Why You Can't Find Any Real Queer Porn On Free Websites

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Once upon a time, I was a broke, horny, gay college kid who enjoyed watching porn, but sure as hell couldn't pay for it. So I got well acquainted with the "lesbian" libraries of several different porn sites that let you watch videos for free. But what I found there never really felt queer to me. Just like countless queer women who came before, during, and after my free-porn time, I was turned off by women who didn't really seem to be enjoying sex with each other, and seemingly obvious signs that they weren't queer at all (hello, 9-inch stiletto fingernails). It was enough to make me move on to straight porn.
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Now, I realize that real queer porn — at least, porn that's produced and filmed with a queer gaze — is rarely free. If you want to watch queer people have sex and actually like it, then you have to pay for subscriptions to sites like QueerPorn.TV and The Crash Pad Series. And there's a very good reason for that, says Shine Louise Houston, founding director and producer of Pink and White Productions (which runs The Crash Pad Series).
"If you're patronizing places that have free porn, basically you're making it so producers and talent can't get paid," she says. That's true no matter what kind of porn you're watching for free, even the straight stuff has likely been pirated. Often, whether or not the performers get paid is the difference between "ethical" or "feminist" porn and porn that's not ethical. A lot of times, companies will slap a "feminist" label on their porn, but it doesn't really mean anything, Houston says. To her, and everyone else who works for Pink and White Productions, ethical porn means that there's understanding of consent between everyone on set, including the crew, and everyone gets paid up front so there's no cash incentive for performers to do anything they don't want to do. There's always food provided, the set is sober, and Houston makes sure that everyone is using the correct pronouns. In essence, she makes sure that her cast and crew are all feeling safe and respected.
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But that kind of care isn't cheap, so it's important that the people watching the porn produced by ethical and feminist companies are paying for it, or else the company could go bankrupt. It has happened to many porn production companies before, Houston says, because their content ended up on a free site like PornHub or RedTube. Sometimes, the websites that show free porn will ask porn producers like Houston if they can have their content for free. And she always says no. "It's not a measure of success to be able to give your stuff away for free," Houston says. So she turns down requests to show her videos, and she also sends letters demanding that websites remove videos that they've taken without permission.
Recently, PornHub has started monetizing some of the videos it puts up on the website, Houston says, but that's still not a good enough reason to give her content away. "It's nothing compared to running your own site," she says. But, she knows other porn companies have bent to the sites' will because they felt that they had to. "Their content has been poached so much on PornHub that they kind of give in and go ahead and make a membership," Houston says. And that might be the biggest reason that it's difficult to find queer porn filmed by actual queer people on free websites: Because the sites don't bother to poach it.
Real queer porn isn't mainstream, and therefore it's not profitable for sites to steal it. While plenty of straight men (and women) watch "lesbian" porn on free websites, many of those viewers would likely be less turned on by girl-on-girl porn that wasn't made from a straight man's gaze. The person behind the camera makes a huge difference to the overall feel of the video. The male-gaze elements of the porn that I watched in college — the fake nails, the fascination with scissoring, the women who spit on other women's vaginas (this is weirdly common...) — don't exist in Houston's videos, nor in videos other queer producers make. Sure, there may still be some long fingernails, but you can be sure they're there to be used in fetish and not just as decoration. There are also plenty of bigger bodies, butch women, genderqueer people, and strap-ons: All things that rarely show up in male-gaze porn. It's not as appealing to mainstream (mostly straight) audiences, and that's probably why you can't find it for free.
But, don't mourn the lack of queer porn on free websites. As strange as it might feel to pay for porn, especially when so much of it is free with the click of a button, it's important to support the queer producers and performers who are making the kind of porn you actually want to watch.
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