When I was a gay college boy in the midcentury midwest, I treasured a tiny collection of gay porn. I poured hours of my post-adolescence into it, kneeling too close to the family TV and masturbating again and again, focused intently on Al Parker’s penis and everything he did. It was magical, naughty and absolutely me time.
Porn was then about scarcity and precious secrets. It lived in material things—video cassettes and books and magazines—things that could be hidden and treasured and infused with the danger of discovery.
In high school, I had erotic literature or “dirty books” as they were commonly known. Well-worn paperbacks with dog-eared pages of my favorite passages. Reading was where I developed my sexual imagination and began to discover what I was really into beyond just being attracted to guys.
In college through the late ‘70s, VHS invaded the culture and being a tech geek, I had to have a video deck and the porn industry was demonstrating that it was going to forever be the vanguard of new media by providing their product to the masses in the way the masses were going to be consuming. The porn industry has always been the sector that best embodied Steve Jobs’ ideal of “skating to where the puck is going.”
I loved receiving those plain envelopes offering brochures full of explicit photos from Colt, Falcon and Maverick Studios to market their products. The brochures alone inspired countless orgasms but I scraped up the money I needed to get a couple of the most promising tapes to play for myself in private and in full motion and living color. I loved my porn even as I was finding real sex with real men in the real world. From age 19 through my twenties I had semen to spare both for the holes of the willing and my own two hands.
Through the years, erotica has remained part of my life in varying degrees and in evolving forms but there has been one massive shift in its universe for all of us: the ability for me and you and everyone to make our own porn. We ourselves have become the source of the most authentic erotica available and the professional industry has struggled to compete with us.
What has evolved at this moment of erotic history is what I call people-powered porn. The range of variation is as broad as the populations of people with smartphones. From selfies have come dick pics (and yes, I am a dick-centric homo so that’s my focus, but I know perfectly well that women are making selfie porn too) and all manner of artful to artless erotica that we can and do make with the production tools now in our hands.
I am a fan of “amateur” porn, the views inside erotic reality that people are making and sharing out of pure passion rather than profit. Inside that world is the spark of creativity and originality that has created new, artful-while-still-wildly-hot erotic filmmaking of Noel Alejandro and Antonio da Silva, as well as the pro-amateur efforts of Proud Bator (sadly, now retired) and countless others.
Now, as I near 60, I have found my taste, my preference in erotica and it is the non-professional exposure of genuine male sexuality I see on Tumblr and BateWorld. I no longer want to see shaved bodies, six-pack abs and porn professionals. I see them as artificial, staged and insincere. The mere fact of classic, idealized physical beauty (according to the popular esthetic of any particular time) isn’t enough for me. If I’m not actually touching and being touched by a genuine man IRL, I want him evoked in my erotica. I want to see imperfect men displaying frank, sexual joy in the actually awkward way that real men do. I want to see men who embrace their everyday magic and expose that to the world.
And when I record video of myself making love with myself, I’m doing my best to not act for you, but to expose my reality, just as I am now. What I make is what I want to see.
This is one of the aspects of living in this moment of time that gives me gratitude and optimism. We can actually create and share intimate sexual chronicles of our moments and lives and expose ourselves to the whole world. Yes, we still have a long way to go before our idea of sex is foundationally about joy rather than shame, sin, weakness, crime and danger—a very, very long way to go—but putting our bodies and faces out there and exposing our joy is a critical step forward.
Seize your power to spread the plainest human truth: Be authentically sexual and joyful, make a photographic and video record of that truth and expose it. This is another example of being the change you wish to see in the world.