Queer, naked, exposed and sexual: Stefan Mesch

First kiss: 21. First gay sex: 26. First good sex: 29. He is 34 years old right now. And nude pictures of him are online, on Tumblr and Twitter. And he can’t control who sees or spreads them. What you would do in his case? His name is Stefan Mesch, let’s get to know him.

One year ago I saw for the first time “Daily Portrait” photo project by Martin Pavel. For me it was amazing the nude concept because it was not at all about to perfect bodies. And it was the difference. I wrote to the photographer but he didn’t answer me back so I decided to contact some of the people involved and the first name on my list was Stefan Mesch, german journalist, one of the 381 people photographed by a stranger.

Two weeks ago I proposed Stefan to do a videoconference interview and he was very nice and kind to accept it. We talked a lot about many subjects like queerness (I prefer to say gayness LOL), privacy, and sexuality.

Stefan wasn’t self confident about what he calls his quite pale body and as a teenager he thought that people would dislike his body but now is different. When he was a child he panicked when being  naked in front of others but finally Daily Project confronted his fears. Stefan is an outdoor person, nor a sports person, and when I talk about growing up he said he have no great memories about enjoying nudity as a child. For that moment he often felt that nudity had to do with humiliation because in his mind only powerless people were nude so he tried to stay dressed and not let the  guard down.

Stefan is still a shy man. He grew up in a wealthy, rural town in Southern Germany: less than 2000 people, no train station. According to him:

“Everyone has a car, most people own their house. My childhood was okay – but I missed culture, diversity, intellectual life. I often point out that I didn’t interact with lesbians until 2003, when I moved away for college. There were two or three boys who were whispered to be gay in my high school – but no visible queerness”

He went to college and studied Creative Writing and Cultural Journalism; because he wanted to be an author and a book critic. Of course he reads a lot and you can see the bunch of books in his library. We know germans love to read. Don’t they?

“The “book critic” part worked out great, and I’m finally finishing my first novel. There is so much culture – literature, journalism, comic books, TV shows, online projects – that’s important and relevant to me: I’m good at scouting, learning, judging and explaining, and I want to be a part of these larger cultural (and sometimes: political) conversations”.

TV. His favorite German soap opera, “Verbotene Liebe”, started when Stefan was 12 and almost always had compelling and fun queer characters – particularly lesbians.

“I didn’t like their most famous gay couple, Christian and Olli, because they were both quite masculine and sporty bland characters. In 2006, I was hooked on „As the World Turns“, a US soap opera, and the (dramatic and self-obsessed) gay character Luke Snyder. In my early teens, I liked lesbian or gender-nonconforming heroines in “Lady Oscar” and “Sailor Moon”. Today, I love Batwoman and many lesbian or queer comic book characters, often written by author Greg Rucka. “Ugly Betty” is queer, cheery and has a diverse and fun cast. As a kid, I enjoyed dandyesque, foppish characters like John Steel in “The Avengers”, Elim Garak in “Deep Space Nine” or anyone played by Peter Cushing. I liked “Brokeback Mountain”, HBO’s “Looking” bores me. I have tons of favorite queer authors: Alison Bechdel, Marcel Proust, Hubert Fichte. I loved David Levithan’s “Two Boys Kissing”.

Discovering queerness

How many exciting things can happen in a German rural town? Not many, believe me. Since a little boy he always liked queer characters or people who fought gender stereotypes. His town was very tense about masculinity so he felt “queer” and “strange” just for reading books or being friends with girls, not a lifestyle or a way to be who you are without prejudices or stereotypes.

Stefan Mesch 11Stefan confess me that sexually he is more often attracted to men than to women but romantically he had more crushes on girls than men. B BISEXUAL.

“The first time I had sex I was 26 and it was with my first boyfriend. The relationship was exhausting, but worthwhile. Our sexual mechanics never worked out that well. We have chemistry – but we didn’t have much sex”. (OMG) My sexual fantasy is bondage. Also, I have never done anything sexual outside/in nature.”

Coming out

Hey mom and dad. I am gay!!! Stefan was nervous about his dad and waited until 2014 (!) because he didn’t know for sure how  his  papa would react. For his surprised his father was ok. Then gradually he started talking to friends and family members since he was 20.

“I did not enjoy coming out because it felt like I gave up power. I felt like I had to tell people: “Here’s something intimate and sexual about me that doesn’t really concern you. So: Are you okay with it? Or are you disgusted? Come on: You may now judge me.”I came out before I had boyfriends. Today, I love to introduce my grumpy partner to people and say: “Look! He’s great, we’re happy, I’m bisexual!” But before I had a partner, it always felt like saying: “Do you want to know if I fantasize about men and/or women every time I jerk off?” I was passionate about diversity and visibility and talked about that a lot, long before being out to everyone. But my personal sexuality, for the longest time, began and ended with masturbation and some unrequited crushes. I wish I had more queer real-life Berlin friends, and I wish I had more older queer role models.”

