Bil Browning

Porn vs Prude: Bilerico is sex positive

Filed By Bil Browning | April 05, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: David Badash, gay media, LGBT media, porn in gay media, pornography advertisements, sex sells

Last week I published the post "Hot Mormon missionary boys masturbating" and contributor David Badash quit the site because he lesbian-queen-victoria.JPG"wouldn't expect to see that type of content coming from a think tank, or mainstream journalism site."

...I had viewed The Bilerico Project as a big "think tank" that generated ideas, discussion, passion, and worked to help us gain equality, educate, and improve how LGBTQs are perceived, both within and outside our community.
I am not especially prude. That content has its place on the Internet, but to my mind, not on a site -- not in a think tank -- that is working to achieve equality. (And, given our community's current challenges with the LDS Church, I feel it was an especially short-sighted choice.)

I do not see my work and pornography as compatible or even being able to share the same home. And I do not think that that type of content here helps us in our battle to win the hearts and minds of those who might choose to help us.

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists' Association picked up on David's post for their own article, "Porn, Skin, and Profits: The LGBT Media Dilemma." The org goes in a slightly different direction than David, but let's take a look at both arguments after the jump.

Because if there's one thing I'll never apologize for, it's that Bilerico Project is sex positive.

Let's Get the Facts Straight Correct

David's point seems to be that our fluff content is offensive. It crosses the line from "sexy" to "porn." He says at one point:

I recognize the need to "pay the bills," and sadly, I understand that "Prince William's penis pictures," "First all Israeli gay porn movie," and even "Top 10 Stores to Pick Up Gay Men" (three of the top-ten most popular posts on The Bilerico Project) may serve that purpose, but as a journalist, I have to believe that these are the easy way out, and, just as I wouldn't expect to see that type of content coming from a think tank, or mainstream journalism site, I don't expect to see it coming from what I thought Bilerico was. And perhaps that was my mistake.

I also recognize that other LGBTQ sites do offer pornography-as-content, but others do not. Via Twitter and a poll on this blog Wednesday night, I asked what folks thought of pornography-as-content. I'd say most were against it, but many were fine with it. It's a personal choice, neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong.

I think that David's premise depends on what your definition of "porn" is. In all three examples he chose to highlight, I don't think any of them would fall under the classification of "pornography."

  • Prince William's Penis: A picture of Prince William taking a pee in public. You can see the end of his dick. Marked NSFW (Not Safe For Work) before the jump so if you clicked though, you knew what you were getting.
  • Israeli Gay Porn Movie: No nudity whatsoever although it does have a picture of four hot guys in swimsuits. The comment thread mostly skewed to a conversation about "the objectification of other men as exotic" and the intersection of porn and international queer politics. No NSFW mark needed.
  • Top 10 Stores to Pick Up Gay Men: No nudity. No photos other than company logos. Discussion centered on other stores where our community tends to shop. No NSFW tag needed.

Even the post about masturbating Mormon missionaries didn't show any exposed genitalia - although you could see the shadow of one guy's cock through his undies and if you blow up one of the other pictures you can see the outline of that guy's balls through his knickers. The post is marked NSFW with the disclaimer: "I've deliberately used ones where you can only see their cocks through their magical Mormon underwear. They're still NSFW, but if you need more there are tons more graphic preview pictures at the site."

So what do these posts all have in common if the moniker of "porn" isn't sticking? They're about sex - and gay sex specifically.

Sex Sells

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists' Association article took a slightly different tack when they link up to David's post in "Porn, Skin, and Profits: The LGBT Media Dilemma." Author Michael Triplett sums it up nicely:

The sad reality in this LGBT media environment is that a certain amount of porn and skin is often required in order to drive advertising and page views.
Badash has taken a principled stand about where he wants his paid and unpaid work to appear. I'd also agree that "porn," skin-ads and "boys in underwear" posts undermine the overall credibility in terms of news and analysis. OTOH, can bloggers and LGBT media survive without them?

Simply put, sex sells. I'm often shocked that we don't get more of the sexually suggestive blog ads that other gay-specific non-porn blogs get. We'd take the money - gladly. Our simple rule for advertising on the site is that the ad can't show genitalia and if the destination site is NSFW it is explicitly clear to the viewer what they're going to get if they click.

We get complaints about advertisements on the site constantly. This week alone, I've had complaints about Scientology, porn sites, a Thai site exploiting trans women, and a reader who questioned why the Task Force always had an ad in rotation in the top banner. (Answer: They pay for it.)

David's main complaint wasn't about advertising on Bilerico Project though, it was specifically about our content - which he deems "pornography."'s not the the intellectual content at Bilerico, but the lapse of it that forces me to say goodbye there.

This overlooks an amazing amount of bright, smart and stimulating posts and discussions happening daily on Bilerico Project. It's also incredibly demeaning and insulting to anyone whose contributions to the site haven't included "intellectual" posts but have tended toward pop culture, humor, or scrapbook-like tidbits of LGBT history.

Many of these fluffier posts live on in Google searches, Facebook profiles, Twitter streams, and links from other sites in a way that some of our more important community discussions never do. They continue to draw new visitors to the site - many of whom stick around after finding out what we're about.

Pictures live on longer than discussions do. Sexy pictures always bring in viewers. I'm not ashamed of using that mentality to continue to bring new readers to one of the smartest, sharpest and controversial LGBT websites where you can talk openly about anything remotely queer.

More visitors to a page translates into more advertising impressions. The more advertising impressions we have, the more money we make. The more money we make, the more we can invest in infrastructure, content, design, and paying our employees a liveable wage. The more infrastructure, content, good design, and happy employees the site has, the better it becomes. It's Win-Win.

No Internalized Homophobia: Bilerico Is Sex Positive

There's a reason why sexy pictures and short pop culture posts are popular - people want to see and read them (even intellectual people). I blog the posts because I'm not just political and serious all the time; sometimes I just want to share something cool, sexy, or outrageous.

That kind of content deserves a spot beside politics, strategy discussions, activism, and civil rights. Why? Because it's part of our community. It's not something to be ashamed of and hidden in the attic out of sight. There's nothing wrong with consensual sex, thinking about sex, or blogging about it.

glb_comeout.jpgThe LGBT community a vast consortium of traditions, boundaries, and limitations and, like it or not, it's our genitals and what we do with them that sets us apart in most straight/cis people's minds. The reason we have been ostracized for centuries from "normal" society is because we don't conform to the community expectations about penises and vaginas.

