Tumblr Was a Healthy Alternative To Gay Porn Sites

Tumblr Was a Healthy Alternative To Gay Porn Sites

Well, it’s over. Tumblr porn is dead, long live Tumblr porn.

It was the policy change heard ‘round the world. Tumblr, the popular social blogging platform known for its political teens and fandom communities, decided to remove adult content altogether from its scroll. Starting on December 17th, say goodbye to “photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts.”

Folks have pointed out how this policy change will impact sex workers and how Tumblr was a comfortable space for women to look at porn. Though probably not its original intention, Tumblr created a positive alternative to the more mainstream porn sites. Unlike what you’d likely find on the front page of any gay porn site, not every image on Tumblr was a muscular white man. Without really seeking it out, you could find porn that’s diverse in terms of race, body type, and kink.

“The Tumblr porn ban has some real world ramifications for sex workers and that should be our primary focus,” comedian Joel Kim Booster posted on Twitter, “but it is also the only place I can find consistently RELATABLE asian porn.”

For me, and I think a lot of people who came out during the height of Tumblr, the site provided an extremely informal way to interact with sexual imagery. It got rid of the shame that one might feel with searching for gay porn because it was in the middle of other “normal” content. To have a platform like that available is one thing, but to have the content be more diverse than the standard porn sites is also a blessing.

A generation of gay men is seeing nude images that they might identify with more or might influence their own sexual interests and attraction. I grew up in Orange County, California, surrounded by blonde and hairless twinks. Without Tumblr, I don’t know when I would have discovered that some people aren’t repulsed by my body hair. I wasn’t getting that from any other porn site I used.

There’s also something to be said about the communal attitude on pornography that Tumblr fostered. One of the biggest genres of porn that you’d find wouldn’t just be repostings, but also amateur porn or nudes from Tumblr users themselves — it was a unique space where sometimes your mutuals would just post nudes and it didn’t feel that scandalous.

It gave power to its own community to choose what they wanted to see and produce in terms of erotic media. We’ve seen the ways that the porn industry, like many other entertainment industries, can mess up in terms of inclusion. Just around a year ago, the GayVN Awards got some flack for having a “Best Ethnic Scene” category for non-white actors whereas in the “Best Actor” category no actors of color were chosen.

This happens in big entertainment industries all the time because racism is ingrained in the system of how businesses grow. Tumblr gets to work around those larger systems because people in the communities aren’t, as far as I know, running porn blogs to turn a profit—it’s a social activity.

This is not to say that the Tumblr community was exempt from racism. In fact, one of the most blatant forms of racism across social media was the existence of “pale blogs,” which exclusively feature images of attractive white people. Unsurprisingly there are gay porn versions of these blogs as well; where people go, racism follows.

That being said, for all the pale blogs, there were also blogs celebrating all kinds of bodies and interests, like Black Beef or Asian Male Photography. That is the kind of content that was novel with Tumblr’s community, and that’s the kind of content that will be missed.


Ryan Khosravi

Ryan Khosravi is a culture writer based out of New York, and his thing in the world is beating unsuspecting straight men at Super Smash Bros.

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