“Too Often The Bareback Debate Isn’t A Debate”

“I don’t make bareback porn myself, but I think the issue is pretty complex. It brings in questions of health, ethics, community identity, and media literacy. The bottom line for me is that the freedom of the individual is the highest and purest value I can think of. That means I don’t think my choices should be a standard which dictates the behavior of other people. Since I work in porn, since I’m gay, since I grew up with an Arabic background in a tiny conservative town, I know what it’s like to have world views – often devoid of compassion – imposed on me by people who thought their morals were superior to mine.

“If someone wants to make bareback porn, trust that they’re making decisions based on their understanding of what’s right and wrong. That doesn’t mean we have to agree. But it’s important to acknowledge their freedom.

“Too often the bareback debate isn’t a debate. It’s just people throwing moral ideas back and forth. Does bareback porn really affect the health of the gay community? That’s a very similar question as “Does porn destroy relationships?” Or “Do violent movies make people commit acts of violence?” I’m not saying I know the answers to these questions, but often the people who say bareback porn is wrong and the people who defend it aren’t really educated as to its effects. They’re just assuming and creating a moral framework based on their assumptions. And the framework is often inconsistent with the rest of their ethics. So you have this extremely complex issue constantly debated without much substance entering the debate.

“I’d love for people to have a dialogue that brings in real information on the issue. Until that happens, I think it’s best we all make our own decisions and allow others to make theirs, while keeping compassion – which is the love and understanding of other people’s freedom – intact.”

–Conner Habib [via]

35 thoughts on ““Too Often The Bareback Debate Isn’t A Debate””

  1. Of course performers should be free to make their choices, but should porn producers be inducing young men, who may be in economic need, to have unsafe sex for money, just to satisfy a demand for bareback porn? I don’t think so.
    It’s also naive to take for granted that everybody has access to objective and factual sexual health information and to underestimate the impact porn has had on western sexualities. For many people, porn actually is their first sex-ed.

  2. He’s definitely right, but some companies or individuals should be more responsible to others.
    Do the tests as often as they can. We’ve had a lot sad truths before.

  3. I hear news about the rise of HIV among the Middle East and North Africa (NewScientist and FrenchTribune) Also the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3rd August) reports a rise in HIV among gay men and MSM, but the highest increase of HIV infection are among African-American gay men.

    There are many factors here: poverty, education, stigma, homophobia, HIV testing or lack thereof… etc.

    For the record, people have the freedom to choose and I respect that. But… unless I am mistaken there isn’t much education on gay sex. How will gay people get information about gay sex? We all know how heterosexual sexual intercourse works, right? What then do gay people go to? Porn, perhaps. But porn is about fantasy, not about real life, and it is this distinction that should be made. Presumably, the lack of education would mean gay men not using condoms. Just because HIV is treatable does not mean people do not suffer. The immune system is weakened and depending on your T-cell count you might start a drug regimen. What happens to your job? Could you donate blood? These are already existing problems for gay men.

    I think we should focus on safer sex, provide a platform of educating young gay people. If we want to stand above the rest and be placed on equal footing we should promote safer sex and steer away from bare-backing. How is that not good?

    I am against bareback for the following reasons:
    1. there is a rise in HIV in recent times (unprotected gay sex can and will contribute to a rise in HIV infections)
    2. Gay men are more likely to abuse substances – alcohol, smoking and other drugs; so if we lead by example and show we are responsible at least in sexual matters, others are less likely to attack the gay community. More ammunition for homophobic people to attack.
    3. Gay men are more likely to be homeless and depressed. The perception of the gay community is strong and if we continue down the route of bareback sex we will have to work doubly hard to stand up for gay rights.

