After more than 10 years operating our website on the Shopify platform we were shocked and disappointed to be given the option of either deleting the site's male nudes or covering-up their genitals.
Shopify implicates their "banking partners" but it is, regardless, censorship. This is especially ironic given our mission to increase visibility of and for the queer community. We see gay people, and sometimes they're naked.
Practically since the invention of photography in the 19th Century, male nude photos have been exchanged and collected by men all over the world. In the 1950s and 60s, physique magazines made these images (often with posing straps) widely accessible. They played an important role in fostering a sense of community, conveying the vital message that "there are others like me."
Many photographers have been victims of police raids and intimidation, their photos destroyed, equipment and mailing lists seized, livelihoods destroyed. (Mel Roberts is just one example). All because of the absurd Puritanical notion that the male body is by definition obscene.
Censorship today is subtler but more insidious. Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram and now Shopify ban "genitalia." To be fair, Shopify also bans female nipples. It is probably only a matter of time until we're required to add pasties to male nipples.
It is absurd, offensive, and without any reasonable justification. That said, we are powerless in this situation, forced to collaborate if we want to stay in business. The First Amendment protects against censorship imposed by law, but according to Wikipedia, "does not protect against corporate censorship... including loss of access to a marketplace."
We welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions. Please contact us if you'd like to see uncensored scans which we'll happily send via email (until they start censoring email too).Continue reading