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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bareback Porn = Child Porn

posted by on March 4 at 10:42 AM

Child pornography cannot be produced without children being raped. That’s the reason why penalties for consuming child porn—even “vintage” child porn—are so severe. Someone that consumes child porn is creating more demand for child porn which leads to more child porn being produced which means more children are being raped.

Consumers of bareback porn—that is, porn produced for gay men that not only features unprotected anal sex but fetishizes unprotected sex—creates a similar destructive loop. Someone that consumes bareback porn is creating more demand for bareback porn which leads to more bareback porn being produced.

And you can’t create bareback porn without putting porn actors at risk of HIV infection. Consumers of bareback porn argue that these actors are adults, and they’re aware of the risks they’re running, and so consumers of bareback porn are not quite as culpable as consumers of kiddie porn. And they’re right. But many of the actors in bareback porn are very young, very naive, and very vulnerable, and the demand for bareback porn is doing real harm to real people.

As this BBC report makes clear:

Three films have been withdrawn from sale following a Newsnight investigation into the health risks of so-called bareback gay porn—which shows men have unprotected sex…. Two of the DVDs featured footage from a week-long shoot during which eight British models had sex with each other in multiple combinations without condoms.

Four of those who took part were diagnosed as HIV positive soon after. One of the men told the BBC he was distressed that footage which he believed showed him becoming infected had been put on sale.

In a separate case a British producer, Rufus Ffoulkes, was jailed last week on a child pornography charge for putting a 16-year-old boy in a gay porn film in which he had unprotected sex. The US company which released the film had refused appeals to stop selling the DVD until it was approached by Newsnight.

The production of porn doesn’t have to leave a trail of victims in its wake. But porn consumers have to make ethical choices about the porn they consume. Want to watch condom-free porn? Watch porn produced pre-AIDS epidemic—those guys are already dead. Can’t get off unless some 16 year-old twink is “taking loads” and risking his health and quite possibly his life? Get professional help.

Porn director Chi Chi LaRue recently filmed an anti-barebacking PSA directed at gay men that buy bareback porn. In the UK an anti-barebacking campaign is being launched. The BBC:

In Britain the campaign against bareback is being lead by a director called Steven Brewer. He is inviting both producers and performers to sign up to a new code of practice designed to minimise risk within the gay porn industry.

He told Newsnight: “I just don’t want another 18-year-old model crying on my shoulder not sure how to tell his partner or his parents that he is now HIV positive.”

The last time I was in San Francisco I walked into a store on Castro that was selling shitloads of bareback porn. There oughta be a law.

RSS icon Comments


"If it could save one life!"

Posted by Mr. Poe | March 4, 2008 10:47 AM
Four of those who took part were diagnosed as HIV positive soon after. One of the men told the BBC he was distressed that footage which he believed showed him becoming infected had been put on sale.
Not to disregard anything you're saying, but how can these porn actors be sure they were infected on this porn shoot? Were they completely abstinent for six months before and after? Something tells me no.

Still, barebacking makes me nauseous... especially when I see a biohazard tattoo on one of them. *shudder*

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | March 4, 2008 10:54 AM

Dan, would you address sometime how you would feel about computer generated child porn, that does not hurt any children? I know a lot of people still think its very bad and I'm curious as to your opinion.

Re: the above comment

Even if they did get infected before that shoot ,that means that they infected the OTHER actors in this shoot. Either way, someone is screwed.

Posted by hmmm | March 4, 2008 10:56 AM

Is there another comparison example we can use? The child pornography one makes me uncomfortable because I thought it was illegal because it was showing a crime being committed. Bareback porn, while irresponsible to the community at large for sure, doesn't show a crime being committed. In the UK I am assuming the age of consent is indeed 16? Or was a law broken there? I hate to play devil's advocate on something so sleazy but, but I'm not sure Bareback Porn = Child Porn. I'd love to read more comments to convince me, though.

Posted by Jason | March 4, 2008 10:57 AM

This post goes against you advocate of consenting individuals. No one has done a study that shows how many other men are prevented from engaging in dangerous behaviour through watching bareback videos. The porn actors are GGG, they allow countless others to "watch" and "not do" bareback.

