A blogger recently asked for my thoughts on unsafe sex. Here is my response:
“Unprotected sex” is an interesting phrase. Sex among men is one of the great achievements of humankind, an unthinkably complex and beautiful behavioral language that has been developed over the course of our 85 million year history as a species. It is one of the essential anchors that ties us both to our own nature and that of the world around us. Regrettably–and perhaps ironically–in this time of eco-awareness, our sexual nature–a priceless heritage–is itself more and more unprotected and in danger of being vitiated (through commodification and control) and forgotten.
Recently ornithologists did some interesting studies in the rhetoric of birdsong. They recorded the songs of a particular species of birds, broke the songs up into their constituent parts and removed some of the “syllables” of the songs. They then substituted these rearranged and reduced songs for a small group of fledgling birds who otherwise would have heard the complete songs in nature. When these fledglings grew up, because the complexity of the song had been tampered with, they hadn’t learned some of the basics of being a bird. Among other things, they couldn’t fly. The information necessary for this essential behavior had been in the subtle arrangement of all the parts of the songs: intelligence embedded in patterns beyond the intellectual comprehension of both birds and men.
The same is true for men and their sex. There is meaning in the complexity of sexual behavior that goes deeper than pleasure and certainly far deeper than pornography’s commodification or public health’s reductive dicta. Constrain the sex, render it rule-bound, dictate it through the artificial and short-sighted social and “health” optimizations of biopolitics or the homogenization of commodification, and you run the very real risk of losing information that enables us to be human and to be the exquisitely calibrated thing called “men”.
Our sexual culture is currently at a point of dangerous low ebb. Where we once had vital and creative practice we now have an almost infinite access to images of sex coupled with a reduced access to real sex. But our eyes are not substitutes for our bodies. To my way of thinking, it’s the responsibility of porn to engage the viewer with sufficient reality and sufficient information so as to inspire him to engage in creative and real sex himself. Optimally, porn should aim not only to excite, but also to incite. This requires showing every reality of men engaging with men in ways that are real, relatable, creative and honest. This is dangerous because the social order is afraid of what can happen when men learn the power and pleasure of true fucking, true cocksucking, true fisting, rimming, real and unfettered connection. A world of men having limitless pleasure among men is a domain of meaning that’s commensurate with that of any other value system that society deems profitable or stable or politically viable. To put it bluntly, sex is more important, more powerful than money, status or political power.
It’s sad but it’s true that when men form groups and become political they tend to favor simplification. Not only the rights of the individual but the very meaning of being an individual human are dulled, generalized, lost in the battle for political presence and power. The body politic doesn’t favor the seemingly irrational, complex and elegant drives and needs of the human. When one is fighting a battle for “gay rights” that’s pitched in the context of several decades of recent history, it’s extraordinarily easy–convenient, even–to ignore and lose behavioral truths and subtleties accrued over millennia of sexual evolution.
Now, in order to fully inhabit and own their humanness, men need to do the perilous and the impossible, the far-fetched and unreasonable. We climb Everest despite the fact that one out of six who make the effort die. It’s who and what we are at our deepest and most meaningful: there are those among us who must explore the unexplored, become familiar with the forbidden. Consider Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition(I think the best recounting of his adventure is Caroline Alexander’s “The Endurance”, a really great book.). From the point of view of nearly anyone seeing his absurdly dangerous trek from the outside, what he and his team did was quite literally insane. It would have been more reasonable, safer for him to stay home and putter in his garden, tend his flowers.
There are those for whom sex can easily be confined to what would be commensurate with a brief and utterly safe garden stroll. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. But then there are men for whom nothing will do but to explore the darkest and most forbidden regions of human sexuality, who are by their nature–yes, from birth–drawn inexplicably into the very wilds of it. And they do this not because they are weak or lust-addicted, but because it is who they are. They are the carriers of the deepest resonances of our human sexual spirit. And as explorers, as courageous men, as climbers of the Everest that’s in every body, they are representative of the best of the species.
I can’t tell you how often in the course of my own sexual life I have wondered if what I was experiencing was survivable. There is a realm of experience in male sexuality–easily attainable sans drugs, by the way–that takes one inestimably beyond what one thinks of as pleasure or even bliss, far beyond the kin of consensus consciousness. If you’ve been drawn to this range of experience and have done even rudimentary exploration of it, you know what I’m talking about. The cultivated everyday self is lost, obliterated by the raw power of nature that one encounters and embodies. And this is nothing less than revolutionarily utopian precisely because it’s the birthright of every man.
