Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Intertwining of Gay Porn and LGBT Rights

Conner Habib via BuzzFeed: Why Are We Afraid to Talk About Gay Porn?

Where I grew up, just outside of Allentown, PA, I watched, right through my adolescence into adulthood and early college years, while straight people paired off and experienced sex. They were able to engage with a basic aspect of human life that seemed unavailable and distant to me. Unlike today, there was no discussion about gay marriage, nor were there many gay characters on TV. But even if there had been, neither would have rounded out my experience as a man with homosexual feelings because so many of those feelings were — unsurprisingly for a young man — sexual. Gay sex was a lonely venture. It wasn't easy to find, and was only mentioned in slurs and the butt of jokes. "Cocksucker" and "butt fucker" were insults; stand-ins for "faggot."

Whether I bought it from the adult video store or, later, downloaded it, gay porn helped me encounter positive images of gay men enjoying the act of sex. Gay porn was a window into gay sexuality that was free of shame and guilt, and revealed a different world where sex wasn't a lonely prospect, confined to the shadows or just my imagination.

This same concern is amplified in places where homosexuality is criminalized or even punishable by death.

As a porn performer of Arab descent, I've received hundreds of emails from men in Middle Eastern countries expressing gratitude and relief for my having portrayed gay sex in a positive light on camera. When a gay man lives somewhere where his identity is threatened, it's clear how sex - including pornography - and sexuality are intertwined. His sexual imagination, which is criminalized, matches the sexual images of gay pornography (which are also criminalized). Since acting out his imagination through sex would be to risk his life, the access to the images is safer. The images, created by gay men wherever it's legal to create them, provide empowerment and diminish alienation.

As a young gay man, porn stars became heroes of mine, joining authors, punk rock musicians, and leftist political thinkers, because they lived as I wanted to. Without them, I would have only had a partial picture of my life - a thinking and creative one, perhaps - but one that ignored my sexual thoughts and imagination which were constantly activated and in motion.

6 comments:

JamTheCat said...

Smart, gay, sexy, level-headed...what's not to love or lust over?

Writer said...

Give me a few months to work out and I'll be there. ;)

Tamayn Irraniah said...

I couldn't agree more with his sentiments. For me though, it was more about Alec Powers and Tom Katt. Then I found newsgroups and there was Playgirl. I don't think I would have made it through high school without Jean Michel Villette!

Just knowing that there are other guys out there helps and without the internet, I know I wouldn't have made it.

JamTheCat said...

JP...I want pictures...

Writer said...

Tamayn, I didn't have the internet until I got to college. Before that I had the Indiana Youth Group, the Evansville Metropolitan Community Church, and the United Church of Christ in Henderson. (Well, also, Playgirl and my Dad's bi mags. LOL.)

Writer said...

Kyle, when I get in a workout habit, there will definitely be pictures. LOL