The First Time I Saw Myself Represented In Porn, I Knew Change Was Coming

Putting our queer pleasure out into the world felt like an act of rebellion.

The First Time I Saw Myself Represented In Porn, I Knew Change Was Coming

The First Time I Saw Myself Represented In Porn, I Knew Change Was Coming

Published on
June 28, 2022
Updated on
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Medically Reviewed by
3 minute read

My partner and I were two baby queers barely old enough to make our way into The Lexington Club, the San Francisco divey dyke bar in the Mission District. It was the early aughts and The Lex was the place to be. A small dark womb, smelling of beer and sex, that cocooned our emerging identities in queer community, endless dance parties, and chosen family.  But that night, we stayed home. Curled up with our cats in our Castro apartment. We popped in the well-worn VHS tape that we had managed to get our hands on — Sugar High Glitter City. 

Sugar High Glitter City was unlike any porn we’d seen before. 

Sugar High Glitter City was a queer sci-fi erotic film produced and directed by Shar Rednour and Jack Strano of S.I.R Productions in 2001. The film was the first of its kind to gain recognition by the mainstream adult film industry long before “queer porn” was a genre and garnering a 2001 AVN Award.

Our mouths dropped wide opened as we watched the erotic imagery imprint on our hungry queer hearts.  What we saw before us was different from anything we had seen before. The closest thing that we had seen to queer porn was gay male porn — an arousing expression of queerness but not a reflection of our own desires. But this was different.  

So many identities and expressions were represented — including ours. 

Dykes and drag kings, gender queers, high femmes, butches and babes, the fantastical story line of sugar starved dykes wove together the identities, gender expressions, sexual desire and radical queerness of our community in one gritty glittery tapestry of erotic cinema.

H squeezed me tight and whispered in my ear in utter disbelief, “Isn’t that Andie?”

I squinted my eyes and examined the performer carefully, “Oh my gosh! I think it is!” These were the dykes from the neighborhood. Their bodies were beautiful maps full of stories and curves and imperfections that glistened as they climaxed with vibrators and strap-ons. 

The porn we’d been used to felt shame-based. 

We had been packaged with the idea that porn was just another four letter word; a byproduct of societies puritanical views of pleasure, intimacy and sex.  The porn we were used to was simply fodder for the sex/shame cycle that dictated how we were taught to engage with porn. 

  1. Consume in private, quietly, quickly, and cum.
  2. Tell no one.
  3. Wear a robe of shame in knowing what you’ve done.

Sugar High Glitter City was different. 

The film showed us that porn could be something completely different.  It was a potent medium, a vast medium. The only medium that documented the graphic expressions of sexual desire and pleasure. And the most highly stigmatized because of that fact.  But whose sexual desire was being documented was what interested me.  

Seeing ourselves represented was powerful and validating. 

Whether it was finally recognizing ourselves and our desires poetically woven into the lyrics of an Ani DiFranco cassette tape or crushing on Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall in But I’m a Cheerleader.  Porn could have a similar, and even more, potent effect. Afterall, in porn, there was no hiding, or implying — our sex, our desire, our pleasure was filmed in its entirety without censorship, without apology. 

It showed us our sexuality MATTERS

Our sexuality mattered. It needed to be visible and not hidden, putting our queer pleasure out into the world was an act of rebellion that carved out space for our existence. Porn held a container of permission for queer fledglings to know it’s ok. Affirming our existence and the knowledge that we are beautiful and the way we love is beautiful.  Your pleasure and desire is beautiful. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.  

We knew it was just the beginning 

Getting my hands sticky with the saccharine sweetness of Sugar High Glitter City was just the beginning of my journey into the treasure trove of feminist and queer porn that been just out of reach. From the pioneering work of Annie Sprinkle and Candida Royalle to inky pages of On Our Backs magazine. . 

Later, we were featured on the cover of the first women-run erotic magazine.  

On Our Backs magazine was the first woman-run erotica magazine and the first magazine to feature queer women erotica for a primarily queer women audience. On Our Backs was founded by Debi Sundahl and Myrna Elana and edited by such sexual luminaries as Susie Bright, Tristan Taormino, Shar Rednour, and Diana Cage. 

In 2004, H and I had the honor of gracing the cover of On Our Backs. I wore a black bra and a ripped hot pink lace slip with fishnets.  With in the pages of the magazine, black and white images captured H’s big brown eyes looking up at me, our love, our relationship, our fucking and our pleasure documented and in print. 

I was inspired to make the kind of porn I wanted to see. 

Pioneering works like Sugar High Glitter City and On Our Backs magazine inspired me to pick up the camera and keep blazing new trails within erotic film and in the past few years into the world of television.  Creating, participating, and teaching others how to hack away at sexual stigma with the chisel of queer and feminist pornography became a mission of mine that spanned nearly two decades.  

As queer culture, community and pleasure continue to expand and evolve, there will always be more to say and our stories will always be an essential component of each and every canon of media  — including pornography.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Madison Young is sexual revolutionary who has been smashing stigma in the media for two decades, and across multiple mediums and platforms including several critically-acclaimed books, their one womxn off-Broadway show, Reveal All Fear Nothing, and directing, hosting and producing the documentary television series, Submission Possible, for Revry TV.

Young brings their 18 years of experience as a pioneer in the feminist porn movement, along with their award-winning filmmaking and writing talents, to create in a way that reflects the emotional nuance and authentic vulnerability that has become a signature of Young’s work.

Young has been featured on HBO’s Real Sex and has been profiled for their expertise in feminism, erotic film and sexuality on Dateline NBC, MTV, Slutever on Viceland, Bravo TV, Alicia Menendez Tonight on Fusion TV, Canal Plus, The New York Times, Savage Love, BBC, Elle Magazine, and Elite Daily just to name a few.

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