April 16th 2020, we are a few weeks into the first lockdown. I had trouble sleeping and felt restless. I was breaking my head why I had been so stuck in my mind lately. I got out of bed and went straight to the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror and before I really knew what I was doing I found myself with the clippers in my hand shaving of my hair. A fear and insecurity that I had been carrying with me since I was in my early twenties suddenly became very real.
It must have been about my 25th birthday that I became aware that my hair started to thin out quietly. I have always been a cheerful and extravert guy and felt great fulfilment whenever I could help someone out or hang amongst others. But at this point I felt that losing my hair gave me a small break in my self-confidence. Through the years that came I noticed that I had put myself less in the spotlight so all the attention could go to the friends around me. Especially when it was in a context of flirting, parties, men, … I started to grow the idea that I wasn’t attractive and couldn’t believe anyone would see me as a sexual human being.
It was a slow process in which I lost confidence in my sexual and physical self and compensated for this by focusing on personal growth. Where I failed to find a connection with my body, I tried to make my life richer with experiences. I tried to talk about it with some of my friends, but I could never really capture the fear and insecurity that was growing inside of me. Some of my friends gave me the advice to get hair transplantation, others said I shouldn’t have to worry because gay guys are only interested in what’s in your pants, rather than what’s on your head. Not what I needed to hear at that time, in fact it made me pull up the wall around me even more.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to start a new job as a coordinator of a Flemish LGBT+ youth organisation. I was very proud of myself and although I knew I still had a lot to learn I accepted this challenge with great pleasure. It is thanks to my job and especially all the young people I work with I noticed that I was failing on the relationship with myself. The most important thing our organization stands for is that everyone should feel safe and good in their body, sexuality and gender. The gap between my professional believes and the demons in my private life couldn’t be bigger. I was and am still so proud of all the young people who stand up for their identity and try to break the straight and cisgender norms. The ones who challenge the world with new perspectives on sexuality and body image.
And yet, here I was, with a freshly shaved head, feeling insecure. I decided it was time for me to renew my relationship with my physical and sexual self and take a step out of my comfort zone. The next day I took a picture of my bald head and put it on instagram. I was proud that I had taken the step, but was tremendously afraid of the possible reactions. To my amazement they were only positive and sometimes even sexually suggestive.
We are now 6 months later. Due to Covid it’s been a bad year to explore physical and sexual relationships. So I take this process one mouth mask and step at a time. But today I am here, naked in front of a camera, not knowing what to expect. Chris is the most kind and warm person to guide me through this shoot and he helped me to explore my limits. I thank him, everybody is beautiful and sexual, mine too.