After more than 10 years of 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 (usually 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, their photos destroyed, equipment and mailing lists seized, livelihoods destroyed. All because of the absurd 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 any uncensored scans which we will happily send via email.
UPDATE November 12, 2022
Welcome to the 1950s! After repeated, unsuccessful attempts to speak with a human at Shopify I received this reply to one of my many emails:
We found that your store, homobilia.myshopify.com, is selling items that we consider to be adult content which are not supported on Shopify Payments, as outlined in section B(5) of our Shopify Payments Terms of Service nor the Apple Pay gateway outlined in the Apple Pay Terms of Service. Unfortunately, censoring the images or covering genitals and bare breast is not sufficient in this case as we can't ascertain the age or consent of the models.
Your Shopify Payments and Apple Pay accounts have been disabled and you can no longer accept payments through these gateways.
If anyone out there can explain to me why one might need the consent of a model if their genitals or "bare breast" are covered please get in touch, because I'm mystified. And Shopify's not talking.