I’ve never been a big fan of pornography. Ok, Ok, yes, I’ve used it plenty, especially when I was squished in the closet, and when I first came out. Oh, those sweet days of blind lust. Like, yesterday, for example. But it always left me wanting, kind of empty. Fantasizing about a real guy, now that’s fun. Maybe it will lead to something. Maybe hot, passionate sex, or a peak up a pant leg. I’ve thought about it a lot. (porno and pant legs) And I’ve seen changes in myself. Porno hollows my self-esteem by falsely building it up. Does that make sense? Bait and switch. In a vicious cycle.
I admit submitting to the Sirens call of porno. After I use pornography for my pleasure, I feel more lonely. If I stop to think (that is after mindlessly "enjoying" it) I realize I’ve been duped. That dream, that imaginary interaction, that fantasy depletes me psychologically. Maybe it’s because there’s not a hope in heaven of really meeting that guy. Or even really wanting to. It seems to tell me I’m nothing without them to boost myself to pleasure. In a way, I disappear during the fantasy. I mean the real me, the one with imperfections, needs, limitations. What replaces me is a flat, unreal, featureless creation to match the image in the smut.
Sure, it serves the purpose. But what else does it do?
I also get frustrated that these images are calling to me, yet not really there. I want the touch; of rough hands, of smooth butt, of fur rubbing me; the smells; faint cologne mixed with sweat, mild BO, feet; the close ups; of everything!; the detailed exploration;of everything!; the warmth, the vibration, the friction. Sex is a unique flowering of all those perceptions and interactions. Pornography and sex are not the same. Related, yes. Connected, yes, especially in gay culture. But sex, even if impersonal, has some depth. While, pornography, like a really good drug, takes you far away from reality. These packaged images mock me. Keep your distance. Window shopping only. Look but don’t touch. I start to believe that’s the way it should be; that’s all I deserve. It wakes me up. Dignity.
When at a bar with friends, one of my favorite things to do is people watch. Is that different from porno? After all, these are real people, in the flesh, not acting. And yes, I look at the beautiful one (or ten). I usually pick him out quickly. I watch his gestures, the nape of his neck, the way he stands, the way he fills his jeans, the way he laughs, the way his legs flex when walking, the shape of his hands and fingers as they bring a glass to his lips, the spark in his eyes. But even here, seeing real people, I basically disappear. It’s more real than porno, but still, the pleasure is not about me. It’s me enjoying watching them enjoying themselves. They are not in my world. You’re probably thinking, "This guy thinks too much." Yup, that’s what I do. My specialty.
So what do I really want? Do I enjoy sex? Hell, yes! But the connection with anther person is what I’m really after. Sex is a wonderful byproduct, but not the goal. If I get naked with a sexy man, I might go through the motions, and perhaps get off, but it’s still a robot running me. However, if I am really comfortable, I could hang around naked with a sexy man and not really have sex. Just play, tease, talk, laugh. You might just call this "dating". But that’s different again. No, sex is not dating. But a brief, poetic moment of sharing mutual pleasure is high on my list. It’s self affirming and sharing.
When I was in Budapest one summer I went to the Turkish baths. These places are ancient structures built by the Ottoman Empire during their reign in Hungary. And they have seen countless couplings between men. This one had a huge, windowed dome. Piercing shafts of light sliced through languid humidity down to enormous, round, wading pools where men lounged in sulfurey smelling mineral water.
There was a young man whom I watched for awhile; thin, very cute, pouty, wearing a modest, loose bathing suit. He seemed to know people, but floated free. He came up to me at closing and asked if I wanted him to go home with me. (Yes, he was for hire.) Though I was flattered and interested, I was also wary. He might be a thug. I put him off a few days. That increased the desire. And somehow also increased the comfort. We spoke on the phone several times before he came over. We spent the better part of the night playing, being silly and adolescent, eating pizza, napping. Sex was all that, but orgasm was only a small part. Maybe that’s what I’m trying to say. It’s more about the pleasure of someones company and connection than orgasm. Perhaps you think that’s just expensive pornography. Yes, but I’ll never forget that specific man and that night.
All of the above has been affected by pornography. Men are hard wired to want perfection, whether it’s physical beauty or raw power or perhaps, like me, a certain level of playful comfort. Porno seems to feed all that. One is encouraged to buy the fantasy, hire the professional advice on desires, pay for the unattainably perfect dream partner, cater to every whim. And this is all fine with me. I’m not complaining. Just thinking. I just like to think about how it has changed me. And whether I’ve lost some of who I am to all that packaging, lost something subtle, personal and unique.