The other day, I saw an episode of the daytime talk show Tyra. The topic of this episode was “Gay for Pay,” and focused on a group of young actors who all claim to be heterosexual, yet act in gay adult online videos.
As you can probably already imagine, double standards were flying in all directions in this episode, reminding me why I generally would rather set my hair on fire than watch this show, and yet still leaving me just ticked off enough that I’m actually writing a post about the show.
In introducing these actors, Tyra, who has a reputation for insisting that looks shouldn’t matter, she describes them as guys with “All-American” looks. What, exactly, does having an “All-American loo” mean? Isn’t that propagating some football jock stereotype? And aren’t stereotypes, generally, not only inaccurate but harmful to people struggling for their identity?
Over the course of the show, the majority of which I caught clips of while I was getting ready for work, several twenty-somethings insisted that what they do on camera is not reflective of their sexual orientation. They claim that they all went into the adult entertainment industry through the guy-girl door, but realized that while an individual hetero scene might pay them anywhere from $300-$500 dollars, a man-on-man scene could pay them upwards of ten times that amount of money.
For some, nearly everything can be bought.
All of them either had girlfriends or wives, and in at least one case, it was their girlfriend who actually encouraged her “All-American”-looking guy to sleep with other guys on camera for the cash.
For a lot of guys, the thought of two women getting it on is some sort of thrill. A lot of people, men and women, seem to accept this as normal. Tyra’s mostly-female audience didn’t meet the notion of a girl encouraging her man to get it on with other men as anything remotely in the same category.
Gotta love feigned talk show outrage.
Toward the end of the show, a gay rights advocate — I have no idea what his official title or line of work is, but this was his function on this dais — disputed one of the actor’s suggestion that by giving gay guys a place to go online for their jollies, these actors were very possibly keeping them away from drugs and dangerous behavior. This advocate pointed out that porn is more often than not linked to drug use and other self-destructive, risky behaviors. Yet porn in general wasn’t his main gripe.
You’d think a clearly well-educated guy who does analytical research on the adverse affects of pornography would be speaking out against the industry as a whole. But the primary gripe he raised was that these straight guys get to “play gay” for a while, then they can return to normal, where they don’t feel the discrimination and hated that gays feel.
But wait a second: whose fault is that? The actors make it clear that they are straight guys who are only in it for the paycheck.
But how about the audience that provides the demand for such a production? Aren’t they at least as much to blame as the people who make the product? After all, if there wasn’t a great deal of money to be made from an apparently eager audience, producers couldn’t offer such hefty paychecks to start with.
And if it’s gay customers who are the primary consumers for this kind of product, it stands to reason that there are a fair number of people in the gay community who are into the very “All-American” stereotype Banks began her show mentioning. So they’re feeding the very fire of discrimination that they then use as a reason to resent the straight guys who “play” gay and can then snap back to “normal.”
And this advocate, from what I heard, never once had anything to say about that.