The GayVN Awards has responded to criticism that the gay adult film industry is riddled with racism and bigotry by dropping its “ethnic” category.
Last week, porn performer Hugh Hunter declined his three nominations, pointing out that black, Latin and Asian actors had been excluded from leading categories such as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.
Instead, he said, these performers had been primarily relegated to a category named “Best Ethnic Scene”.
“Why were these scenes just not included in the best scene category? Why would a gay porn company choose to separate minority groups into their own race at an event that is supposed to celebrate the gay industry in its entirety?” he asked.
He called on members of the industry and fans to not support the awards and to “stand up” against racism and bigotry.
Hunter has been lauded for sparking a conversation on the issue, one which not everyone is interested in engaging in. “The number of people with positions of power in the adult industry who’ve unfollowed me in the last 48 hours is telling,” tweeted Hunter. “Turning a blind eye does not make this issue go away.”
In a response to the controversy, the GayVN Awards announced that, “effective immediately, the category of Best Ethnic Scene has been merged with Best Duo Scene”. It said that all nominees in both categories will be in the running for a single award.
It also offered “a heartfelt, unequivocal apology to anyone who felt that the category of Best Ethnic Scene was an attempt to slight performers of color.”
The organisers explained that their intention with the category was to involve as many companies and performers as possible and “to recognize producers who work largely with performers of particular ethnic backgrounds.”
They continued: “The addition of this category was never intended to restrict performers of any non-European ethnic background from competing fully in ANY other category, whether in the judged categories or the Fan Award categories.
“We’ve done the best we could this year to be inclusive in all categories, but we know we can and must do better.”
While the removal of the ethnic category was welcomed, the GayVN Awards did not address the wider issue of racism in the industry, in which a performer’s skin colour or race is often seen as a “fetish”.
Commenting on Twitter, Yo Joe? (@BgYojoe1982) agreed that more needed to be done. “But removing a category does not end the fundamental issue here. @theHughHunter brought up a serious subject that needs to be addressed fully and not swept under the rug.”
From 1998 until 2011, the GayVN Awards were presented annually to performers and producers for their work in the industry. The latest nominations represent a return for the awards, which are set to be presented next year.