Queer Cultures in Digital Asia| Digital Sexual Publics: Understanding Do-It-Yourself Gay Porn and Lived Experiences of Sexuality in China
This article puts forward “digital sexual publics” as an interpretive framework through which to understand do-it-yourself porn production and consumption practices that have recently proliferated on domestic and international digital platforms in China. Drawing on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 12 Chinese porn producers and consumers, we explore the relationship between digital media use and lived experiences of sexuality. We identify three characteristics of digital sexual publics. The first is a hybridity of media, where “old” and “new” digital technologies coexist to produce an array of sexual representations that creatively negotiate with censorship. The second is the emergence of a truly “digital” intimacy that produces flexible public spaces to embody queer desires. The third is the digital sexual publics’ ambivalent politics that at once transform sexual identities and constrain sexual imaginaries. Through these discussions, we direct attention to the situatedness of lived experiences of sexuality and advance the agenda of Asian porn studies by changing the focus from the existence and political significance of sexually explicit media to the transformations they bring to individual lives.