Posted by Savage Hypocrite | March 4, 2008 11:03 AM

The more you successfully campaign against barebacking, the more taboo it becomes. The more taboo, the more it is fetishized, and therefore the greater the demand. So blame consumers if you like, but why not blame those who make it forbidden fruit?

Posted by elenchos | March 4, 2008 11:07 AM

Honest question: Why isn't heterosexual porn held to the same standards? It seems rare to see condoms in straight porn as compared to gay porn. Aren't the risks the same? (I know they are.)

Posted by damnqueerfuck | March 4, 2008 11:11 AM

doesnt the problem work itself out? dangerous non monogamy leads to health problems, therefore don't engage in dangerous non monogamy?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 4, 2008 11:14 AM

Dan, you got it right on this one too.

Twice in a month.

Posted by ecce homo | March 4, 2008 11:14 AM

Oh brother. The spectre of an evil porn industry forcing otherwise-naive and innocent 18 year-olds to take it bareback, resulting in their immediate infection with HIV? Bull-fucking-shit. As #5 mentions above, these people are consenting adults and have no one to blame for their bad choices but themselves.

Moreover, wouldn't it be ironic if said "innocent" 18 year-olds were in fact already HIV-positive before starring in BB porn, yet were manipulative and deceptive enough to claim it was the act of making this porn that infected them? Then they'd be victims of a cruel industry, forced into barebacking because of the unreasonable demands of a legion of uncaring porn watchers, not slutty positoids who owe their status to their own lack of judgment.

Posted by sorryroger | March 4, 2008 11:19 AM

The prevailing value in the First World (and we kid ourselves that it's equally prevalent in the rest of the world) is that employers must make every effort to keep workers as safe as possible.

A company in the First World isn't ALLOWED to offer employees more money to do a job in a less-safe way. Sure, inherently hazardous jobs often pay more - but the employer still has to make every effort to mitigate the possible harm of the unsafe jobs. So if I own a construction company, I'm not allowed to offer my employees an extra x$ an hour to work without a harness, even if they WANT TO DO IT.

Just like with that radio station whose 'Hold your wee for a Wii' contest resulted in a death, and the illegality of selling organs; there are laws protecting people from having to make the choice to do something inherently or probably harmful for money. Those laws should apply here.

Posted by Natalie | March 4, 2008 11:32 AM

Dan, Right On! You are the only gay writer in America to call for some moral standards from these decadent self-destructive gays. I'm all for sexual liberation, and the goyium are incapable of being held to any kind of righteous standard anyway. But it is Tikkum Olam to fight for righteous justice in this world. Dan Savage has consistently come out against many forms of gay decadence the mainstream media was too afraid to touch.

As a wealthy homeowner and family man, Dan Savage is a real voice for straight but not narrow people like myself who are disgusted by Pride Parades and Bareback gay porn.

Posted by Issur | March 4, 2008 11:32 AM

Dan, Right On! You are the only gay writer in America to call for some moral standards from these decadent self-destructive gays. I'm all for sexual liberation, and the goyium are incapable of being held to any kind of righteous standard anyway. But it is Tikkum Olam to fight for righteous justice in this world. Dan Savage has consistently come out against many forms of gay decadence the mainstream media was too afraid to touch.

As a wealthy homeowner and family man, Dan Savage is a real voice for straight but not narrow people like myself who are disgusted by Pride Parades and Bareback gay porn.

Posted by Issur | March 4, 2008 11:33 AM

All the arguements Dan & 11 put forth are the same ones that have been used by the hysterical fundies about sex workers and straight porn.

Let's make it easier: Dont like it? Don't buy it.

Posted by Irascible | March 4, 2008 11:42 AM

Two reasons to not listen to Dan on this issue:
1) He is one of the tiny minority of males who doesn't like porn.
2) ecce homo and Issur agree with him.

Still, Dan has a point. I agree with Natalie that this really is an OSHA-type problem and BB porn producers (both straight and gay) should be held to the same standard as all other employers.

