ethics

Is It Wrong to Report on a Marine Starring in Hardcore Gay Porn?

Levi Johnston isn’t the only one making porn headlines on this website. So too is (former) Marine Cpl. David A. Bradberry, whose appearance in a Marine-geared magazine helped expose his other day job: performing in gay videos for the website ActiveDuty.com. As you might imagine, neither Bradberry nor ActiveDuty.com’s owner is pleased with the coverage. Were we wrong to report a story based on publicly available information?

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Some of Queerty‘s readers have criticized our coverage of Bradberry’s gay porn gig, saying we “outed a Marine who will no doubt be brought up on charges and dismissed under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Others say we did nothing wrong, and that Bradberry is “the one that made the movies. He’s the one that knew the risks.”

To be sure, Queerty didn’t break the story. The porn industry site The Sword did. Its editor, Paul Bookstaber, emailed Queerty to promote the story. But after hearing from ActiveDuty.com owner Dink Flamingo, the site removed the post, he tells us. (We don’t know The Sword‘s editorial policies, but evidently they have no problem exposing the porn careers of other folks; link NSFW.)

But it was a story that didn’t really need breaking: Any casual reader of Leatherneck Magazine — which featured the story on Bradberry participating in a Marine combat video — might have noticed he looked quite similar to the David on ActiveDuty.com. And besides, don’t young men, gay or straight, in the military or not, know that if they get naked on the web, everyone will eventually find out about it?

In writing to Queerty, asking us to pull the “tasteless article,” ActiveDuty.com’s owner Dink Flamingo tells us:

I have written to The Sword and ask that they please remove this article from their site and they have responded favorably and removed it. I am writing to you and asking that you please do the same.

Queerty has NEVER reported anything about ActiveDuty.com and to have such sleazy and tasteless trash be the first and only article about us is just in poor taste. As a semi-regular reader of Queerty I find it hard to believe that you guys followed The Sword’s lead in posting something that could possibly be so damaging to one of our own. I ask that you now follow their lead once more and please remove the article.

Queerty publisher David Hauslaib fielded this one, replying:

It appears you are mistaken in what Queerty is: It is not an activist site, like many gay blogs. It’s a site that deals with LGBT-oriented entertainment, news, politics, and every so often, porn. We wouldn’t cover ActiveDuty.com regularly, because we don’t cover porn sites — unless they become newsworthy for something other than “Jack quickly moves up to test the waters and puts his cock in Quinn’s face and Quinn readily takes it in his hot mouth and shows it some respect.”

That one of your models is — very publicly, as any porn site is — engaged in conduct that had others dismissed from the military is a news story. Thus, we’ll cover it. I can’t answer for The Sword’s policies. Nor can I answer for yours.

And so he asked Flamingo:

Do you accept any responsibility for monetarily profiting from putting active duty servicemen at risk of dismissal? You criticize news coverage of your models, and yet it seems you have no problem from reaping financial gain from actually videotaping and publishing gay sex acts from these same individuals? Are you not, equally or more so, putting their military careers at risk?

Flamingo responded, apparently under the ridiculous assumption that blogs and publications pay the people they talk about for the privilege to talk about them:

The difference is I pay them, you don’t. And any model of mine who has ever been dismissed from the military as a result of being on my site has been taken care of financially, helped to make the transition back into civilian life and I’ve stuck by them through thick and thin. Of the seven guys dismissed in 2006, five of them still work for ActiveDuty.com and are doing very well. [See this Queerty story for background.] Did you offer any of them a job? No, but you sure got a lot of traffic to your site as a result of “reporting” on their misfortune. And don’t be so quick to take so much credit for your discovery. After all, it took the likes of The Sword to do your homework for you on the matter. It is you—the so called “mainstream” media or those hiding behind the guise of reporting “entertainment, news and politics” and your self-serving agenda’s that are the truest form of pornography.

That’s actually quite noble of Flamingo to take care of his porn stars’ financial well-being if they’re dismissed.
(We’ve asked Flamingo to clarify what, exactly, it means to be “taken care of financially.” We’ll let you know what he says.) But Flamingo doesn’t realize, as many Queerty readers sometimes do not, that this website is not maintained for activism. We promote pro-gay things, yes, but it’s not our lifeblood.

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Some might say Flamingo is in the business of exploiting young, naive military men. Some might say we are in the business of exploiting, well, anyone. In the end, both parties profit — whether financially or with notoriety and traffic — from the subjects featured on their websites. (Traffic between this story and the earlier post will earn Queerty, on the high end, about $50, or two days worth of our Starbucks latte consumption.) But the adult men who appear on ActiveDuty.com are paid to perform a service (masturbate or have sex with other men), and in exchange they, supposedly, knowingly give up their rights to any semblance of privacy. And that includes keeping their gay sex antics a secret from their commanding officers.

(For what it’s worth, some of Flamingo’s copy reads (link NSFW, nor is this language): “Dorian steps in to fill David’s hole and what a good filler he proves to be. He’s fucking him hard as David strokes his own meat fast and hard. Dorian’s huge cock going in and out of that little tight ass is seo fucking sexy. It must be just what the doctor ordered because David blows his huge load as Dorian pounds him the hardest.”)

Bradberry also wrote in to Queerty: “I understand how ‘newsworthy’ this story may be, and that people could simply put all the dot’s togeather on their own; but I would like to request that this artice be taken down, or at the very least that my FULL NAME be removed from the website.” We responded with a series of questions (we’ll let you know what we hear), along with a note that we would not be removing his full name, which he willingly allowed to be included in a magazine article featuring his picture. At this point, we don’t even know if Bradberry is even gay, or just engaged in gay-for-pay.

So is Queerty “aiding and abetting” in the dismissal of a U.S. marine by reporting (or, in fact, relaying) a story about Bradberry’s porn career? (UPDATE: No, because Bradberry is no longer an active duty Marine. See below.) We’re probably not doing him any favors, sure. But to say reporting on a story of interest to readers (read: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell‘s implications plus porn) — using only publicly available information — is somehow maligning a young man forgets that this same young man was paid to have sex for a gay porn website, knowing full well his videos might reach his parents, future children, and yes, his military commanders. (And maybe Sec. Gates will give him a pass, anyhow.)

We’d hate to see Cpl. Bradberry dismissed* (see update below) like other ActiveDuty.com performers have been, because starring in a few porn videos doesn’t make you a bad marine.

But certainly Bradberry prescribed his own fate, whatever it may be, with the help and financial motives of Mr. Flamingo.

UPDATE: An attorney representing Bradberry tells Queerty he received an honorable discharge from the Marines before starring in the ActiveDuty.com videos, thus removing any possible Article 125 (sodomy) violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.