I don’t hurt other men.
When I see another male body I do not see something that must be maimed, brutalized or annihilated.
I have no wish to cause him suffering. I have no interest in bruising his flesh or drawing blood from his veins.
Equally, I have no desire to rape women. Nor do I care to engage in any conversation involving the domination and ownership of her body against her will. I do not view her body as property.
For these reasons, there are some in society who still believe that I deserve to be punished.
Because within the confines of a rigidly patriarchal system I am the ultimate aberration:
I am a man who loves other men, and in such a system this fact, above all else, cannot be stood for.
Growing up, I quickly learned that all reward was to be attained through the dominance and/or destruction of other males.
Through competition, through war, through violence.
That was what it meant to be a man.
This message was reiterated time and time again by society, by the media and unknowingly, by parents who did the best they could with the information that they had.
I was born in the 1980’s, at the height of the AIDS crisis.
All those images of young gay men, wasting away in hospital beds and covered in lesions are still seared into my subconscious all these years later.
This, it seemed, was the outcome of living your authentic self as a gay man.
This was what we deserved, or so the media would so subtly have had us believe at the time.
And so on some level, even though I was still a small child, this was the future I had more or less resigned myself to.
And although I experienced the war from a distance, I did not fight it.
By the time I came of age, integrase inhibitors had already been introduced, largely lessening the sting of the era.
I cannot express the degree of reverence in which I hold the generation of gay men who came before me, fighting my battles so that I wouldn’t have to.
And even through all of this, in the fantasy world of gay porn these men still kissed fearlessly, they still fucked fearlessly.
They were not disgusted or repelled by one another. They did not hate each other or themselves.
Here, and only here was to be found some sexual reprieve from the nightmare that so many gay men must have been experiencing throughout those dark days.
But along with the human cost of losing so many lives to the syndrome, the AIDS crisis has also left us with a cultural tragedy.
After the many strides forward we had taken in the 60s and 70s, moralism, once again managed to weasel its way back into our sexual ideology, and we have still not recovered from this monumental setback.
The inability and unwillingness to explore one’s sexual identity became a badge of honor rather than a mark of cowardice.
The sex act, a subject of such simultaneous worship and derision was once again an issue of morality.
“Gay men are sluts, and sluts get AIDS”.
The message was simple yet powerful and anyone could have been forgiven for rolling with the cultural tide.
Fear is a powerful and intoxicating phenomenon.
Sexuality was once again to be feared, and as gay men, the degenerates, the great disease carriers, our sexuality was to be feared most of all.
We are still dealing with the repercussions of these times, even today.
Slut shaming and HIV stigma are both still rampant, sexual expressivity is still paired with low intelligence, and one only has to observe the level of contempt with which the introduction of Truvada, a preventative medication which could forever change the face of the epidemic, has been met, to see that many of the old ideas still refuse to loosen their grip.
Yet amidst all of this, as the division between ourselves and the mainstream became ever more cavernous, we were still not completely without a voice.
We had our Larry Kramers, and yes, we owe artists such as Madonna a great deal.
Long before she had already adopted the aesthetics and ideals of our culture, forcing them into the spotlight when such a move would have been met with nothing more than absolute and complete derision…..and it was.
Let’s not forget that.
Still though, it was (and largely still is) only a primarily straight identified female who could subversively adopt our voice and thrust it forward into the mainstream.
Our own sexual representatives were still to be found exclusively within the pornographic medium.
The male body, a vehicle of competition and threat, was there to be quashed and destroyed immediately, or else forced into submission.
Any desire to care for another male body, to nurture it, desire it or afford it any pleasure was an inversion, an abomination.
And like so many gay boys growing up, I navigated this discourse as best I could, repressing my desires and behaviors, hating who I was.
Like so many gay men before me, there were times when I wanted off this planet.
Shame, you see, is not a passive experience.
It is a toxic poison that courses through the body like an oil spill.
And for the longest time, shame was all I knew.
As I grew older I began looking for myself in mainstream entertainment.
Any reflection, any representation of who I was.
But again I learned that who I was had to be hidden, changed radically or else be subject to intense ridicule or violence.
After so many years Society had succeeded in relaying its message to me, loud and clear:
“There is no such thing as an aspirational, sexually empowered gay man”.
And I believed that message. What other choice did I have?
This was my reality, the one I had been prescribed.
My first real gay porn experience came in the form of DVDs.
Of course I’d been looking at images online for some time, but this was before high speed broadband and obviously, any foray into this experience had to be carried out secretly and with extreme caution.
Once I locked my bedroom door behind me and pressed play there was no going back.
The rush of sensations that flooded my mind and body ensured that there was no longer any denying who I was, although God knows I tried, and with this came the profound and life changing realization: what I was witnessing, could actually happen.
My fierce denial lasted just another year or so, but those powerful images just kept drawing me back.
