What Gay Porn Taught Me About Faith - Brian Gerald Murphy

What Gay Porn Taught Me About Faith

Ask Jeeves
It was easier to pretend that I was straight before I looked at gay porn. That’s when it all came crashing down. Before then, I could brush it off. I was just excited to make a new friend, I was just looking for new clothes in the catalogue, or I was being a good Christian by not lusting after women.

By seventh grade, kids were looking at porn.

My guys friends at church never admitted it outright, but they did talk about looking at their moms’ Victoria’s Secret catalogues. I was righteously (but silently) indignant. We’re not supposed to do that! Even then, I knew better than to say it out loud.

My friends from school were more vocal about looking up porn on the internet. How does one even find it?! I had not one clue.

So, I Googled it—er, I Ask Jeeved it.

“Where do you find porn?”

Ask Jeeves replied,

“Where do you find naked pictures of…” with a drop-down menu for me to select “women,” “men,” or “both.”

Naturally, I clicked women.

Wait. Men was an option? People might want to see naked pictures of men? And this fact was so well-known that even Jeeves the algorithmic butler knew it?

It took me a few more times before I would even hover over the option. Select it but switch it back to women before pressing submit.

Until one day I said “Fuck it” and just did it. And that’s when it all changed.

Suddenly homosexuality went from this vague thing that I could not possibly be to an action, a mouse click. And if it was a mouse click, I could unclick it, I could turn it off, I could not do it.

Don’t look at porn. Don’t look at the underwear section of the mall. Don’t look at your friends.

It would take me years to unlearn the lesson I taught myself that year in seventh grade: that being gay isn’t something that you just “don’t do,” that it’s not an action, and most importantly that it’s not wrong.

Gay porn taught me about faith, too

Faith isn’t an action either.

The church I grew up attending teaches that we are saved by faith alone and not by works, they even positioned themselves against “other churches” where going (or not going) to church each week is what mattered, or against Roman Catholics who practiced confession.

But we sure had a whole lot of required actions

I judged myself on how many memory verses I’d memorized and whether I brought enough friends to church. (I was never good at evangelizing to friends.)

But, just like being queer, faith is bigger than the actions I used to think defined it.

It doesn’t matter whether or not I watch gay porn… I am still queer.

And it doesn’t matter whether I read my Bible every day or have sex or even believe in God, I can still be—I still am—a person traveling through life working to be the best version of myself and the best member of this human family that I can be.