Your expertise is needed. Please can you tell us where you come down on the question of whether Andrew Cuomo has pierced nipples or not, as per the photos going round of something odd definitely visible under his polo shirt. This is an important issue and right in your wheelhouse so please give us your thoughts.

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I've spent a lot of time around gay guys with tit rings—guys who are likelier to wear polo shirts than harnesses—and it's my considered opinion that... those are tit rings. Almost certainly. Only Andrew Cuomo knows for sure, of course, and he's not telling. (The Daily Beast asked and got no response.) But if Cuomo's tits aren't pierced... well, there's something under there and it's not two tiny boxes of n95 masks.

But you don't have to take my word for it. The Daily Beast asked Brian Keith Thompson, owner of LA’s Body Electric Tattoo and piercer to stars, to examine the evidence:

[After] looking at the photos in question, Thompson believes he saw the outline of a curve barbell piercing underneath that polo. “It’s curved downward a little bit,” he said. “That’s very common with nipple piercings... I’m going to go out on a limb and say, yes, Governor Cuomo has a nipple piercing,” Thompson went on. “We’ve probably all sat in a room and talked to someone who has their nipples pierced. You’d never know. Your great-grandfather could have his nipple pierced and you’d never know, because when do you see your great-grandfather with his shirt off?”

When indeed.

I get why this topic is fun and I'll admit to examining the footage from Cuomo's presser yesterday just as closely as any conspiracy theorist has ever examined the Zapruder film. But it really shouldn't matter whether the governor of New York has tit rings—particularly right now. Because don't we all have more important things to worry about at the moment? And, my God, it's been almost thirty years since Axyl Rose made nipple rings safe for straight boys by showing off his tit ring on the cover of Rolling Stone. (Tit rings weren't the only thing Mr. Rose appropriated from gay culture: check out his leather chaps and leather officer hat.) Tattoos, piercings, underwear as outerwear, fetish wear as street clothes, taking and sharing revealing photos, etc., etc., didn't all that shit go mainstream years ago?

That said, contra the AVClub, I don't think Cuomo has to "fess up" about his nipple piercings. (And I'm not loving the AVClub's sex negativity either; there's nothing "gross" or "stomach-churning" about a man with pierced nipples.) While I've always wanted the world to be a safer place for folks who wanna wanna let their freak flags fly, a world where some people keep that shit to themselves—a world where some people have hidden depths—is a far more interesting world for freak flag flyers and freak flag hiders alike. Knowing there might be more to some people than meets the eye—knowing that your great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers might've been (or might be) secret kinksters—is way more interesting than knowing absolutely everything about absolutely everyone. And spotting the occasional bit of evidence that there's more to someone than we might've assumed... because your grandma left her strap-on in the bathroom sink... or because you spotted your best friend on a leash outside a fetish club... or because your governor didn't realize how sheer a polo shirt can be... reminds us that people are complicated, that we shouldn't make assumptions, and that the unlikeliest people are capable of surprising us.

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And to my fellow freak flag flyers: We shouldn't assume that someone who keeps their kinks or their piercings or their sexual adventures to themselves—or refuses to confirm rumors or even hard evidence—is paralyzed by shame. Some people get off on having a secret. For some folks keeping a kink (or kinks) secret is another one of their kinks. Insisting that people share their kinks with the world is just as wrong as insisting that people keep their kinks to themselves. Just as no one should be shamed for being openly kinky, no one should be shamed for being quietly kinky.


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