I do not sit down and think about how to be provocative in my storytelling and my illustrations. Provocation just happens to grow naturally (or unnaturally) from what I create. The creative process that I use is very free-flowing and spontaneous.
In many respects, what I do is create characters and then step back and let things happen on their own to the characters without me impressing some pre-designed outcome upon them.
Most of the time, I end up being pleased with what turns out in this creative process. But, there have been some instances where I was not at all happy or satisfied with how things turned out with characters I created.
If it happens that I am not happy or satisfied with my own work, I end up choosing not to share the work with anyone. In those instances, the work will just sit in a folder somewhere because of my lack of satisfaction with it for one reason or another. See further details in the section entitled The Men I Create.
The honest truth is: From the vantage point of my creative works, I made a deliberate choice to be one who provokes others with storytelling and illustrations.
One of the core themes that drives me is that I am especially interested in illustrating the power that some men wield over other men. That imbalance of power contains many storytelling possibilities for me to be provocative. Here is my purpose statement:
I tell stories and create illustrations about masculine men involved with one another to provoke the viewer. I have seen all my life how straight people do not like to see masculine men showing affection towards one another. Straight people will accept drag shows and comedies about effeminate gay men. And why not? Those are non-threatening. But, if masculine men are depicted in a story or images showing sexual interest in one another, oh boy, that suddenly becomes very threatening to straight people! Some gay men I have encountered also find it uncomfortable to witness masculine men showing sexual interest in one another. Gays relegate such masculine men to the pejorative category of being “too butch.” For all of these reasons, I choose to provoke the viewer in my stories and illustrations.
To provoke the viewer, I use six fantasy themes that have been used for decades by other gay male storytellers and illustrators that some today may find troubling and difficult to consider.
I believe that the French word provocateur (someone who chooses to behave in controversial ways to get a rise out of others so that others will react strongly) is exactly appropriate to describe me in the creative sense. But, I choose to have a deliberate purpose behind being controversial. I choose to make my audience think about what they are perceiving in my storytelling and my illustrations.
The English word that sort of comes close is troublemaker. However, I believe that word has more to do with a person who chooses to mischief and instigate conflict between people, but not necessarily for any higher purpose than generating excitement or drama out of the conflict.
I have to admit: I waited very late in my life to admit that I am gay. Now I feel a strong responsibility to challenge other men who may err like I did–pretend to be straight and get married to a woman. Doing that is a total waste of your time, your sexuality, and your life.
I choose to create provocative stories and illustrations that challenge my audience to look at and think about male sexual behaviors from a different perspective than the usual and boring man-meets-man-and-falls-in-love framework.