Stefan Mesch 1

“Daily Portrait” photo project, the beginning of everything

Before the “The Daily project”, in 2013, an awesome Berlin painter, Martina Minette Dreier, asked him if he wanted to model for an oil painting. He sat for the portrait in the nude, and felt great. Three years later he lost a lot of weight and thought that very soon he would be a balding, sad and awkward man but lucky us Stefan realized that he liked his current body. He decided to take part in the project but still took a long time – 7 months – because thought about shame, exposure and his credibility as a cultural journalist.¿A cultural journalist doesn’t get naked? How boring!!!

You can read the longer essay about this subjec here.

A nude blog

” I don’t like classic masculinity. Also, young bodies often make me uncomfortable. I dislike many standard poses, and anything with twinks/boyish men. I love selfies and quick snapshots, and in 2016, I spent much energy and time on Instagram. I don’t know what “exhibitionism” means: If you define that as “I want to surprise people by showing my penis publicly or unexpectedly”, I am not an exhibitionist at all. I would not undress in public, or annoy or shock people with nudity. To me, unsolicited dick picks are a form of sexual harrassment.But I knew that online, in places like Tumblr and Reddit, people who like my body type sometimes LOVE nude pictures of people, quite similar to me. I have never felt very desired by friends at school. But I like myself right now, and I thought: “Here’s the target audience for your nude body.” I enjoy posting pics to that very specific audience.”

We go further and talk about porn. Stefan love amateurs, and any kind of person who shares or overshares online. I do too. And I agree with him because mainstream porn is just a fantasy not real in the sense that people is performing. I still enjoy it but lately is great to find out people sharing their sexual life as daily routine. Stefan dislikes the porn industry, the clichés, the standardized bodies, the exploitation. Lots of it feels sexist, boring and crude.

“If a magazine offers me money to pose nude on the cover or centerfold, well, the “money” part sounds weird: I don’t know if I ever want to feel like my sexuality or body can be bought. But yeah – I would partake in nude art, or sex-related projects.”

Take a look (always remember NSFW)

Sexual, sensual?

“I’m not very sensual, I’m not very cuddly, I don’t enjoy touching many people. Also, I don’t like one night stand and I have spent many years without any sex. So I don’t think I’m “very sexual”. I do enjoy having sex and making out, though – and if I talk to friends, I’m surprised that most of them want less sex or have less energy for sex than me. I only have to be attractive to the one person that I want to attract right now: my partner. He likes me, so all is well. Generally, I don’t think I’m particularly sexy. But I know how to write well: I’ve learned some techniques. I think that in photography and taking selfies, there are many similar techniques. So: I’m learning how to appear sexy in photos. And I think I’m getting better.”

Nothing worst that a bizarre or annoying moment in your life. Are we sexuality-wise? Stefan didn’t get a wild sex session but he remembers being in a gay bar in 2013, someone tapped his shoulder and said: “Sorry. A stranger just tried to piss on your shoe.” He was annoyed because it felt completely tactless and disrespectful. If you’re friendly and ask nicely (and if he have some extra shoes) then why not?. Stefan is the person to say “Yeah – whatever gets you off. Okay.” But to try that, without asking?

Stefan Mesch 7Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feedback

“I love giving and getting book recommendations, I want to share ideas with many people: I love my profiles and my feeds in these networks. If you ask about nudity: People pay me compliments, and often, gay men from Spain or  latinos (Well, I am peruvian LOL) -speaking countries contact me to say “I wish I could be as brave” or “I wish I had the confidence to show my body online”. So far, I’ve had these conversations with five or six men; and they’re all Spanish-speaking.”

Social network, boundaries and gay slur

Stefan blocked two or three people on Facebook because of hate speech or personal/political attacks. He never had problems with sexual harrassment. In fact he met all three of his boyfriends on datings sites – but he doesn’t like chatting there, and often dislike the tone that German people use in “kinky” networks like Gayromeo or Scruff. Are gay people discriminating others because they don’t like them? Of course they do and very often. Gays gone wild but only with the ones look like them.

“To me, German “dirty talk” often sounds too degrading and shame-centered. “Filthy Pig”, “Worthless Fag”, “Pussyboy with Boypussy”; etc. But even though that tone makes me run, I never personally felt disrespected, no.

Not everything here is about sex. As a journalist and writer Stefan loves reading – books and articles and graphic novels. But as a book critic, ideally he spends 12 to 14 hours a day reading, talking, learning and writing.And absolutely he is not tired.

