Law and Sexuality

A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests

Treasure Island Media, Bareback Porn and Beyond Assimilation

I’m thrilled to have an ever growing blog audience but it seems obvious that the folks at the Bay Area Reporter aren’t among them. Back in October, I posted a post on a Treasure Island Media couple – James Roscoe and Brad McGuire – revelaed that Roscoe was inf act HIV positive and would feature in a new line of films that TIM head honcho, Paul Morris, is launching. Read that original post here. On Thursday of last week the Bay Area Reporter realised and posted this story. It’s actually a pretty balanced piece with some interesting quotes. British writer, and editor of the Gay and Lesbian section of Time Out London, Paul Burston weighed in on Facebook. He further elaborated on his blog which you can read here.

Burston blasted: ‘Way to go Treasure Island Media! Barebacking gay porn stars as role models!! One is positive, the other negative!!! For now!!!! Just the message we need as we mark World AIDS Day. Gay commercial interest versus gay community health. Don’t it make you feel proud?’

He later added: ‘the minute you explicitly refer to these men as role models, you’re acknowledging that gay porn has a reach beyond the realm of fantasy. It’s how many gay men first learn about gay sex, ie it’s educational. Which makes this all the more reprehensible.’

This is despite Morris addressing the very point Burston makes. Morris argues (as he has done several times previously) that porn isn’t about education – and this is a key aspect of understanding TIM porn. It’s about examining sex as is, and as men want it to be, rather than what it ‘ought’ to be. The ‘ought’ is increasingly within a normative framework. Gay men = safe sex only. Straight couples = pop a pill and fuck. Most of us choose not to use condoms at some point – we manage risk in different ways. Tim Dean in his Unlimited Intimacies text notes the importance of positioning – being a top or bottom in ‘high risk’ situations. We might be versatile, but only fuck as a top bareback when in higher risk situations (eg at a sauna) for example.

The idea that gay porn must only use condoms as an ‘educational’ tool is an absurd measure that seeks to censor the reality of gay men’s sex lives. Burston’s idealist assertion is born of living through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s but it doesn’t match the reality of modern gay life. In the 80s people were falling like trees in a logging zone. Today people might become positive, they take medication and get on with their life. The complications and cost issues are complications that don’t compare to people you knew, loved and fucked no longer being around because they are dead. The reason HIV rates are rising is simply because for gay men in western lives (especially in ours with the NHS), HIV is no longer scary. It’s an occupational hazard that may or may not occur following fulfilling ‘authentic’ bareback sex. This is different from those men who bareback explicitly to contract HIV – bugchasers. Even that category of individuals has a logical rationale to their behaviour but that’s for another time. Burston went on to turn his attention to the HIV charities:

‘this from the government on Dec 1 – “I have been approached by those who are unhappy about the promotion of DVDs and other material promoting “bareback” sex. We need to address such issues and I know that a lot of people and organisations, …such as the Terrence Higgins Trust, are doing all they can to stop the promotion of such material.”

Doing all they can? Really? Try going to the THT website and searching for “bareback”. “No pages were found”.’

In addition to just searching my blog for bareback or Treasure Island Media, you can check out this piece I wrote for FIPA on the company and bareback porn.

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This entry was posted on December 5, 2010 by in barebacking, HIV/AIDS, Pornography, treasure island media.

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