'Working with Tyler, who is very open with his sexuality, was a bit of breakthrough for me and my art.'
Location: East Village, NYC
Words and Images: Richard Rothstein
'As a queer photographer and artist, I still have a long way to go before I can shed myself of heteronormative boundaries. And while I will likely never fully succeed at that, I will always keep trying. Certainly, the greatest challenge is expressing and celebrating queer male sexuality and sensuality pushing beyond the heteronormative. And certainly the most controversial and challenging aspect of this exploration is tumescence.'
'Heteronormative art easily and traditionally celebrates female nudity from the whore to the virgin. The vagina and it’s various representations represents life, birth, motherhood and creation. The penis, of course, commonly represents aggression, threat, rape and even war. But all of that is primarily from a heteronormative perspective. And tumescence is one of our society’s most rigid (pun intended) artistic taboos.'
'I would argue that if one discards the heteronormative perspective in approaching male sexuality and sensuality; there is a wide universe of brilliant artistic expression of the male nude waiting to give us the range of masterpieces and soaring inspiration and sensual beauty primarily associated with female nudes. From a homonormative artistic perspective, the penis, both flaccid and in various stages of tumescence can and should be an easy and normal part of the expression of who we are.'
'My newest model, Tyler, is an extraordinary gift, a smart, sweet, gentle man completely uninhibited when talking about and expressing his own sexuality. You could say he’s always horny; in fact, I think he says that about himself.'
'But whether it was his intention or not, Tyler helped me to accept that arousal and tumescence are a significant and substantial part of our artistic story as men. And as men, I believe, we cannot achieve full self-realization until we free ourselves from so-called heternormality and the perspective that confuses insecurity and psychosis with male sexuality. Rape is violence, not sex and the male penis in a healthy homonormative adult is pleasure, bonding and community.'
'I am well aware that I’m taking a very controversial and easily contradicted view here. One could shoot it full of holes, but one must also admit that handled in a certain way, tumescence can AND SHOULD play an honest role in queer art.'