We need not neuter our sexuality to advance the cause. The best way to press our movement onward is not by trying to convince the public that we're "just like them." We're not. We do not need to assimilate to gain acceptance; respect is not won by submission and false exteriors. That is the losing strategy behind the closet.

One of our main goals with Bilerico Project has always been the full inclusion of our entire community. We will not shun or hide one segment to satisfy another nor will we castrate ourselves to gain acceptance. No Bilerico Project editor rules with an iron mouse because that's the complete opposite of what we envisioned. We want contributors to bring their full queer selves to the Project.

We've had posts about furries, vagina-scented perfume, several posts about naked reality show contestants and celebrities, some gratuitous underwear pictures and videos, and numerous pop culture kitsch posts. I even did a post once about Dick Cheney's penis. They've appealed to different segments of our community, but they've all been queer.

I wouldn't have it any other way. It's more honest this way - and a helluva lot more interesting.

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Seriously. As one of those so called "intellectual writers" (I guess, lol) who takes her work rather seriously and has a well known and often stated purpose behind presenting the stuff she writes about, I will say that part of the reason that I enjoy Bilerico is that it has such things.

Yes, it annoys me at times -- and I'm an unabashed sex positive prude. THe key being that I'm the prude, and that I don't run around telling other people what is proper or not for them.

If there was a huge amount of the stuff here (say, for example, three to four posts a day) I'd probably leave for a different shore. But I'd not be making a particularly big deal about it and use it to cite some horrific sex negative basis for such.

Oddly enough, I recently made a call for submissions on my own blog that I'm likely to repeat here -- and in that I asked for no porn. Because there's enough of it already. But was accused of being sex negative as a result.

Since my boyfriend makes porn, since I know people who work in the business, since I am involved in working with people engaged in sex work, and since I'll cop to being awfully tempted myself to hop into a business where I can make fifty grand a year having sex, well...

it'd be pretty hypocritical of me to talk about how consensual sex is bad. OR how the human body is bad.

And, to make matters worse, I have a personal, fairly narrow view of what is porn: the imagery of people engaged in the act of sex. Naked bodies I'm good with. Clothed bodies I'm great with. Especially hot ones where I can feel some interesting sensations in my own flesh.

There are other sites where sex gets nary a mention. And they suffer for for it.

And,of course, sex negative thinking is one of the reasons why trans people are treated so horribly.

Thanks for this post, Bil. The ads for porn are sometimes a little annoying, only because they're distracting, not because they offend me.

The posts regarding sex or erotica are not porn, they're commentary. Not that the Mormon boys weren't sexy, but the reason for posting about that site was to say, "Isn't this interesting?" I think there's a pretty clear distinction there, and an important one.

I think you said it right:

The posts regarding sex or erotica are not porn, they're commentary. Not that the Mormon boys weren't sexy, but the reason for posting about that site was to say, "Isn't this interesting?" I think there's a pretty clear distinction there, and an important one.

This is a hugely important discussion, and one my partners and I have been having in setting up guidelines for our site. No easy answers, I think, but if you know what works for your site, and for your approach, then define it clearly and you don't have to apologize, and be mindful if you move the bar.

More lesbians! (heh. Had to get my protest in.)

I'm w/Steph on more lesbians! :)

So much controversy lately regarding different members of the huge LGBTQRXY&Z "community" being offended. It's really rather sad and disappointing.

This is where I think the larger aspect of the la la land of community is missing the target and keeps failing.

The hypocrisy involved w/gaining TOLERANCE and un-willingness to give any.

This is why "acceptance" and "control" seem to me... a bigger goal to a large portion of a vocal dissatisfied bunch of cry babies. They fall apart the minute the nipple of a sugar titt is removed from their mouths.

The controversy in different Feminist Orgs about the film "Behind the Green Door" being showed at Cannes Film Festival back in 1973. It was a Mitchell Brothers film and take every single reaction-ist argument/justification/rhetoric/ from todays **eye roll** "controversy" surrounding TOTWK... and it's the same exact mistake that Feminist Orgs made back in the early 70's.

Here we are nearly 40's years later and guess what?
Porn still exists and is in fact bigger then ever and mainstream.

Steph, I happen to know that you were a blogger before bloggers were cool. I read you before I started blogging.

So are you volunteering to provide a couple of guest posts? :)

Oh, I hope so, lol. I want more lesbians, lol

I'm glad we are sex-positive.
I'm sorry we lost the valuable Dave Badash.
I hope you don't change your policy, Bil.
I hope Dave will reconsider and return.

I didn't look at the Mormon boys because I was at work and forgot about it, but now that I've seen them, I must say "hot!" Especially the beautiful and uncut Elder Jackson...

Anyway, that being said, what I've always appreciated about gay culture is that it's so sex-positive compared with straight culture.

We've had this discussion on bilerico before and we'll be having it again. It's not just "sex sells" in that that's the reason we're rolling in the big bucks (as if), but in that people actually click on that content and enjoy it. I don't know if Badash was also referring to Gloria Brame's posts, but her stuff, while visual, is really interesting. Sorry if Badash doesn't like it, but lots of other people, including me, do.

Like Steven said, the mormonboyz post was interesting in that I never would have thought of making a site like that. That's part of the gay community, and if you don't like it you can just scroll a little past it since a post like that appears at most once every two weeks.

In conclusion, I don't really think that Badash even knows what intellectual means. Oscar Wilde was definitely an intellectual, but that didn't stop him from appreciating physical beauty. Yukio Mishima was an intellectual (albeit a totally messed up intellectual), and he considered physical beauty more important than moral or intellectual strength. And Plato didn't write the Symposium for nothing - it wasn't a dry text completely divorced from the human body, but about those very pleasures. But I'd still consider it intellectual.

Intellectual doesn't mean ascetic, even though there have been plenty of ascetic intellectuals. But there are plenty more who aren't.

There have been a number of times I've wanted to link to something on bilerico but haven't been able to due to the porniness.

It's self-marginalizing, which is your right--it's your website. But it limits your impact, and when you have smart people writing here whose voices aren't being heard elsewhere, it seems like a serious tactical blunder.


Interesting choice of terms. Might want to sit and give some thought to the concept involved there.

