Led by Dr João Florêncio (Art History and Visual Culture; Exeter Masculinities Research Unit) and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through a 24-month Leadership Fellows grant (2019-2021), Masculinities and the Ethics of Porosity in “Post-AIDS” Gay Porn theorises gay “pig” masculinities and their visual mediation, which emerged in the last two decades in tandem with the introduction of antiretroviral therapies for the management and prevention of HIV infection. It does so through a close critical engagement with representations of “pig” masculinities in contemporary gay pornography, interviews with gay men who identify as “pigs” in London, Berlin, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and archival work at the Bishopsgate Institute (UK), the Schwules* Museum (DE), the ONE Archives (USA), and the Tom of Finland Foundation (USA).

“Pig” is a term used by some gay men to self-define themselves in terms of their own sexual practices, which they regard as transgressive, pushing the limits of the body and of its integrity through relentless condomless penetrations, stretching of the rectal sphincter, and exchanges of all kinds of bodily fluids (sperm, urine, saliva, etc). It is used in the names of hookup websites directed at gay men into fetish or “extreme” sex (e.g. NastyKinkPigs.com or AssPig.com) and often included, as a pig head or snout emoji, on usernames or profile text on gay hookup apps like Grindr, Scruff or Recon. It is also a term that, alongside “bareback,” has been appearing in increasing numbers of gay porn titles since the mid 1990s. What is interesting about gay “pig” masculinities are the ways in which they appear to be predicated on a transgression of the boundaries of the male body, a blurring of inside and outside, self and other, through the pursuit of relentless penetrations and exchanges of bodily fluids. Unlike hegemonic forms of Western masculinity, which have been shaped by a rejection of all things considered “feminine,” including penetrability, gay “pigs” appear to become more “manly” the more penetrated and open to foreign bodily fluids they are.

The introduction of Highly-Active Antiretroviral Therapies (HAART) and viral load testing in 1996 made HIV infection a long- term chronic condition and led to a radical transformation in the lives, identities and sexual practices of gay men. Not only did HAART make HIV infection no longer progress to AIDS but it also makes HIV-positive individuals uninfectious. More recently, the confirmation of HAART’s efficiency as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) also means that those who are HIV- negative and having sex without condoms can prevent HIV infection by taking one pill a day. As a consequence, unprotected sex has been uncoupled from the spectre of AIDS and the number of gay men engaging in “barebacking”-that is, in intentional condomless anal sex-has risen exponentially, leading the practice to become mainstream. At the same time, bareback porn has also become the fastest growing genre of gay porn and, today, only a very small minority of studios continue to make visible use of condoms.

It is in that context that gay “pig” masculinities have emerged and become visible in gay online platforms and pornography. This research project will lead to the first monograph and documentary feature film critically discussing “pig” masculinities and their sexual ethics at length. Taking on a speculative research methodology (Wilkie, Savransky and Rosengarten, 2017) and drawing from porn studies, masculinities studies and the posthumanities, it theorises “pig” masculinities as porous threshold masculinities that simultaneously reiterate and trouble hegemonic traits of Western masculinity whilst pushing the limits of the body and opening themselves to new forms of sexual sociability and modes of communion.

In so doing, the project aims to contribute to existing critical histories of sexuality, subjectivities, and their visual representations by examining a contemporary form of gay male self-identification, one that is emerging in “post-AIDS” contexts through a complex interplay of desire, sexual performance, biochemical technologies, and 21st-century visual media.


31 August–11 September 2020


BOOK Preview


Bareback Porn, Porous Masculinities, Queer Futures: The Ethics of Becoming-Pig (Routledge, 2020) analyses contemporary gay “pig” masculinities, which have emerged alongside antiretroviral therapies, online porn, and new sexualised patterns of recreational drug use, examining how they trouble modern European understandings of the male body, their ethics, and their political underpinnings.

This is the first book to reflect on an increasingly visible new form of sexualised gay masculinity, and the first monograph to move debates on condomless sex amongst gay men beyond discourses of HIV and/or AIDS. It contributes to existing critical histories of sexuality, pornography and other sex media at a crucial juncture in the history of gay male sex cultures and the HIV epidemic. The book draws from fieldwork, interviews, archival research, visual analysis, philosophy, queer theory, and cultural studies, using empirical, critical, and speculative methodologies to better think gay “pig” masculinities across their material, affective, ethical and political dimensions, in a future-oriented, politically-inflected, reflection on what queer bodies may become.

Spanning historical context to empirical and theoretical study, Bareback Porn, Porous Masculinities, Queer Futures will be of key interest to academics and students in sexuality studies, film, media, visual culture, cultural studies, and porn studies concerned with masculinities, sex and sexualities and their circulation across an array of media.

The full book is available for purchase through Routledge, with individual chapters also available via Taylor & Francis eBooks.


In his study of the abject use to which bodies are joyously put by gay male sex pigs, João Florêncio extends the future-oriented strand of queer theory in new directions and toward “unknown islands” of “unforeseen pleasures,” by suggesting that such horizons of queer masculine self-invention and solidarity might be located no place other than right there in the trough.

John Paul Ricco, author of The Logic of the Lure; and The Decision Between Us(both University of Chicago Press), and Professor of Queer Theory, Art History, and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.

Instead of investing in the over-codifications that were made in the bareback studies, in which these seminal exchanges are taken as kinship relations, Florêncio takes a more interesting and productive path in which he perceives a certain gift relation in the exchanges and pig interactions. For the author, in the pig universe, ‘communitas is fundamentally about owing something to the other, about an unconditional duty of giving’ (p. 141), closer to the Maussian idea, therefore, of a sacrifice that generates an exchange.

Victor Hugo de Souza Barreto, NORMA: International Journal for Masculinities Studies, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/18902138.2021.1890508


Featuring interviews recorded in Los Angeles and Berlin in 2019/20, the experimental documentary short OINK! offers a portrait of gay men who—in different ways—relate to the gay “pig” sexual imaginary. It provides insight into their experiences of identity, masculinity, community, belonging, sexual pleasure and intimacy, as they are co-shaped and framed by 21st-century media.

The film had its theatrical premiere in November 2020 in London at Fringe!, which was followed by a roundtable discussion on “Gay Sex and the Pandemic,” chaired by Dr João Florêncio and featuring Suzie Krueger (founder of sex clubs FIST and Hard On), John Thomas (adult performer), and Dr Elliot Evans (Lecturer in French Studies, Gender and Sexuality at the University of Birmingham).

OINK! has also been been produced as a 3-channel, 5.1 sound, immersive video installation available for screening in gallery settings.


If you are a festival, cinema, gallery, or any other cultural or community organisation and would like to consider showing the film or the installation, please do contact us to request a screener and technical specs.



Producer: João Florêncio
Director: Rob Eagle
Cinematographer: Rufai Ajala
Editor: Liz Rosenfeld
Music: Liam Byrne
sound: João Florêncio
Sound Mixing: Dominic Deane
Colour grading: JACK OFFORD
Assistant Producer: Ben Miller

World Premiere Partner: