I will admit, I am subject to my own vanity, and to be honest I deserve to be vain. I was in the closet for the first twenty years of my life. This was twenty years of being in “forced drag”, going through the wrong puberty, being unable to seek out gay and trans history due to the fear of being outed, twenty years of being ugly because how my head saw me, the mirror and the world refused to reflect.
A year and a half ago I shook off my forced drag persona and went by my true name: Baphomet. I started to finally use he/him pronouns. Nine months ago I started hormone replacement therapy. I can say that since coming out as a trans gay man my physical and mental health has improved. My relationship to others has improved. However, as I keep saying, I’m finally hot.
Is this vain? Hell yes it is. However until you have gone home from a hookup and cried over how ugly you are compared to the man that you just were intimate with, you can’t tell me anything. Until you’ve shaved your head in a rage because you got called “she”, you can shut it.
Like the artists before me such as Warhol, Gaugin, van Gogh, Cézanne, and Scheille; the self portrait is a way to introduce myself in a stylized fashion, and in my circumstance a way to reclaim and reassert my identity and space. For my first gif I did just that: I drew a self portrait of myself as a cartoon character. I am angry and baring my teeth. My big fur coat is standing on end, as it it were my own fur and I’m some kind of angry mammal. The animated text reads: “I’m Gay.” I am shouting this at the top of my lungs. For so long I have been denied my identity as a gay man and been alienated from my own spaces and even currently I have been asked why I even transitioned if I am only attracted to men, as if the only valid way to be trans is to also be straight.
For my next two gifs, I used a selfie I took on my phone of myself in the same coat as seen in the drawn gif. By using the selfie I am simultaneously conveying my transness, my gayness, and finally my right to claim my attractiveness as both trans and gay. For both, created a fur pattern for the background and created a wreath of chrysanthemums (for that hedonistic and vain homosexual aesthetic ala Oscar Wilde). These two layers served as the background for my selfie.
For the first gif I took the original image i created and made raw copies of it. Then in photoshop I played around with their settings, creating interesting graphics to be later used as patterns. In a new photoshop document I overplayed these patterns over my original image, with the opacity for each being between 29-40%. Finally in the time line I played these overlays randomly, and tweeting them to have 3 frames between each original one. The result is something sophisticated, dream like, and slightly disorderly.
My next gif I took my original photo and made several copies of it as a .bmp file. Then I individually converted each file to a .txt file. Within the .txt files I cut and pasted random lines of text from the middle and moved them around. Finally I converted my corrupt .txt files back into .bmp files, and took screenshots of each (photoshop is too smart to open and read corrupted files). Finally I took my original photo, new corrupted photos, and my texture graphics into photoshop and made a glitch gif. Within the gif the images are dispersed and played randomly between each other with the texture images (again set at between 29-40%) also being randomly played over. The result of this gif is something disjointed, distorted, and in all strangely energizing. If the first selfie gif was akin to me drinking tea in my boudoir then this final gif is akin to me drinking magic mushroom tea in that very room.
Through these gifs my goal was to proclaim my worth. I am gay, I am trans, I’m finally handsome and worthy to love myself and to be desired by others. I am reclaiming my image, my voice, and my expression as an artist in a world that wishes it could cast me out a revile me, when it can do either. I’m finally the handsome and talented Baphomet Nayer, and I have earned my right to be as vain as my cis and heterosexual contemporaries.