CondomMany gay men enjoy watching “bareback” porn featuring sex without condom use, but worry about the possible effects on sexual behaviour, according to a new study. However, the men surveyed attributed these effects more to other gay men than to themselves, seeing others as more easily influenced.

The research was presented at the 2nd International Conference for the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV in Paris earlier this month by Sharif Mowlabocus of the University of Sussex, who held focus group discussions with 50 men who have sex with men.

The study noted many participants had a narrow definition of “bareback”, with many arguing only scenes involving a significant power differential between partners qualified for the label, such as different ethnic groups, ages or dominant/submissive relationships.

Participants found bareback porn more “exciting” and “authentic” than porn with condom use, but had trouble separating their enthusiasm from their concerns the porn could encourage others not to use condoms. Most argued they were able to separate the “fantasy” of porn from reality better than other men, who they saw as vulnerable to its influence.

Condom use was absent from gay pornography pre-AIDS, but became standard during the 1980s. Beginning as a niche in the late-1990s, bareback porn was met with widespread criticism in the gay community but has now become more common.

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