Leo Forte On Racism In The Gay Porn Industry: “We Are All At Fault”

Posted November 28, 2017 by with 71 comments

LeoForte_chairPerformer, videographer, editor, and screenwriter Leo Forte (seen above and down below in NakedSword’s upcoming feature Berkeley 2: Sophomore Year, with co-star Timarrie Baker) has just written the below op-ed in response to the most recent allegations of racism within the gay porn industry. Controversy erupted over the weekend as performers, fans, and others reacted to a GayVN Awards nomination category titled “Best Ethnic Scene” (which is a category that the awards group has actually had for nearly 20 years), and here is Leo Forte’s letter to the industry in response:

Dear Gay Porn Industry,

As a collective we have blazed trails and have been able to move mountains in the necessity to carve a world all unique to us. We have battled inequalities, phobias, and disease that would otherwise have removed us from the face of history. We have been one, and we have won. However, since the inception of the industry we have always washed and swept a truth of our reality: racial inequality.

For years, the industry at large has greatly ignored a great division and let ethnic identity be grounds for tolerated racism. Recently, Hugh Hunter has made a wave having denied his nominations for the GayVN awards in observance of the racial inequality that has long persisted in the gay porn industry. As a member of the porn industry who is a person of color—or “ethnic” as we are categorized—I want to thank him 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.” Hugh is a true ally and friend; however, he can not be the voice for the cause.

There is no way to have dialogue with Hugh and any department of the gay porn industry at large that would not result in a shouting match over who is more racist, more privileged, and more outraged. Everyone will be backed into a corner, simply because you speak of a struggle that is not your own. Our “champion” must come from within our own ranks. A voice of the people must be of the people. If that means I have to denounce any nominations, then so be it. I denounce my one nomination, in “Best Social Media Star,” for a category that doesn’t involve anything about my work in the porn industry for the past eight years. I recognize the irony of denying validation that I’ve sought by a panel of my peers.

However, GayVN is yet another red herring. It’s a distraction to get us angry and shouting over each other without truly addressing the real issue—we are all at fault. Every last one of us is guilty for perpetuating the status quo, including: The model applicant who states, “I will not work with non-white models.” The directors turning men of color into fetishes like “Blackballed.” The producers who don’t want to diversify from their studio’s “look.” The agents who will only submit white models and who neglect models of color by telling them, “I can’t sell you because studios want blond hair and blue eyes, not you.” The casting departments that apply double standards to non-white models, forcing us to have to work harder and longer for less. The models who only apply to black/Latin/Asian studios, because they feel mainstream studios will tell them they aren’t enough. And, to anyone who has ever said that “Asians aren’t sexual,” and therefore not included in mainstream productions. We have all done our part to weave this tapestry, and I feel that transparency is the only way to see, address, and work to fix the issue.

Speak up, and do right by your fellow human. Call out people who are being sexually racist. Call out the award show who has an ethnic category. Challenge the all-white studio whose idea of diversity is hiring a “passable” performer of color (when a non-white model can pass for white at first glance). Silence has always led to lives of quiet desperation. In our current climate, friends and neighbors can easily be the enemy, and anyone can shout and point a finger at another, but which of us will be the voice of evolution? Who among us will read these words and make a motion for change? Not by white outrage, not by shouting matches, but by real change. I challenge the porn industry at large to start treating each of its members as human beings, not a niche, a fetish, or a category.

Sincerely,
Leo Forte

[photos via NakedSword]

LeoForte_TimarrieBaker_hug LeoForte_TimarrieLean

 

  • Well damn it’s my fault….

    • tigger500

      And this site too, which doesn’t cover any of the Black or Latino sites (not all of which are “thug” themed, tho that’s what you would think based on how they are all lumped together).

  • nick

    I just looked at the pictures of Leo, I know, I’m shallow and a terrible person.

  • planetwingnuttia
    • Hari Kalyan

      Go figure…the Nazi sympathizer

    • Phresh

      Can’t say Im surprised, when has Trenton ever had sex with anyone of color ? Wasn’t he also the one happy as daisies that Zimmerman got off ?

      Not only that, look at all those that agreed by liking it. DannyGunn, DustyWilliams, Guillaume Wayne. Money>Morals everytime.

      • Xzamilloh

        Oh, he’s had sex with models of color, just not any black ones. Trelino is as black as he’s gone lol

        • Phresh

          Isn’t he Blatino ?

