Gay Porn Saves Lives

I made a general comment in a recent article which drew some attention from readers. It seemed self-evident to me, but apparently the seminal role of pornography in the development of homosexual men is not as clear to everyone.

I am starting from the assumption that every person has a sexual identity. That identity is usually heterosexual, or some variation on that theme. In ten percent or so, the identity is skewed toward same-sex eroticism. While we all mature at different rates, it is safe to assume that by the age of eighteen, most of us are prepared to experience sexual interest, if not actual sexual activity.

Now, until we reach the age of eighteen, we are exposed constantly with a set of images, belifs, experiences, and values which support a majority of us in our development. Just as a young bird learns to fly by watching, trying, and ultimately succeeding or failing, a young human being learns what is going to be expected of him when he reaches maturity by watching the behavior of the people who surround him.

In the case of a heterosexual, the emergence of sexual identity is like the answer to a question that has been asked of him his entire life. He observes people in his family, in literature, on television, and everywhere around him engaging in the natural behavior of the heterosexual. The men pair off with the women, they engage in courtship, they form relationships, they create families with children, and they pursue the protections and opportunities afforded to heterosexuals.

In the case of a homosexual, maturity arrives as a slap in the face. All of the urges and inclinations of the heterosexual are present, but they are directed away from the presumed "correct" target, and toward members of the same gender. His upbringing has not prepared the young homosexual for desires which are at cross purposes to the direction society has laid out for him. Beyond the guilt, hopelessness, and fear this disorienting situation creates, there is also a basic confusion.

Who am I sexually if I am not straight?

Society has a bunch of ready answer for this question as well. A lot of these answers disagree with each other, and take views ranging from support to vilification for people with homosexual inclinations. Even if a homosexual person is fortunate enough to find himself in a community where he has access to positive gay role models, often the assimilationist aspects of gay society downplay their own sexuality in order to gain more acceptance from the broader community. That serves a purpose politically and economically, but it denies a basic truth about homosexuality: The only unifying factor among gay people is their sexual attraction to people of the same gender.

You can't spell homosexual without sex. The ignorance and intolerance of society as a whole may have contributed to the necessary evolution of a gay culture which extends into all areas of a gay person's life. But in the end, it is the sexuality, not the culture, which makes us gay.

Which brings me back to pornography. There is only one art form which focuses exclusively on the one identifying factor which distinguishes the homosexual, and that art form is adult entertainment, erotica, or pornography. When a confused homosexual first emerges from the bosom of his straight family, his straight church, his straight school, his straight workplace, and his straight social life, often the first signpost pointing the way to healthy self-acceptance comes in the form of a random exposure to a latent (or blatent) homoerotic image.

It is these images which provide the key, and the clue, to the existence of a completely hidden dimension of sexual reality, where the emerging homosexual's most secret and private inclinations are not only permitted, but encouraged and praised. This is a far cry from the pressure to conform and hide that aspect of his identity, and it can come as a welcome alternative to self-doubt and even self-destruction.

There have been arguments about the comparisons to be made between racial minorities and minorities of sexual orientation. One difference which must be addresses is the fact that there is very rarely any family or genetic link on which a homosexual can rely. In the vast landscape of sexual identity, the homosexual is almost always born isolated from others like him, surrounded by people who cannot recognize and may not even admit the validity of his own identity. The earlier this identity becomes apparent, the harder this can be.

The sexual dialogue in modern America is still an underground phenomenon. To a certain extent, it needs to remain that way in order to keep our children from being exposed to these issues before they are mature enough to deal with them. This is one reason why I am a staunch supporter of keeping all adult materials out of the hands of minors. These issues will come to the surface soon enough, and our children need to develop a strong sense of their own identities before being challenged to face their sexuality head-on.

That sexual dialogue needs to include gay porn. Apart from teaching the mechanics of gay sex, and the critical education needed about safer sex practices, gay porn provides a tiny sliver of evidence that we are not alone. And if it is out there, the human spirit will find it.

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