A recent comment on this blog sent my mind circling around the question of the role of homoerotic products and gay liberation. The classic critique of porn is that it objectifies - complex, three-dimensional people are transformed into 2-dimensional objects of lust. Personally I don't buy this argument at all. Short of a Vulcan mind-meld, any gaze is an objectifying gaze to one extent or another. We are all, at all times, existing entirely within our subjective interpretations (and fantasies... especially fantasies!) of who we see each other and ourselves to be. We're always filling in each other's backstories, objectifying, demonizing, valorizing, sensualizing...
These days, gay liberation seems to be circling the drain of heterosexualized partnering. Our thought-leaders feed us the notion that our self-actualization will only come once monogamous, dyadic partnerships of boys with boys (and girls with girls) is subsumed underneath the mountainous weight of state sanctioned marriage. I know that I'm swimming upstream here, but "gay marriage" does not look like liberation to me. Sorry to offend... but moving on...
Which brings me back to my original question. Does gay porn and, in particular, homoerotic wrestling have anything to do with gay liberation. At the risk of being scorned as biased (did I mention I've invested considerably in the industry?), I propose that what we're about in the producer/performer/consumer partnership in homoerotic wrestling is more than just a paycheck and an orgasm. I think we're about something liberating. Just a few points in my evolving thesis:
1. Erotica and porn have always snuck across the lines that divide (urban, rural, black, white, out, in, etc.) and shown up wrapped in anonymous packaging (or more recently with the click of the mouse), at which point all of us have had that moment of realization that we're not alone.
2. In a bodyphobic society bent on making us all hate the shape, size, proportions, complexion, and impermanence of our bodies, erotica and porn hold the potential of helping to right that imbalance. When it's done right, when bodies are unflinchingly celebrated, when bodies are adored for the naked beauty they possess, then erotica/porn is a flip of the middle finger to the puritanical oppression of bodies as inherently dangerous, dirty, vile and corrupting.
3. Erotica and porn (and here I think homoerotic wrestling in particular) has the potential to demonstrate an enacted alternative to the straight-jacket world most of us live in. The way things are is NOT the way things have to be, and if we couldn't imagine an alternative vision of masculinity and male bodies and gay male attraction and gay male lust, then what would we be left with? We'd be left with the lies that we've all been taught: that gay men are predatory, despicable, immoral, incapable of love, selfish and self-hating. Some gay porn, sadly, borders on perpetuating those lies, but when I see two powerful, confident, strong, mutually attracted men throwing one another around and pounding on one another, I catch another vision of who we all might be. When I see the fantastically erotic story of domination and submission, power and vulnerability, worship and lust... then I think we've got something crucial (and hot!) to teach this world about the fabulous depths of the human condition. If it not only gets us off (and that SHOULD be a priority... see point #2), but also makes us think differently, then that seems like a glimpse of liberation to me.
I guess I'm going on and on today just to say that none of us are alone, we are all beautiful, and however stuck the world may seem at times, the way things are isn't the way things will always be. Whatever else it does, homo-erotica should remind us that we are powerful and beautiful and possessors of vital insights into the potential of human passion. [Dismounting soapbox.]