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Gay Adult Film Star Sparks Debate At Stanford

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Feb 18, 2008

Michael Lucas, the activist and gay porn actor behind Lucas Entertainment, addressed about 50 students at Stanford earlier this month--and then ended up writing an editorial defending himself in the school's paper, an article that drew hundreds of comments from readers.

Though Lucas was expected to give a speech about safer sex, the talk strayed into the realm of whether Lucas' criticism of Islam constituted prejudice. The Stanford Daily, in an article about Lucas' speech, quoted Stanford senor Meera Venu, the director of the ASSU Speakers Bureau, as saying, "We thought it would be a lot more about safe sex and AIDS prevention, but obviously the Speakers Bureau can't censor the people we bring to speak."

The day after his speech, The Stanford Daily reported that the Question and Answer period after Lucas' speech saw students challenging the actor and businessman on several points, such as HIV transmission and condom use.

Lucas had asserted that there was zero possibility of contracting HIV if one used a condom during sex; this claim was called into question.

But Lucas was insistent, saying, "After having sex more often and with more partners than most people, I can only attribute my negative HIV status to always using a condom when it comes to sex."

Lucas believes so strongly in the need for condom use that all of his films in the last ten years have shown the actors wearing them. This hurts the bottom line, because, Lucas said, "People never fantasize about sex with condoms."

Continued Lucas, "It's no secret that sex without condoms is much more pleasurable. But I have always preferred to make less money and send the right message."

Though students called his claims into question, Lucas was insistent, saying, "It's not possible to get AIDS when you have a condom on."

Added Lucas, "It's not an easily transmitted virus."

Some students came away disappointed with the safer-sex part of the discussion. Said senior Ben Robinson of the activist and adult film star, "He was just slightly hypocritical, saying you need to be educated, but that you can't get AIDS using a condom."

Others were turned off by Lucas' comments about Islam, which had preceded him to the campus, with criticism about Lucas already being voiced before he arrived.

When the issue came up in the Q&A, Lucas said, "What's the point to respect their culture, or supposed culture, when they have a strong contempt for mine?"

Added Lucas, "I have a problem with people separating terrorists from the world that breeds them, from the world that originates them, which is the world of Islam."

further, reported The Stanford Daily, Lucas protested the idea that statements of his might be racist or prejudiced.

Said the actor, "I don't generalize--a fact is a fact."

Continued Lucas, "I am definitely not a racist if I'm telling you the truth."

In his view, the truth included the observation that, "The Muslim community is much more homophobic than the black community, the black community is much more homophobic than the white community, and there are reasons for that."

Lucas wrote an editorial in the paper that was published Feb. 15, in which he responded to some of the things Stanford students had to say about him.

Wrote Lucas, "I was disappointed (but not very surprised) by the reaction that I got from some of the students at Stanford (as I've been wrongly accused of racism before)."

Lucas continued, "Speaking of racism in relation to religion, not to a race, is a big disservice to language and to intelligence. I never in my life said or wrote a bad word about Arabs--go read any of my articles."

Rather, wrote Lucas, "My criticism was always addressed towards the religion and ideology of Islam. So I would like to ask Stanford students not to exploit the word 'racism' at their own convenience."

Lucas went on to write that, "some of my role models are Arabs for whom I have tremendous admiration. I'm talking about the likes of Wafa Sultan, who has confronted and condemned Islam on many occasions... and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose book 'Infidel' also helped me to shape my opinions."

Lucas noted, "Both of these women secularized, as Islam in their opinion is the ideology of backwardness and hate. They rightly point out that Islam hasn't changed, or evolved, for 1,400 years; it has always suppressed every progressive thought. Needless to say, these women were forced to live in exile in the United States and live with hired security 24 hours a day."

Added Lucas, "As I hope you know, Islam does not forgive. It forbids any criticism. Think Salman Rushdie. Think Theo Van Gogh, for his portrayal of the misery of women in Muslim countries. Think of the Danish cartoonists who are hiding in safe houses. The list is long."

Lucas compiled a list of items that "fostered my disdain for Islam," mostly focusing on the treatment of women in strict Islamic societies, but also citing the condemnation of gays by the religion.

"Doesn't all of this originate from the Koran?" wrote Lucas. "Have you ever thought that, instead of protesting me, you should protest against those atrocities, maybe organizing some short demonstration in front of Muslim embassies?"

Added Lucas, "Why are you denying my right to compare the Koran, the text in which these facts originate, to Hitler's 'Mein Kampf?' The Koran, that for 1,400 years has tormented humanity more than the Bible, the Gospels and the Torah combined?"

Wrote Lucas, "Do not suppress or boycott someone who has a different opinion, even if you disagree with this opinion. Debate it. Argue it. In a civilized manner. Otherwise, what is the difference between you and Islam?"

Saying that Stanford is "a liberal university," Lucas noted, "The left symbolizes progress. At least, it has done so in the past. It has always stood for women's rights, for gay rights, for the rights of African-Americans."

But, Lucas wrote, "The reaction which I see today at Stanford demonstrates to me that there are changes in the left and that these changes are for the worst [sic]."

Wrote Lucas, "What I read today in The Stanford Daily is nothing more than intellectual terrorism."

Reader comments posted to The Stanford Daily's online edition ranged from, "this man scares me," to nuanced arguments--and some that were not so nuanced, nor arguments in a formal sense.

Wrote a user identified as Martin L Foushee, "This is just another Jews for Israel, Pornstars for Israel, Arabs for Israel, Christians for Israel production..."

Added the user, "Islamo-Fascism Week (David Horowitz Week) is over with. Stanford Daily Editoral [sic] Board, it's time to move on..."

Wrote a commentator identified as JL, "I've never seen so many pampered morons in my life. One would think an outstanding institution like Stanford University would harbor brighter students and do some research on a person before spouting out ideals that have no place in the real world."

Continued JL, "Seriously, what are they teaching you? You're going to discriminate someone because he's in gay porn? How is that any different from decrying Islam as being only fit for dogs?"

A reader identified as Oh Dear presented a virtual essay on Lucas' editorial, including a paragraph in which Oh Dear noted, "Lucas needs to clarify whether his disdain for Islam runs for the religion itself, or whether it is rather for the cultures where Islam dominates."

Continued Oh Dear, "There is a big difference between those but he doesn't seem to see it; for instance there are many Muslim countries where female circumcision is NOT practiced (in fact, female circumcision is not practiced by most Muslim cultures, nor is it called for in the Koran) and there are many non-Muslim countries and cultures where it IS practiced (including many non-Muslim African nations as well as places in India and South America)."

The trendy use of the world "liberal" as a slight cropped up frequently as users debated various points. For example, a comment from a user identified as A read, "Guys, you are criticizing Mike, but whom are you supporting? Those who hang and stone homosexuals? What an example of twisted liberal logic."

This was answered by a user identified as for god's sake, who wrote, "are we seriously debating what a porn star says. wth [what the hell]."

A replied, "What's the matter--our liberal, tolerant, all-embracing students refuse to listen to a porn star? If a porn star came to campus and blasted President Bush's policies I suspect many of these critics would be cheering him. Interesting double standard: free speech for those who we agree with!"

for god's sake shot back, "anyone who is a porn star has absolutely no respect in my eyes. Talk about morals and ethics and that bullshit with someone else; if you are a porn star, you have no right to pretend like you have any sort of intellectual vitality."

for god's sake continued, "There is a reason you became a porn star, and that's because you are shockingly dumb and have absolutely no respect for your body."

Wrote in a commentator identified as cdizzle, "You people are all crazy...Yeah you too! And no I am not a stanford student."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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