The first time I saw anyone vaguely like me on a screen was during a covert PornHub tirade at age 10. I found myself digitally trapped within the confines of a grimy prison shower, sandwiched between the thick dicks of two tattooed prison guards.
Again, peering through a bulky monitor at 13, I was surrounded by a flurry of throbbing cocks in the center of a fraternity circle jerk, performing my strenuous duty as lowly pledge.
Now, trolling on my iPhone this morning, I feel the rush of cold air on a balcony in Paris as I fuck a French dude into pleasurable oblivion.
I am a Millennial raised on *NSYNC, “Blues Clues” and gay porn.
As a child, my identity was first expressed to me through the hurtful slurs of my peers. People called me various synonyms for “gay” before I even knew what the label meant. My budding queerness was muddled by both a youthful lack of understanding and a stifling internal confusion that left me utterly baseless.
Who the fuck was I? What does it mean to be gay?
Like any puzzled kid, I subconsciously scoured television for societal explanations.
From there, I realized two things: that there was absolutely no room for my gay ass in “Full House” and that I would never be able to become a “Family Guy.” Why couldn’t I identify with any of the manufactured household structures or boy meets girl teenage romances repeatedly regurgitated on screen? Were people like me even real?
Where traditional media failed me, gay porn was there to supplement with a distorted form of reality, an online world full of people who liked what I liked: boys.
I spent my youth jacking off to my community because I couldn’t find a relatable outlet anywhere else. I traveled through the perilous depths of the internet to find a sense of belonging and then immediately deleted any illicit evidence of my queerness off our shared family PC. During these daily acts of pornographic espionage, I met Virtual Chris: the gay archetype whom I would attempt to live up to for the rest of my life.
While Meatspace Chris spectates with his hands down his boxers, Virtual Chris is busy getting drilled. He never had any coming-of-age experiences or adolescent love stories. He didn’t have a complex plot role or an opportunity for character development, just a tight ass to be plowed for an anonymous gay viewership.
As I started to get older, I would find myself making incessant self-comparisons to Virtual Chris — the only other gay person I knew.
Virtual Chris partakes in sexual fantasies Meatspace Chris would never accomplish in his wildest dreams. Incarcerated double penetration, disoriented Rush Week orgies and bougie Parisian banging are all likely out of my realm of possibility.
Virtual Chris is able to participate in these outlandish scenarios because he looks like Michelangelo’s David, except with a much bigger wang. His toned thighs, washboard abs and overall musculature, while longtime sources of my sexual entertainment, have also been inspirations of my own harmful critiques.
As a relatively overweight adolescent exploring his burgeoning homosexuality, Meatspace Chris discovered that hunchbacks weren’t exactly conducive to confidence either. During puberty, I received a back brace for my scoliosis. Strapped into the clutches of this plastic corset 22 hours a day, I assumed the identity of disabled Victorian wench, an unlikely RedTube scene partner.
By no means did I look like Virtual Chris. I still don’t. My stomach jiggles when I walk, my hips are noticeably lopsided and my back is littered with scars and stretch marks. Gay porn emphasizes an established “right way” to appear gay, a quintessential corporeal form that I don’t possess. While images of Paul Blart the doughy mall cop give average straight men some form of reassurance, I could only look to my Greco-Roman counterparts for perpetual invalidation.
Each time I enter the bottomless wormhole of the internet, with my trusty Kleenex and lotion by my side, I return moderately satisfied but comparatively hollow. While the unlikelihood of me ever banging marble-made men gives me some amount of voyeuristic pleasure, I also feel empty after I finish furiously masturbating to the engineered aesthetics of gay porn. Not only am I alone when I cum, but I also redigest a lifetime of body image issues post-orgasm.
I unintentionally planted a sexual seed of sorrow during my 10-year-old days of accidental trojan viruses, which then sprouted during the angsty hand-in-pant years of my teens and has finally come full-bloom now that I, too, have reached full maturity.
Without any easily accessible queer idols, I turned to alternate sources for identification. I was forced to stream boys getting fucked on locker room floors while my friends were able to see themselves dating in diners on big theater screens. Maybe if I had characters to look up to, I wouldn’t have had to find role models in Sean Cody and Corbin Fisher. Maybe if my community were actually normalized through accurate representation, I wouldn’t have had to live up to the sexual objectification of Virtual Chris my whole life.
Chris Cox writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact him at [email protected].