The British-based gay porn website Blake Mason recently removed all videos of performer Benjamin York, the nom du porn of Daryll Rowe, a 27-year-old recently found guilty of deliberately attempting to infect his sexual partners with HIV.
An English court sentenced Rowe to a “life sentence” of roughly 12 years in prison for trying to infect 10 men, and a Scottish court gave him an additional eight-year prison sentence for deliberately trying to infect four others.
Cases like Rowe’s, where there’s an intentional attempt at infecting others, are extremely rare and they negatively contribute to a stigmatizing narrative that HIV-positive men want to infect others.
HIV criminalization laws created during the height of the U.S. HIV epidemic were ostensibly created to stop people like Rowe, but they these laws mostly punish HIV-positive men for having sex, are disproportionately used against men of color and, according to medical experts, do “not produce positive health outcomes for individuals or populations.”
Nevertheless, the removal of Rowe’s videos from the site is notable because it’s rare that a gay porn site ever removes any performer’s videos, even when the performer is accused of rape or murder.
For example, Sebastian Young’s videos remain active at Men.com (link NSFW) despite his threatening to kill a police officer; Mike Dozer’s remain active at Raging Stallion (link NSFW) despite his being found guilty of the statutory rape of a 14-year-old boy; and Addison’s videos remain active at Sean Cody (link NSFW) despite him being found guilty of murder.
Granted, these are all different gay porn sites and all of them, unlike Blake Mason, are U.S.-based, so there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut industry standard.
It could be that Blake Mason is especially sensitive to the crime of deliberate HIV transmission because it’s a condom-only studio (an increasing rarity in America). Or perhaps the seedy details of Rowe’s actions revealed in court (or the fact that he deliberately targeted gay men) just made the idea of promoting him intolerable to the studio.
Testimony during Rowe’s trial revealed that he told partners he was HIV-negative despite being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2015. He also tampered with condoms to reduce their effectiveness and even taunted his sex partners by revealing his HIV status to them later on.
The tabloid The Scottish Sun quoted one of Rowe’s unnamed 30-year-old victims as saying, “It’s pretty disgusting that sites are still trying to make money from them. They should be taken down as a courtesy to people like me.”
It seems like Blake Mason agrees, but it raises the question of what it would take for American gay porn studios to do the same, and if that line even exists.