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Gay Pornography: Representations of Sexuality and Masculinity

A new book, written by Birmingham School of Media professor John Mercer, explores the iconography, themes and ideals that the genre presents.

"My book is as much about contemporary constructions of masculinity as it is a work that is a contribution to the ongoing pornography debate," John said. "The intention of my study is to challenge a monolithic interpretation of gay porn and an equally monolithic comprehension of contemporary masculinities."

The book is the culmination of almost 20 years’ research into gay pornography; its timeline reflects the changing social, cultural, political and technological developments during that time – evolving from the aftermath of the first wave of the AIDS pandemic to gay culture being assimilated by the mainstream. 

"People will talk about ‘gay culture’ in isolation, but it is based on interaction with, recycling and appropriation of aspects of the wider culture," John said. "Masculinities are a multitude and are represented, likewise, in a multitude of ways, and this is vividly evidenced in the types that populate the fantasy worlds of gay porn – from the obvious ‘twink’ and ‘jock’, but also ‘chavs’ and the hypermascline gay male."

Published by I.B. Tauris, ‘Gay Pornography’ received its official launch at Birmingham City University on Wednesday 22 March, ahead of its release on Wednesday 29 March. You can purchase the book here.

The launch will be preceded by an academic debate titled ‘What It Means to be a Man in the 21st Century: Masculinity, Sex and Popular Culture’ where John will be joined by author and journalist Mark Simpson – who coined the terms ‘metrosexual’ and, more recently, ‘spornosexual’. 

Additional contributions will come from Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures at the University of Sunderland, and Dr José Arroyo, Principal Teaching Fellow in Film Studies at the University of Warwick will be the event chair. 

Using Professor Mercer’s book as a springboard, the panel of experts will consider what it means to be 'masculine’ in the 21st century, and how everything from gay pornography to Hollywood blockbusters, and Tinder to ‘The Only Way Is Essex’, are fuelling its diversity, as well as its ambiguity.