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Here Are 7 Gay Porn Stars Who Got Political in 2017

2017, like most years, has been a great year for gay porn! But there are times when the value of gay porn exceeds its primary goal of helping guys (hey, and some women) get off. Seven men in particular stand out as the most political gay porn stars of 2017.

Each one of these men helped spark vital discussions on shame, sexual health, politics, anti-HIV stigma and racism in the porn industry — and each one did it in his own unique way. Some were met with (rightful) criticism in doing so, but all of these men remind us of the importance of using one’s platform for the betterment of society.

In no particular order, these were the 7 most political gay porn stars of 2017:

 

1. Kayden Gray

political gay porn stars 08, Kayden Grey

Gray became one of 2017’s most political gay porn stars by stating that he’s “more than a dick” in response to fans refusing to take him seriously whenever he speaks about personal, non-sexual issues. (They’d simply respond with tired lines like “Fuck me, daddy.”)

Two months later, he came out as HIV-positive on YouTube, sharing personal details about how he contracted the virus and his plans to continue working as a porn star, sex worker and sexual health advocate. Then, in September 2017, he shared his violent experience of getting gang-banged on GHB and ketamine.

Gray’s experiences are undoubtedly shared by other gay and bi men, and by speaking out about them, he’s also raising awareness about how homophobic and HIV stigma contribute to a sex-phobic culture of silence and shame. His voice is a death knell to the end of that shame culture, and an invitation for others to speak openly about their own sexual journeys.

 

2. Hugh Hunter

political gay porn stars 04, Hugh Hunter

When the GayVN Awards, one of the most widely known awards ceremonies in the adult film industry, announced its 2017 nominees in early December, Hunter was one of the first people to speak out on the inclusion of a “Best Ethnic Scene” category and how it further marginalizes performers of color, making him a strong entry on our list of 2017’s most political gay porn stars.

In an open letter posted to Twitter, Hunter announced his decision to decline all three of his GayVN nominations, writing:

Why would a gay porn company choose to separate minority groups into their own race at an event that is supposed to celebrate the gay industry in its entirety … when the political climate is so thick with racial divide in this country? Why would they call it ethnic? Who uses the term ethnic?

I want to be remembered for stepping forward and starting a movement to eventually end racism and bigotry in this beleaguered industry. We are members of the LGBTQ family. This family includes all colors of the rainbow and all people from every corner of the world. … For so many we are the educators of sexuality. Let’s be the best educators we can be.

His speaking out — along with others — led the GayVN Awards to combine the nominees for “Best Ethnic Scene” and “Best Duo Scene” into their own category, with all nominees in those categories competing for a single award, an imperfect solution for sure.

 

3. Boomer Banks

political gay porn stars 06, Boomer Banks 03

Banks has proven to be a vocal advocate for sexual health and a fighter against racism in gay spaces. In March 2017, Banks took part in a panel discussion produced by Hornet entitled “Gay Sex: A Raw Conversation, and a few months later he spoke about condomless sex and racism in the gay dating scene.

Banks shared that he has personally experienced racism from gay men and says, “I feel like it’s time to step it up and be more vocal” about it. He then walked the walk by sharing his thoughts on the controversy surrounding the GayVN Awards’ “Best Ethnic Performer” category. His response to the controversy was nuanced and multi-faceted, acknowledging the existence of racial prejudice in the industry while also pointing to himself as proof that race alone doesn’t determine a performer’s success.

Banks was also one of the first to sound off against the homophobic comments of straight female porn performer August Ames. In addition to all this, he’s also a fashion designer, why is why we recently asked him to contribute a piece on the “Make America Great Again” hat as part of our “Worst of 2017” series. Boomer Banks is not only one of 2017’s most political gay porn stars, he’s also a cultural creative in his own right.

 

4. Colby Keller

political gay porn stars 01, Colby Keller

Keller is probably the most infamous name on our list of political gay porn stars, and he’s also an outlier on this list as the one porn star most consider to be on the wrong side of politics.

He initially wowed us with his art projects, political philosophy and fashionable cross-dressing, but in October 2016, he admitted that he would be voting for the rabidly anti-LGBTQ Donald Trump for president, earning him the ire of many gay men worldwide.

At the time, Keller explained his vote this way:

I think he’s a destabilizing force. I’m skeptical of him, too, and who exactly is behind Trump. But given that there’s eternal dissent in the Republican Party, that leads me to believe that whatever he represents might be a destabilizing force… I don’t support or endorse any of Trump’s policies. I just think it’ll escalate the problem, which is the best we can hope for.

