Originally published on gaystarnews.com

The widespread availability of porn has changed the sexual landscape forever. That much I’m sure we can agree on.

As a 90s kid, I’m of the generation that first got off to stolen dirty magazines and taped viewings of Queer As Folk. How that did the job in hindsight, I don’t know… But it did!

For curious teenagers today – indeed, for all of us – explicit material is easily, instantly accessible, and often free. Quantity, and the types of porn available, is boundless. The definition of ‘hardcore’ is reinvented with every video uploaded.

Full disclosure: I’ve watched plenty of porn, as have most of the gay men I know. This article isn’t about judging those who use it, or for that matter, who make it. After all, in many ways, porn is a guiding light when it comes to exploring sexuality.

But where it gives with one hand, it takes with another. Porn addiction is a real problem, hitting the news again back in August. A doctor blamed it for rising rates of erectile dysfunction in young men, who she says are desensitized to the sex on offer in real life.

It got me thinking about the cues we take from porn – myself included – and how clearly unrealistic many of them are. Here are just seven such examples that, in my opinion, we need to take with a pinch of salt:

1. That Everyone’s Having Threesomes And Group Sex All The Time

Newsflash: they aren’t. Unless you’re in a polyamorous relationship, live next door to a sex club, are a logistical genius and/or are porn star yourself, you probably aren’t having group sex that often. (If ever)

If you’re one of the lucky few having it on the regular, good for you. If you’re curious to explore the scene, go for it.

But seriously, do it because you want to, not because porn makes you feel you should. (Also, I implore you, find a nice bunch of guys and to do it with, and not an ‘Aryan army of Stepford gays’ like Patrick almost did in Looking.)

2. That It’s OK To Continue Having Sex With Someone Who’s Clearly Not Enjoying It

I’m not talking about dom/sub role play here, which is fine. (And I’m not talking about someone who carries on after you’ve said no, either, which is never fine).

I’m talking guys who are so self-interested and bossy in a non-ironic way that they completely ignore the uninspired, pained look on your face. Guys who basically use you as a masturbation aid.

Why do they think they can get away with it? Because they’ve seen it in porn. Think about it. For every ecstatic facial expression at the point of ejaculation, you’ll find another completely and utterly bored or in unbearable pain. Or worse: genuinely scared.

3. That All Men Fit Into Boxes

Twinks, bears, jocks, daddies – how many gay tribes permeating gay culture originated in porn? I understand, to a degree, the convenience of categorization. But some stereotypes verge on parody, and are impossible to live up to.

And trying to is limiting. It can limit how you express yourself, and it can limit the kind of sexual partners you seek out. For example, let’s say you’ve never much cared for bear porn, but the big, hairy, older guy at the bar has checked you out, and you’re interested. Please choose life, and give the laptop a rest.

4. That Sex Has Much To Do With The Visual Representation Of Penetration

Time was the ‘money shot’ was all about the climax. Arguably, now, it’s all about extreme close ups of anal penetration. But that’s not something you actually see much of in real life-sex.

Unless you have a disjointed neck, fuck in a hall of mirrors, or, again, are group sexing a lot, that is. But generally speaking, that visual stimulant is very much of the online realm. Ironically, having real sex with someone and actually looking him in the face is pretty much the hottest things you can do, right?

5. That To Be Hot, You Have To Have A Perfect Body

Don’t be basic.

6. That ‘Gay For Pay’ Is Anything But Nonsense, And At Worst Pure Exploitation

I just can’t get on board with this concept. Similarly, I wince when people say ‘turning’ a straight guy is their ultimate fantasy, or that they’ve actually succeeded in it. It’s like they’re reading from a particularly cliché-ridden porn script.

If a ‘straight’ guy is having sex on film and enjoying it, chances are he technically isn’t straight. And what ‘straight’ usually means in this instance is ‘straight-acting’. (Basically, he’s wearing a cap). Perhaps in some cases, it’s more complex than that. But remember, the existence of heteroflexibility is a whole other article. We’re talking about the tastes of gay porn consumers here, and what we’re apparently willing to swallow.

If a straight guy is having sex on film and not enjoying it – and as per point two, there are so many examples of this online – then what we’re witnessing is pure desperation, or potentially coercion.

On the flip-side, if all parties consent and get what they want out of it, heterosexualities in tact, and you can get your rocks off, then arguably that’s fine. I just wonder how much of a turn-on two men having completely unconvincing sex would be in real life.

7. That A Large Penis Is The Be All And End All

Many of the most popular videos online feature guys with huge dicks. Furthermore, guy that are packing often brandish the fact all over their online profiles as if desirability were that one note.

The truth is plenty of hung guys are useless in bed; the average penis size is actually a lot smaller than you might think; and most of us have warped perceptions of our size because of the angle we’re looking from. Plus, of course, because of the porn we watch. (And remember, these people are actors, and aren’t necessarily enjoying what they’re doing as much as it might seem.)

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