Wait, we're a "think tank"??? (even in quotes?)

And a "mainstream journalism site?"

Nobody told me. [pouts]

But seriously. This is a blog. A blog, a blog, a blog. I don't see anyone here converging to form policy papers out of our discussions (unless *that's* what Bil, Jerame and Alex are doing when they travel/live in Paris). I'm also a journalist in my offline life, and Badash appears to be clueless about what that means. If this were a journalism site, half, nay, three-quarters, nay, more than that of the stuff we write wouldn't make it past a set of beleaguered editors. That doesn't impugn the quality of the site as a blog, but is simply pointing that journalism requires a rather different set of criteria that, to the best of my knowledge, Bilerico does not have the capacity to exercise. Nor should it have to.

This is a blog with nearly a 100 contributors. And it's a mighty fine one, and blogs are today an essential part of the web but they're by no means think tanks or journalism sites. That doesn't make them better or worse than either, it just means they're blogs.

I'm proud to call myself a blogger for Bilerico; I don't need to inflate my sense of self-worth by referring to myself as either a member of Bilerico's "think tank" or as a journalist for Bilerico. I've long discussed, with Alex, writing about these distinctions for the site so maybe it's time I dusted off my notes on that one.

And, yes, yay for the porn!

Sorry, Bil, you're exactly wrong on this.

I don't subscribe to Bilerico anymore in part because I can't afford NSFW content sneaking onto a work computer. That's the short of it. Here's the long:

I'm not at all interested in competing definitions of 'pornography'. What I'm concerned about is whether your content could get me fired from my job. Let's face it, a lot of your readers are reading at work. If you'd like to argue whether a picture of a guy undressing and then feeling around in his drawers is porn, get ready to be soundly trounced by every HR and IT department in the United States.

I'm glad that you at least acknowledge that you do posts like that to up your hit count and therefore probably your ad revenue. "Sex sells", though, has never been the sounding call of a respectable news/opinion organization. Using that motto as a defense signals to me that you put your income over your journalistic integrity, and I think that's unfortunate.

I suppose the most frustrating part of your post here is its dishonesty. When you talk about being "sex positive" and proclaim that you won't "shun" a segment of the community, you're implying that someone has suggested you should be "sex negative" and that you should shun some LGBT people.

The problem is that no one has said those things. No one. You're just being dishonest so you can cover yourself in glory. Why not just say "Yep, sometimes we publish naughty pics from skeezy amateur porn sites of guys in y-fronts, so don't come here from work" and let that be the end of it? Why did you have to try to insert some false moral battle of which you can be the self-styled champion?

And to make matters worse, when you declare that you don't have "internalized homophobia" and set this up as "porn vs prude", you're implying that the person you're responding to (in this case, David Badash) does suffer from internalized homophobia and is a prude. That, mon frere, is what they call unprofessional, or in less polite society, "fucked up".

Here's the problem, Bil. When you run with the big dogs and call yourself "the premiere political blog", you take on certain responsibilities.

You think that means that you should run NSFW material (or for the sake of brevity, "porn") to pump up your hit count; I think it means that your integrity should win over commerce.

bingo! i think bil's post here is uncharacteristically dishonest, and thus a little disappointing.

You say, Matt, that "'Sex sells', though, has never been the sounding call of a respectable news/opinion organization." Have you seen the underwear ads in major city newspapers? I just went to look at CNN's website - plenty of similar pictures there - but they call it "entertainment news." Why is it ok there but not on Bilerico? It's no stretch to suggest there is a double standard at work, and that it may have something to do with a heterosexist environment.

I understand Badash's decision, and respect it. I have concerns, however, about his decision to criticize Bilerico publicly, as if the blog and its writers and readers need some re-education in order to understand our crimes. It shouldn't be considered wrong for Bil to explain why Badash's public denunciation is mistaken. I think Bil raised important and relevant points in discussing the double standard and the issue of internalized homophobia.

Rather than discuss the issues, you use an ad hominem attack, deriding Bil's raising of these obvious issues as "fucked up." You say you don't want to get fired from your job because you think HR directors won't like the site, but you offer only general impressions as to the validity of such an assessment. I suspect that some HR directors wouldn't mind it, and that it would depend on the particular company's policies. Some are very strict, and others not. Some are homophobic, and others not. Your general statement about what HR directors would or would not like is nothing more than your own opinion, cast onto others.

More than your flawed logic, your extreme anger directed at Bil shows that there is something else at work here than just the idea that he adheres to a mistaken policy.

I don't think it's Bil who is being unprofessional here.

Bil implied rather strongly that people who disagree with his policy are homophobic. That's problematic, to say the least. Addressing that implication isn't ad hominem, it's an important piece of the discussion. (At least it should be.)

With regard to the NSFW content at work, I can only go on my experience and that of those around me. Looking through the comments here, I'm not the only one concerned about the impact of dudes feeling around in their underpants appearing on my work computer.

Incidentally, Queerty is already blocked as pornography at my workplace. Any benefit I might get from their prolific news or opinion content has been lost because of their propensity to do the same thing (though admittedly more aggressively) that Bil is defending here.

Not sure what "extreme anger" you're talking about. Frustration, yes. I have other things to be extremely angry about.

If we're only supposed to talk about what's exactly spelled out in Badash's post, then we shouldn't be talking about the work place. He didn't. That wasn't his concern. His concern was credibility. While workplace issues might be important to you, and more concrete reason to oppose NSFW content, that wasn't his point and it doesn't help us have a discussion of Badash's point, if that's what you want to do.

I view Bilerico at work sometimes since I get 2 hours for lunch and have no idea what to do with that time (I live too far away to go home like everyone else does). And chances are my workplace (elementary school) is more homophobic than yours. I just don't access the boy pic posts while there. They're not too hard to avoid since there aren't many.

I don't think Bil was saying Badash is suffering from internalized homophobia. His point was larger than that and Bil's too classy for that. I, on the other hand, am not, and I don't think huffing about how someone might suggest that Jesus aka David Badash has some internalized homophobia to deal with is the proper response (refutation would be the proper response, BTW).

Anyway, we're open to discussing specific posts, considering the ad is gone and replaced with a rotating ad block. There is a line, it's just that the cited material doesn't cross it. But don't think there are too many sensible HR departments that would consider an all-text fluff post about picking up guys at department stores "porn." It'd be outing yourself, definitely, but then if that's a concern people shouldn't be visiting this site at work.

