I wanna preface this by saying that this isn’t a “callout”, a guilt trip, an accusation or a declaration of my own virtue – i’m simply looking to draw attention to something i’ve noticed and offer my own thoughts. I’m open to discussion as long as it’s civilised.
I’ve noticed a lot of gay men acknowledging how the porn industry harms women, with particular relation to its association with sex trafficking, child porn and sexual violence (you can read about this here), however these same gay men will then make references to watching gay porn themselves.
Obviously there are no women in gay porn, so why is this a problem? I promise i’m not just trying to burst a bubble here, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Almost all online porn platforms are owned by the same company, called Mindgeek. Pornhub, Youporn, Redtube, Mydirtyhobby, Xtube and more all make up part of a gigantic conglomeration founded by a man called Fabian Thylmann. This corporation also owns several porn movie production companies including Brazzers, Digital Playground, Men.com, Reality Kings, Sean Cody, and WhyNotBi.com.
When a gay man consumes gay porn on these platforms, he directly funds the exact same company that profits from the abuse, trafficking and rape of women and children. That 10 second ad before the video starts, the one that gay men joke about shielding their eyes from because it’s full of naked women, literally puts money in their pocket. It goes without saying that the women in the ad could be victims too. Opposing the porn industry’s brutal treatment of women is meaningless if you’re also paying their ad revenue.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there – even when avoiding the platforms above. Evidence shows that the porn industry really doesn’t treat gay men that much better than women. Gay porn actors are dropping dead at an alarming rate and their average age is just 25. Suicide and drug use are major factors in this statistic, as is premature heart failure from steroid use. Gay porn also pays an average yearly salary of $24000, with the expectation that actors supplement their income with prostitution. Men in central europe are being trafficked and raped on camera, and this makes up a significant part of the Czech Republic’s renowned gay porn industry. At least half of gay porn actors are heterosexual but shoot gay scenes because they make more money than in straight porn – this, as much as the actors make light of it, is rape. Former gay porn stars have commented on the prevalence of the PTSD “thousand yard stare” among their coworkers. I once personally met a former gay porn actor who had the thousand yard stare – he was also addicted to meth and told me he quit porn after his guts literally started falling out of his ass. Talking of which, bottoms are subjected to slaps, punches and homophobic/misogynistic slurs on camera. If you’ve watched literally any gay porn you’ll have seen this. Why is this violence ok?
Gay teens also use porn as a form of sex education because their sex ed classes don’t cover what they need to know, so this violent subjugation of bottoms forms the basis of their education about gay sexuality. Double penetration, fisting and even just rough sex are dangerous for bottoms in the long term, but this is what young boys are learning to call normal. It’s important for gay men to know the nature of the industry they support when they consume porn.
It’s also important to remember that porn consumption is just as harmful to gay men as it is to straight male consumers (another link to the masterpost if you don’t feel like scrolling up) with respect to brain damage, mental health issues, violent thoughts/behaviour and addiction. And personally, as someone who used sex to validate myself in my early 20s and ended up sleeping with over 100 men in my lifetime as a result, i can testify to this: the more porn you watch, the worse at sex you are. I could always tell when a guy watched too much porn because he would be totally unwilling to collaborate with me during sex – either we did exactly what he wanted (which was usually a re-enactment of a porn video) or he wasn’t interested. A lot of these guys wanted to fuck in positions which would look great on camera, but are actually just kinda awkward in real life. Sometimes they’d boss me about like a movie director, dictating my every move. Generally speaking, they were a lot more critical and less satisfied with both my body and their own. One just straight up spat in my mouth without even asking me if i was into it first. Porn can and will make you terrible in bed. I could send these guys into orbit with a mediocre blowjob because they’d never even been with somebody that prioritised tangible pleasure and sensation over porn re-enactment before.
If you’re a gay man who opposes the porn industry but still consumes gay porn, or you’ve read this post and would like to quit, then there’s plenty of other options. Find real people. Connect with other gay men in your local community. Go on a date and fuck if there’s chemistry. Read gay erotica. Buy some toys if you get bored of “just” jerking off, although there’s a lot to be said for having a long, self-indulgent reconnection with your own body after spending so much time on porn sites looking at someone else’s. Whatever you do, please don’t continue supporting this industry – especially if you already hate what it does to women (and the men in your own community.)
QotD: “We would never have an issue working through the violence because there are so many protocols and procedures and techniques that you have to create the violence safely and it’s almost methodical to a point”
Shondaland, the production company founded by Shonda Rhimes (of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy fame) isn’t the first to hire an intimacy co-ordinator. They were employed on all of the most talked-about shows of the past year: I May Destroy You, Normal People, It’s a Sin. The premise dates from the early 2000s when the American Tonia Sina coined the phrase in her master’s thesis; she went on to create the first protocols for choreographing intimate scenes on stage and screen. Back then, there was little demand for the service — the Me Too movement changed that.
“We would never have an issue working through the violence because there are so many protocols and procedures and techniques that you have to create the violence safely and it’s almost methodical to a point,” says Talbot, who worked first in movement and fight direction after doing a drama degree at the University of East Anglia.
“But then when we got to the intimacy part of it, that’s when everything started to . . . fracture. There weren’t any rules. There were no protocols for this. Everyone was relying on the good graces of their scene partner and the good intentions of their director, but that’s the safety net, and you can see for so many people that just wasn’t enough.”
However, it’s not just a matter of safeguarding. “Obviously, we need health and safety, but this role is so much more than that, in terms of the choreography especially.”
For Bridgerton’s extensive sex scenes Talbot asked for — and was given — the same amount of rehearsal and filming time that a stunt scene would have. “Normally you have to rehearse the same day that we shoot and that didn’t happen for Bridgerton. Because we had the time, we turned up prepared and all the choreography was laid out.”
Talbot meets actors individually to establish what they’re comfortable with and sets it down in writing for complete clarity. Those boundaries inform her physical choreography, which is also a collaboration with actors and director, but means she’s prepared to intervene on an actor’s behalf if a need arises.
“I don’t want to steamroll an actor’s process. It can be quite oppressive to come with an approach and say, ‘This is what we’re doing whether you like it or not.’ That throws consent out the window. It’s really important that we have an overarching vision of where we’re going: what the beginning, the middle and the end is. We need to work out consent boundaries. It might be that we are working with containers, like, ‘You can put your hand from the top of my neck to the top of my lower back or anywhere in between. You’ve got freedom to do what you want in that area, but it doesn’t go anywhere else.’
“So then you can have a little bit of freedom from the paint-by-number approach, but still knowing that everyone is consistent and safe. That’s one approach, and then you can have another one where it’s, like, ‘We know exactly what we’re doing. Your hand will go here and it will travel up the arm on to the shoulder and to the neck.’”
This is interesting, because I have frequently made the comparison between the sex acts in porn, which are real, and a choreographed fight scene in an action film.
Imagine if there was this level of scruteny and accountability on a porn set? It would make most porn production impossible (unless of course, the normal standards of health and safety were thrown out of the window, and instead we had carefully choreographed scenes of real sexual and physical violence, which the porn performers had been obliged to agree to beforehand).