  4. HalfManhalfBearhalfPig

    I think you guys are promoting trash and encouraging youngsters to have bareback sex , because believe it or not , porn is quite often the first “model” of sexual behaviour a gay guy is going to witness . SO if it’s all bareback where the fuck is the bell about safe sex going to be rung ? You guys calling anti-bareback people nazis are fucking up every single prevention campaign that’s being put out . And yes there IS something above personal freedom ,barebackers are a nuisance to public health and cost a shit load of money to heal , if they’re gonna get sick on purpose I think they should be left to die or pay for the treatment from their own pockets . SIck fuckers .
    You do see that most of these bareback movies like Treasure Island don t even have a warning at the beginning ,actually they glamorize HIV infection, it’s very well documented . I don’t know how you can support that , honestly , except if you wanna brag that you are more liberal than everyone else which quite frankly is pointless .

  5. You know the issue here is hypocrisy. You have all these people that are againt bareback but watch it themselves. The ” I think it is wrong and I would never do that but I will watch it” people. if you want bareback to decline then show companies that it isn’t profitable until then nothing will change. Right now bareback is growing in popularity because you hav those that are against it in public and for it in private.

  6. Well said. Too often the anti bareback crowd takes a my way or the hiway approach when it comes to bareback porn. Don’t like it? Then don’t watch it! Remember we are talking porn here not sex ed videos. The AHF seems to sell gay men short and think we are all idiots who will go around barebacking with wild abandon if we watch a bareback porn. Sure some will, but they are the minority, and should not dictate standards for the rest of us adults.

  7. I agree this issue is not for debate. Sure we dont have to judge people for decisions they make. But so many especically in gay porn have pushed the envelope for young people that dont remember the early HIV AIDS years. I think too many gays see HIV infection as a right of passage and almost expected during their life. That never used to be. Have we forgotten the pain and suffering of AIDS? The people that get turned off by bareback porn get harassed now? Things have really changed. I dont see it as a debate either but to comapre unsafe sex to being an Arab growing up in a small town is beyond a weak analogy.
    It is not a debate. But dont attack those who speak out against it because they dont want to see the suffering of youth today. I dont understand why safe sex gets attacked today. To think that ACT UP was considered a radical organization or terrorist organization because they threw condoms in a church. Where is that passion today for life?
    HIV is not a right of passage for gay youth. It is preventable and condoning HIV infection in gay porn is not right. Imagine for a second if there was straight porn with HIV performers engaging in unsafe sex. There would be total outrage and it would be on the front page of every paper. Why are gays treated different? Are we less deserving of such outrage? Our lives are not worth the same?
    It is not a debate but a voice for life.

  8. A community has to have a moral framework, and the line needs to be drawn somewhere.
    Someone making bareback porn may have a well informed understanding of the risks, but we can’t assume that everyone watching it does.

    If we lived in a society where we can trust that every person is a well adjusted and informed person, then we’d be fine. This is not the case.

    I don’t agree with bareback porn, just in the same way I wouldn’t agree with instructional video’s on how to inject heroin.

    It only takes one person to interpret it the wrong way.

    1. JennyFromTheBlock

      Your choices are either agree with it or remove it from existence? Your argument sounds similar to one from a person who would have all porn banned in order to limit promiscuity.

      1. Not at all, that is not what I’m saying.
        What I mean, is that we can’t have some left wing free for all. You have to draw a line on what’s acceptable in porn at some point.
        Where would you draw the line on what’s unacceptable?

        1. But there is no “authority” or Board of Standards that would draw this line you feel we all need, except in the case of actual legal challenges via the courts that ask whether a specific kind of porn is “obscene” (has no redeeming cultural or artistic value) or poses a threat to the community. You cannot and will never be able to prove that bareback porn poses this threat — you’d need quantifiable data that shows that the production and distribution of bareback porn leads to a greater frequency of bareback sex (or HIV/STD infection for that matter) among the people who perform in it and/or watch it.

          If anything, bareback porn is showing the kind of sex that those performers (and people all over the world) already choose to engage in privately.