So defending and agreeing with Badash on this issue means I think he's Jesus.



I don't want to buy into the ideals of the neoliberal panopticon that is the contemporary workplace but...why would you want to look at either Bilerico or Queerty while at work?

Bookmark them and watch them at your leisure.

And if it so happens that you are the kind of commuting employer who is given a computer by his employers and is therefore subject to being blocked or reprimanded for non-work activities: that sucks, but it's not Bilerico's fault or problem, to be honest.

NFSF = Not Safe For WORK. I don't know what else Bilerico or other sites can do. Or should do. You are an adult, in an adult workplace. If you feel that the news and opinions offered on some sites is crucial to your work, you should talk to your employers. Otherwise, to repeat, it's nobody's problem but your own.

That may seem callous but really, come on, this is a blog. It's not responsible for solving all the myriad issues you have in relation to your workplace.

And to repeat Alex's point above, Badash wasn't even raising the issue of NSFW images/sites. So this does, to echo Jillian, seem to be something you need to get resolved for your own sake.

I'd say the same thing to the others who are complaining about not being able to view the site at work. You're at work, people. If you want to work in a place where nobody will dictate what you do at your computer, come join my glamorous world of the carefree and footloose freelancer. No health insurance, constant scrambling for rent but oh, the porn sites you will watch during the daytime!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 7, 2010 4:40 AM

Gosh, that last bit sounds like fun, but otherwise Ms. Nair you are (drum roll) correct.

BINGO. Please don't claim the flag of sex-positive when using sex as means to increase your hit count has absolutely nothing to do with being sex positive. As for the not having internalized homophobia, how about checking all the internalized racism you have instead. It will go well next to your transphobia and sexism.

Dr Brame's posts are one of my favorite Bilerico features. For me this site is about queer culture as much as it is about politics and think tanking.

Legal scholarship and eye candy, what more can a good ole gay boy ask for?

I've got just 4 words for David Badash. Four simple words. Only 4. Get a grip Sweetie.

Whoa, now. Let's not get personal about this.

David was invited to be a contributor so we obviously have affection for him. He's not the enemy. He's entitled to his opinions and where he publishes his content.

The larger discussion is about how we define porn and whether or not sexy fluffy posts are appropriate for Bilerico Project.

So? I didn't say he was an enemy. I enjoy your posts Bil but if you are going to get all excited about someone having moral indigestion then I have only 5 words for you. Just 5. What are you concerned about?

The Mormon Boys were "porn?" I thought it was tongue-in-cheek humor. (That's a figure of speech, David).

All good points on every side, and I'm glad to see this issue being discussed. I don't claim to have any answers myself, but I will say that one ad here that crossed the line for me was for ""--not because it was porn, but because there was no indication that the "hurt" was consensual. If it's consensual, fine--go have the discussion we're having above. If it's non-consensual, or unclear on that point--reject it.

Wow. "Get a grip sweetie" ?
David stood up for his own values. I agree with him.
To each his own.

Clarknt67 | April 5, 2010 9:54 PM

If David wants to gather his marbles and go home let him. Who the hell is HE to tell you what you should or should not post on your own blog? The nerve of him.  

So what if it gets David's panties in a bunch? David has his own space and should pay attention to that. Not try to bully the rest of the blogosphere into reflecting his vision.

If his delicate sensibilities are so disturbed that he'd pass up all the good stuff you offer, his loss.   

SarasNavel | April 5, 2010 9:55 PM

I find myself agreeing with both sides on this one.

Sex and beauty and well, *fun* were outlawed from anything "serious" due to certain political influences in our culture ostensibly based on religion. Along with a lot of other types of thought that are sadly missing from much of mainstream society today as a result. Censorship in the name of control rather than actual harm is far more objectionable than anything I've seen posted here.

However, I can't risk reading Bilerico at work any more. In this case it was the title of that post that would've raised HR's ire, and I can't say I'd blame them if I'd been reprimanded. Typically the titles have been less explicit.

How about this:
As part of our personal preferences (i.e. via a cookie when we log in) allow us to select "Full Experience" or "Version for Prudes (still view at your own risk)" and then filter based on a post tag.

battybattybats battybattybats | April 5, 2010 10:49 PM

Just wait till you try and put forward sex-positive empowering oppression-defying posts including pics that say its valid to be a trans-attracted person attracted to MtF TG people.

Something i think is vital is to end the stigmatisation of and pathologisation of (and thats literal pathologisation in some circles) the trans-attracted often called 'tranny-chasers' as well as the stigmatisation and very much literal pathologisation of S&GD (Sex and Gender Diverse) people ever being sexual.

Batty, reading this post I was feeling inspired to do just that! I'm catching a plane in about 6 hours, but I'll try to do something like that once I get back.

As a side note, though, I find the term chaser valuable so long as it is defined around inappropriate behavior rather than simple attraction. There's nothing wrong with being attracted to trans people at all.

But I've been cruised by a certain type of person who assumes I'm going to fit a trans stereotype and they've been oblivious to all the ways that I'm not. They ignore what I say about myself because they aren't actually interested in me, just the idea of a trans person. But the real problem is their willingness to cross boundaries, attempts to exploit common vulnerabilities trans people have, use of manipulative techniques, and so on. It's a common enough pattern that I've been propositioned by such folks in the grocery store parking lot, at the park, and so on. When I say the word "chaser" those are the folks I'm talking about -- not anyone simply attracted to trans people, as I would have to include myself within that definition.

Oh, gosh, Tobi, I'm glad you raised the issue of the chaser. Such people annoy me no end, and I've given in, in the past, because frankly there's little way for a transwoman, in my experience, to meet a man who will see her for herself as she is, as opposed to some weird fetished version, which explodes as soon as it meets reality. I'm happier avoiding being too attractive, which they read as "easy." I'm happier alone.

battybattybats battybattybats | April 6, 2010 5:32 AM

But how do we ensure the meaning you use for the term does not get applied to ordinary trans-attracted people who already sugger profound discrimination and are substantially closeted and consequentially reinforce the bias against them and their internal issues with being Trans-attracted?

And indeed some trans-attracted people have very problematic behaviours... as do all sorts of people, and i wonder how great a factor the stigma towards trans-attraction, particularly internalised or compartmentalised, may contribute to disproportionate prevalance of such problematic behaviours.

