Think you know porn star Brent Corrigan? Think again. He tells Same Same why he doesn’t want a new generation of young gay men to make the mistakes he made.
Safer sex messages designed for men who have sex with men are a big talking point in our local communities in recent months. In Queensland the organisation which brings condom messages to us has been defunded, while in Victoria and New South Wales, campaigns which explore HIV prevention for those who aren’t using condoms are attracting critics.
Adult film star Brent Corrigan, who’s now aged 26 and goes by his real name of Sean Paul Lockhart, shot to notoriety for his graphic teenaged bareback porn, so has a unique perspective on the situation. He now says he was “exploited” and is using his experience to reach out to young people with a ‘wake up call.’
Lockhart recently wrote a heartfelt piece on his website The New Brent Corrigan asking Do you Like My Bareback Porn?
“Between the ages of 17 and 19 I participated in filming porn without using protection,” he wrote. “They call it bareback, but personally I prefer the words “unprotected” or “not safe” – because that’s what it means.
“It was then that I began to understand that this work could be filmed with respect and care to the models. I wanted to prove it possible; models could be paid well. No one needed to be demeaned or degraded (unless they were into that sort of thing). Most importantly, I wanted to be one of the good guys proving it could be done successfully without risking the health of the ‘models.’”
Lockhart is talking specifically about the porn industry here, but there’s a striking similarity between what he’s trying to achieve and what health promoters are trying to achieve with sexual health more broadly. He suggests the commercial industry wants to make barebacking sex the norm and that this is disrespectful to the community.
Speaking with Same Same, Lockhart firstly reminds us that the only ‘safe sex’ is abstinence, but concedes how “ridiculous” that sounds coming from someone who has embarked on high risk sex from before it was even legal to be filmed.
“I think I’m the best person to advocate safer sex practices given the poor choices I made.”
Lockhart says he fears that ‘sero-sorting’ (avoiding HIV transmission through aiming to have sex only with people who share your HIV status), which is at the heart of condomless safe sex messaging he’s seen, his serious potential drawbacks – including contracting a “super strain” and other STIs that could be “catastrophic” for a person living with HIV.
“As I mentioned in my article, and while some might disagree, I’ve been taught to err on the side of caution,” he tells us. “Sero-sorting can lead to stronger resistance to drugs. In theory this could lead to a mutated super strain of the virus.
“We know for a fact that this virus mutates and it has done so drastically. And once again, when you talk about sero-sorting you’re also encouraging behaviour that opens people up to all kinds of complications. If you have a lowered immune system diseases like Hepatitis and Syphilis can be catastrophic for a person living with HIV,” he explains.
“Let’s be honest. We’re never, ever going to eradicate something like HIV/AIDS by sero-sorting.”
Lockhart ties his concerns with the porn industry with a gay sex culture more broadly, suggesting that the two are closely related. “I think porn has a lot more to do with this issue than the companies want to ever admit. They’ll never take responsibility. Why would they? That’s a liability,” he concludes.
Through his ‘Brent Corrigan’ career, Lockhart has lived through some mistakes that he says he doesn’t want other young men to make.
“At the heart of it, my message is be a member of your community,” he explains. “Make choices that aren’t just for the benefit of you, but everyone. Protect yourself, sure, but also don’t commit acts, or create images and video that perpetuate unhealthy behaviour. It only begets more of it from other people.”
Lockhart realises his previous career’s decisions were made in the world’s eye and that his mistakes, while perhaps young and naive, have not been forgiven by some, despite this youth. This seems to be a driving force behind his campaign for fewer partners, more condom use and showing respect to each lover and the community more broadly.
“The short answer is I think I’m the best person to advocate safer sex practices given the poor choices I made in the public eye as a young person,” he says.
What emerges from our interview is an astute young man who has learned many lessons from his early career – and that he now seems desperately keen for other teenagers to hear his message of self and community respect. So while experts might argue the toss with some of his conclusions about risk reduction, they may struggle to find fault with the motives for his personal crusade.
Carving out a new path in more mainstream cinema, Lockhart has appeared asa cameo in Gus Van Sant’s Milk, and as a supporting actor in Judas Kiss. His mainstream website can be found here and his unique perspective on sexual health may give us all pause for thought.
“My tirade about safer sex and the gay porn industry was just about the reality of it all,” he reflects. “It’s so easy to forget the real world in today’s digital age.
“A message of safer sex practices needs to be constant. There are always 16 and 17 year olds coming of age learning for themselves how to navigate the world. Sex is just part of that. Do we really want them to figure out all this on their own?
“Are schools and public institutions, governments fuelled by politics and conservatism, really the best way to determine how to send these messages?
“And do we really want porn companies producing material that sends a message to our 16-year-old gay boys that unprotected sex is the only way they can have steamy sex?”
Lockhart’s message: “Be stronger. Don’t fail. Roll that condom on. Live longer. Fuck longer. Be happier.”