          • Xzamilloh

            I think so. All I know is I’d plop him on my dick and spin him like a dreidel

          • Phresh

            Lord. Lol Well he’s flexible enough.

        • FrenchBug

          And let’s remind people that porn models and escorts do not see sex when done in the context of work as meaning anything. They are constantly having sex with people who probably repulse them. It makes those who refuse sex with PoC *particularly* racist but working with performers of colors in porn does not mean they are not actually racists. They are just pros at dissociation.

          • James Johnson III

            But some aren’t professional like that. That’s why you notice that there are people who, as you look at their career, have never worked with a person of color (Paul Canon for instance)

          • FrenchBug

            Yes. That was my point. Their excuse that they are “not attracted to them” is BS because it is not an obstacle in other situations.
            We can discuss ad nauseam whether not being attracted to folks of color makes you inherently racist but being willing, able and comfortable enough having sex with white people you are not attracted to for money but not being willing to have sex with black people you are not attracted to for money is racism, pure and simple.

      • sxg

        Yea Trenton was happy George Zimmerman got off, but he quickly deleted that tweet and wrote something “sympathetic” towards the situation. You know who else was happy about that verdict, tweeted it and then deleted it pretty fast? Ryan Rose.

        • Hari Kalyan

          I remember also that Vadim Black tweeted something that was insensitive and blamed the victims in all these police shootings of unarmed individuals as well.

        • WhimsyCotton

          You know what I hate? Cowards that are afraid to let other people find out that they’re racists. Like fucking own it. If you won’t see reason and accept that your viewpoints are wrong then own your backwards beliefs

    • Maximus

      Clock the racist subtext. He’s basically saying, “You uppity ethnic people should be grateful that society even allows you to appear in porn at all.” It’s the same kind of condescending bullshit that conservative pundits fling at NFL players who dare to participate in political protests.

      • nick

        I’m surprised the NFL thing hasn’t caused more of a stir than it has, referring to the team managers as the players “owners” is so loaded with racist tone.

    • groovy.

      It INFURIATES me that people like trenton are in this world. He is truly a waste of tax money and resources. Just like trump and his cabinet, no good comes from trenton and the world would be better without having to hear his input on anything. Anyway, Hugh and Leo are AMAZING individuals who are contributing positively to society and I wish them nothing but success and happiness. The world is a little better because of these brave men.

  • Hari Kalyan

    So how long before NextDoorEthnic folds and they start casting as part of their marquee roster? Damian Kyle is shook lol

    • Xzamilloh

      I can’t for the life of me figure why his average and plain looking ass would even have his “demands” met? Go work for Trenton Ducati or some shit.

      • Phresh

        That nasty manorexic rat.

      • McM.

        They’re met because his “demands” aren’t unusual or unexpected.

    • C A

      They stopped updates months ago.

      • Hari Kalyan

        Did they stop completely or have they just simply not updated with a new scene?

        • seeker630

          They haven’t updated in about 2 months. I asked them about it in their comments section & they said the production team for that site is working on new content.

  • Xzamilloh

    Okay, but I lowkey LOVED Blackballed 5 and 6… the rest of them we can call racist because they sucked lol

    All jokes, aside, here is a controversial opinion: the gay community is where we should be combating racism. Gay porn on the other hand, should not concern itself with social justice because its job is not to make you think, it’s to make you cum and make you squirm if your family or friends find out about the twisted shit you get off to.

    Now, if you can find some socially conscious porn that does that, all power to you. And studios should most definitely look at hiring quality models of color that fit their mold, not just a “diversity hire” used to shut people up

    • Schnitzel

      Hmm, I want to agree with you but studios should not decide for me who is a hot POC. Also, my family will surely find what I get off to as twisted. Likely, many friends would say, Oh, he’s THAT way.

      • Xzamilloh

        What I meant was they should apply the same standards to their white models that they do to their non-white models and not skim just to meet a quota, because I feel like a couple of them do that. On top of that you can tell the studios that pretty much hire models of color to fulfill a niche because they only use them in a certain way and with nothing else

    • Deviancy Behavir

      I don’t agree, because porn is a reflection of the times we live in, the personification of fantasies, taboos that we accept and engage in. During the 80’s and 90’s porn videos were all about promoting safer sex, because of the effects of AIDS on our communities, so we can’t just divorce gay porn from the gay community at large. They both play off each other. The same way that bareback porn isn’t considered taboo and frowned upon with people being on prep and models talking about using it.