One thing that surprised me since i started to come out is the huge number of trans-attracted cis women I have met or knew before who never mentioned their trans-attraction till after i came out to them.

You can't insure it, but why not be pissed off at the fetishists who exotify and other trans people, and simply treat the people you find attractive with respect?

battybattybats battybattybats | April 6, 2010 10:27 PM

Maybe because 'fetishist' is itself generally a term of bigotry used to demonise peoples ethical and healthy sexual attraction.

Trans-attracted people will always exist. It's important for the non-binary people for them to exist too, they need and deserve partners who find them attractive too.

Yes respect for Trans folk from Trans-attracted people is utterly vital to build, and while some people are romanticly/sexually/socially dysfunctional in every group i think its the case that the stigma of being trans-attracted is a huge part of cause of disrespect!

As long as many trans-attracted people fear the social stigma of their own desires and turn that stigma inwards too then they will continy to go to sex-workers and pester trans people looking for sex but shy away from relationships because they'd dare not let it be known to others that they are trans-attracted and with a trans person, will misstreat the subjects of their desires as they conflictingly both are attracted to them and yet hate them for, in their view, provoking in them the stigmatising desire.

This is i'm sure a part of some transphobic murders.

Were the stigma to be ended and the transphobia and self-hate of trans-attracted people healed then the 'chaser' problem would not exist, more Trans people would have partners both male and female (and in fact the fear of being romantically alone seems to be one of main reasons the vast majority of the largest TG group, crossdressers, remain so deeply closeted) and TG people would get far more respect and acceptance.

For GLB those attracted were always part of the equation while out communities (and the psych industry) have largely kept them away, condemned and desperatly uneducated, a loss of natural allies and of a source of community fulfillment and social acceptance and instead maintaining the harm we experience.

No i don't think the chasers are the problem. I think the negative behaviour of some is a symptom of the problem, just as the pathologising of them by those considering only gender binary is valid is a symptom.

The problem is still Transphobia.

And many chasers are transphobic and treat trans women like objects, talk crap like "the best of both worlds" and constantly misgender or degender trans women.

If you don't want to be labeled as a chaser, the onus is pretty much on you to present yourself in good faith, and not stress about whether trans women will think you're a chaser. And the possibility that trans women might see you as a chaser is not a problem coming from trans women - it's a matter of self-protection. It comes from chasers who treat us like crap.

battybattybats battybattybats | April 6, 2010 11:34 PM

Yes many chasers are like that.


Thats the 1st critical question.

How can that change?

That second question relies upon getting the first one right.

Why do the chasers behave the way they do?
The 'best of both worlds' view can actually be a valid and legitimate and positive and beautiful thing.. if it's a non-binary person they are with and not a transitioning one who wouuld feel offended by their being any positive connection to any as yet remaining male or female traits.

And here again the conflict inherant in considering or treating only binary or non-binary trans as legitimate and to the lack of education about gender diversity amongst ourselves and the entire society comes up which have dominated our community.

The non-binary population, who are the valid subject of much trans-attraction often requiring a trans-attracted partner to have a successful relationship, has been harmed by those binary people who have spoken out against all trans-attraction and prevented progress with them.

Of course the non-binary folk do not want to be pestered by the trans-attracted. But the non-binary often require them! And Both need the trans-attracted to learn more about the diversity of S&GD and be more respectful.

In fact the non-binary people need to respect the valid trans-attraction of the trans-attracted even if they don't want it to be directed towards them (and of course they do not need to put up with disrespectful behaviour).

We need to reach out to the trans-attracted, to help them heal their transphobia and consequently improve their behaviour. And thats going to require greater cooperation between the binary and non binary folk and seriously facing the transphobia in our own communities that has binary and mon-binary considering each other the true face of trans and the other illegitimate.

Merely condemning the trans-attracted in general will reinforce the stigma attached to them. Thats why the use of the term 'chaser' is dangerous! You risk entrenching their transphobia and self-hate rather than reducing it.

A person needs to be able to tell their friends how attractive they find a trans person, to be as proud and public of being trans-attracted as of being cis-man or cis-woman attracted. To be able to take a trans-person home to dinner with their parents, to be out as trans-attracted. Here's where the parallels between the Trans-attracted and the same-sex attracted should start becoming obvious.

We will it sems to me NEVER end transphobia, NEVER end the transphobic murders and assaults untill trans-attraction has lost it's stigma!

Not implying that you don't, but the problem isn't that trans women are wary of chasers, the problem is that chasers exist.

Thanks for this article Bill :)

As the publisher of my own LGBT site, I struggled with this question for months. And I ultimately decided the same thing as Bil -- to be as sex positive as possible. In fact, I purposely chose, and continue to choose, to publish content that is, occasionally, more explicit than many other sites. Part of my reasoning is that, yes, sexy guys are sexy, and pageviews are always nice. But the other part of my reasoning is we are so often attacked for what we're attracted to that I figured why not show what it is that causes so much homophobic consternation? A homophobe doesn't like that I like dick? Here's a picture of a dick then.

That said, I created a safe-for-work side to my site to give people as many choices as possible. A reader wants sexy guys? Got it. Another reader doesn't? Got that, too. Bil, that might be something worth considering -- sometimes it is possible to have your cake AND eat it naked, if you're so inclined.

Although writers like Ana Marie Cox have written for Playboy without damage to their careers, I do think that David Badash, who is a terrific asset to our community, made a choice that was good for him. And that's what so much of what we, as LGBT bloggers, do is all about -- making sure that each one one of us has the freedom to make the choices that suit each one of us best.

I love what Bilerico does and what it stands for. As for being a "think tank", it's probably a matter of opinion, but I do enjoy the free exchange of ideas, the amazing array of talent, including David Badash, that you've been able to attract and the fact that there is so little (if any) editorial interference.

I've been fortunate to have a few of my articles posted here and have never had any issues with censorship or editing of content. I have always been pleasantly surprised that the level of discourse in the comments is so far above what you'll find on other sites.

The thing about porn is that while you may not be able to define it, you know it when you see it. The definition varies with the viewer. That being said, I respect David's decision, although I may not agree with his reasons.

As for the rest of the Bilerico team, keep doing what you do.

Paige Listerud | April 6, 2010 12:23 AM

. . . a think tank.

