity of cruises, likes, or retweets, but it's hard to not side-eye the numbers others rack up and the imagined dopamine high they must be cruising on. In a world subject to the kind of Eurocentric beauty standards my genetic makeup can never match up against, and where endemic racism and perpetual rejection define so much of my day-to-day interaction, an unhealed part of me still demands the validation and desire of total strangers. If that act of desire can only be expressed through thoughtless clicks on my variant profiles, then what can you do once you place all your cards on the table, your face, body, and fetishes on display, only for the masses to return with a collective yaw of disinterest?
Shame operates to a different degree no matter the reason. Whether you dread being outed as a kinkster, or deemed too ugly to fuck, the same narratives of shame, judgement, and fear influence our decisions to show or hide our true selves. Showing our faces, unfiltered and unencumbered, on a platform as flagrantly sexual as Recon, is like taking the final step out of the closet. But as with the disclosure of our queer identities, I'm not naive enough to suggest that anyone throw caution to the wind and plaster their face all over public forums. Recklessness is no antidote to shame, less so when your subsistence and happiness are staked on you keeping at least some of it.
Instead, for myself and the others on here who have yet to be as public with their own identities, I'm asking for patience. For those of us too new to be sure of whether kink is right for us, to those who are still waiting for the world to accept that queer men are sexual beings just as their cishet counterparts are, to those who would wish our collective definitions of beauty finally break free of their racist, fatphobic, and ableist limits.
I'd like to stay hidden.
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