He is not a chea person but he love cheaps food and very cheap restaurants. And for a while last summer, he fall in love with “Pokemon Go”.

Journalism, good writing and good ideas

If people are paid, they have more time and energy to write. Don’t they? On the other hand, there are passionate experts in every field – who can often do much deeper work because they have much more knowledge. You can find everything good and bad written in the blogosfera. Online democracy make grow up citizen journalism which is great but not the whole packcage is good stuff some is garbage too.

“I enjoy book blogs, wikis, fanzines, social media and all other places where people who are not trained journalists still have a voice. But I think that selecting stuff is my personal super-power: You can send me to “messy” sites like Reddit, and I will ignore the hate-speech, the conspiracy theories and the overall unpleasant atmosphere… and just focus on the good writing and the good ideas that are still there. Theodore Sturgeon said that 90 percent of everything is crap/crud. So of course, 90 percent of “citizen journalism” is crap, too. I want to focus on the other 10 percent – in every field. I’m worried that every artistic or journalistic outlet I know is constantly asking for money: There are so many crowdfunding campaigns and kickstarters and patreon links etc. that I sometimes fear that as a journalist and writer I will never find a publisher who will pay me decently. Instead, it will be our job to constantly ask all friends for money and spend more and more time and effort on these campaigns.”

Literature. His favorite classic novelists are Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Wolfe and John Cowper Powys. His favorite living novelist is Stewart O’Nan. He has a soft spot for Young Adult literature (favorite writer is A.S. King) and graphic novels and super-hero books (Greg Rucka). Favorite German writer is Dietmar Dath. Generally, he admires people who get raw and personal. And also he enjoys domestic fiction – books about grief, sadness or families, often set in suburbia.

The journalist blog.

Stefan took part in a queer photo project, and wrote an essay about it for the Berlin Tagesspiegel The photo for the article was taken by Mike Wolff.

A body is just a body.

One thing I realized looking at his blog the lack of butt pics. Are you kidding me? NO WAY STEFAN!!!

“I move quite awkwardly and can’t imagine filming myself stripping without having to laugh. I think my butt looks okay, but every time I try to shoot a decent photo of it, it looks pale and flabby. Celebrities often post butt pics. But my pictures never turn out like this. I’m not flirting a lot, and I don’t ask what men who see me in person like about me. People who see me online sometimes comment on my scruffiness/body hair. But then: hair is just a common fetish.Most strangers seem to understand that I’m usually friendly and interested: I don’t think I’m super-charismatic. But somehow, my body language signals “I’m smart and alert and friendly”, and I like that. I also like my eyes, when I’m not too tired.”

Stefan Mesch 6LGBTQ rights in Germany and worldwide

He thinks visibility matters: It’s important to see and hear queer people in public, in culture and in schools. He doesn’t think most people even CAN be “anti-gay” once they meet so many queer people that “I’m anti-gay” sounds like “I’m anti-brown-eyed-people”.

“I’d love to think that things get better. But the tone, aggression and hate of all these current backlashes – ISIS and Russia, Trump and European xenophobia – shock me almost every day: We can’t take civilization for granted. Or democracy. Or tolerance. Here in Germany  there is no marriage equality yet, and gay couples can’t adopt, and too many people still think that you can’t have “Christian values”  and, at the same time, openly talk about homosexuality in schools. German politicians and pundits talk about “Leitkultur” (a cultural standard about what it should mean to be a proper, “real” German) a lot, and I think that as a country, we are obsessed with being “normal” and “regular”. Every time queer people want to be aknowledged for NOT “being normal”, people get angry quickly: Ideally, queer people, non-white people etc. should just work hard to blend in, and not address discrimination; the idea seems to be that if everyone acts “normal” enough and never complains, no one would be discriminated against, anyways. I admire people who stand out. Or complain. Or fight to be aknowledged. That’s why I love activists, rabble-rousers and politically queer people.

Single? Looking? Dating?

Since summer of 2014, Stefan is in a relationship with a German florist. Most of the time, he lives with him in his Berlin apartment. It’s not an open relationship, and they both hope that they’ll stay together for decades.That’s very romantic and I like it! Everything is more fun when his boyfriend is around because they’re crazy happy to have each other.

Peru?

For a couple of weeks in 2001, my mom had an au-pair from Peru: a very, very shy girl who was too nervous, quiet and demure. We never really established a connection, and she switched to another family. It felt like having a maid – it was uncomfortable for everyone. I sampled and liked “The Cardboard House”  by Martin Àdán. But I don’t even know any other Peruvian literature but I am glad and happy I meet you Antonio.

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