Why doesn't he just read the New Republic or The Atlantic or the Nation if that's what he wants? Hey, The Advocate doesn't show much that's porn . . . they're more like porn teases over at the Advocate. I guess that's what makes them closer to mainstream journalism.

I'm with Bil. Sex positive postings are appropriate for his blog. As for those of you who have problems viewing the content at work a solution is at hand: your employer is paying you to work; not to surf the net. So view Bilerico when off work.

Why do so many people feel things are only "right" if they are crushingly boring? This is a particular problem in the MTF trans community. If we transition and show any signs of enjoying being female we are considered as having a disorder. We're "autogynophilic." Which translates as "enjoys (philic) being (auto) female (gyno)."

How horrible! Women are supposed to be miserable in order to be for "real." Give me a break - this is misogyny at its worse. Think not? When is the last time you heard of anyone worrying about those darn FTMs with autoandrophilia (enjoying being male)?

IMO the greatest things the Queer community has to offer the rest of the population is to show that enjoying whom we are and having fun are good things. Having said this let me quickly add that fun is not all about sex. I'd love to see Bil and his other contributors feature LGBT individuals having fun in many other ways too.

Nail on the head, and not just trans women:

Why do so many people feel things are only "right" if they are crushingly boring? This is a particular problem in the MTF trans community. If we transition and show any signs of enjoying being female we are considered as having a disorder. We're "autogynophilic." Which translates as "enjoys (philic) being (auto) female (gyno)."

Part of the reason society hates queer people is because we show them that sexual pleasure is important. We're the ones who obviously enjoy sex outside of procreation, and that's one reason we were told pre-1974 that we were disordered too. And now the DSM is filled with "disorders" that are no more than enjoying non-missionary position straight sex.

Some of that will be internalized, and I think there's a lot of that among LGB people as well. As Jill pointed out above, the ads aren't much more scandalous than at straight current events sites. Daily Kos gets those weight loss ads that feature women in bikinis all the time. Even Fox News goes out of its way to show scantily clad women. And yet if the gays do the same thing....

And a lot of that censorship is self-imposed. Because look what happens when someone doesn't.

I can see both sides of this. While there is nothing wrong with showing the human body, I think the context of the article and of the site do matter.

I did not look at the pictures in question until I saw the link in the follow up posting.

IMy reaction is this.. the original posting was something of a "Hey, lets look at these pictures of semi-nude mormons". There was not much merit to the posting beyond the pretty pictures. Some have come to expect more commentary than that.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 6, 2010 6:48 AM

I have no evidence we are a think tank here. I have less evidence that we are thoughtful or considerate. My time reading Bilerico has gone from hours to a quarter hour and then only specific authors.

That is unfortunate because I could be missing someone new and smart who is not discussing new uses for hair dye, Barbies, trivia, "popular culture" or moaning about their own situation.

No wonder more workplaces are restricting internet use. When at work, Work! It is not toyland and the *less you do* the harder it is for someone at the bottom to secure employment. And don't give me crap about your coffee break or lunch hour. You do not own the computer you use or pay rent for it or the connection. Work at work, surf anywhere else.

It is about civil rights folks! It is also about helping one another survive injustice.

Wow! To be part of a Think Tank! Just never thought about Bilerico as a Think Tank! Guess a Sunday Morning TV show is next? Or would that be a LGBTQ talk show?

Mr. Badash does indeed need to go elsewhere if he's looking for a think-tank. And I for one will go elsewhere if Bilerico ever becomes one.
'Think-tank' these days is polite-speak for 'curmudgeonly scholastic types with a narrowly focused agenda to promote under the guise of uber-intellectualism' - isn't it? :)
Perhaps it doesn't speak well for my own cerebral accumen; but much of the Bilerico content gives me a headache from thinking so hard - that's a good thing. But as I pop an aspirin, things like almost-naked Mormons are the sugar that 'helps the medicine go down.' ...And this is just one man's opinion, but, yes Mr. Badash; you are a bit prudish.

Just my 0.02, and no doubt worth every penny.

What would be your impression if a straight blog that really had not that much to do with sex started accepting ads featuring images of a woman, in too much makeup, licking her own nipple while gazing at you with a "Come fuck me, baby" leer?

Yeah, I know the drill: sex sells. Whether it's selling something genuinely sexy or it's pandering home improvement supplies or getting us to buy heat-n-serve chicken soup, I see it everywhere, folks, and I no longer care. It's just boring, because it has about as much imagination most times as the latest "re-imagined" series at SyFy.

And yet we love it. For some inexplicable reason, we'll take this nonstop stream of repetitive, boring crap because it's "hot" and "sexy", when in reality it's neither. Contrary to what some think, the Mormon boys were not cute: they were average. The guys in the top right corner ads on the front page are only a very tiny step above complete sleaze. The only reason we froth mightily over them is because they're young and therefore, in some leap of logic, really, really hot. But in the cold, cruel light of day, they're not, sorry.

And this kind of crap thinking is hardly unique to Bilerico.

Dont get me wrong, folks. I love sex. I have screaming orgasms with the best of them. It's about the greatest thing there is outside of looking at Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower while holding the hand of the person you love. But when we relentlessly bring sex down to the level of "Ooo! Look at William taking a whiz!", we might as well just order a blowjob from McDonalds. God bless the mighty Internet.

And I guess that makes me a prude, huh?

Again, just my 0.02. YRMV.

Contrary to what some think, the Mormon boys were not cute: they were average. The guys in the top right corner ads on the front page are only a very tiny step above complete sleaze. The only reason we froth mightily over them is because they're young and therefore, in some leap of logic, really, really hot. But in the cold, cruel light of day, they're not, sorry.

Isn't that really just a matter of taste?

I mostly feel that way about hetero-centric sites because the women they show pictures of aren't interesting to me because they're so very.... "men are dominant, women are submissive"...which I do find boring. I also find makeup and airbrushing to have a homogenizing effect, and also hits what I call the "reverse uncanny valley." (Uncanny Valley being a theory describing the point at which we reject robots that look nearly human as being impostors.)

But when it's pictures of queer women in queer themed images that don't resemble mannequins, that I find interesting.

And rare.

Maybe I just haven't been spoiled enough.

No, ma'am, they were hopelessly, utterly average, no different in any way from any of the countless variations on twink that fills the internet. They had nothing that made them stand out, save their Mormonism, which to be frank aint much of a draw if you're looking for a hot, sexy time.

