I’m a 19-year-old bisexual woman really into orgasm denial and edging. With the recent Tumblr ban on all NSFW content, I have no idea where to indulge my kinks and find my community. I’ve never needed to go anywhere else to find porn, explore my sexuality, and be surrounded by supportive people—and now I’m at a loss. A few Google searches have been really disheartening. Clearly I’ve been spoiled by all the easily found porn made by women, for women on Tumblr. Hell, I’m used to it being made by bisexuals, for bisexuals. I feel like I’m 15 again, desperately scouring the internet for anything that applies to me. Please tell me where I can find my porn! —Missing My Porn Community
P.S. You wrote about how this ban harms sex workers, Dan, but please write about how it harms queer and kinky people, too!
“Many people are scrambling to relocate their fetish communities in the wake of Tumblr’s ban on ‘adult content,’” says Alexander Cheves, a queer writer who lives in New York City. “Porn is more than hot videos—porn creates communities. I wouldn’t know half the gross stuff I’m into if it weren’t for Tumblr!”
Luckily, MMPC, the men and women who created and/or curated the content that spoke to you and affirmed your identity didn’t evaporate on Dec. 17, the day Tumblr’s porn ban went into effect. Many have taken their clips, captions, GIFs, and erotic imaginations to other platforms and some are creating new platforms.
“MMPC should devote some time to scouring Twitter for bisexual women into orgasm denial and edging, some of whom may be uploading their original content to platforms like Just For Fans,” says Cheves. “The creators of JFF are right now working on a more Tumblr-like social-media extension to their site. Other start-ups like Slixa or ShareSomeCome and social platforms like Switter have emerged in the wake of this crackdown. These are corners of the internet where MMPC can find her porn.”
Cheves wrote a terrific piece for Out that connects the dots between Tumblr’s ban on porn and the anti-sex, anti-porn, anti-sex-work, and anti-queer crackdown that was already under way on other platforms (“The Dangerous Trend of LGBTQ Censorship on the Internet,” Dec. 6, 2018). While there’s still tons of porn on the internet, as many people have pointed out (myself included), the crackdown on explicit content on social-media platforms is fucking over vulnerable queers. As Eric Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, tells Cheves: “Many people in straight, heteronormative communities don’t understand what the big deal is [about the Tumblr adult content ban], because their lives and cultures are represented everywhere. For those in queer, or niche, or fetish communities, Tumblr was one of the few accessible spaces to build communities and share content.”
And as long as sex-education programs don’t cover queer sex or kinky sex—and there’s no sign of improvement in either area—LGBTQ youth and young people with kinks will continue to get their sexual education on the internet. And the harder it is to access explicit content, particularly explicit noncommercial content, the harder it’s going to be for young queers to find not just smut that speaks to them, but the education they need to protect themselves.
“More youth will get hurt and more will get HIV thanks to Tumblr’s content ban,” says Cheves. “That’s not scaremongering—that will happen. Case in point: I grew up in a fiercely religious home on a 500-acre farm in the middle of Georgia with dial-up and a pretty intense parental blocker. I couldn’t access porn—I couldn’t even access articles with sexual illustrations, including sexual health illustrations. When I went to college in 2010, the same year Grindr hit the App Store, I knew absolutely nothing about HIV and nothing about my community. It’s no wonder that I tested positive at 21.”
Shortly after getting the news that he was HIV+, Cheves started an educational queer sex blog. “I answer sex questions from anyone who writes in—I stole the idea from you, Dan, to be honest,” says Cheves. “I wanted to reach those kids in the middle of nowhere, kids like me.”
While Cheves writes professionally today—you can find his advice column in The Advocate and his byline in other publications—he still updates and posts new content to thebeastlyexboyfriend.com, his original queer sex blog.
“Sites like my blog are needed now more than ever,” says Cheves. “If MMPC wants to help her community survive, she may no longer have the option of being a passive consumer—she might have to start a website or blog, wave a digital flag, and find others. The internet is so massive that censorship will never be able to keep people with niche fetishes from congregating, digitally or otherwise. It’s just going to be a little harder to find each other.”
Follow Alexander Cheves on Twitter @BadAlexCheves. —Dan Savage
My new partner is a swinger. Being GGG, I said, sure, we can go to swinger parties, even though I have often been uncomfortable in swinger spaces. Then I was nearly assaulted at a swinger party with my new partner. And if I hadn’t kicked the shit out of the guy, I would have been assaulted. After being appropriately upset about the situation, I was told by one of the organizers: “Well, that is why you should bring a spotter or a couple of friends to a party. You have to protect yourself.” Nowhere on the website for this party was that listed as something I should do. No other articles about swinging that I’ve read (or swinging podcasts I’ve listened to) suggested bringing “spotters” to ensure safety! So what is the standard of consent in swinger spaces? Is bringing a spotter just a given that nobody told me about? I want to be clear about the seriousness of the problem: What happened to me was not a touch on the leg to see if I might be interested in another joining in. It was someone trying to stick an unwrapped cock in me without asking if I would be okay with that! —Unhappy Nervous Swinger Absolutely Fucking Enraged
I’ve strolled around half a dozen straight swinger spaces—more than the average homo—and the standard for consent at each one I visited can be summed up in four words: Ask before you touch. My visits to straight swinging events/spaces/parties were strictly for research purposes, it should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway: I went only to observe. And at one party, I observed a man attempt to enter a scene he hadn’t been invited to join—by placing his hand on a woman’s leg. The leg-touching creep was promptly ejected for violating the club’s rules about consent, which all attendees were informed of in advance and agreed to adhere to once inside the club.
That’s not just the way it’s supposed to work in swinger spaces, UNSAFE, that’s the way it must work in any swinger space, club, or party that hopes to survive. Because bad actors—almost always shitty men—make women feel unsafe. And when women feel unsafe in swinger spaces, they abandon them. And it’s difficult to host a successful straight swingers event without women.
From the sound of things, UNSAFE, you had the misfortune of attending a shitty party run by shitty people. Someone attempted to violate you in a space where respect for boundaries, consent, and the bodily autonomy of other individuals is (or should be) paramount. And, no, you were not at fault for failing to bring a “spotter.” The club was at fault for not emphasizing its own rules—and then, when a bad actor broke the rules and left another attendee feeling violated and unsafe, the club compounded its failure by blaming the victim.
I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to attend a swinger party with your new partner ever again—especially if your new partner stood by silently while you kicked the shit out of that asshole—but you shouldn’t return to that particular swinger party again. The sooner Club Bring a Spotter goes out of business, the better. —DS