HIV positive porn stars 02

Let’s Take a Look at How Gay Porn Studios Have Changed Their Treatment of Poz Performers

This post is also available in: Portuguese

Gay porn star, sex worker and gay sexual health advocate Kayden Gray just came out as HIV-positive on YouTube. When gay porn stars Rod Daily and Mason Wyler came out as positive back 2013 and 2011 respectively, their announcements effectively ended their porn careers. So we asked Harlan Yaffe, the editor-in-chief of the gay porn news and video site The Sword (NSFW) and Zachary Sire, the editor-in-chief of the gay porn gossip site Str8upGayPorn.com (NSFW), whether Gray’s career will take the same path.

In his video, Gray says that he contracted HIV after working for nine months in the porn industry. However, he did not contract the virus by performing in porn. “I went to a party and had unprotected sex with multiple guys, and it was fun, and then I was sick,” Gray said.

He has been HIV-positive for the last three and a half years and is currently on anti-retroviral medications and undetectable, that is, the amount of HIV in his blood is so low that it cannot be detected by an HIV test. When one is undetectable it’s virtually impossible to transmit the virus.

In his video, it sounds as if Gray has no intention of stopping his porn work. In fact, NakedSword Originals recently released a scene featuring him and fellow porn performer Ryan Rose. It’s entitled “Kiss & Tel Aviv,” and Gray uses a condom in it.

In the past, openly HIV-positive porn performers had to pursue their careers outside of mainstream studios, in smaller condomless porn studios or Treasure Island Media where HIV often gets fetishized in “raw” scenes with “poz loads.”

Sire points out that when Wyler came out about his HIV-status in 2011, he had initially been outed by another blogger and then subsequently fired by his studio. “If that happened today, the way people are and he way social media is,” Sire says, “that studio would be dead in the water.”

Both Yaffe and Sire say that Gray isn’t the only openly poz performer in the mainstream.

“Another out HIV-positive performer is Rex Cameron (NSFW). He has a new scene coming out today on Hot House [studios] with Austin Wolf, so he’s continuing to work,” Yaffe says. Also, Sire points out, when Lucas Entertainment porn performer James Castle came out, he also released an educational video talking about his status for the London-based gay men’s health charity, GMFA (NSFW).

“An HIV-positive performer’s status must be disclosed to his scene partners before they work together,” Yaffe says. “It’s a studio’s responsibility to ensure the disclosure is made while it is the performer’s responsibility to do the actual disclosure.”
Rex Cameron, image via Hot House

In fact, Sire says, there are many other gay porn performers who are HIV-positive but who haven’t publicly announced it in the same way as Gray has. Their studios and scene partners know of their HIV-status and, because of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and anti-retroviral medications, they’re able to participate in condomless sex scenes with HIV-negative partners.

But despite the fact that an increasing number of gay porn studios feature condomless sex scenes, some studios, like NakedSword and Falcon Studios Group, still exclusively feature condom-only scenes. Nevertheless, they remain open to working with openly HIV-positive performers.

Sire is unsure about the legalities regulating the industry and preventing discrimination against HIV-positive performers: On one hand, a studio would look HIV-phobic if they turned away a poz performer, they might even be liable to a discrimination lawsuit. Yet on the other hand, governmental workplace safety groups like Cal OSHA (California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that workplaces take precautions to prevent the spread of bodily fluid containing STIs. He’s curious how studios navigate these two realities.

“Studios are not medical experts or counselors but some are utilizing strict testing protocols and the advent of PrEP to make it possible for undetectable HIV+ performers to continue to work,” Yaffe says.

Yaffe says that studios are skittish about potentially “outing” anyone’s status. “If and when a performer decides to go public with their status should be up to them, not a studio,” he says. However, by no longer blacklisting HIV-positive performers, Yaffe says that studios have given performers an extended platform for telling their story while helping reduce the HIV-stigma overall.

 

 

Featured image via Nicolai Kornum – NSFW

  • nerfherder1989

    hmm I smell a lie, studios don’t really disclose status to partners or else imagine the rejections of guys not wanting to shoot with half of the models. But that is for condom porn so I’m sure with bareback it is different.