I caught up with Andrew Hopkins from Gayhub to talk about why the LGBTQ community needs new platforms to help share our stories.
When did you become aware the censorship of LGBTQ voices was an issue for content creators on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram?
This LGBTQ social media platform has been a fast and furious and exciting journey that began just three months ago when I was hired by VS Media — the parent company of Gayhub — to help make this platform and vision come to life.
Prior to this role, I was vaguely aware of the issue of censorship of gay media from the news and internet, but I’m now fully informed of the censorship and the demonisation of gay media that’s occurring — specifically on YouTube.
I’ve became very passionate about providing a place where the LGBTQ community can voice uncensored opinions and views.
The technology behind a video sharing platform like YouTube is obviously really complicated — how difficult is it to establish a video-sharing platform?
Over the past three months, we recruited our 15 initial Gaylebs, collected their videos, streamlined the functionality and capability of the current site, and designed the platform.
We have a great team in place here that have made it an easy and fun process versus a complicated one. Kris Welcome is our SEO Director, John Kuper is our videographer and designer, Jeff Wilson is our Director of Business Development, Marni McClaine is our dedicated Administrative Supervisor, and I’m the Gayhub Project Manager. Over the past three months, it’s been a successful and exciting journey because of this outstanding team.
We’re already enlarging Gayhub to include a workout series with Ryan Rose, The L Word actress Elizabeth Keener is joining, I Am Cait star Chandi Moore is onboard, gay porn star Cameron Foster is doing a series on Hot Cars and Hot Bods, and a Project Runway contestant are our most recent Gayhub recruits.
What content have you launched with initially?
Our Gaylebrities are content creators. They have their own perspectives and passions to share with the world, and we simply want to give them the tools to bring their visions to life — such as Brad’s political satire talk show, or Ongina’s video diary The Ongina Monologues.
The content that we’re initially launching with is content created directly from the Gaylebrity. The content is categorised into different categories — including entertainment, politics, travel, and fashion. We’re a project that’s quickly evolving, and we have exciting plans for future content.
Will it just be video content that can be uploaded to Gayhub, or can creators use Gayhub for other forms of content as well?
We definitely want our Gaylebrities to use Gayhub for other forms of content as well. They have a timeline and, starting in August, we want them to use it to give their opinions on different issues, and as a place where they can interact with their fans. They can type out messages or post pictures and GIFs on their timeline to express themselves as well.
If Gayhub is a safe space for LGBTQ content creators, what will the limits be? Will there be porn? Nudity? Explicit discussions about sex?
We don’t allow nudity on the main platform. However, we have an adults only section with gay porn videos and gay porn channel producers. I think of it like Blockbuster back in the day. You have your mainstream videos up in the front of the store, but behind a curtain in the back, we provide adult material for our willing adult users. We don’t want to penalise the porn. We’re all adults, and pornographic content is viewed by all the same people that are watching the mainstream videos, so why not be a ‘hub’ of all gay content.
If I’m ready to launch my channel on Gayhub, how do I go about it?
If you want to be a Gaylebrity and think you would be a good fit, then please feel free to contact us with a short description of yourself along with your social media links. If you would like to be a channel producer, then do the same, and give a description of your channel along with a link to your content to be considered. We want to gain momentum and grow to 100 different LGBTQ Gaylebrity voices to give uncensored LGBTQ perspectives and views, so please apply today!
We want to hear your opinion
Beach Boys in the Buff
I caught up with artist Marc DeBauch to look at his series of work titled Beach Boys.
When did you discover and start to explore your passion for art?
I started drawing and painting when I was three years old. Before I was five, I remember creating a crayon drawing of the Sinking of the Titanic on the rough plaster of the living-room wall of my parents’ house. It was impossible to remove — my parents weren’t happy with me, but after that they provided me with enough art materials to pursue my creative interests without destroying their home.
When did you start specialising in painting naked men and creating erotic art?