Posted by Providence | March 4, 2008 11:43 AM

And AIDS continues to spread at increasingly higher rates among the homosexual population.

Way to push your personal agenda of gratification above the benefit of society's safety.

Thankfully AIDS will do what society seems to be unwilling to do as it isn't politically correct or in vogue.

Please keep having that barebacked fun. The faster the sooner the better.

Get the point?

Posted by Dontcha just love how Homosexuality continues to spread AIDS | March 4, 2008 11:47 AM

So let me get this straight: Bareback Porn = Child Porn = Pride Parades?? You've got all the top minds on your side on this one, Dan.

Posted by sorryroger | March 4, 2008 11:48 AM

This continues to be one of the most divisive issues in the gay community. I tend to agree with the "If you disagree with it, don't purchase it," but I also believe there are causal arrows in all directions.

Some people might watch BB porn to experience the fantasy and avoid having unsafe sex, whereas others see it, fetishize it more and eventually have sex without condoms.

I think viewers/purchasers need to understand that buying bareback porn does make you complicit in the possibility of a porn star contracting HIV. Say what you want about the model's ability to choose, but if you weren't buying these movies, they wouldn't be being made.

Posted by Mike | March 4, 2008 12:29 PM

I just ask if Dan willing to extend his BB porn is an evil that should be banned suggestion to the straight porn industry as well? If so, though I think he's wrong, at least he's not a hypocrite.

Also, I don't know (and I doubt Dan or any of the rest of you know either) if BB porn acts as a substitute from BBing or if the fetishization of it leads more men to BB. Moreover, it is entirely possible for it to do both to totally different groups of males at the same time. I don't know what that should to to the moral calculus but it seems to me that it should be considered.

Posted by ??? | March 4, 2008 12:40 PM

1) I don't see how you can argue for the end of condomless sex in gay porn and then not in straight porn - at least not any straight porn that involves anal sex.

2) I also don't see why there would be any problem with monogamous couples, gay or straight, performing condomless sex on camera. That could be a niche of its own. It could encourage irresponsible behavior, I suppose, but geez, we're talking about porn here. It's for fantasy, not for inspiring us to live clean.

Posted by tsm | March 4, 2008 1:00 PM

I would suggest that the local video stores (both on 15th Ave and Broadway and the Crypt) pull their BB videos OFF their shelves and stop carrying that material all together.

Posted by Andrew | March 4, 2008 1:14 PM

Condom-less sex exists in plenty of straight porn, yes--but the difference is that gay bareback videos are addressing condom-less sex as a fetish in and of itself. The entire reason for companies like Treasure Island Media existing at all is in response to this.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | March 4, 2008 1:25 PM

Also: thank you for not posting the puppy-throwing clip.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | March 4, 2008 1:26 PM


The amount of barebacking "enabling" out there is reaching new heights between Xtube videos and blogs by assholes like "rawTOP," who have basically lost their humanity.

How the hell do we combat this?

We definitely need some resources and efforts that eroticize condoms and safer sex again.


Posted by Lawrence | March 4, 2008 1:39 PM

Lawrence brings up a good point. What usually helps in situations like this? Education and eroticizing the opposite. What else can be done? Nothing. I love bareback porn. It helps me live my fantasy without the risk to me. And the people in the porn? All over 25, and in my eye, consenting adults. As long as their educated and it's their choice, do what you want and I'll enjoy it. Life's too short to stop you from doing that.

If people want an alternative, then they'll have it. And they can be made and be made to be erotic.

The only way to prevent people from wanting something is to make them want something else. Flat out prohibition never solves anything ever.

Posted by Jeff | March 4, 2008 1:44 PM

@2, I've always known the biohazard tattoo on guys meant they were HIV+. Anytime, I see a guy at the clubs or in online profiles with that tattoo on their body, I definitely know that I'm not going to have sex with him and if we were into each other and did have sex, it's probably just end up being mutual jo and nothing else at all.