As for the boys in the ads? No additional comment needed; the images speak for themselves. The "star" has only one theoretically stellar asset, a really big dick. Not much else, God knows. I'm sure he's a perfectly lovely person, but again if this is supposed to get me hot and bothered, I'd do better watching a LSU football game.

Actually, I agree with you on this one, Sean. But "Sorta average looking Mormon missionaries masturbating" just doesn't have the same ring, does it?

My neighbour Randy says that, given my dining restrictions, I should put up a pay-per-view webcam and call it "Gymbunny and his hot piece of chicken". No doubt it would make a fortune. :-)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 6, 2010 11:40 AM

I would like to see any proof whatsoever that these models were Mormon. I am sure they are not and cannot imagine a scenario where Mormon boys shave their pubes! This is a site for the excitement of twink/underage fans.

Again, how does this contribute to civil rights for LGBT persons? There is plenty o porn on the net. Why are you promoting this $ite?

Also - I forgot to mention this in my post.

This is a conversation we've had before. Read the previous post from 2008, if you'd like.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 6, 2010 11:59 AM

I loved Brynn Craffey's remark. Second to the last remark that was not TOS removed. How is Brynn doing since he stopped posting at Bilerico?

Thanks, Bil.
I know that I will never have complete agreement from my colleagues here, nor do I always have the same for them. That's true of any multi-contributor publication. But I respect the freedom that allows us all (contributors and commenters) to be heard and to respond to each other. That's the basis of any sound intellectual/experiential enterprise- exploration and consideration of all points of view
It's not about a uniform sense of professionality for me- it's about the amazing diversity of opinions, views and experiences that make up our world. Granted, some may make me uncomfortable, some may make me laugh, some cry, some bring anger and others titillate- but they're all real.

@Bil -

Thanks for bringing this up. This debate is fascinating to me for entirely different reasons. More interesting for me than the subject of David leaving over intellectual or moral differences, is the one around issue framing and what labels mean in our development as a community toward being truly liberated people.

Since Stonewall (GAA v. GLF) we've had an ongoing internal battle in our movement between "liberationists" and "assimilationists." Without taking sides, intellectually one must acknowledge that these community discussions have always been biased toward the liberationists argument -- framing an entire set of values as "liberation" and good and anything else as "assimilation" and bad.

I've come to believe that resorting to these terms is sophomoric at worst, Machiavellian at best -- and it's time we set them aside.

Neither are in and of themselves good or bad. It is up to each individual to decide that for themselves -- thus TRUE liberation is not bound to one set of values or another.

Forcing someone to accept your set of values to "fit in" is in and of itself -- TRUE assimilation.

In context of your argument, without making any judgment on the merits of being "sex positive" (which in itself is an inherently biased framing of a set of values), one has to see that David leaving the site over the issue is not an act of assimilation, but an act of liberation.

Let's look at MTV's Mike Manning -- openly bisexual -- Christian -- trying to define his core values for himself, instead of being pressured by the maintream or the LGBTQ community to assimilate to a pre-defined set of core values.

Isn't this the example of a true liberationist?

I'd love for you to continue this discussion, but at the very least, thank you for putting this out there.

Yours in the united stand for equality,

+ Phil
+ =

battybattybats battybattybats | April 6, 2010 9:16 PM

Ah but Phil, doesn't the act of challenging a bias against us in mainstream society make it inherantly hypocritical for us to then hold such comparable biases towards others that are equally as ethical and equally as hated? Or to fail to support the struggle against other such bias?

There is an equally valid way of looking at these issues:

Equal Consistent Rights For All Vs Gimme My Rights Not Yours

The first is internally consistent while the second dog-eat-dog version should be obviously self-invalidating yet is often held by those unwilling to think about the subject beyond their own reflexive prejudiced feellings, usually refusing to challenge them and instead defending them unexamined.


I don't see that as the same argument. We all have core values -- whatever they may be.

The terms "liberation" and "assimilation" are not based on what those core values are, but on how each individual is either honest or disingenuous in expressing them.

I know this may be difficult for many to understand, but it is as possible for someone to be a liberated bigot, as it is for another to be an assimilated supporter of full equality for all.

Yours in the united stand for equality,

+ Phil

PS: It's hard to receive insight or criticism on liberation or assimilation from anyone hiding behind an anonymous screen name.

battybattybats battybattybats | April 7, 2010 10:50 AM

Well Phil i don't 'hide' behind an anonymous screen-name.

Battybattybats combines parts of the two names chosen for me before birth and so represents my bi-gender identity. Along with other aspects of my at-birth legal name, since changed, that preserves part of my history. It's also a goth-name, part of my cultural identity. So beware of being transphobic and/or alterophobic let alone ignoring the human right to self identification.

You'll even find some of my human rights work under the name such as my participation in the HREOC/AHRC S&GD community consultation archived here: where my arguments along with others contributed to the reccomendations in the report which led to the first ever sex-not-specified identification document (currently still being fought over). Its what i use to blog too.

While other things including a guest-contribution here are under my current legal name Bayne MacGregor.

Now thats done, and i hope you'll be less presumptive about peoples screen-names and more considerate about the nature of their self-defined identities and cultural diversity in the future, let me point out that 'core values' if hyopcritical no matter how 'honest' one may define them remain hypocritical, unethical, self-refuting and hence valueless. Lacking cogency or integrity and to use the term from its usage in existentialism 'bad faith'.

There can be no claim upon any human rights, civil or political rights that are not based as an intrinsic requirement upon Equality. Even most fields of Ethics including Reciprocal Ethics which is in many aspects the very founding idea behind rights there is the core point of equality.

Now we can get into the semantics of the terminology for liberationism vs assimilationism as well as inconsistent arguments incorrectly made on either side though it's hardly required.

Most assimilationist arguments i've encountered involve defending and supporting inequality and unethical systems that are intrinsicly flawed. Thus most assimilationist arguments are hypocritical and self-refuting.

Much as po-mo has people wanting to claim all claims are equally true thats remains just tosh. Even when discussing existentialism the fact remains that even if all reality and other people were hallucination its the only reality we may interact with, it is explorable and measurable and with apparent objective internally-consistent reality measurable through our subjective experience so rationally even unable to prove it's existence we still rationally act as if it were so for all cause and effect follows its existence and none other.