The great problem today is that sex is indeed more and more “unprotected”. That is, what we call sex is less and less protected against the rationalist incursions of short-sighted and unwise public and political exigency. As you know, gay men have made great strides in gaining visibility, acceptance, political presence. This is undeniably a positive thing for which we justly feel a great communal pride. But one of the costs has been the near loss of vast tracts of our primal heritage as physical men: our deep exploration of sexuality is under attack by those who deem it irrational, unnecessary, socially unwise or unseemly.
The sex that men have with other men is far more important to our survival as a species than heterosexual sex. It is an art, a philosophy, a way of life, a religion. I call the sex men have with men the hidden fine arts, a repository of behaviors, connections, meanings, acts, patterns and information that enable us to survive and to be complete. The freedom to explore this world of sex and to do so with nerve and passion should be protected at all costs. It is, in a very real sense, that for which a generation of men gave their lives. To fail to protect and exalt it with everything we have would be to fail their faith in us as stewards of their infinitely precious and fragile legacy.
This is why I am a pornographer. It’s why I’ve given myself to documenting “unsafe” sex in an environment that is increasingly inhospitable to the world of timeless meaning and beauty that each man carries in his body, his genitals, his semen and blood, in his very bones.
– Paul Morris
Dear Paul, what you have written is very true, we as men, whether we are masculine or feminine men, it is in our nature to have man + man sex, I also desire bareback sex, it’s been going on for thousands of years, it’s the most natural part of who we are, I may have a sight disability and a hearing one of that, I have watched some of your movies, they are excellent, as for men with a disability, we too have the right to be loved to have sex with other men, yes without our heterosexual men and women out there barebacking, you and I would not have came into this world and we would not exist.
As a 100% feminine bottom man, let me put this into context, for me and I’m sure I speak for a lot of feminine men out there, we desire for a masculine man go plant his seed deep inside of us, just like a heterosexual woman does for breeding purposes, although we has men who have sex with other men can’t breed, it’s the thought and our imagination that’s very natural and it’s very natural to me.
As a fem bottom man, I know that I was born to have a man breed me, I know that I was born to have a man plant his seed deep inside of me, yet despite of being HIV+ I’m on very good anti retroviral medication that has kept my viral load so low to such an extent, it’s deemed Undetectable, despite all that the maternal instinct is still there to carry another man’s seed deep inside of me, that’s why I thought I’ll respond to hour article and to let you know that there’s another perspective to what you have written, I as a person with a disability was inspired by a fellow in your Viral Loads video who happens to be an amputee, that’s why I’m about to post a letter off to you with all my info to see if I can be apart of that in some of your movies, I tried online but my computer has been having some issues.
Paul, your videos give us inspiration to enjoy life, and be fearless!
Wonderful post. He that has the power to curse also holds the power to bless. Why is it that the serpent – the animal with the ability to poison and take one’s life is also the Universal symbol of medicine and healing?
Male-Female sex – its fruits are obvious… but life is not just about creation. We are not just born, we have to survive, to live and humans also have the requirement of being happy. And while Male-Male sex, especially the sharing of bodily fluids is widely maligned, it has as you say, a deeply important role in the survival of the species. Look at any part of the world where sex has been culturally suppressed, and I will show you a dry landscape where rains do not come, trees do not grow and life is harsh. That is no coincidence.
an anthropological point: primates branched off from simians about 65 million years ago. Homo sapiens have only been around for about 200,000 years, not 85 million.
Paul, your motivation to be a pornographer is the same as my motivation to be an artist. As a pornographer you are a specialist in sex. As an artist my subject is the broader human condition. One element of that human condition is sexuality and inspires my body of work to include depictions of sex. In stained glass I have rendered blowjobs, rimming, watersports, feltching and more. And while this has alienated some of my audience, it has also garnered critical success.
Thank you for this essay and the integrity with which you respect sex.
Paul, your post left me speechless. I agree with so much of what you wrote, and yet, there is more to ponder. I read the whole thing but this is a post that needs to be read more than once. Thank you.
Man + Woman + Bareback = Well Seen
Man + Man + Bareback = Bad Seen and Punished.
Why unprotected straight sex is accepted as “normal” while bareback gay sex is “the evil” ?? Love bareback sex (with men). I don’t know if I’m poz but sometimes I don’t believe in it.