@Dan, This isn't the first time that this has come up before. Look for the documentary "Not Angels, But Angels" and Mandragora by Wiktor Grodecki. I think the resurgence of BBing in porn started with the German company "Man's Best" back in the early/mid 90s. The same things started happening then. Desperate teens from the then newly democratic central European countries were more than willing to do porn for the extra money that would take them a year or two to make working in the factory. Then those videos became popular due to the Internet.

There's also the FlavaWorks/CocoBoyz ordeal that's going on where this white producer/director in the Miami/FTL, Florida area paid blacks and latinos to have unsafe sex on cam w/o having them tested and sometimes knowingly allowed poz guys to have BB sex with HIV negative models w/o disclosing each other's status. The same thing happened. There was recorded footage of HIV sero-conversions.

So Dan if you were to do a story for the Stranger on this, I'd start with those two leads and work from there.

Posted by apres_moi | March 4, 2008 1:48 PM

"Child pornography cannot be produced without children being raped. That’s the reason why penalties for consuming child porn—even “vintage” child porn—are so severe. Someone that consumes child porn is creating more demand for child porn which leads to more child porn being produced which means more children are being raped."

Let me start by making clear that I'm not advocating CP here - you could replace this with your following paragraph which used bareback instead - but I'm afraid the whole "someone who conusmes is creating a demand" thing is leaving me utterly baffled - especially in light of the "vintage" angle you bring up.

How does someone "consuming" something made 20 or 30 years ago "create a further demand"?

Posted by Puzzled | March 4, 2008 2:05 PM

Dan is right, many gay men are just disgusting hedonists who need a stern lecture about morality.

I'd start with the dangers of the porn industry and then move to how Pride Parades do nothing to help the cause. I've read The Strangers anti-pride parade "Gay Shame" issue and it is erudite writing that explains the whole issue to straight but not narrow men like me.

Again, we're so lucky to have a wealthy, home owner and family man who happens to be gay writing for Seattle's only paper.
Gay hedonism must be stopped. Killing themselves is just "thinning the herd" but when straight blacks and latinos die, that is murder.

As a Jew I stand for righteousness. I believe halaka even supports Dan Savage on this issue.

Posted by Issur | March 4, 2008 2:09 PM

@12 and 13: What's up with the Pride Parade references? I've been to 2, and all we did was march, and then watch a bunch of drag queens perform, and listen to famous gay politicians talk about their experiences.
Here's my view on BB porn: If it's going to be done, then it should be done responsibly. All the actors who BB should be screened for STD's before they're allowed to perform. They should do that before each and every single movie. Maybe there can also be a rule that says they can't have sex (or at least unprotected sex) between the time they're tested until they are finished filming. If everyone abides by those rules, then there wouldn't be any problem.

Posted by Anna | March 4, 2008 2:10 PM

Dan, your argument falls down as soon as you get to the part where gay porn is made with two consenting adults, who have a right to request HIV tests for their partners.

Vivid made a decision a few years ago to leave the whole condom/no condom issue upto the performers. Which makes sense.

You could use your argument not only against straight porn, but porn in general. The thing you ignore is that every single instance of child porn is criminal, while not every single instance of barebacking is transmitting disease.

I can take your argument and say that hetero no-condom porn produces cases of aids/unwanted pregnancy/sexual abuse/forced sex. And you would argue that isn't the point of no-condom hetero porn. And bareback porn isn't about disease transmission either. Thats not what people are whacking to.

There should be a law ... against immature people walking into porn stores.

Posted by Just Some Guy | March 4, 2008 2:18 PM

Ah, but as so often happens in things sexual, the prohibition often leads to greater desire. There's the rub.

Posted by johnnie | March 4, 2008 2:46 PM

The guys who are actors in bareback porn are barebacking off-screen as well as on. It's an honest reflection of their lives. Whatever "harm" they encounter is not specific to the porn, but a more general symptom of their lives.

People bareback because they like it. And with HIV becoming an ever more manageable disease, they consider the risk involved to be "acceptable". You may disagree with that assessment, but it's theirs to make.

