A quick update on my goings ons, and some excerpts from a recent essay!
I have two appearances this weekend in San Francisco – One on Saturday, April 6th, and the Center for Sex and Culture. I’m speaking with sexologist and Logo TV Star, Chris Donaghue – who hosts the show Bad Sex. We’re talking abou how Scruff, Grindr, and social profiles are changing the face of gay sexuality. The event has a suggested donation, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. See the flier, left, for details, and feel free to copy the image and share it! I’m also hanging out at a charity event on Sunday, April 7th – helping out Bevan Dufty who occupied Harvey Milk’s seat as supervisor in San Francisco and now does homeless outreach in the city. The event is to help raise funds for the new LGBT homeless shelter in SF – the first of its kind in the nation. Bevan is spearheading the operation, and it’s a great cause. See the flier to the right for details. Please come out! I’m also appearing at Truck bar in SF on the 11th at the release party for Truck (NSFW!) – a movie filmed at Truck last year. More events soon – I’ll post details here. Finally, I just appeared on The Disinformation podcast. I talk with host Matt Staggs about old AOL chatrooms, the problem with the HRC, listener questions, and more. Of course it’s lots of sex sex sex, but there’s a lot else besides. It’s a fun listen and you can hear it/download it for free here.
* * *
Recently, I was asked to speak at Corning Community College in Corning, New York. My talk was cancelled by the President, because I’m in porn, a week beforehand – which, of course, turned into a national news story, as these things do, covered by NBC, the Huffngton Post, and a slew of local New York news stations. I’ll be writing about the aftermath, including the event that I did participate in at the Corning Public Library, soon. Until then, here’s a link to buzzfeed’s coverage of the cancellation. And below are excerpts from my piece for buzzfeed, which was in response to the President’s spurious claim that LGBT rights are not connected to pornography. The essay is short, so I haven’t provided too many excerpts, and you can read the entire essay here.
On the decision to censor the talk:
In an miniature echo of pornography’s place in culture, where millions of people watch and want pornography but are told not to want it, not to watch it, the students and community — particularly the LGBT community, which was singled out in the president’s reasoning — were told not to want or hear a discussion that they’d asked for. The school had undone the work and determination of the LGBT community. What could be left but loneliness? I started to hear from and receive emails about students — in the LGBT community and otherwise — expressing their frustrations, and saying they felt threatened and intimidated by the administration.
On the positive effects of gay porn in the lives of gay men:
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.
On the difference between tolerance and true understanding:
Porn, a form that has been with us for thousands of years and which deeply intertwines with all cultures, deserves deep and serious thinking, not off-the-cuff dismissal and a silencing of public discussion. This is especially true when it comes to how porn relates to gay men’s lives. To be an ally to gay men, and by extension the LGBT movement, doesn’t only mean being comfortable with gay men’s sexual orientation, it also means being comfortable with their orientation to sex. This is why, when someone claims to be an ally of gay men, pornography exposes – just as surely as it exposes naked bodies — where they really stand.