      We also live in a more global online world, that’s why Colby Keller still catches heat for his voting record with every new release he’s a part of. The real problem is that people too often minimize the effects that porn and other media have on their lives, shaping their preferences and making it seem like they don’t have any other choice. Porn is a fantasy, but the reality is that some use it to demean, belittle people and that’s not right. People need to demand change or it just won’t happen. I refuse to pay for a product where I don’t see others like myself in it.

      • Xzamilloh

        Advocating for Change and being a part of a change are two different things. You can make all the hashtags and videos you want until you are blue in the face but ultimately if someone isn’t willing to see your reality become their standard then you should be out there trying to make your reality a standard. I would argue that because we live in a more Global World and there’s more things online p*** doesn’t need to be that advocacy for us anymore because we can be our own advocacy. It was a different world back then because we weren’t Global, i.e social media Etc. Kobe killer catches Heat because he decides to broadcast his beliefs and then justify them in a convoluted way.

        One of the biggest issues we have is turning gay porn into celebrities in the gay community and I personally refuse to buy into the notion that I need to be listening to gay porn stars about current events. No offense, their opinions are as valid as anyone else’s, but it’s unrealistic to treat porn like activism. Do you see anyone complaining about the lack of color at Family Dick?

        • Deviancy Behavir

          I don’t disagree with your assertions about people being online SJW, instead of active participants. Too many times people get overly offended by things that don’t matter and this is how they get distracted to help work on things that do matter. I don’t agree with your comparison of Family Dick because of the nature of the site and the relatively small size of the porn they currently have.

          It’s supposedly based on having pretend sex with family members, so having it mostly white right now, doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. I take issue more with the bigger studios who keep up with these tired porn plots, hiring racists, abusers and people who are all over social media advocating for hatred. I used to love watching Jaxton Wheeler, until i saw on his social media page full of memes daily talking about killing Hillary Clinton.

          I wrote him privately and blocked him and refuse to pay to see any of his videos. Porn stars needs to be more careful in what they do, but a lot don’t. For some their activism/biases are on full display with every post, so that’s not going to change. The change that needs to happen is two-fold, the consumers need to make change with their money and the performers need to speak up and stand up to racism or any other ism they see in their community. I’m glad we’re having these discussions, because for so long people have been just going with the status quo and it’s time that the status quo ends.

          • Xzamilloh

            The nature of the site if family sex… but unless it’s one family doing all the fucking, which isn’t the case, there doesn’t seem to be an uproar over the lack of color on that front, which like you said, is tied to the nature of the site, and ties into my original point: if you don’t see yourself being represented in the way you want, you should be the one seeing your reality come to fruition instead of thinking others will do it. Looking at your logic, there are people of color out there who want their incestual themed porn, too… why it gotta be white??? But you don’t care about Family or any other genre that doesn’t appeal to you, so which is it? Do you want it across the board, or just on the genres you patronize?

            Like I said, the gay community gives too much prominence to the opinion of gay porn stars, and while some are socially conscious, others are just people paid to fuck and the studios pay them to fuck… that’s it. And even some of the ones who sound “woke” are paying lip service and ain’t saying/doing shit to change anything. Seeing them on social media without the veneer of the camera and the bad script and fake moaning, you see the real person, and it sucks in some cases.

          • Deviancy Behavir

            I’m fine, a healthy debate is what I like from these discussions, it’s not about who’s opinion is more right or wrong. Just about getting a different perspective. I just give the Family Dick a pass because they’re such a young site, less than 30 videos since July that I can see since I’m not paying for it and it’s such a niche market. I hold Men, Bel Ami and other bigger companies at more of a fault for keeping this mostly all white casting going. I have a subscription to Timtales and purchased a few months of My10inches because of Rocco Steele and refuse to waste money unless I see a reasonably diverse cast of porn stars. I think that’s what is happening, more content made for people who want to see it. I think the porn companies as they are now are working on borrowed time, because a lot of them are too blind to what they think is working. But I respect your opinion, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing and disagreeing. Thank you for your insights.

