Photos – model Rodrigo from Brazil in London

Text by Chris

I work up this morning and found out that I was forced to log out of my Instagram account taleofmen. Then I knew, my account got disabled again, for the 2nd time. The reason is violation of guidelines: sexually suggestive content. Strangely I haven’t been posting anything sexually suggestive lately. However, there have been some heated discussions related to the BLM movement and racism. I can only think of haters reporting my old content as the reason to explain why my account got disable now. If it’s true, then it’s a new low that I didn’t expect from those people.

The last few days have been stressful and overwhelming. It all started when some people commented in the feed of my main account @taleofmen, claiming I was tone deaf to the BLM movement and someone even accused me of being a racist for what I do with my project, because I continued to post the story of Mikael on Tuesday who happened to be a white man.

I believe that most of my 9k followers know what the project is about. Even though everyone supports it in different degrees, for sure, they don’t see it as a racist project. I do believe in what I do and the meaning of it. Storytelling is a powerful tool that connects different individuals regardless their races and backgrounds. I see each model as an unique person, each story an unique experience. It’s unfortunate that some choose to see them as white or black, young or old, fit or fat.

If the diversity is what they are after, I ask myself why they can’t see the diversity in the stories and see that actually they are all different? Different but yet same when it comes to humanity, love, sadness, struggles… How can they take everything out of context and become so self righteousness without considering the consequences of their actions and words? I saw a post on Instagram calling people to call out, unfollow, reports people who don’t post materials related to the BLM. This irrational policing mentality is horrifying.

I did a little research. In Belgium the percentage of black gay men in the gay community is 2.2%. So far I have shared about 200 men’s stories and photos from Belgium, 4 of which are black gay men. In theory the numbers correspond each other. I am, by no mean, saying it’s enough. There should be more black gay men, more Asians, more POC. I think many of my followers know that I am trying. But is it reasonable to ask me, someone who has a full time job, working alone on this project, to be perfect? Is it reasonable to always demand without giving? Or simply is it reasonable to so quickly accuse without having all the information.

I started to address racism issues in my own way by sharing people’s stories of racism and discriminated that they have experienced. When most of people sent me positive feedbacks and denounced any type of racism and discrimination, I still received some messages saying I was contributing to shaming and hating people. Someone even said it’s the victim’s decision to feel hurt by racial slurs. As if, no matter what you do, there are always some noises that break the peace and harmony. There are always people who disagree and even spit their venom on you.

Of course we don’t live in utopia. Humans are irrational beings. Social medias make it too easy and negative doesn’t need much to do its harm. This is just another episode of my Instagram journey. Sometimes I really wish things could turn back to the time where there’s no internet and social media. It seems that we were much happier then.

Again, I know who I am and what I believe in. Without @taleofmen I will still continue to do what I do. Seriously. After all what matters is not an Instagram account but the action behind it. That’s why I argue back most of the time when someone attacks the main value of the project or reduces into categories. It might seem that I don’t accept criticism easily, but it’s just that I know where I stand and what my principles are. So, the haters won’t break me. Taleofmen is just an instagram account. As long as I can find my followers back, well, I believe I will or they will find me in the end, it’s going be fine. I will always be here. Taleofmen will always be here as long as there are people who want to share their stories. So, thanks again for making me stronger.