Monday, May 19, 2014

Dan Skinner: The Desire Dilemma

A kiss is just a kiss, unless of course that kiss is between two men. The fact that Michael Sam is black and his boyfriend Vito Cammisano is white, didn't make that kiss any smoother for many to swallow. What always surprises me is how a kiss, or any physical affection between two people, always becomes the focus.

All healthy couples are physical. Kisses of course, but also hand holding, ear nibbling, small caresses up an arm, or down a thigh and of course the ultimate expression of passion being sexual intercourse. It always has fascinated me that it is the physical expression of love that gets the most reaction and not the actual feelings which lead up to it. When one is hungry, they usually end up eating. What they eat however, that piece of chicken or an egg salad sandwich is not the definition of hunger. So why is it then, the physical act continues to be is what is used to represent something that is so much bigger.

Like so many, I was gay for years, even decades before I had actually was physical with another man. I started having sex quite early, but it wasn't with a man. I didn't really have any trouble being physical my girlfriend, I loved her and the physical act was enjoyable and not uncomfortable. It may have been that we were such good friends and I had total trust in her. Although I could physically complete the act, what I was never able to do however, even though I tried, was to maintain any real degree of passion or desire. It was through the almost seven years we were together, from Jr. High, through University, that I learned sex had very little to do with being gay.

Dan Skinner's images are markedly erotic, often sexual and usually physical. Dan's images however don't just these words as verbs to describe what you see. When I view Dan's work, these words are instead adjectives, describing the intense emotions and desire I see and feel.

I have not featured that many couple shoots over the years on the blog. I have found that many photographers who shoot two men together forget they are human, treating them like robots, focusing on erections. When faces are included, the expressions are usually primal, mirroring that of a ravaged beast, finally allowed sexual gratification after being locked away for years. I am not immune to the appeal of such imagery, I am simply not comfortable with it being the main depiction used to represent the passion and desire between two men.

In Dan's images, whether of a couple, a threesome, or a single man, desire is always at the core. Moments of normalcy, ranging from sharing morning coffee together through showering together. They cover the full breadth of emotions of all of us have felt, or longed for. Desire, passion, lust and love, longing, pain, regret and heartache, many of emotions we have all felt and experienced. Maybe most importantly, romance, a word so many struggle to associate with the relationship between two men. The kiss between Michael Sam and Vito Cammisano was not, despite what many want to believe, sexual, or even especially gay. The kiss was an expression of joy, it was affectionate and romantic. Emotions harder for many bigots to swallow, than the act of sex itself.

Dan's eye for romance is fine tuned. Years of shooting covers for romance novels featuring men and women at the height of desire and ecstasy. I believe one of the reasons Dan's images resonate so deeply with many is that when he began creating his own stories he didn't change his method of capturing those emotions. Dan understood the feelings of passion and desire were not, as many want to believe, restricted to relationships between men and women, they are universal to us all.

You can check out more of Dan's depictions of desire on his new tumblr, The Knob Goblin HERE: You can also check out Dan's own novel, Memorizing You on Amazon HERE: Look for Dan's second book on the way shortly!

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