          They CHOOSE to engage in bareback sex. And, yes, even people who make these choices while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or even peer pressure, still inevitably must and do take responsibility for these individual choices – even if that burden ends as an HIV+ test result. Young people are not exempt. If they are old enough to join the military and die in battle, they are old enough to inform themselves and make their own choices as to what kind of sex they want to have. As for minors, or stupid people, or self-hating or self-destructive gays, there is only so much that can be done. The “safer-sex” message, the underlying facts about HIV/STDs, and the community support systems that put them in place, are all out there and have been for years. What benefit would come from “drawing a line” and banning or restricting bareback porn if tons of people are choosing to have unprotected sex in their private lives anyway? Our porn would be a lie. We’d be insisting that the only hot sex or viable sex is sex with condoms, and that’s not true for everyone. In choosing to bareback, there are risks, but that choice does NOT guarantee a death sentence or the contracting of an STD — people make a wide range of choices and judgments in assessing the risks they take in having sex. Policing porn and eliminating barebacking from the visual spectrum would be ridiculous and unwise as it would threaten to shut down a larger, more important discussion in our community, and would lace the joy of sex and porn filmmaking with shame, fear and hypocrisy – and people will tune out and fuck bareback anyway.

          1. Talk about saying alot without saying anything at all.

            How do you know what people do in their private lives? If someone had sex with their dog in private, does that make it ok to make porn about it?

  9. Porn is made to fulfill the fantasies that we can’t in real life so bareback is part of it! It’s pointless do porn using condoms. And the life of the porn stars is already fucked up, they must go for it!

    1. Dear Carlos Eduardo,

      That’s just how it works for you. A lot of gay people are having bareback sex and getting infected, especially younger people in minority communities. It’s not pointless to do porn with condoms. That’s like saying it’s pointless to have good role models in society. Not every porn star is fucked up and not every porn star wants to become positive. It seems like Conner here wants more in life than to just a porn career, right?

      1. I’m only 20 and i’ll never have unprotected sex. Some alienated people just can’t learn! Porn Stars are not models OMFG! I won’t tell why Porn Stars can’t be “models in society” or life cause it will shock a people like you.

  10. I don’t know what’s so “well said” about it. All he really said was: “it’s complicated, I don’t want to take the time to form a public opinion, so I’ll just say live and let live”. It’s not an opinion, it’s a cop-out.

    1. haha. kudos. Tony, you saw it for what it was. Connor, if you’re going to use your porn star status to say something, then say something. Take a stand. Don’t just impress me with your good looks and your good vocab.

    2. Agreed, Tony. I think those who think this is well written are more interested in getting into Conner’s pants.

      Do our experiences, backgrounds, culture all affect our viewpoints, of course they do; does that somehow make them invalid? Of course not. And to suggest as much is absurd.

      1. He’s taking a stand for a right to choose – just like the abortion debate… An individuals right to choose comes before all else.

  11. Unfortunately we live in a society in which many people think every bad thing should be prohibited by law and every good thing should be mandatory. This creates the false dilemma posed here that you must either support freedom or you must support bareback gay porn. The truth is: you can oppose bareback gay porn and you can oppose state interference in porn.

    I am deeply opposed to production and distribution of present-day bareback gay porn. I believe both condoms and testing should be used for the safety of models and the use of condoms should be apparent in the product and promotional materials for the example it sets for the community. Furthermore, I would like to discourage the idea that no scene is really complete without anal. Before anyone was concern with safer sex, there was a greater variety of scenes, many involving acts that were safe or safer, although no one was trying to achieve that. When straight-owned and straight-dominated companies make gay porn they, naturally enough, try to make it as much like straight porn as possible.

    But anyone who thinks the answer to this problem lies with state intervention simply knows nothing of history. Regulation will mean suppression, and gay porn however made will be suppressed first.

    Therefore, the right position is to refuse to buy or promote products from companies that produce bareback porn. If they have the right to make it, you have the right to refrain from encouraging them. You have the right to criticize. You have the right to encourage companies that make responsible porn.

  12. Completely in shock at how well this is conveyed…..Kudos to you Conner!! If I didn’t know who you were before I do now and I can assure you a major fan from now on…..BEST OF LUCK MAN!!! WELL SAID!!!

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