Keller has since tried to clarify the reasons for his vote, but the nuance (if any) is lost on his former fans. Nevertheless, he continues to perform in gay porn and recently starred in Men.com’s Justice League gay porn parody, in which he caught flak for playing the Green Lantern character that replaced the team’s sole black superhero, Cyborg.

 

5. Wesley Woods

political gay porn stars 05, Wesley Woods

Unimpressed with Colby Keller’s foolish vote in support of Donald Trump, Woods publicly called out Keller’s attempt at damage control nearly a year later by calling the vote privileged and misguided.

In a public Facebook post, Woods became one of 2017’s most political gay porn stars by writing:

My relationships with those that are socially disempowered and highly impacted by politics makes me more sensitive and offended by white masculine privilege, like that shown by fellow gay porn star Colby Keller, a man who obviously lives in an ivory tower without any minority friends.

A vote IS support. A vote isn’t anything more or anything less than SHOWING support of that candidate. When the votes are counted and collected, there’s no fairy vote mother who comes by and asks your stance on the nominee — you stated it, with your vote.

Woods added that he doesn’t believe Keller stands behind his vote anymore, saying, “I think he’s trapped, and instead of apologizing, he stands behind his vote. … It is a disastrous attempt at being truly radical.” All the same, Woods has encouraged porn consumers to boycott Keller’s porn work so that his accelerationalist ideals won’t proliferate and hurt other marginalized queer people.

 

6. Leo Forte

political gay porn stars 03, Leo Forte

In response to the GayVN Awards’ controversial “Best Ethnic Scene” category, Forte wrote an open letter (link NSFW) thanking Hugh Hunter for “taking advantage of his position in the industry to bring light to a subject so often overlooked, because when non-caucasian models speak on the subject, it falls on deaf ears and is belittled with, ‘That’s the way things are.'”

Forte added, however, that as a white performer Hunter “can not be the voice for the cause,” adding, “Our ‘champion’ must come from within our own ranks.”

After renouncing his own GayVN award nomination, Forte said the GayVN Awards were just “a red herring … to get us angry and shouting over each other without truly addressing the real issue — we are all at fault … for perpetuating the status quo.”

Forte blames racism in the gay porn industry on porn performers who refuse to work with non-white stars, directors who silo men of color into “ethnic” scenes, studio producers who refuse to integrate their brand, casting agents who ignore performers of color and performers of color who only apply to “ethnic” casting agencies.

He has challenged everyone in the industry to start speaking openly about these issues rather than contributing to a continued status quo of silence.

 

7. Sean Zevran

political gay porn stars 02, Sean Zevran

Last but not the least of 2017’s most political gay porn stars, Zevran also declined his GayVN Award nomination in criticism of the controversial “Best Ethnic Scene” category. He initially posted a YouTube video on the matter, sympathizing with the GayVNs’ intention to honor performers of color in a show that might’ve overlooked their contributions, but recognizing the problematic nature of segregating them into their own category.

To uncover more, he reached out to the GayVN Awards and learned from AVN CEO Tony Rios that “Including a ‘Best Ethnic Scene’ category was an attempt to circumvent the racism of gay porn fans, who are ultimately the ones picking the winners. Unfortunately, having a ‘Best Ethnic Scene’ category naturally invited feelings of ‘separate but equal’ and that fed into the dehumanizing fetishization of racial minorities.”

Whereas Leo Forte applauded Hugh Hunter’s criticism of the GayVN Awards, Zevran criticized Hunter for drawing attention to himself rather than helping center the discussion on gay porn performers of color and how they feel. “I think if Hunter had been serious about addressing the problem of racism in gay porn,” Zevran wrote, “he would have first reached out to the talent that was nominated for ‘Best Ethnic Scene’ and asked us what we thought about it.”

“Instead, he reached out to neither those nominated for the award nor anyone at GayVN before creating a spectacle by withdrawing his nominations and posting an explosive letter to Twitter,” Zevran continued. “I think it was selfish.”

He concluded, “That is how progress is made: by talking to people, getting their perspective, listening, learning, and turning knowledge into action,” and urged the media and industry professionals not just to let this issue blow over, but to “promote the visibility and elevate the experiences of models of color … our scenes, our successes, our ambitions, our stories, our challenges, our opinions and much else.”