HBGC Event: Black and Latino Gay Men on Pornography

(from left to right) HGBC panelists discussing pornography and men of color include Tiger Tyson, HotRod, June Quinones, Blake Rowley, and Joshua Rosenberger. Photo by: Chuck Colbert
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From L-to-R) HGBC panelists discussing pornography and men of color include Tiger Tyson, HotRod, June Quinones, Blake Rowley, and Joshua Rosenberger. Photo credit — Chuck Colbert

By: Chuck Colbert/TRT Reporter–

It was a hot topic of conversation.

And talk about pornography they did as more than 50 people (mostly men of color) gathered Saturday evening, April 21, for an event sponsored by the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC).

Held at Club Café, the panel discussion featured porn stars and research experts and dealt with the effect of pornography on Hispanic and black gay identity, behavior, and culture.

The title of the panel was “The Raw Realty: Pornography & Black and Latino Gay Representation.

The two-hour conversation was designed as “an innovative way to discuss safe-sex, sexuality, and the LGBTQ community with recognizable faces that are often glorified,” said Corey Yarbrough, HGBC’s executive director.

The panel was the closing session of HGBC’s two-day “Fantasy vs. Reality Weekend.”

Panelists included black porn star Tiger Tyson owner of Pittbull Productions, Latino porn star June Quinones, and black porn star HotRod.

Other panelists were Blake Rowley, a senior epidemiology research associate at Fenway Health, and Joshua Rosenberger, Ph.D., a professor of global community health at George Mason University. He also serves as a research consultant for Manhunt Cares.

Karyn Smith, a local transgender activist and HGBC member, served as moderator.

“What sparked your interest in the porn industry?” she asked.

“The sex is good,” said Quinones. “The money is better. We’re doing porn to pay our bills and do what we have to do to survive.”

“What’s the biggest misconception of a porn star?” asked Smith.

“That every porn star is stupid or dumb or can’t read,” said Tyson. “Or some lost soul out there doing drugs all day.”

“We all got families to take care of somebody,” he explained. “Some of us are raising kids. How about that? I got to do what I do for my life.”

And yet the focus of the evening was not only on porn-star personalities and celebrity status.

Smith asked about the business of consulting in the field.

“What do you do?” she said.

“Because of the work I do, I am not working with members [of Manhunt, an online cruising and hook-up Web site] or with advertisers,” said Rosenberger. “I work with issues of sexual research. One of the things Manhunt does with HIV and other risk behaviors is to look at who uses porn, and how they use it.

“Not to stigmatize those people,” he said. “Rather to understand why people are doing what they are doing.”

Much to audience surprise, Rosenberger said the number one reason people watch pornography “is because they are bored.”

“What you do at the end of the day, part of a night time routine, people put on a little bit of porn because they have nothing better to do,” explained Rosenberger. “It’s the way they end their day.”

Achieving orgasm, he said, “was reason number four or five for watching porn.”

Overall, HBGC’s panelists took a laissez-faire attitude to moral questions about porn as a slice of the sexual revolution, the potentiality of destructive forces associated with pornography such as infidelity and sexual jealousy, sexual aggression, addiction, and disease, among others.

However, the discussion included talk about unprotected anal sex, the phenomenon known as “bare backing” in the gay male community.

Unprotected and receptive anal intercourse is high-risk behavior for transmission of HIV that causes AIDS and other STD’s.

Recent studies have shown that younger African American and Latino men who have sex with men are being infected at higher rates than other populations.

“Wrap it up.” said Tyson, adding “unless it’s your wife, husband, lover — then f*** all you want. If not, wrap it up.”

Smith pressed panelists further.

“Is there a relationship between watching porn and acquiring HIV, especially with bare backing?” she asked.

While voicing agreement with the “wrap-it-up” meme, Rosenberger said, “It’s important to recognize that decisions [about unprotected sex] are individual decisions, and everyone needs to make those decisions based on what he thinks his own risk is.”

“What we do know, statistically,” he continued, “is that 34 to 36 percent of people who have husbands or wives have extra-relational sexual relationships.”

It’s not a bad thing,” necessarily, Rosenberger said. “If you enjoy sex, and you and your partner negotiate what you should do.”

Rosenberger’s point was this: “It’s not as simple as saying, ‘you have to use condoms.’ It’s about having safer sex.”

“I am a big believer in using condoms for HIV protections,” he continued.

Rosenberger pointed to studies showing the rate of condom use by gay people is 30 percent.

Sure enough, “We know the truth that people don’t use condoms 100 percent of the time,” he said. “If we keep telling people to use condoms 100 percent of the time, we’re just setting people up to fail, feel ashamed, and be stigmatized by it.”

For two men, Rosenberger added, “We know there is no risk of pregnancy.”

“If both guys are [HIV] negative and have no other STD’s, there is no risk of transmission assuming those are true.  If so, there’s no reason to use condoms,” he said.

In perhaps one of the most interesting, if not reassuring pieces of information shared during the evening’s discussion, Rosenberger said, “There is no direct link between watching unprotected porn and having unprotected sex.”

He was referring to data from a global population study, which included a sample size of 30,000 of people who wrote real-time daily diary entries every night about what they did.

“It doesn’t mean that there are not some people who do,” said Rosenberger.

© Copyright. Chuck Colbert. All rights reserved.

1 Comment on "HBGC Event: Black and Latino Gay Men on Pornography"

  1. Great to see greater participation of men of colour in this debate, especially around safe sex http://www.getiton.co.nz/condoms-lube/

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