Queer Porn Revolutionist: Courtney Trouble 

The first time Courtney Trouble got naked in front of a camera, the feminist porn movement was in its infancy. Over fifty hardcore sex scenes and twenty directed adult films later, Oakland-based Trouble has become a de-facto champion of the movement to show nonbinary people having sex — the way they actually like to.

Trouble is many things: genderqueer, fat, a photography grad student, and a local business owner. Since starting out on a phone sex line at eighteen, Trouble has also been a stripper, cam girl, madame, director, and actor. Somewhere in the middle of all that, they (Trouble prefers a non-binary pronoun) started what is now considered the web's longest-standing queer porn platform (Indie Porn Revolution) and the progressive porn production company TroubleFilms —which has earned Trouble nine Feminist Porn Awards and eleven AVN nominations.

"When I started this in 2002, I was rebelling against homophobia," Trouble said. "There's always been a political need for access to queer porn because of the cultural impact that goes beyond the entertainment factor."

Not all of the films are shot through a political lens — Trouble thinks that people with non-conforming gender identities deserve the luxury of watching porn without being barraged with identity politics. Trouble said that the genesis of their queer porn philosophy — borne from the intersection of local punk culture, BDSM and leather communities, and East Bay political factions — was to normalize how nonconforming people have sex.

To that effect, Trouble's films feature moves like fisting, which is widely banned in mainstream porn. "But fisting is a legitimate sex act," Trouble said. "When the Hollywood porn industry is calling it obscene, its invalidating the way that lots of people, especially queer people, are having sex in their homes. It's my mission to fight for that to be seen."

Trouble believes that such exposure can help to prevent violence against marginalized bodies by educating people. They spend a lot of time answering emails from Cisgendered men who reach out with questions about the content. Trouble also sees access to diverse porn as a way to help combat the internalized-homophobia and confusion young queer people often grapple with.

"They see it and are so relieved. They email me, 'Oh okay, there is queer sex out there — I'm not going to die alone in Michigan with my homophobic parents!'"

Trouble's latest crusade is the proliferation of porn literacy. Working with the California College of the Arts, where they're wrapping up a grad program studying photography, Trouble has been developing a sex-positive curriculum for freshman and sophomores in college. The goal is to have undergrads talk about their experiences with porn and meet veterans of the sex industry.

"We really have to consider the relationship between minors and porn," they said. "Because there's a lot of porn out there and virtually no sex education."

Moving forward, Trouble is going to focus on her art practice and the development of these educational programs for schools in the East Bay and beyond. The goal now is to spend less time on making images, and more on connecting with the people who have seen them.

"Trust me," said Trouble. "I've made enough porn ­­to last a lifetime." Learn more at IndiePornRevolution.com and TroubleFilms.com.

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