In this blog post, Everything To Sea’s Eddie Rahadian talked with Patrick Emmanuel, the founder of MaleBodyPoetry.net, in which he waxes on both male nudity and the beauty of nature. Check out our Q&A with the Hilderbeg-based guy below.
Can you tell us more about yourself? Where did you grow up? Perhaps tell us about your childhood?
I was born in Chicago as the son of a Swiss father and an Austrian mother. When I was three, I came to Germany, to Heidelberg. My father was a lecturer at a university there. I grew up in Germany, so I feel more or less like a German.
My childhood was kind of Christian, and also I developed a strong personal relationship with God. Which then led to the fact that I gave my life to God. Through this, I started to do a spiritual ministry for several decades, which means 25 years, with like-minded people, who, like me, were thinking in a very anti-institutional way. In a way, it was different from the usual Christian setting; but at the same time, many of the teachings were very conservative and classical, such as the rejection of homosexuality, so I didn’t live my homosexuality until I was 47. I was still a virgin.
When did you realize that you wanted to do what you’re doing right now?
Maybe I should separate that into parts. The first part was when I was kicked out of the ministry. I then started the journey to find myself, first with conversion therapy, and finally ending up with the gay community and embracing my sexuality. This was the first part.
The second part was not only about homosexuality but also sexuality as a whole, because I had always seen it as something negative. I was not able to live it because in my world heterosexual marriage was the only option for sexuality. When I started to masturbate for the first time with a good conscience while simultaneously praising God and celebrating the act – it was a very important step for me, that I was able to embrace that.
The third part was what I could refer to when you ask, “What am I doing right now?” If you’re referring to my photographic work… it was through several very deep psychedelic trips that I realized that I don’t want to do anything that is not totally myself. I’m also no longer taking into consideration whether people think this is appropriate or not because it is just myself.
I always like to be naked in nature. I always like to take pictures. As for nude pictures, I had already started doing that from when I was 17. But of course, I wouldn’t allow myself to publish them or even show them to anybody. It was only through these deep inner experiences that I broke through to do it. I realized that people would not diminish their appreciation of me; in fact, it was the opposite. People like people who honestly and authentically live who they are.
Tell us more about Male Body Poetry…
When I started to take pictures, I soon realized my interest was to display the beauty of the male body and the surrounding reality of nature. These two elements coming together, I believe, speak about something beyond the visible. Because where does beauty come from? It shows a reality or a harmony that’s beyond. This is my real interest in naked photography.
For many people – including myself previously – nudity and also sexuality are considered dirty, something to be hidden. It was so important in my coming out process to realize that in reality, [sexuality] is something wonderful, something to have a positive attitude about, something I can celebrate. This is the reason why I also like to put nudity or even eroticism sometimes into a holy context, where everybody knows that it cannot be vulgar because if it was, it would be total blasphemy. For example, recently I took pictures at a cemetery nude. I think it’s a message in itself.
About the name, when I started to do it, I had a poet friend who said, “This is like poetry.” So then I thought of the name “Body Poetry” It already existed on the internet, so I took Male Body Poetry, as I am clearly focusing on the male form. This is how it was created.
I realized that at a certain point that I had the desire to share these pictures – because I consider them art. So when it was about sharing on the internet, I wanted the pictures to be traced back to me. I thought it should be clear where they came from, because everything on the internet is shared around. I needed a name and this is how Male Body Poetry was created.
Can you tell us what you think about body positivity in men?
Many of us have gone through difficult situations during childhood, situations that made it difficult for us to perceive ourselves as precious, extraordinary, beautiful, wonderful. This rejection goes to our body, our soul, our spirit… our entire being. I focus on the body because it is an essential part of our personality. For me, body, soul, and spirit are integrated. Welcoming my body is an essential part of becoming my own person. Most of the time, the body is the most difficult thing to accept. When I came to the point of celebrating my own body and really developing it into what I wanted it to be, instead of feeling victimized by it, I suddenly had enormous energy to welcome and celebrate myself. It’s very important to me that we accept ourselves on a psychological level and also on a physical level. And that includes our sexuality.
Will you feature other men in your platform?
Currently, I’m only posing pictures of myself. One reason is that I’m most available as a model because I’m always with me! Second, seeing my own beauty is also kind of therapeutic. Through my body, I can express what I want to say because behind my photography, there is a message. This message is hidden in pictures that are explicit and expressed most freely through my own person.
I want to express peace and reconciliation in my body. I want to express peace and reconciliation in my sexuality… and that means my sexuality as a whole. Many people see that in the pictures and write me questions, like, “How did you reach such a harmonious and self-accepting relationship with your body?” It looks like people perceive it that way.
I also like to take pictures of other people but my time is limited. Once in a while, I do it with friends, and I will probably do it more in the future.
About the body types, I also think it is very important that we accept that we have preferences and that it’s fine to have preferences. We don’t need to be welcoming of everybody, or to prove to be welcoming of everybody. Personally, I like the supple and young type. That’s just a fact. It took me a while till I realized that my preference is a part of me and that it’s fine. Which does not mean other persons are not as welcome or beautiful or loved, or that I’m unable to love them. But when it comes to photography, it’s my photographic eye, my artistic eye. What I perceive as particularly beautiful is what I want to display. I don’t insist on taking pictures of all body types for the sake of non-discrimination.
Are you aware of the types of body shaming among men, especially gay men, on dating apps? What’s your view on this?
I’m currently preparing to facilitate workshops for gay men, which particularly target the relationship that we, as gay men, have men with our bodies. I realize that sacred, loving touch—I want to say sacred because it has a deeper meaning than just a quick sexual encounter—is where a lot of healing can take place.
In the gay scene, we have a lot of competition where we have to prove that we are the most beautiful, and this is very stressful. And it comes from the feeling of not being sufficient. So for me, I have a big desire to communicate to other men that they are loved the way they are. And that the deepest way to communicate this feeling to ourselves, our whole person, is not through words but, according to my appreciate, through touch, energetic touch. Energetic touch that has a meaning behind it. Because our body isn’t just an outer shell. It’s a frequency field. When we use this frequency field in our touch, then we can communicate a lot of healing into somebody [that stems] from body shaming.