Dear Dan: I’m someone who does gay porn for a living. How do people who do gay porn meet someone who doesn’t just sexualize or fetishize them? I can’t eat, sleep, and breathe my work constantly but the guys I meet want me to live out the “porn persona” version of myself all the time. How does someone who does porn know who you can be yourself with?
—Aiden Ward, @aidenxxxward
Dear Aiden: “Living with two identities is definitely a balancing act,” said Devin Franco, an award-winning gay porn performer. “Being in porn means juggling the ‘real world’ person I actually am — a person who has to navigate rent, healthcare, bills, and a social life — and a porn star alter ego. And these days our porn alter egos don’t just have to perform. We also have to do a lot of our own shooting and our own PR while maintaining our images. It’s a lot. And reality always comes knocking no matter how much fun you’re having. The bills always come due.”
Franco’s first bit of advice is to remember that you are not your alter ego.
“It’s a beautiful and sexy part of you that you have the opportunity to show to the world,” said Franco. “But it’s not all of you. That will help you stay grounded.”
It also helps to remember that being “porn famous” doesn’t mean everyone knows who you are.
“A lot of people you meet will have no idea who you are,” said Franco, “which means a lot of the time you’ll get to choose when you want to introduce yourself as your porn alter ego or when you want to just be yourself. This makes it easier to create boundaries between your real life and your porn life. Knowing you get to decide when or even if you want to introduce yourself as your actual self or as that fantasy version of yourself—your alter ego—means you can control how a lot of people perceive you.”
So even if you get as porn famous as Franco is, Aiden, you’ll still have lots of opportunities for people to get to know the real you — not the porn persona — before you tell them what you do for a living. As with so many things (being HIV+, being trans, being kinky, being polyam, etc.), when you tell a guy you do porn, Aiden, you’re telling him one thing he needs to know about you — but his reaction will tell you everything you need to know about him. If he starts shaming you about what you do — or if he goes from seeing you as a person who is also an object to seeing you as just an object — that’s really all you need to know: don’t see him, unfollow him, block him.
“Now lots of the people who fetishize and sexualize you are your fans — they’re your audience, they’re the ones who pay your bills, and you have to recognize that and you do have to keep them interested,” said Franco, “but you don’t have to give them all of your time and attention. Because at the end of the day, it’s your work and you’ve got other shit to do. You will meet people both in and out of the industry who recognize that you are a real person, with a real life, and who will get to know the real you,” said Franco. “And you’ll sometimes find that some of the people who fetishized you at first don’t anymore once they get to know the real you.”
Franco shared your question with CagedJock, another high-profile porn star that Franco works with regularly, and CagedJock shared his strategy for finding guys he can be himself around: “I like to hang out with people who work in the same industry,” said CagedJock, “because they don’t sexualize me. Devin and I have been friends since 2019. He’s super sexy and I adore him. While other guys might only see him only as a fantasy figure, I don’t. Because I know our work doesn’t define us 24/7. We’re friends.”
Follow Devin Franco on Twitter @devinfrancoxxx and CagedJock @cagedjock.
Dear Dan: I’m a gay male in his 30s and during the pandemic I stayed with a straight male friend and his girlfriend. He’d periodically been flirty with me over the years—sending me nude photos and drunkenly telling me that he loved me. When his girlfriend was away visiting family we got drunk together. He bought all the alcohol, he mixed it, and he served it. During this time we had a series of drunken encounters. The first time he took out his cock and asked me if I wanted to play with it. There was some brief licking and he grabbed my hair and finished on my face. He hugged me and rubbed my back after. The next two times were less serious, but he took off his shirt and pants. On one of those occasions his girlfriend called and he put his clothes back on, took the call, then came back and took his clothes off again. All three times it happened he was fully engaged and communicating his wants and initiating things.
His girlfriend eventually found out about one of the incidents. After a month of drama, he told her everything and they broke up. Shortly after he claimed that I took advantage of him and claimed he was too drunk to give consent! I am not sure what to make of this. First, he is the one that supplied the alcohol and made us both really strong drinks. He also drinks a lot regularly, so his tolerance is much higher than mine, but we drank the same amount and I was much drunker than he was. Third, he continued to hang out with me until his girlfriend found out.
I am deeply hurt. I’ve lost of two friends — which I admit that I am partially to blame for. I knew they were together. But I don’t know what to about the accusation that I forced him to be sexual without his consent. I have played events over and over in my mind and I don’t understand how he could say this. He supplied the alcohol, he was an active participant, and when I asked if he really wanted to do this, he said yes. I am not sure if he is gaslighting me or if he honestly remembers things differently.
—Boy Lost And Hurt
Dear BLAH: At some point in our gay lives every gay man learns not to mess around with a friend’s drunk straight-identified boyfriend. No matter how many dick pics they send us, no matter how much they claim they wanna, when it comes to shit — as it invariably does — the gay guy is gonna get the blame. It’s a lesson most of us learn earlier in life (I was sixteen when I learned it), BLAH, but it’s a lesson most us learn after messing around with the drunk straight-identified boyfriend of a friend. We fuck around, we find out.
Anyway, your male former friend obviously wanted to mess around with another dude — he wasn’t sending you dick pics by accident — and the drinks he made were as much about lowering his inhibitions and yours (about cheating with him) as they were giving him some plausible deniability (“Man, I was so drunk last night!”) if the worst should happen. And it did: you fucked around, she found out. But after you guys got caught — which almost everybody does — instead of taking responsibility or coming out as bi or bi-curious or at the very least heteroflexible, BLAH, your former friend weaponized the toxic stereotype of the predatory homosexual against you. It’s understandable that you’re upset. If it’ll make you feel better — and it would certainly make me feel better — you could send screengrabs of the dick pics he sent you to him and his girlfriend. Because if anyone was making passes here, it was him. If anyone taking advantage here, it was him.
You could send those screengrabs, but you shouldn’t — as wrong as it was of him to weaponize anti-gay stereotype against you, BLAH, using his dick pics against him would also be wrong. And probably a crime under revenge porn statutes. But you have every right to push back against the accusation that you forced yourself on your former friend — and while you have the receipts and he knows it, BLAH, you shouldn’t produce them. Maybe just knowing you have them will make you feel better.