So I recently contacted a friend in the industry who was acting a bit "strange" about their identity and I couldn't figure out what was going on... I was concerned for them and so I sent them a message to ask if everything was okay and found out that it, in fact, was not. It seems that someone saw their work, figured out who was behind it and revealed their work to everyone that my friend knows. They were mortified.
I can't blame them. I've been there before... So this is what I wrote to them and I'm sharing it with all of you, in case you ever find yourself there, too:
"It's devastating, I know... it was my sister who discovered the works and my favorite aunt that threatened to call Child Protective Services. It's people that are scared of this work, scared to recognize the beauty in what many of us are taught to think is 'dirty' - which is sometimes just the beauty of the naked body. I don't know all of the details of your saga, but here is what I did: I owned it. I told everyone involved that I was proud of my work, that I loved it - I loved doing it and I loved showing it. I thought there was great beauty in the expression of my art and though I wasn't thrilled about my dad seeing me naked, there was no shame in my art.
"Once in a while, I'll make a joke about my 'porn career' to acknowledge to them that some might consider it uncouth, however, once I owned my art and once I told them how much I loved it and was proud of it - my mom and dad both came around. My dad mattes and frames my art now, he's looked at my portfolio, he's looked at the journalism pictures I took of the Dirty Show, and even expressed interest in possibly going to some of my shows in the future. My mom will look at the art in the privacy of our home, but won't go to the exhibits. I don't know you would feel about this and whether or not you feel free to say that you're not ashamed, but - just like taking off your clothes - it can be quite liberating and often shuts up critics. They'll only gossip (at least most people) if they think you're embarassed. The cat's out of the bag now... so don't try to hide it anymore."
So here's to freedom... I'll raise the toast with a sampling of self-portraits, some old and some new...