Tim from Belgium in Berlin

There’s a lot of dramatic stories I could tell about my life. From abuse to addiction and self-destruction. But it’s not the story I want to make myself about. My life changed radically when I got sober in 2016. All of a sudden my mind cleared and I had the impression I had been given a second chance to happiness. I took it with both hands and am not planning to let go of it.

For the last years I’ve been training myself to focus on the positive in life and to practice gratitude. It’s a concept that was practically non-existent before the age of 30 (I’m 35 as I write this). I say training because I feel like it’s an exercise like weight lifting – let’s say a mental muscle you have to develop and maintain. It’s made my life so much easier.

I love sexuality and I love my own sexuality. I literally defend it with my life. I’m anti-oppression of any form of ethical self-expression and try to be as free from judgment as I can towards others. It makes me softer for myself, because if I judge others, I know I will judge myself. Loving acceptance of others and of myself has become key in my daily practice of life. Which doesn’t make me a saint, though.

Like many LGBTQ+ kids I used to be ashamed about my sexual preferences, my mannerisms, just about myself in general to be honest. I never identified with the boys, always with the girls. I wanted to wear dresses, put on make-up and walk in high heels. When I was 10 I used to put on my mother’s clothes and make-up on Wednesday afternoons when I was alone at home. Once my brother caught me. It felt like sin. I was so ashamed. And what for?

Doing this shoot is not something that was ever on my bucket list. It’s just an opportunity that came my way and which triggered my interest. It’s how I am in life too – I usually don’t make rigid plans but keep my eyes open for opportunities and jump on them if I feel like it. The minute I got undressed I got extremely excited and aroused by the situation of standing naked in front of a stranger in my house. Fun fact: towards the end of the shoot I almost fainted – sudden drop in blood pressure. Put my finger in the Nutella jar. Happy ending.

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