True, if a kid hasn't been prepared to make his own decisions, that's sad. But it's not so much the fault of the porn producer as it is the parents and educators who had 18 years to prepare him to be a strong, independent person and managed fail miserably...

Posted by rawTOP | March 4, 2008 2:58 PM


The child pornography one makes me uncomfortable because I thought it was illegal because it was showing a crime being committed.

Not to get too technical, but two 17 year-olds having sex is not a crime, while filming it is.

OK, maybe I am being too technical.

Posted by RDM | March 4, 2008 3:36 PM

@29: Screening for negative HIV status isn't completely reliable, for reasons mentioned in previous posts. Therefore, the only REALLY ethical way to do bareback films is to screen actors to ensure they're ALREADY HIV positive; that way no-one gets hurt (who isn't already hurt).

Posted by Natalie | March 4, 2008 3:48 PM

"There ought to be a law."

No, Dan, there shouldn't.

I believe the 1st Amendment has a little phrase that says "no law" which means, like, NO LAW.

If a performer gets HIV in the course of one of these shoots, there are other legal (criminal and civil) avenues that don't require censorship of protected speech.

Posted by no dog in this fight | March 4, 2008 4:04 PM

sorry, no go.

if you don't like it, don't buy it or watch it.

i'm so tired of people telling me what i can or cannot read/watch/listen to. If consenting ADULTS, who've been educated on the dangers of barebacking, CHOOSE to make bareback films and consenting ADULTS choose to WATCH bareback films, it's not anyone else's business.

And bareback porn is NOT the same as kiddie porn. That's ridiculous. Kiddie porn is wrong because the sex act is an ADULT act between CONSENTING adults.

And as for legislating against bareback porn, I'm sure you can find lots of lovely gay friendly politicians to help get that legislation passed, to be soon followed by laws barring all gay porn, then porn in general then gay folks in general...

oh, and I don' even LIKE bareback porn; like 99% of porn, it's boring and badly produced.

Posted by michael strangeways | March 4, 2008 4:06 PM

While I can't understand why anyone would want to watch bareback porn, it's a free country.

Besides, from the looks of a lot of those guys - based on my perusal of some DVD cases in the video store - most of them look like they have been positive for a long time.

As for the "twinks", they usually look as stupid as one would have to be to do a bareback porno movie in this day and age. Most of them weren't even alive when people started dying from AIDS.

Posted by You can't censor stupidity | March 4, 2008 4:16 PM

Why does bareback porn exist? Because there is demand for it. The condom nazi's (like Dan) seem to believe that if they can stigmatize barebacking, they will decrease demand.

But this tactic goes against human nature and any campaign that goes against human nature is doomed to failure.

I am an advocate of sero-segregatioin - neg guys with neg and poz/poz. I deeply resent the attitude from people like Savage that we must all conform to the practice of condom use - even when both parties are of the same sero-status.

The bareback porn that I consume is obviously produced by Poz actors. And I don't need to see their actual test to know that just as I don't need to see their birth certificates to know they are over 18.

The fact is that condom use will always suck, no matter how many times Dan Savage tells us that we are just like pedophiles for not using them. It's about time these screeds get off their high horse and stop telling people what they may or may not do behind closed doors. It didn't work to make me straight and it won't work to make me use condoms.

Posted by montex | March 4, 2008 5:51 PM

What is wrong with you people? Do you all think that the moment someone tests positive for HIV that they simply disappear? Why all this assumption that the actors on screen are negative? What makes any of you believe that any of them are negative? Do you people think that the second someone turns positive, they become shriveled hulks with sunken faces and bloated bellies? Damn, you people are delusional!

I know several porn actors who work for big name studios and that bitch chi-chi. They're all positive! You're favorite hunk on the latest Falcon? Positive. That cute twink whose on all the covers? Positive. These guys condom up on screen because they fear being black listed by the Chi-chi's and Savages who want to destroy their careers if they dare to perform on screen like they do in real life. It's hypocrisy and a sham. And just flat out unbelievable that condom use is fun. I don't like being lied to and so I don't buy any of the "proper" porn.

