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

  • Don’t smoke cigarettes
  • Read your Bible every morning for at least 15 minutes
  • Don’t drink alcohol (or at least not too much)
  • Say a certain prayer to ask Jesus into your heart
  • Don’t have sex (or, at least don’t talk about it)
  • Go to church each week (unless you have a good excuse), and a Bible study once a week

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.

Want to get those each week (plus some occasional, more private thoughts on sex & relationships)? I’d love to keep in touch. Drop your email address below and I’ll keep you in the loop!

P.S. hit reply to any email from me to start a conversation!

3 Comments

  1. Aaron June 3, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Hi Brian,
    I just wanted to ask some clarifying questions about this blog post. I am an ex-porn star. I am now a Christian, and I happen to be gay. I work with a lot of conservative groups in the fight against porn, and sometimes, I hear that argument that pornography can make people gay. This blog post of yours seems like something that could possibly give power to their argument if it is read in a certain way. How would you counter someone who tried to tell you that you are gay because you looked at porn and especially gay porn?
    Again, just to clarify, are you saying that by seeing porn you realized that you were gay and that it helped you come to terms with your sexuality? Or are you saying that you believed homosexuality was an action, not a state of being, and that you gave into the idea of the action by watching porn?
    Your Brother,
    Aaron

  2. Brian Murphy June 18, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Well firstly I would plainly say the idea that pornography cane “make” someone gay is patently absurd. I also looked at straight porn and it didn’t make me straight. And I know lots of people — men and women — who have watched “gay porn” and not “turned gay.” It’s an absurd notion and should be treated as such: absurd.

    What gay porn did for me was crystalize feelings & attractions that I was already having toward other guys my age (and to guys on TV and guys in magazine, as y’know teenagers do). Before that it was easier to pretend that my crush on my guy friend wasn’t *really* a crush or that I was just intrigued by the male form on the underwear boxes at Sears in some artistic or aesthetic or just boys-will-be-boys way. Pornography is explicit and undeniable in a way that those other things weren’t, so I guess in that sense it “helped” my process.

    But, 13-year-old Brian (or however old I was) then understood “homosexuality” to be an action–watching porn being the biggest culprit. I was “committing the sin of homosexuality” when I watched gay porn, or so I thought. It was something I could choose to do or not do. And I failed to consider all the other elements of being gay: emotional attraction, romantic attraction, spiritual connection, etc.. It took me awhile to move past that idea and so I guess in that sense it “hindered” my process. But the process of thinking that way and then moving into a new understanding of what it means to be queer also taught me something about faith: just like whether or not I watch porn doesn’t make me gay, nor does whether or not a follow a specific set of rules I learned in junior high make me a person of faith or not.

    Hope that makes sense!

  3. Aaron June 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Cool. Then I have another question. Do you feel that pornography, gay or straight, is okay to view within Jesus’ love?

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