Oh dear, we’re in trouble.
A new survey shows that almost half of gay men in England have watched pornography for “education” about how to have sex. This is like watching The Matrix to learn kung-fu.
The charity GMFA asked over a thousand gay men where they learned about sex. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority reported no instruction in school — or at least, no instruction that applied to same-sex relationships.
And so where did they look for instruction instead?
Pornography, of course!
And that would be fine, except nothing that happens in porn is real, so that 41 percent of gay men who learned about anal sex from porn are in for some surprises. You seldom see the hygiene preparations in adult films, not to mention diligent STI testing.
What’s more, 34 percent learned about oral sex through porn. And 13 percent of respondents said they had riskier bareback sex after watching bareback pornography.
Don’t get us wrong, porn is great. It’s fun. Let’s all watch a lot of it. But we also have a responsibility to be smart and not dive into bed without learning how to do it safely in the real world.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s not to criticize pornography for being unrealistic — that’s not its job — but to criticize schools for doing such a poor job of preparing young people for the bodies they inhabit. Pretending that everyone is straight and celibate until married does a disservice to everyone. Straight people wind up pregnant; and queer people wind up with infections and injuries.
And that’s just the worst-case scenario. Because you so seldom see happy fulfilled partnerships in porn or in educational materials, LGBTQs are unprepared for building strong relationships. They might think that finding love is impossible, if they don’t see any models among all the straight couples presented by popular culture. Or they might think that the only way to connect is with a glamorous sex act.
Having a fantasy life is fine — let’s just hope that near-majority of gay men who learn about sex from porn don’t get stuck in theirs.