So it remains to challenge the inequity placed on ones self one cannot then participate in, tolerate, support or passively allow inequity towards or experienced by others without that making valid the inequity that prior existed over ones self, without invalidating it's challenge, without hypocracy.

People think queers are sex-obsessed psychopaths.

Maybe we are.

Clarknt67 | April 6, 2010 1:46 PM

I think it's great for you to take the pulse of your readership and invite a conversation. At the end of the day, it's YOUR BLOG, and it's quite successful.

Workplace access is a concern for many, there was a good suggestion upthread about offering a choice for full-experience vs. NSFW-filtered, that might be a good idea to explore.

I think your success speaks for itself and you should trust your own instincts. I find it odd another blogger would use shaming language to expect you to conform your blog to his expectations. There are many, many different blog experiences people can choose from, I see no reason they should all conform to some individual's definition of what are the hallmarks of credibility. The credit of your credible work stands on it's own.

I don't think that having sexual content (especially the variety that has run on Bilerico) implies a lack of integrity at all. To suggest so buys into a moralistic hetero-normative mindset that condemns all sex (especially gay sex) and discounts the validity of sex in the public sphere.

It strikes me that gay people just don't like it that their spokespersons have sex. Look at Dustin Lance Black... there he is, the golden boy of Milk, speaking out for gay rights and everyone loves him until his bareback fuck pics hit the web. Then all of a sudden he's a bad role model and a slut for doing something that ALL OF OUR PARENTS DID (re: unprotected sex).

Keep in mind, in the beginning, The Advocate ran lots of sex ads, a majority of its ads were for sex lines and services. Now, despite its declining quality, it still stands as one of the most important mainstream gay publications of all time. It couldn't and wouldn't have gotten there without running sex ads.

They're just advertisements and (especially on the web) the advertisers do not control content as in print. Somehow washing sex out of the equation really castrates gays to do something most Americans refuse to... to be honest about our sexual lives without shame or disgust. In this way, I think LGBTs have as much to offer in terms of sexual revolution as our female predecessors.

Bilerico's writing speaks for itself and to suggest that it is somehow tainted or made to have less integrity by acknowledging gay desire via content and sexual ads is a false supposition that's ignorant at best.

I wish there was a "like" button here.

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What's sad, Mr. Whatever, is someone who makes comments like these under the guise of a pseudonym. If you're going to call someone a douche, have the courtesy and integrity of doing so under your own name. Otherwise, you're just a waste of space.

It's a well-known concept and the LGBTQI population is guilty of is, just as many different groups are. We're human.

However, one does have to face reality. If a site that's dedicated to fighting for equality for a group of people who are constantly marginalized as "perverts" (hateful and wrong as that is), having links to porn sites (call it beauty or whatever) isn't helping.

If you don't like that, then it's a bigger issue than just LGBT rights. It's an issue of society's view of sex. But it's there and you have to deal with it. Reality. Unfair, yes. But so what?

I participated in this pole and after reading both sides I stand by my choice. I tried to justify Bilerico's stance with the fact that the Village Voice has an ad section littered with sex hotlines and "escort" ads. But the Voice isn't the New York Times. In the end, what would you rather be? How far do you wanna go? Because in the end, regardless of how sex positive you try to be, society is very prudish and being "sex positive" will limit how far you will be accepted. That's goes double for those of us who identify as LGBT. I don't agree with it, I don't like it, but it's a harsh reality I had to learn to accept when working in a mixed or corporate environment where you are forced to deal with the rest of "society". People have a very unhealthy attitude towards sex and I don't see that changing any time soon.

peter abbott | April 8, 2010 11:51 AM

Dear Bil, I feel sorry for you.
You are defending the decision to keep the colorful Bilerico 'sex positive'. However the piece on Hot Mormon Boys was was not even that. It was trash. Vulgar, it reminded me of my former life in South Florida. So very unsexy, like the lap-dancers in Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando. Such trash, so degrading.
I'm glad I live in the West now.
Pete Abbott

Look, if Bilerico didn't publish posts that "tended toward pop culture, humor, or scrapbook-like tidbits of LGBT history," then I would have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to blog about. :)

Sure, I've written my fair share of "meaty" posts for the site, but I generally try to keep things light. It's the Bilerico mix of heavy and light that makes it what it is. (Wait a minute--why does it sound like I'm describing menstruation?)

The subtitle of this site is "Daily Experiments in LGBTQ," not "Daily Experiments in Very Serious, Highly Intellectual, No-Shirtless-Pics-Allowed, Grumpypants LGBTQ."

I'm just sayin'.

Peter Monn and Alex Paredes Peter Monn and Alex Paredes | April 10, 2010 8:03 PM

We often get questioned why we become friends with porn stars or why we write about them and interview them...well, lets educate. Most gay porn stars are extremely active in gay politics and the gay community, not to mention, whether people want to discuss it or not, they reach a much larger quantity of people. Not only that, but we find them interesting and a little mysterious so people listen...Drag queens and porn stars have more of a following in the gay community than any other gay celebrity, journalist or politician. As sad as that may be, they are human beings, they have a voice and thank God they're here! Wake up...they hold a lot of power!

I will not delve into the morality and ethics of posting sexual images on Bilerico and elsewhere, however I would like to add this.

One of the reason's why I love being a gay man is due to the fact that I do not have to be restricted to the mundane, masculine, "politically correct" lifestyle. Sex is a part of my life, and I have no reason to shun it. Does this mean that I will go posting nude photographs on my blog? No. Then again, it would not be appropriate, as my site is more action/outreach oriented. I believe that the 'Mormon Boyz' article was not misplaced.

Sex is a part of our culture, and we are not restricted to the limits of prior generations on this issue. It is important that we keep this an open discussion, and keep sex an open discussion as well. Would I approve of HRC, or Get EQUAL posting nude images (or half nude) on the site, no. That is an outreach mechanism. Bilerico, to my knowledge, has very limited straight readership. Though I could be wrong on that. Bilerico delves into all the realities and issues that we face as a community. It is hardly a gossip mag, nor "Foreign Policy." I hope it stay's that way.

Thank you Bil, and the many amazing contributors, for creating a place where as you stated, all things queer can be discussed, openly.

Serving With Pride,
Eric Williams
AKA Just-a-Joe