IT’S MORE THAN PORN: HOW TUMBLR HELPED ME DISCOVER MY SEXUAL IDENTITY

IT’S MORE THAN JUST PORN: HOW TUMBLR HELPED ME DISCOVER MY SEXUAL IDENTITY

As Tumblr released its new guidelines, Arthur Deweer (24) shares his thoughts and feelings about the extreme censorship the platform will from now on enforce. To Arthur and a lot of others, Tumblr was a place of (sexual) freedom, and these new rules feel like a slap in the face. And not in the way you might like.

A step backwards

Arthur: I woke up tonight at 3am after a bad dream. Restless, I opened Tumblr on my phone to have a wank and set my mind at ease, as one does.

Instead of the usual endless stream of pictures of dirty sneakers and cumdump parties, I found my fetish community in a frenzy because of an announcement Tumblr had just made. As from December 17, Tumblr will change its content guidelines, basically banning all adult content. More precisely; photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts.”

This comes just two weeks after the Tumblr app was made unavailable in iOS’s App Store because child pornography was found on some Tumblr blogs.

According to them they made this decision because;

We’ve realized that in order to continue to fulfill our promise and place in culture, especially as it evolves, we must change. Some of that change began with fostering more constructive dialogue among our community members. Today, we’re taking another step by no longer allowing adult content, including explicit sexual content and nudity (with some exceptions).”

Also;

without this content we have the opportunity to create a place where more people feel comfortable expressing themselves.“

 Now, I won’t go into why the reasons Tumblr gives are complete bullshit, or why they are bowing down to big money personified by Verizon aka Yahoo, and Apple. I won’t explain to you why it’s completely hypocritical to only ban female-presenting nipples (there are thousands of good articles on that, if you want to read more, just google). And I think I also don’t need to explain why the ‘cultural change’ Tumblr is supposedly aiding, is not progressive, but rather a step backwards.

Instead I want to tell you what Tumblr has meant to me over the past 8 or so years. I hope it will help you understand what the importance of off-line and on-line safe spaces can be for many minorities and people of diverse backgrounds, and I sincerely wish that you realize we can’t just sit back and let mainstream ideologies take them away from us.

Tumblr, steady partner

Apart from a short phase when I was 15 where I idolized clean-shaven skinny twinks with lollipops in brightly-colored bedrooms and aspired to be like them (never succeeded), my sexual interests could never be considered the norm.

It started with BDSM and submissive feelings at 17. Then my huge daddy-issues came into play and never really left me since. I gravitated towards older men with bigger and hairier bodies and unusually strong and confident minds. Then came leather at about age 18, and a year later rubber was the main focus of my sexual fantasies. There was piss play, gimp tendencies, fisting, sex in heels and nail polish. I tried chems, group sex, saunas, darkrooms, chastity, and so much more. The past two years have been mostly sneakers and dirty sports socks. Very recently my interest was piqued by women’s underwear.

The only constant factor in this long and broad process of discovery was Tumblr. No matter how weird or niche my fantasies were, Tumblr offered me blogs curated by people who felt the same way as I did. It brought me community after community after community where acceptance was the norm and no-one was judged for their thoughts. Though I almost never met anyone from Tumblr in real life, I felt strengthened in my pursuit of these interests in the real world by knowing that I was not alone. There were other people like me out there!

Can you imagine what might have happened to me and countless others if we wouldn’t have had Tumblr?

The ultimate online safe space

It would have been an ‘only gay in the village’ story. I would not have found like-minded people, and certainly not in these vast numbers. I probably would have wondered what was wrong with me. I might have grown ashamed of who I was and what I felt, started suppressing genuine impulses. I consider it a realistic probability that I would never have known sexual fulfilment to the extent that I enjoy today.

True, there are other platforms out there, porn sites, Twitter, dating apps, etc. But none of them can take the place of Tumblr. A lot of coincidental factors that were never meant to create the Tumblr that has developed over the past 11 years, like a hard-to-describe kind of anonymity, its truly global reach, and a progressive user base, have made it the ultimate online safe space. It is at the same time a 21st century internet giant, as well as a private meeting-place for the outcasts, the self-proclaimed sodomites and jezebels, the weird and queer kids, and the outside-of-the-box artists and creators of our world. It was perfect for experimenting with new ideas and maintaining an open exchange about identity. Tumblr was the kooky kid of the class. But now it has joined the ranks of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

And that saddens me.

Not just for me. I’ll be fine. With the help of Tumblr and its fetish communities I have grown to be confident in my sexual identity. I now know that it is not perverse or sinful or wrong to prefer unusual expressions of sexuality. I will continue to explore whatever I’m drawn towards. I have forged some great friendships and I will stay in touch with these people even after Tumblr ceases to exist (which it inevitably will, now that it has alienated 90% of its frequent users).

It saddens me for the young people of today. In a world where increasingly powerful mega-companies institute ever more backwards community guidelines, and where algorithms dictate what content we see, where will these kids find support for their beautifully crazy ideas? It chills me to the core to imagine that we, the 90’s kids, will be the only generation to have experienced the amazing possibilities of the internet, without censorship, big money interests, and government restrictions.

This is about more than just porn. With one decision, Tumblr managed to erase a worldwide sexual safe space. And where to go now to find distraction after a bad dream?

featured image via wersm.com

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