  • Devin

    Men. com is the worst offender. They continuously and blatantly employ racist models. I read the comments on the blogs and social media where the models are being called out on their racism. Men. com is fully aware, but they do and say nothing because they don’t give a shit. They continue to hire racist people like Paul Canon and Damien Kyle, who are not even attractive IMO. They’re very average. Men. com would have nothing to lose by firing these guys and speaking out, but they continue to employ them and sit in silence. I would ask that everyone boycott Men. com, but I think we all know how that goes

    • Hari Kalyan

      I was happy to see the #WheresCyborg on twitter yesterday in response to their justice league scene

      • Devin

        That’s nice, but even if they included Cyborg I still wouldn’t support Men. com. It doesn’t change the fact that they employ and support racist models. I don’t support the models who work for them either. They’re basically saying they don’t give af as long as they’re getting paid. If you’re unaware it’s a different story, but everybody knows

    • nodoubtfan

      Isn’t MEN headquartered in Atlanta? I know they do a bunch of shoots here. I’ve been living here since the late 90s, and there’s no shortage of fine ass men of color willing to do porn (and already doing a bunch of homemade porn).

      • McM.

        Studio headquarter locations are irrelevant.

        There’s not a single outfit producing porn that is exclusively pulling talent locally from 98% white population. They’re all online and accept applications online, meaning an applicant pool is national at the very least.

        Who a porn company employs is never a matter of circumstance.

    • James Johnson III

      They proved they don’t care by hiring Brodie Sinclair

  • Phresh

    I mean its no better than when Ryan Rose said he’s one of the few who WILLING to have sex with a porn star of color. Im sorry willing ? As if its a chore or somehow doing those of color a favor by having sex with us. The Fuck?!

    Doesn’t help when you also have self hating, skin bleaching, blue contact wearing idiots like Micah Brandt as one of the few models of color in “mainstream” porn speaking on the issue of racism within the industry, but instead of loving himself enough to acknowledge the racism, he rather play Helen Keller to the BS and chase Validation “I’ve met many people like that in the industry and in life, but they have quickly changed their mind after meeting me because sometimes you just need a little enlightenment to broaden your mind. Or, just the right black guy.” Really Bitch ?

  • AJ

    I wonder what bel ami and helix have to say about gay porn racism given their highly diverse rosters. 😀

    • FrenchBug

      To give credit where credit is due, Helix is getting much better. They have several regular Latin models, one of their marquee name is African-African (Corbin Colby) and they have recently those cute AA twinks to the roster.

      • Sed

        They hired two cute AA twinks but their is no indication that they will be back as of yet. I hope they will.

    • WhimsyCotton

      You can’t lump in BelAmi with other big studios; it’s not really fair. It’s like asking why big Japanese studios don’t have Caucasian and Black performers in their scenes.

      White Eastern Europeans and the occasional olive-skinned Mediterraneans are the vast, vast majority of the population in that region (the exception being the small Vietnamese population). Refugees and migrants aren’t going to stay there when Germany, France, and the Scandinavian countries are available.

  • n24rc

    I’m okay with the fetishism of race and ethnicity. I like some black porn actors, especially the vers ones. I like to see them get plowed by some white tops and some flip flopping. Mix it up!

  • DrunkEnough

    No one likes hearing it, but people have racial sexual preferences. They just do. That’s a big reason studios pick a niche and serve it. (And in the case of a Bel Ami, they’re pulling talent from an extremely white society to begin with.) People also have cock size preferences, chest hair preferences, kink preferences, age preferences, etc. It’s just the fact, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it unless you’re looking down on someone just because you’re not attracted to them. But I agree that the word “ethnic” in awards carries with it an implication that white European is “normal” and anything else is some other category. Sex is sex, no matter who’s fucking. We should be content with all the various fuck sites the way we’re content with many channels on a TV, but I could do without the implication that brown people are marginal in some way, because my own sex life isn’t like that.

    • AsherStClaire

      And no one likes hearing it but those people have racist tendencies. They just do. Doesn’t mean that they’re overall bad people or that they’re burning crosses on lawns but it’s still problematic nevertheless. You have the right to fuck whoever you want but if you voice those “preferences” don’t get your panties in a bunch when someone calls you out for it.

    • WhimsyCotton

      It’s one thing to have a preference–everyone has them–and quite another to claim you’re not attracted to entire race of people unseen.

      When you say “I’m not attracted to Black people,” what are you actually saying? What feature is it that you’re not attracted to that ALL Black people share?

