Last weekend I spoke at Williams College in Queer as Porn: Film Screening & Lecture with Genderqueer Pornstar Jiz Lee. The talk was part of the Mike Dively Committee Twentieth Anniversary Celebration, which is funded from an endowment intended “to develop an understanding of human sexuality and sexual orientation and their impact on culture.”

Fox News was tipped onto the event, and the resulting media buzz pushed various anti-porn agendas and also overshadowed a hate crime experienced by a queer student on campus earlier that week, yet another example of why it is necessary to have safe spaces and events for LGBT. Judging from the Fox report, which actually did seem “fair and balanced”, and the students interviewed articulated some pretty open-minded responses.

Is it appropriate to talk about porn in an academic setting on human sexuality?

Of course it is! Particularly when you consider that society’s lack of cohesive sex education has positioned pornography in an awkward role of substitute teacher. When we don’t have any other explicit sexual information, we turn to porn for examples. And when porn has a limited view of what sex looks like, it starts to define our notions of who has sex, what kind of sex they have, etc… and we don’t see ourselves reflected as sexual beings. This is why I find queer porn valuable, and why I was asked to speak.

Here is the Fox News Article, and the similar story picked up by MSN.com. While Daily Mail UK first incorrectly posted me as a transgender woman, they have since corrected my pronouns, which feels like a small victory in itself.

Adult Video News (AVN) also interviewed me about the appearance, and for the first time in my porn career, the major industry publication used my preferred gender pronouns. I responded extensively: AVN Interviews Jiz Lee About Recent College Appearance.

As to be expected, a number of conservative blogs, including G.O.P. USA, picked up the story. While I find the articles interesting studies on sex shaming and queer-phobia, it did hurt to see these publications post my image and use my sexuality as a platform for entertainment based upon fear and shame. After some consideration I’ve decided to not link to any article that disrespects my gender or sexual identity. As queers, it’s not worth our energy to be brought down by ignorance and negativity.

I personally prefer to focus on progression, and overall, I’d say the event was a positive one that helped to validate many student’s identities and allowed for one-on-one and follow-up emails on questions about queer topics, and on a broader level, resulted in major media using the term genderqueer and respecting gender-neutral pronouns. The college reacted in a way that is to be commended, ensuring (quite literally) a safe space and committing to education through challenging programs that encourage dialogue.

In response to the controversy surrounding the event, Williams students wrote a phenomenal editorial piece We Will Not Be Silenced, in The Williams Record. It is a definite must-read and a future I’m proud to be a part of.