Flesh as a Colour

Self-porn and the brown gay male body
By Arif Noorani and kevin d*souza

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plot 1

It's inappropriate to talk in a bathhouse.

it's well past midnight. I'm ready to leave, twelve dollars for a locker, wasted, my feet ache for I've circled the corridors sixteen times and peeked into every open room, not much really, two snow white calvin-boys, one gymbo and one snooty asian. their eyes don't acknowledge my anonymous existence, three married-looking-business-men-whose-wives-don't-know and one arcane chutney chaser, none of whom really interest me. what's more the towel I've rented hardly fits around my tired brown body which I make a great effort to camouflage.

then i sight him. the classification processs is immediate: mexican? brazilian? indian? his brown eyes manage to clarify intentions, he beckons to my rented room, the connection is made, he knocks, i let him in. my skin hunger seeks instant nourishment, hand on body on lips on hand, he enters quickly and my shy body becomes language—babu english? dangling modifiers, exploding exclamation marks! squirming comas, italics mine, his fingers extend over my words, across margins uncovering my hidden volume, my own teeth hold his tongue close, preventing translations, suddenly, without informing he withdraws before exploding. A master of symbolism, in exchange i offer a moan, not a word spoken.

it is now ten past three.

The men I cannot be I name vain.

Their muscular chests, rippled abdomens, bulging biceps, throbbing triceps, turgid quads; All these over-developed bodies make me dogmatic: Oppression occurs when the physical body is co-opted to be a resource for domination. I repeat. At night I fantasize about what my ethics will permit without guilt. I conjure up these bodies in my mind while I trust my hands on my cock. At night, the men I cannot be, I do.

for me the behavior of fucking has always been inextricably bound to power/violence/ possession/

violation. One of the reasons for this is that my notions of fucking and subsequently my fantasies have always taken cue from a reality that is based in male heterosexuality. It is expected that if you're a man then you fuck. And if you don't fuck then you're not a man. And fucking has always meant claiming possession over property, over the other.

plot 2

relinquishing control

We are together in the parliament building, rocky mountains, corporate headquarters, park, kitchen.

You can be the reform politician, RCMPofficer, business man, brother. I will be the immigrant, arrested activist, nir, father.

I will be the immigrant, arrested activist, night-cleaner, brother-in-law, father's best friend.

We are alone, we are begin watched.

You beg me to rim, rape, fuck, bind, fist you.

I refuse, react, comply, deny, oblige.

We keep going until you are satisfied, exhausted,

exhilarated, bleeding, wasted, spent.

We then switch roles and start over.

I have always hated my body. The roll of fat around my waist has been an embarrassment, a bit too much flesh for this Ultra Slim Fast world. Going through the gay phone-cruise-lines, I omit myself from many live one-on-one connections. Hi guys. Hard bodied white male looking for slim Asian man... (skip) My interests are going to the gym and... going to the gym. (skip) Hot top, 81/2 inches uncut looking for submissive muscular bottom, (skip) Looking for a guy with a smooth toned hairless body (skip).

Same here, i have learned to dislike my body ever since i started developing a sense of body awareness. Intellectually i know why. My mind understands the theories, attributing it to being different. Not just being brown but being too skinny; Not being buffed, muscular, prairie-grown or grain-fed; Not occupying enough space as a "man"; Attributing it to racism, white supremacy, sexism, etc. But, my physical body does not respond to this logic, i've discovered that my physical body needs to be actively involved in creating myself (and other brown men) as desirable. Hence using video, photography, paint, text, etc, to create tangible evidence of our sexual existance. It may seem trite, simple and even self-indulgent but, it works and that's what matters.

We want to see ourselves in media/print/ TV in positions not generally afforded to brown queer men: raunchy, sexy, romantic, cheezy... putting our own queer men: raunchy, sexy, romantic, cheezy...putting South Asian boyz in the scene. Living out our fantasies, re-casting low-grade porn with our own bodies.

Fairy tales really—not just the Fairy tales really—not just the sexy ones but the ones about liberations, a new life, a different existence—can come true. The world is not unshakeable, unbreakable. We can remake it to fit the pictures in our head.

Very True. It's then about my body needing to inventing itself (and other men of colour). Documenting my own brown male queer reality through self-pornography. A different kind of self-assertion. A way of making space for reflection: This is me. This is assertion. A way of making space for reflection: This is me. This is my body. This body for itself.