      He’s part Black. Trenton Ducati’s racist ass had no issue fucking him.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d785fc449459ae55e2cd65208f068273d925a9cb70f2c6743caf55c936bf6bda.jpg
      So what exactly are people saying when they say “I’m not attracted to Black people?” They’re implying all people of Black descent look one way and are lesser than. That is racism. It might be unintended, but it is racism nevertheless.

  • Pinko of the Grange

    Right with him till the “passing” comment. With that comment he just confirmed for some that they aren’t good enough. He kind of nodded off with that oversight.

    • A Black

      White-passing minorities do enjoy a level of privilege because of that. It isn’t an oversight.

  • Scrapple

    Ooooohhhh did he blatantly namecheck Chi Chi? Her wig must be all askew!

    No lies being told here. I can’t remember if Leo, given his position, has spoken up about this issue in the past, or worked tirelessly to bring about a more inclusive cast on the productions he has been involved with. I also don’t remember his thoughts on the Cameron Diggs kerfuffle. But he’s right, shouting matches back and forth will solve nothing. And hopefully these reactions will spark a more open dialogue. I’m also hoping people will actually use their denouncement platforms for good, rather seizing an opportunity to reject an award they weren’t going to win in the first place while also pretending to be a supporter of change when they really give no fucks about the issue.

    Timarrie is beautiful, but unless that name has a special meaning or it was inspired by the fabulous Amerie and Tina Marie respectively, I can’t fuck with it.

    • FrenchBug

      I am actually glad you reminded me of that Cameron Diggs fiasco. I wonder what Leo Forte has to say about this, as Naked Sword’s Mr Pam’s bff.
      Isn’t it time to also explore to which the “can’t we all get along?” persona of folks like ChiChi and MrPam, ends up enabling that crap too. I don’t think they come from a bad place on race issues (unlike, say, Trenton Ducati’s BS tweet) but sometimes refusing to fight any battle can end up making you complicit of bad things, regardless of your intent.

      • Scrapple

        A lot of people would rather keep their coins in their pockets then speak up and jeopardize their position. Because the moment you do you go from being “one of the good ones” to “one of them.”

  • Maximus

    Can we just agree not to have any more racial discrimination in gay porn? No? We can’t? Even that simple request is asking too much? All right then, I’ll just go throw myself off a cliff in frustration.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4359443d53f3bc41dc0c2c2fba8ff9e68861e041dc3d660ee08a362ae90dcbcd.gif

  • Philip Broad

    Fuck! That Timarrie Baker sure looks tasty!!

  • CamCam

    Leo Forte said nothing but the truth in his statement. Change has to come from within and what i really want to see is more black, latin & asian models speak out and be heard. The mainstream needs to hear from those who are DIRECTLY affected by the racism that is in gay porn. The black actor who was told his kind isn’t what what the audience would want to see. The latino who was told he’s not light enough to pass for white. The asian who was told he will never make it in gay porn. Its time for real change in gay porn.

  • Bill

    It’s not just gay porn~ go on adam4adam and you will see people with no blacks in their ads all day, but are open to every other race. It’s called preference, which is the nice way of saying, not interested in your black #ss.

    • WhimsyCotton

      Preference = I’m a racist who doesn’t like being called out for it.

      Alt-right = I’m a Neo-Nazi supporter/member who doesn’t like the association while the group is in the minority.

      I think I got it right.

  • Badger

    Kinda missing how an industry built on fantasy is being racist. I guess I’m racist because I like seeing a BBC ravaging a white ass?

  • pangelboy

    This was well written and I hope there’s significant change in the gay porn industry. Lately, I’ve been surprised by the number of scenes featuring men of color when I visit a particularly popular gay porn blog that posts updates from the major studios. So, some progress is being made already, thank god.

    That said, gay porn still occupies an important space within the community. Yes, gay people are more accepted now than ever before in society, but casual and virulent homophobia still creates a situation where gay porn acts as the primary sexual outlet for many gay men (i.e. young or closeted). I know it sounds absurd to advocate for some social responsibility within pornography, but I do. The decisions made at the top of who to feature (and more importantly, who *not* to feature) have real-world effects. Not only are models of color negatively impacted professionally and financially, but mindsets are influenced.

    Our patronage of the content produced by gay porn studies doesn’t exist within a bubble. There exists a horrible feedback loop that only exacerbates the racial tensions that exist within our community. I’m happy more models are speaking out.

  • Sed
    • c_find

      actually it’s not only gay It’s the same in the “straight” world. The most downloaded is interracial porn wet it is looked down on even in that industry.