My friend Stephen Mayes, a respected photo editor and champion of photojournalists, insists that the Web had a largely salutary effect on the sex lives and love lives of many gay men.
It has, historically, a sense of being furtive—pushed into the underground for centuries—but once outside social constraints, it was a lot freer within a private, underground context.” In many ways, these were also the hallmarks of the early digital space: a private, members-only society with its own language and codes and libertine ethos that existed under the radar.
At the same time, Mayes recalls, the digital photography revolution of the 1990s served to enhance the sex lives of those who were drawn to the visual, to exchanging private pictures, and to creating homespun erotica that might invite and satisfy the fellow male gaze.
Sodomy was illegal in places like Texas until the 2000s. But it was a misguided belief that you were addressing a private club.
So the digital camera freed up people.” And those intimate digital photos could be easily traded electronically. If you wanted to, you could place an explicit photo online to attract partners, and you felt it was private. In fact, anyone could register and, more than that, you could download the image—and suddenly your own photo [would be] feral, animal, developing a life of its own.
So when he started extorting money from her, she didn’t even see it [coming].”Bright remembers that one of the other WELL participants chimed in. Yes, he had been a big fanboy and told me how much he just loved-loved-loved the idea of seeing me and he would do anything for me when I came to New York.