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to terms with one’s sexuality is a lot like setting sail on a whim: the waters are treacherous, the depths are terrifying, and often the only support you have is a YouTube video you watched in preparation. As with most queer people, it was crystal clear that as I approached my mid-teens I wasn’t quite like the other kids my age. By no means was I alien or “other”, a mindset too often synonymous with queerness – instead, I looked at boys where my friends gazed after our female classmates. Resources for queer people were not as prominent as they are today. Social media was in its infancy and besides the obligatory “gay is okay” posters, there was no faculty support for emerging queer people. So with no specialised sex education to help me understand my inherent queerness, I turned to the medium which we all know should never be associated with learning about sex: porn.In all its divine controversy, porn was my gateway into what it meant to be gay. For queer youth, porn is often the introduction to gay sex, since it’s shown on TV at a disproportionately lower rate. In 2021, we have fantastic shows like Sense 8, It’s A Sin, and soaps now show gay sex and relationships in a wholly positive light – but still, porn remains an introduction and exploration of sexuality.
Gay porn is, in my experience, just as problematic as the majority of straight porn, yet its audience is likely more vulnerable and curious about their emerging sexuality.
However, there’s the problem: gay porn is, in my experience, just as problematic as the majority of straight porn, yet its audience is likely more vulnerable and curious about their emerging sexuality. It’s estimated around 84% of queer youth are bullied in school, and 18% are forced into some form of sexual conduct without consent. I copied what I had seen in porn, and it went a lot deeper than merely mimicking techniques. What I saw in porn were damaging stereotypes, so naturally, I adopted these into my own sex life. Too often, there was fem-shaming, disturbing daddy/son scenes, and the idea of gay men actively pursuing straight men until they gave in – all terms which Pornhub report as among the most searched terms within the gay porn genre.For adults more able to separate the entertainment from the problematic elements, porn can be a release and nothing more. But for the youth not able to differentiate between those aspects, porn forms the basis of their sexual education, even if they are not fully aware of it. That means it’s only now, in retrospect, that I realise the enormous effect porn had on my own sex life. I too perpetuated such negative queer stereotypes, often putting myself in precarious situations in a bid to be wanted. Being sexualised was synonymous with my worth. Too often did I believe I was a tool in my partner’s own gratification, and that my own pleasure was directly linked to their satisfaction.In recent years, I have found myself being more selective with the porn I watch. And I’ve realised how much the world desperate needs ethically made, ethically planned, ethically executed gay porn. A quick google search confirms my suspicions; most videos labelled ‘ethical’ are the same scenes you see on almost every site.
Opt for something without moral questionability, and instead choose something that depicts performers in an unproblematic light.
Because of this, I have found myself drawn to female-led sites like Bellesa, which aims to depict women as “subjects of pleasure” and not “objects of conquest.” Their emphasis is not on how much the man can subjugate the woman, but instead on the people, attraction, and just great sex.At this point, I enjoy straight porn significantly more than its queer counterpart. And while that at first led to me questioning my sexuality, I realised (after an obligatory questioning of everything I had believed about myself) I shouldn’t overthink it. Was I somehow less gay? Well, I was still very much attracted to men sexually and romantically, so why limit myself when it comes to something as personal as pornography. It’s meant to be enjoyed, not overthought, so after finding ethically sourced porn, why look a gift horse (or porn star) in the mouth?And even if I still identify, at the moment, as gay, in a fight for a decrease in labelling, why should I constrict myself to just another form of the binary? Porn should only be taken at face value, merely for entertainment purposes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be selective with the videos you watch. Opt for something without moral questionability, and instead choose something that depicts performers in an unproblematic light. As an adult I have the agency and resources to explore my sexuality in safer environments, but for younger generations, porn is still very much an access point for sexual education. Just as sites dedicated to ethical depictions of women are thriving, we are in desperate need for queer porn that does not pump negativity into the minds of its audience. Kieran Galpin is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at @kierangalpin2Have a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on [email protected]
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