Here was a world so different from anything I had ever known.
Men, athletic, powerful and sexual, brazenly engaging in acts I had for so long been taught were disgusting.
But they CLEARLY were NOT disgusting.
They were not shameful. In fact, they were fucking beautiful.
And most importantly, they represented me.
Here was my sexuality, my core, the essence of who I was inside being played out in front of me in the most sublime and unapologetic way possible.
It was at this turning point that I started to discover Colton Ford.
Finally, I had my icon
Finally I was starting to discover my point of reference and my history.
A discovery without which I might not still be here.
Since he was a toddler in the ’60s, George Soukesian wanted to be a performer.
Music was his thing; he had a ‘knack’ for it.
It’s a struggle then, to imagine the now bulging porn-star/musician/actor as a little tucker, singing in school choirs and practicing on the balance beam as a gymnast from the eager age of six.
Almost 60 years later and he now goes by the pseudonym Colton Ford, a lasting brand from his brief but truly definitive stint in the adult film industry.
Ford exited the industry after just 10 months almost 20 years ago but his name has been so legendary that he was invited to join 11 prominent male porn stars for 2010’s cover of the Attitude magazine’s Sex Issue.
When he departed from porn , Ford returned his focus to his music.
10 months later and about 10 films notched under his belt with Falcon Studios, Ford left the industry feeling like he had ‘got everything out of the experience I could get’.
Ford released some singles including Everything and a well-received cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’. He also made his debut into film (outside of the porn industry) in the controversial documentary, Naked Fame.
‘We came to find out they wanted to tell a different story, ultimately we didn’t give them what they wanted to tell the story they wanted to tell.’
Come mid 2006 and Ford began work on his debut album with producer Quentin Harris. Just a year-and-a-half later, Ford released ‘Tug Of War’.
‘It was great, up to that point, I had released a bunch of singles but with my prior virgin deals and whatnot, I had several albums worth of material and nothing was released,’ he said.
‘It was very satisfying to put a full record out.’
Just a year later, he released his covers album Under The Covers including a successful cover of R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion.
‘We released Losing My Religion and I received an email from Michael Stipe saying how great the cover was and they were super honoured and amazing.’
The pop musician found creating music much deeper than porn and far more exposing than having sex on film.
‘What you see on film and what in fact is actually happening when you are shooting are generally two very different things, it was a very mechanical experience,’ he tells me.
‘For me it’s a lot more exposing because you are putting spirit or energy into it, in a way that goes deeper than just getting off on camera.
‘I’m certainly not shameful of it, there are people who think I’m trying to distance myself from it but if that was the case I definitely wouldn’t be using the name Colton Ford.’
It seems trite to instantly define Colton Ford, gay culture renaissance man, as a former porn star. Sure, it was a titillating moment in the artist’s long and varied career, but just a blip. 10 months to be exact. Never mind it was 20 years ago when Ford hit the adult film world running, but a successful music and mainstream entertainment career came well before and endures today. The fact he was – and is – easy on the eyes is simply a bonus for us all.
Here’s a tip: Ford, at 59, continues to release new original music through Woop Woop Productions and, to the delight of many, is now back in the realm of adult entertainment … just in a whole new way. The foray, punctuated by a wildly popular OnlyFans page, keeps him sharp, present, inspired and, more than anything else, on a perfect platform to cross-promote both his “erotic” and “melodic” bodies of work.
Today, everyone with access to a phone camera and an internet connection is a would be porn star, so stripping down onscreen is hardly revolutionary.
Let’s not forget the stigma, the societal abandonment and the suffering that many had to endure just so that we could have some sort of outlet for our fantasies, some sort of reference point for our sexual identities when none other was available.
Since walking away from adult entertainment in 2002, Ford has been working his way back into the industry of his first love—music.
The Way He Is
Colton Ford has since been one of the stars of the cult tv guilty pleasure The Lair, on heretv. Think Showgirls meets gay softcore meets low-rent Buffy. It’s all about gay vampires, and infecting others; what appears to be a metaphor for bareback sex and HIV… with gay male vampires.
That shit-show was the campiest 22 minute show ever! And I stan Colton even more for doing it! Now, get this…
It runs for 28 glorious episodes were Colton plays local lawman Sheriff Trout, who finds his way to The Lair while investigating the murders of a bunch of gays… at the hands of other gays who are vampires. I kid you not!
And while much of society will continue to maintain that he operates within perhaps the most disposable and culturally irrelevant industry on the planet, I wonder how many other lives have been saved as a direct result of this medium.
I know that thanks to him, I’m still standing.
When the rest of the world was telling me to change myself, to be somebody else at all costs, Colton Ford was the only person telling me to hold on, to be who I was and never ever to apologize for it.
Now I dance with joy to every single one of his tracks…
And that, surely, has got to be worth something.