I love gay male porn

A straight woman has a thing for guy-on-guy action and wants to know: "What's up with that?"

Topics: Am I Normal?, Sex, Pornography, Love and Sex,

Email your questions to tracy@salon.com.

I’m a straight woman, but I like watching gay male porn, especially where the men are supposed to be straight. It isn’t something I’d want to pursue in my real sex life (I shudder, in a bad way, to think of my boyfriend hooking up with another guy), but in pure fantasy, it turns me on like no heterosexual porn ever has. What’s up with that? Am I a freak?

Just the other night, I had the bizarre experience of co-judging a classy, high-brow event called the Air Sex Championships. At one point during the show, a man going by the pseudonym “Sir Fucks A Lot” climbed onstage wearing a baseball cap, a muscle-hugging V-neck, cargo shorts and a cocky Casanova smile. He looked like a straight frat boy stereotype, but to everyone’s great surprise he began enthusiastically enacting a gay sex scene — and, reader, it was hot. For the only time that evening, the all-female judging panel leaned forward — instead of recoiling in disgust — to get a better look.

This was just my most recent brush with straight-female sexual appreciation of gay men. I’ve come across variations on your question — both in talking to female friends and in the short time that I’ve been fielding reader questions — countless times before. (It isn’t just heterosexual women — remember the scene in “The Kids Are All Right” where the lesbian couple puts on some retro gay smut to get in the mood?) There isn’t any reliable data on just how common your interest is, but Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, who analyzed Web searches in “A Billion Wicked Thoughts,” report that “over the past four years, gay porn has surged in popularity among heterosexual women and doesn’t show any sign of having peaked.” It doesn’t stop at hardcore videos, either: Consider the thriving online world of explicit slash fiction, in which fans of various items of pop culture ephemera write scenes where straight-male leads — from “Star Trek’s” Kirk and Spock to “Twilight’s” Edward and Jacob — get it on. In Japan, there is a comic book equivalent called yaoi (or “boy love”) with a similarly female-dominated audience.

So, no, you are hardly “a freak” — at least not in any negative sense. Now as for the tougher issue of “What’s up with that?” I took your question to award-winning gay-erotica author James Buchanan, whose audience is largely female. “The men are free to explore their roles and enjoy each other without this omnipresent sound track of what society ‘expects,’” Buchanan said. “And female readers can choose to identify with either, or both, protagonists in the story.” Fantasies are supposed to allow us to escape our usual roles, after all. Speaking of roles, a study published in 2004 by a psychologist-anthropologist duo theorized that part of the female attraction to slash is that it’s “based on shared adventure, and its protagonists slay each other’s dragons.” The authors write, “Although the heroes of mainstream romance novels are ‘warriors,’ the heroines are not warriors, no matter how intelligent, well-educated, fiercely independent, professionally successful, and spunky they may be.” They surmise, “The typical slash fan may be a woman who is psychosexually unexceptional but who, for whatever reason, prefers the fantasy of being a cowarrior to the fantasy of being Mrs. Warrior.” Maybe you want to be the pornographic equivalent of a co-warrior — a co-screwer instead of a screwee?

Gay porn is an erotic vacation of sorts for hetero women where the usual gender baggage is left behind. Guy-on-guy scenes don’t automatically call to mind real-world power dynamics between the sexes or the social and political history of male-female roles. However, there is plenty of masculine worship, as well as subversion, which I gather is your thing, given the interest in “straight” guys having gay sex. (I’m guessing you’re talking about “gay for pay” — or maybe the popular genre where college guys do gay things during a fraternity hazing.) It can be easier to watch gay porn without worrying whether the stud in the assless chaps feels disempowered or exploited — if only because of basic cultural attitudes toward female sexuality. Not only does it come without aesthetic offenses like globular implants and prepubescent-esque genitalia, but the potential for female viewers to make unfavorable comparisons to their own body virtually disappears.

It’s funny this question even has to be asked in the first place, given that men’s interest in pseudo-lesbian porn is taken as so obvious as to be unworthy of explanation. Guys are visual creatures, they love the female form, two are better than one — what’s the question, right? It’s true that research has found men to be more visual, but that isn’t to say that women as a whole are not (or that some women are not just as visually oriented as some men, if not more so). So let me state what should be apparent: Straight women appreciate attractive men, and attractive men are in much greater supply in the gay side of the porn industry. That they are having sex with other men can be inconsequential or especially titillating.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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