Book Review: Coming Out Like a Porn Star

comingoutlikeapornstar
Image description: The book lays on a light pink and black floral lace. The book cover features an illustration of the editor Jiz Lee as they emerge from an oval shaped orifice, stretched at either side. They are wearing a cropped t-shirt and tight shorts. Jeans with a green belt in the loops are bunched at their ankles and they wear black work-style boots.

I had this book on my NEED NOW list before it even became a book. There were some hints and murmurs on my social media that the book was happening and when the title was finally announced, I preordered it as soon as was humanly possible.
That was in 2015 and today this book is still one of my absolute favorites in my Unlaced Library.

 

Readers of this blog know I love to review me some porn books. And as a visibly disabled person who is kinky and in an open relationship, I navigate the rocky shores of coming out on nearly a daily basis. No wonder a book about porn AND coming out is one of my favorites.

 

The full title of this book is “Coming Out Like A Porn Star: Essays on Pornography, Protection, and Privacy.” The book was edited by Jiz Lee and contains a foreword by Dr. Mireille Miller-Young. The book is composed of over 50 personal essays from individuals in a variety of roles in the adult industry: performers, directors, producers, writers, film crew, website and distribution managers, as well as some academics and sex educators. The book was released in October 2015, published by ThreeL Media.

 

Some essays are longer length and detailed, up to ten or a dozen pages. Other essays are very short, some only two printed pages long. Most of the essays include author bios with social networking information, while a handful were written anonymously or under a pen name. Quite a few of the essays are written by people who identify as queer, gay/lesbian, Trans, kinky and/or gender/sexually fluid. There is an abundance of pronouns and each author uses their pronoun in bio and essay. This book would be a great addition to a library regarding gender, identity, or queer studies.

 

The range of experiences shared in this collection is amazing. Some people write about coming out to biological or close family members (i.e. parents, siblings) while others write about navigating day job situations or deciding whether or not to divulge their careers to new acquaintances at parties or in their neighborhoods. A few also write about their experiences coming out to their children or raising children with a sex-positive philosophy. Some of the essays reflect a loving, open environment where people around them give support, present love, and offer enthusiasm for the work and sexuality of the person coming out.

 

Other essays report complete and utter heartbreak of ruined relationships and identities ostracized by their local culture and the places they used to call home. Along with these stories regarding relationships are a myriad of insights, attitudes, and philosophies on pornography, sexual expression, and identity. Nearly every essay made me think, reconsider, worry, or smile.

 

The only quibble I had with the book was that some of the essays felt incomplete. The essay would end short of a satisfying conclusion or the flow of the narration left me confused as a reader, not quite sure I was picking up what the author was putting down. This was definitely in the minority as a majority of the essays were well organized and stood well on their own.

 

Overall, I find this book is such an important contribution to porn studies for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, I feel the individual voices that resound in this collection bring a dose of intimacy and reality to the often controversial rage that surrounds pornography.

 

As a society, for the benefit of our unique relationships, we can no longer make broad, clumsy arguments about pornography as a faceless, nameless entity.

 

We need to acknowledge our genuine sexualities. We need to acknowledge the stigmas levied at sex workers and, as consumers, acknowledge the individuals that work in producing pornography. We need to nurture creativity, diversity, genuine sexual expression, and bring the dialogue of porn and sexual fantasy home.

 

I believe this book is a crucial step toward that goal.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about porn, gender or body identity, and of course, coming out in its multitude of dimensions.

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