Good question! In a perfect world, all types of pornography could be reviewed and examined together, but due to the history of heteronormativity within and outside of the porn industry, many sites and videos are specifically harmful or exclusionary towards the LGBTQ+ community. From omitting portrayals of sex outside of penis-vagina sexual-intercourse, to the lack of representation of sexualities and genders outside of heterosexual cis-gendered people, this page can act as a guide for teens in navigating the world of pornography with an LGBTQ+ focus.
In this section, we will review common portrayals of the LGBTQ+ community in media and pornography. Under each scenario, we will discuss where they are from and why they may be harmful to people who may only see themselves represented in these online spaces.
Power dynamic where one party is “strong” and the other, “weak.”
While there is no problem having a dominant or submissive sexual preference, much of the porn created outside of the heterosexual and cisgendered sphere continues to enforce stereotypical gender norms. A majority of videos with two male identifying people continue to depict a clear divide between submissive and dominant parties. Even just by reading the titles of videos, users are taught to expect a distinction which stems from centuries of traditional (yet massively insulting and incorrect) gender roles of cis-men and cis-women.
Pornography viewers who are exposed to so many unbalanced power dynamic videos are more likely to stick to these same scripts in the bedroom and see them as an accurate portrayal of what sex should be. Even if both parties are interested in being dominant and submissive with their partners, years of exposure to this specific and common style will turn them off from sharing or switching control. BDSM practices also require research and boundary-setting, which is often not portrayed in mainstream porn.
Violence against people in the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender youth.
Sexual Violence is never okay, and repeated portraylas of sexual violence towards LGBTQ+ individuals may allow viewers to become desensitized to such actions or think that such things are okay. In a world where the LGBTQ+ community still endures so much discrimination and hate, many people have a strong sense of entitlement and commit these crimes to enforce the power dynamic between people they see as inferior and weaker to themselves. In porn, sexual violence is most commonly shown against the transgender community, which furhter enables these actions.
Since porn affects people’s views on everyday life, this representation facilitates violence against transgender individuals not only on camera, but in real life too. 12% of transgender youth have been sexually assaulted in their lives. Additionally, for many LGBTQ+ people, especially teenagers in areas that are more openly discriminatory and hateful towards the LGBTQ+ community, pornography is the only place they see themselves represented in sex and how it is performed; this leads to these videos acting as a tutorial for their sexual lives rather than just a fantasy. The violence portrayed here then becomes a part of what sex is “supposed to be” and continues to normalize public violence and abuse against and within the LGBTQ+ community.
Sexualization and Fetishization of the LGBTQ+ community.
In this year and decade, there is more inclusive representation of all genders and sexualities than ever, so why are LGBTQ+ individuals still used as tokens in modern pornography? Many “most-viewed” videos on popular sites today still show the act of LGBTQ+ sex as something taboo, mysterious, or something curated for the male gaze. A common example of this is most mainstream lesbian porn, which is widly viewed and created for heterosexual male viewers, fetishising and objectifying lesbians.
With a growing number of people in the LGBTQ+ community becoming comfortable with sharing their gender and sexual identity with the world, it is important that the media produced does not exclude any community by displaying a part of their lives as something to be viewed from through a lens of sexualisation. It is harmful because it fetishizes LGBTQ+ individuals, making them an object of sexual gratification rather than recognising them as people, and this lesson taught by so much of pornography translates and encourages the way people treat the LGBTQ+ community in real life.
Societal gender roles drive porn production and porn consumption.2 Read it, and read it again, because until people in the LGBTQ+ community are represented in ways without violence, “traditional” gender roles, and sexualization, LGBTQ+ individuals will continue to be hurt by these representations. Becauase there is already so little LGBTQ+ representation in pornography, it is imperitive that the media available is an accurate and constructive representation of sex and sex-related activities for those who are looking for information about themselves, their partners, and their futures, as well as providing an accurate portrayal for those outside of the LGBTQ+ community who will see this content as an accurate portrayal of LGBTQ+ individuals whether it truly is or not.