Posted by montex | March 4, 2008 6:09 PM

@34 - No go. Just because you both have HIV doesn't meant you can't make each other worse. There are different strains. You could get much sicker. Imagine the flu.

Posted by subwlf | March 4, 2008 6:18 PM

That's bullshit. It's nothing but a theoretical result. It's just like back in the early days when they said mosquitos could potentially spread AIDS. Just like with "Super AIDS" that was getting press last year - a story based on a SINGLE case. You hear the big ballyhoo over it and then nothing becomes of it. Until the real science has been done, the whole "cross-strains" danger myth is still a myth. That won't stop the condom nazi's from jumping on the bandwagon and trumpeting their own agenda... much like an opportunistic infection...

Posted by montex | March 4, 2008 6:45 PM

Dan Savage arguing that gay porn videos made with consenting adults should be ILLEGAL? The world really has gone insane. Look Dan, I agree with you that consumption causes demand, and that bareback porn is dangerous for those involved. However, outlawing it isn't the answer, especially since so much straight porn is done without protection.

Something tells me that if the conservative nutjobs down in Texas or Mississippi (Kandiss Crone anyone?) outlawed gay porn because of barebacking you'd be fuming.

Bareback porn is not the same as child porn. It's made with consenting adults who are engaging in a legal sex act. Want to speak out against it? Good for you. Want to outlaw it? Fuck you, fascist pig.

Posted by Brandon J. | March 4, 2008 9:22 PM

Let's be real. Legally, our asses are covered for consuming BB porn. They were consenting adults, free speech, consumer choice, blah blah blah. And no, it there should not be a law.

Morally? Come on, no one should be arguing that BB porn is a good thing. It's something people crave, understandably, but consumption in this case IS complicit. You can argue that your not hurting anyone until your blue in the face but the fact remains that consuming it does no one any favors. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking it is morally acceptable or some natural right. BB porn is legal, for a reason, but consuming it is not "the right thing to do".

As for Issur, shut the fuck up you self-righteous pseudo-liberal fascist trying to hide his racist and homophobic bullshit in some warped idea of Judaism and a overly pious attitude.

I know, don't feed the trolls. Couldn't resist.

Posted by brandon h | March 4, 2008 9:47 PM

@41 HIV mutation is not a myth. Drug resistant HIV strains are not a myth. Gene sequencing techniques have proved that there are drug-resistant strains of HIV and that they are transmissable. It is very easy to trace a strain of HIV through a given population. It is how they prove that one individual is the actual person who gave another HIV when cases of non-disclosure go to court. If an individual has a high viral load of drug-resistant HIV his blood and/or semen inoculate his partner providing new genetic material. That is not myth, it is established fact. HIV replicates billions of times a day, mutating all the while, that's why they can't make a vaccine, remember?

Posted by inkweary | March 5, 2008 10:00 AM

Let's not forget that oral sex also poses a risk for HIV infection. It's a much smaller risk than with bareback anal sex, but if enough people take that small risk then some of them will become infected. Rimming carries and inherent risk of hepatitis. Shouldn't the anti-barebacking crowd also be calling for the actors to use condoms for fellatio, and protective barriers for rimming?

Posted by Cruzminastol | March 6, 2008 3:50 PM

First and foremost, why is child porn mentioned in an article about bareback sex in gay porn? Dan, what are you trying to do? You are fueling the fires of crazy religious fanatics who think ALL gays are pedophiles! HELLO! Ok, back to bareback sex in gay porn. No one is twisting the arms of the performers or putting a gun to their heads by producers. These guys are doing it willingly. If you are positive and wish to expose yourself to someone else's HIV strand well it is your decision and your issue from all those involved. Of course there is a market for it, aren't we all attracted to the things we can't have? Anything that is taboo attracts, it is the "forbidden fruit." You close these companies down and their are plenty of "amateur" companies that will replace them. Almost everyone knows how HIV/AIDS is transmitted. If you don't by now it is because you have been living in a cave or in an extremely remote area. My 2 cents on this.

Posted by jc | March 9, 2008 8:57 PM

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