Hidden Glances is a series of photographs made from vintage gay pornography calendars published when I was beginning to recognize my sexuality as a youth until I came out in 2000. Before then, I skirted mention of my sexuality by hiding behind my studies, feigning interest in girls, and making failed attempts to fit in with the rest of the boys.

Out on the Range, January. © Michael Young

Calendars chronicle and mark time. In this work, they represent the long period in my life when others assumed I was straight, or I was told that being gay was wrong. Ironically, the men in these calendars portray sexualized heterosexual archetypes that many in the gay community have appropriated. These ‘manly’ men that society was trying to train me to become ultimately became the men I longed to look at, galvanizing my true identity.

Stripes, a Tank, and a Towel, June. © Michael Young

Each image is made by hand cutting a figure from his scene, layering him over another month’s image, and then re-photographing the new composition. By eliminating the presence of exposed skin in the top layer, one muscular silhouette becomes a window that both reveals and conceals to create tension between the two layers. Ultimately through the lack of depth, I am creating visual compressions of all those years when I wanted to look at other guys and could only risk taking quick glimpses because I was afraid that my gaze would linger too long and expose my homosexuality.

— Michael Young

Editor’s Note: This work was selected as one of the recipients of the Critics’ Choice Awards 2022. Be sure to see all of this year’s winning photographers.