It is different from "mainstream" gay porn which is about repetition and unadulterated masculinity. I remember freeze-framing a scene where two men kissed. This brief intimacy, not the torrent of blow jobs and ass fucking, intensified my longing.

In my view all porn is about objectifying— about big dicks, tight asses, hard bodies. So porn with black/brown men follows suit— about dark meat, exotic locales—fetishizing our ethnicity, our body parts become the modern-day spice trade.

At first glance, the images we are creating don't seem so different but it's the process not just the final product that counts. We are forced to confront our own issuues: low self esteem about the size, colour, shape and look of our bodies.

What turns us on? Is the representation of
"Do I face racism?" a white gay lawyer,
'the other' always about repressed aspects of self?
specializing in corporate/consumer relations asks me.
Is the other both an object of desire and contempt?
No comment.

"Will you be my boy", he murmurs into my ear.
This (my) body and identity is only understood
we both grope each other at the porno bar.
from outside as produced in relation to difference
me: 22 him: 30-something.
because this, (my) body is constructed in the language "are you into role playing?"
of the colonial state. However, this (my) body has created
says another guy.
a language of its own. It transgresses its prescribed
"I want you to be my younger brother,
socio-cultural inscriptions to reveal dark & chaotic
or high school chum."
interiors desires. It has the potential to betray and disrupt.

bad art? most pornography comprises of low budget production and hack Freudian psychoanalytical narratives about desire and conquest.

However, it is not the images themselves but how the images are contextualized and decoded by a range of viewers that constitutes the 'pornographic'

plot 3

the performance

turn over, he ordered, rubbed my thighs with lube, his cock slid between my thighs, "my fantasy is to be with two dark men," he says. I was only one—I imagined a friend in for the ride. "I'm gonna push it in hard." Push it it where? Between my thighs? He imagine-fucks me, I moan along with the thrusts. I hope he is enjoying this. His cabbage breath blows into my ear, turning my room into a compost bin. Afterwards, he asks me if I speak Hindi...or Punjabi. "No" I say, "Only English and a bit of French & Spanish." "Qu'est-ce que tu fait maintenant," he says, trying to test me. "Au revoir," I respond shutting the door behind him.

As it has been said & heard before, although gay porno may look like het porn it is not necessarily used in the same way nor does it have the same social effects. To straight viewers some gay male porno, may seem misogynistic in that is often contains derogatory references to "feminized" male. It is usually these males who get "fucked", And getting "fucked" equals being a women. But, that is only because the straight viewer bring to it his notions of sexual roles of power & powerlessness that have been defined by patriarchal society.

To a gay viewer these images are not a one way transaction: between the gay man and the object (i,e the one getting fucked); For many gay men there is often a switching that happens. From identifying with the "bottom" and the "top" and vice versa. This switching of identification is fluid and changing and hence works at depolarizing the heterosexual binary of "masculine" and "feminine", tops and bottoms.

Where does racism fit into the picture?

This is a tricky question. Most of the gay porno has been created by white men for white men. The obvious is that I am not allowed into that space except as an object.

What's confusing is that at times I am angry at the production of images of brown/black men by white men and at other times I am so turned on by them. At these instances the question arises: do i want to do these men or be these men? And if I want to be these men am I operating from a colonial mind set?

And then there is the reality...even if I do find South Asian men sexy its hard making connections. There seems to be a missing sense of solidarity among South Asian brown men. Unlike the shared nods, knowing glances and sense of brotherhood common among black men. It seems that by acknowledging each other, South Asian men will lose their honorary place in the white gay community. Their self-identification suddenly illuminating their skin colour for all the world to see.

Excited as I approach a man of colour acknowledging our need to connect, belong, form some type of community. But, my longing more often than not is met with a turned head . I want to yell, "Hey, aren't we family?" instead I remain silent.

It is about sex because we are queer.

It is here because we are bodyphobic

Frieze and handprint design by Sherazad Jamal.
Redux Handprint
Arif Noorani
Arif Noorani was past festival co-ordinator for Desh Pardesh in Toronto.
No image provided
kevin d*souza is a cultural activist and videomaker. He lives in Toronto.
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Britannia Art Gallery
Britannia Art Gallery
Bookhug Press
Bookhug Press
Plantation Memories
Plantation Memories
Alternator Centre