It was 36 years ago when I started painting male nudes and selling them in a local gay book store. Then, in 1995, I entered two paintings in the Tom of Finland Foundation’s Emerging Erotic Artists Contest. I was won first place, which opened the door for my art career, as I was immediately approached by galleries and magazines that wanted to feature my art.
This gave me the confidence and notoriety to exhibit and sell my work at erotic art fairs and gay events. At that time, the internet was just emerging, so my friend Andrew created a website for me, which was a fantastic tool to get my art out to people around the world.
You’ve written that Tom of Finland is one of the major influences on your work — when did you first encounter the work of Tom of Finland?
I remember seeing Tom of Finland’s art in a porno magazine my friend had in high school. I was just amazed at the sexual tension, outrageous anatomy, and attention to detail in Tom’s art.
This was back in the early 1970s, so gay porn was just emerging legally in magazines and films. At the time, I wasn’t talented enough to draw the human figure accurately. But, I was fascinated enough to want to try. My sister’s boyfriend was a photographer, and he gave me his dark room equipment — back then you actually had to develop film, as there were no digital cameras.
I talked a friend into posing naked for me while jacking off, and I developed the film and made some prints. I was 14 years old, photographing another 14-year-old boy. It was very exciting creating my own porn! Unfortunately, my dad — being supportive of my art — wanted to see the photos, and of course I couldn’t show him. Not only did he not approve of gays, he didn’t want his son to be gay. He would have probably hit me if he knew I was a homosexual creating gay porn! So, I destroyed the photos almost in front of him, while saying — “The photos didn’t turn out and I would show him better work at another time.”
I was scared and freaked out. I knew I was self-censoring. But I also realised that if I was going to create erotic art that I would have to do it in secret. When Tom of Finland began drawing naked men, he also had to make his art in secret. I think most erotic artists learn to be very careful about choosing the right audience to exhibit their work to.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from people I know. I’ve been fortunate to see and meet many beautiful men in my life. Capturing their beauty and illustrating them in a unique way, is my goal.
What’s your creative process?
My creative process is different every time I paint. Sometimes an idea for a painting just pops in my head and I try to find model to pose for a photo to match my vision — that’s often the easiest route.
I rarely work from a live model. My paintings take so long to create — I often work all night on a painting — so, finding a model to sit for that long of a period and whenever I want them, is impossible. I use the photos of my models as reference.
Often, I look through hundreds of images and piece things together in a collage. It’s more like a jigsaw puzzle — lots of pieces missing, and my mind fills in those missing pieces with an arm from this model, the chest from another, the dick from another, the face from another, and so on, until I have the entire figure. But then I have to decide how the light and setting will pull all of those puzzle pieces together.
I have dozens of photos that are my references for every detail of plants, animals, rocks, furnishings. I sort through a constant mess of photos — gradually eliminating those references as my brain digests the information and my brush puts it on the canvas or paper.
The paintings that form the Beach Boys series are beautiful — what are some of the challenges in creating beach scenes like this?
Trying to find a balance between the setting and the model is always a challenge. I don’t want the model to overpower the beach, or the beach to feel more important than the model. I want my paintings to have a natural feeling, like you could be at the beach with my models.
Who are the men featured in the paintings of the Beach Boys series?
The men in my Beach Boy series are mostly friends that have modelled for me. Sometimes I find a photograph of a model that someone else has taken, that inspires me to use it as a reference pose to work from, then I find one of the photos of a beach that I’ve visited and I try to recreate a similar pose in a drawing that will eventually become a painting.
What do you hope that people feel when they look at your work?
I don’t want to just give the viewer of my art an erection, I want them to feel like they’re part of the painting, that they want to invite the men in my paintings into their homes, their beds, their dungeon, their car, their locker room, or the bushes for a hot fuck, butt licking, cock sucking, ass spanking good time.
I hope to excite the viewer visually, emotionally as well as spiritually. It’s my goal as an artist and sexually active gay man to paint erotica that continually challenges the views of people who oppose sexual freedom. If my paintings assist the viewer in discovering where they are in the spectrum of human sexuality, then my aim is reaching its target.
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