Sex & Dating | April 13, 2021 8:23 am

Why Straight Women Watch Gay Porn

Some have accused straight women who enjoy gay porn of fetishizing gay men. Is this a fair criticism?

illustration of a woman watching porn on an old-fashioned TV set
Is it wrong for women to watch gay porn?
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You know how tons of straight men enjoy watching lesbian porn and nobody bats an eye? The same doesn’t seem to apply to women who watch gay porn.

This was made abundantly clear earlier this year when TikTok user @kirahofficial posted a video with with the text: “When I realized gay male p**n turns me on more than straight p**n.” 

It was a seemingly harmless observation (and typical TikTok fodder) that turned controversial when a rush of gay men accused Kirah of fetishizing the gay male community. “At first the responses were agreeing with what I said, but after about four hours, they got really nasty,” she tells InsideHook.

“I was really surprised that it blew up because I’d told my best friend that I watch gay [male] porn and she didn’t think much of it,” she explains. “So when I posted it [on TikTok] I was expecting the same response since I thought society was moving more toward [sex]-positivity than slut-shaming.”

Kirah’s video went viral and currently hosts over 35,000 comments and an alarming number of death threats. 

“I really dislike the fact that this TikTok user got called out in such a negative way,” says sex and relationship therapist Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT. “In no way is saying what turns you on personally inherently fetishization.”

“To fetishize, as a verb, is to make something the object of a sexual fetish,” Wright explains. “Whereas a fetish, as a noun, is defined as a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked, to an abnormal degree, to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.” 

Since nothing about the seconds-long video seemed abnormal, Wright believes the response to Kirah’s video was way too harsh. As a certified sex educator and queer man, I have to agree.

Considering Pornhub found that women represent more than one-third of the site’s gay male porn views (making it the second most popular category among the demographic behind “lesbian”), perhaps the issue here isn’t fetishization. Rather, it’s that the majority of heterosexual porn is created by men, for men, and is therefore not reflective of female desire. In turn, these women resort to watching porn created for a demographic that’s been similarly marginalized, since gay men, too, have historically had their desires ignored and their representation in erotic texts co-opted.  

“I like gay male porn because women in porn are often over-sexualized, demonized, unappreciated, abused, etc. and you can’t really tell if they’re faking an orgasm,” Kirah explains. “I also just really love penises and male bodies. I feel like when men have sex together it’s just pure fun.”

“I find straight porn offensive to women,” Layla, a 44-year-old woman who also prefers gay porn, agrees. “I experience the same frustration with Hollywood roles written for women by men; it’s all just very self-serving. Straight porn is all about getting the male off, the female is just a prop.”

“Male gay porn features lots of dick, all kinds — and they’re the main event,” she continues. “Sucking dick is portrayed as the art form it is, not just some guy fucking a woman’s face. What’s so sexy about it all is that it feels intimate to me. Men appreciating and pleasuring  the male body.”

Dr. Lucy Neville has interviewed more than 500 women over five years on this very subject. In her research for the book, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys: Women and Gay Male Pornography and Erotica, Neville found that, similar to what Layla, Kirah and other likeminded women shared with me, women’s reasoning for liking gay porn was more about what they didn’t like about straight porn than what they enjoyed about gay male porn. 

Neville’s research shows that women’s greatest grievances with straight porn are the unequal power dynamics, (particularly in kink and/or BDSM scenes) not knowing if the women involved were genuinely having a good time and/or orgasming, fears about exploitation of women in the sex industry, the over-representation of a certain kind of female body, and the fact that hetero porn often shows women having multiple orgasms effortlessly through penetrative vaginal sex — which is not the reality for a lot of women

“They felt m/m porn allowed them to enjoy rough and kinky sex without having to worry about self-identifying with a character in the scene and being pulled out of the fantasy,” Neville says. “They also thought male porn actors had more agency and greater job satisfaction (obviously this isn’t necessarily true) and liked the fact that male porn often visually ‘makes love’ to the male body, instead of the representation of men as a disembodied cock that we often see in heterosexual porn.” 

There was also a subset of women in Neville’s research who survived male sexual violence, and found male/female sex triggering. For them, male/male (and female/female) was a way to experience pleasure via sexual fantasy without being re-traumatized.  

When doing her research, Neville asked gay and bisexual men whether they felt fetishized by women’s interest in, and use of, male/male porn. “By and large,” they didn’t. This was later echoed in an online poll I shared with my mostly gay male audience on Twitter. Of the 150 votes, 89 percent said they don’t consider straight women watching gay porn fetishization. Though one voter said, “If she doesn’t vote for or support our equality, then yes I would.”

To this point, Neville said that, for many women, an interest in gay male porn improved their knowledge of LGBTQ+ issues, thereby making them more informed about homophobia, and actually influenced some to become activists. 

“The majority of gay/bisexual men were either wildly ambivalent in a ‘you do you’ kind of way, felt that porn should be more democratic and inclusive, or actively supported it as they saw it as a way of creating allies and battling against the ever-present straight male gaze,” Neville says. “They were themselves interested in watching gay porn that had female involvement (i.e. directed or scripted by a woman), as they thought that women might bring interesting and fresh perspectives to the genre that would complement some of the more hardcore content they enjoyed watching.”

The issue here doesn’t seem to be that women are fetishizing gay men. Rather, it’s that women are being ignored and have limited access to content that effectively captures their desires. A lot of women reported feeling that porn aimed at them was too vanilla and boring.  “Many women actively enjoy kink, power play etc.,” Neville says. “What they don’t enjoy is endless scenes of female subjugation.”

Since hetero porn can feel inauthentic and at times even dangerous, many straight women would rather watch gay men get it on, as the sex feels more fun (see: consensual), shows appreciation for the male body as a whole and is removed of any patriarchal influence. 

What can we do to fix things? Neville’s advice is simple: “Listen to women!”