A conservative group is breathlessly circulating an amateur video of gay sex at Texas A&M. This isn't a Log Cabin situation: The clip was shot undercover in an optional on-campus "safe and fun sex" presentation. The event was arranged by the university's GLBT Resource Center and featured sex therapist Cay Crow giving advice on "butt play," at times with the aid of some pornographic images and video clips. Texas Aggie Conservatives (TAC) is promoting the video like it landed a big scoop and now Fox News is accusing the university of facilitating a "how-to" for gay sex.
The TAC site warns, "The clip is very graphic. Viewer discretion is advised." Apparently a prostate exam qualifies as "very graphic." The video shows a finger, incased in an oh-so-medical finger cot, slowly entering someone's rear-end -- and from such an angle where penetration is hardly visible. Interestingly enough, it appears to be a straight couple -- but I suppose some people consider any sort of "butt play" to be gay. That's the only "graphic" visual you see, and yet it caused one Internet commenter to exclaim: "That was, without doubt, the most disgusting thing I have ever witnessed. You people are truly depraved" -- and you, sir, have apparently spent very little time on the Internet.
"Most people at the university do not agree with having casual sex, or homosexual sex, or having sex outside of marriage," Justin Pulliam, a student and TAC member, told KTRH. "That the university is institutionally supporting such behavior is disgusting." That is the real motivating factor here: They don't want gayness to exist on campus, period. To give their campaign a more respectable pretense, though -- you know, an argument other than bigotry -- the group claims that "student fee dollars and taxpayer dollars" were unfairly used to fund the presentation, but the event organizer insists that is untrue.
Coincidentally, just yesterday news broke that Northwestern University has canceled its human sexuality class after an optional after-hours live sex demonstration inspired international news coverage. These cases aren't so very different: Both touch on the question of what sort of sexual content is permissible in the college classroom -- particularly when it's part of an optional lecture where attendance is entirely voluntary. As the "sex show" professor, John Michael Bailey, told me at the time, "What has happened reinforces the fact that a significant portion of society is very sexually conservative and I knew that, of course, but this reinforces it. Part of that is being outraged by sexual interactions that have no clear harm to anybody."
I believe what we have in this particularly case is something I like to call "gay horror porn for conservatives." The word "porn" is too generously applied to anything that delivers a quick hit of visual stimulation -- but in this case it's perfectly appropriate. The revulsion expressed in response to this video is just dripping wet with titillation. The TAC website says the clip "is probably too sick for any sane person to watch" -- before offering up an embedded version of the video, which the group itself produced and edited. It's like when someone takes a bite of something and then says to you, "Oh my god, this is so gross -- try it!" And then they proceed to alternate between taking small bites and telling you how awful it is.