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Male modeling has risen from a mere prop for women in the fashion industry, to fashion icons in their own right. Whether they're spicing up our lives in sexy Calvin Klein advertisements, or livening up the cat walk, male models are coming into their own.
For budding male models who happen to be gay, they are almost universally given the same advice—quit going to gay bars and get a girlfriend.
Today's social climate is much more open to gays, but fear of how the middleclass americans will respond to gay models has made it almost impossible for them to get hired for any meaningful work. What makes it even worse, the people who are rejecting them are often gay themselves.
Barret Pall, who is a retired model and now a vlogger, talked about the trials of being a gay male model on a recent YouTube video.
“Being gay in an industry that is run by mostly gay men, you would think that being gay isn’t a problem. I learned the hard way that being gay actually makes working as a model much harder.”
He captioned this using the #meto hashtag, possibly addressing the recent allegations against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino. 15 male models came forward during these allegations, accussing the two of sexual harrassment involving unnecessary nudity and coercive sexual behavior.
In particular one of the models described Bruce Weber using a test of “energy” as an excuse to attempt to touch his crotch, and to feel the bare skin of his abdomen when he forced Weber not to make contact.
Barret Pall briefly mentioned these models, and that he admired them for coming forward. Barret Pall is just one of many gay male models who are finding it rough. Models in general are often treated as little more than play things by fashion designers, photographers, and others who work in the field. Complaints of being touched inappropriately, from being caressed to outright sexual advances, have been reported by men and women alike.
Gay men have it worse however, because of how difficult it is for them to work in the field already. Many of the people on the male side of modeling are they themselves gay, and take advantage of their ability to make or break careers to pressure models into sexual favors. Models are often forced to make a choice between resisting unwanted advances and awkward requests, and keeping their careers.
Male models are some of the lowest paid in the industry, and often don't have the chances their female counterparts do. Many are forced to accept that sexual harrassment is part of their livelihood.
Thanks to the men who are starting to come forward however, this may change. Male models should not have to deal with inappropriate touching when they bare it all for our viewing pleasure, any more than they should have to choose between their sexuality and their careers.
Strides were made when 15 male models chose to come forward and describe the inappropriate behaviors they have been subjected to, but the industry is a long way from being a safe one for male models, gay or straight.