Founder of Bareback Porn Studio Funds One of Florida’s Biggest Gay Rights Groups

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While states like California are pushing to make bareback porn illegal, the largest gay rights group in Florida is taking in thousands of dollars from a bareback porn producer, raising questions about fundraising ethics.

One of Equality Florida’s biggest donors is Jason Gibson, CEO and founder of gay porn studio Corbin Fisher, who has given more than $120,000 in donations to the organization. Gibson’s studio has recently started producing and profiting from bareback porn, which is porn where actors do not use condoms.

Nadine Smith, executive director at Equality Florida, has called Gibson “generous” and said his donations have made it possible for them to operate.

“Jason's incredible generosity over the past several years has been a tremendous catalyst at a pivotal time,” Smith said as quoted by Xbiz.  “His quiet generosity and commitment to our mission has been a catalyst and an inspiration.”

A quiet donation received public attention after Equality Florida presented Gibson with their 2013 Service and Leadership Award on Feb 15.

CJ Ortuno wouldn’t have given Gibson an award. If fact, he said would not have even taken the money. Ortuno, who is executive director of SAVE Dade, a Miami-based gay rights organization, said there are ethics in fundraising and lines not to cross, especially when you’re a political group.

“There are absolutely ethics in the way we raise our funds,” Ortuno told SFGN. “As a political group we try to build capital – to build power,” he said.

Equality Florida’s fights for the betterment of the LGBT community in the state; Gibson’s donation money comes directly from gay porn actors who risk contracting HIV while filming bareback.

In 2004, Los Angeles County health officials counted at least 51 adult film actors who may have been exposed to the virus; authorities said they were able to contain the outbreak.

Then, a 2009 article by the Los Angeles Times stated that at least 22 performers who filmed porn had become infected in the last five years in Los Angeles County alone. The rate of infections in the industry prompted law makers to bring up a measure to make condom use mandatory. In November 2012, Los Angeles residentsvoted to implement the measure.

“Donations from questionable, although legal, can chip away from positive capital,” Ortuno added.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals has been the standard-bearer for professionalism in fundraising for 50 years. The AFP is an association of individuals and organizations that generate philanthropic support for a wide variety of charitable institutions. Ortuno himself is a member. Smith and Equality Florida are not.

Standard 12 of the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and standards states:

“Members shall take care to ensure that all solicitation materials are accurate and correctly reflect their organization's mission and use of solicited funds.”

For its part, Equality Florida issued a statement in response:

“Equality Florida's Service & Leadership Award is given to honor an individual whose tremendous support has directly contributed to Equality Florida’s ability to break through to a whole new level of reach and effectiveness in the effort to secure full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Jason Gibson's incredible generosity over the past several years came at a critical time and it has been a tremendous catalyst for change in Florida. With Jason on our team, we played a critical role in overturning Florida's adoption ban and passed 25 new local policies that include non-discrimination protections for LGBT Floridians, Domestic Partnership recognition, and LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policies to protect our students. We could not have achieved so much in such a short period of time without Jason's unwavering commitment to securing full equality for Florida's LGBT community.”

SFGN also reached out to Corbin Fisher Studios to speak with Jason Gibson. Vice President of Business Development for the studio Brian Dunlap responded saying Gibson was out of town. Dunlap said there was never a question from Equality Florida about Gibson’s donations.

“I don't think anyone should assume such a stigma exists with bareback content as your question does,” Dunlap told SFGN. “While there are definitely some who might not care for , there are just as many others who might prefer it or not give it much thought at all -- it just doesn't stand out to people as much as some might assume.”

The reason for Equality Florida’s acceptance of the funds could lie more on needs than ethics.

According to the Movement Advancement Project’s 2010 National LGBT Movement Report, organizations working in the movement for LGBT equality are showing strong signs of financial health and operating efficiency in the face of a cumulative 20 percent revenue decline from 2008.

Here are a few key notes:

  • The 39 participating organizations’ combined 2009 expenses of $165.6 million are only half of the combined annual expenses of just the 10 largest organizations working to oppose LGBT equality ($333.1 million).
  • All 39 participants exceeding the efficiency standards of both the American Institute of Philanthropy and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. An average of 79 percent of expenses is spent on programs and services, 9 percent on management and general expenses, and only 12 percent on fundraising.
  • Less than 4 percent of all LGBT adults in the U.S. donated $35 or more to these LGBT organizations. While organizations are generally effective at retaining smaller donors (those giving $35 or more) year over year, the number of larger donors (those giving $1,000 or more) is dropping and not easily replaced.
  • That last note resonates with SAVE Dade and Ortuno. According to him, LGBT people are more likely to fund a museum over a political advocacy group.

    “It’s tough for us,” Ortuno said. “We only have 200 people who give over $1,200 a year so we have to keep the doors open to donations—keeping in mind we are extremely reliant on public perception.”

    That importance given to public perception has even forced SAVE Dade to turn down money from people who had good intentions but who the organizations’ board of directors turned down because they were worried it could have been perceived as a conflict of interest.

    “Even though at the end of the day they were doing it for the right reasons, it’s best if we just stay neutral and not take the money,” Ortuno added.

    Dunlap said the focus should be on the goal, not the money.

    “I can't speak for anyone at Equality Florida,” Dunlap said. “But I would have to assume they've been more focused on diligently, dedicatedly working towards accomplishing meaningful things and making the best use of financial resources, regardless of source.”

    Not sure about the ethics of fundraising? Check out the Professional Code of Ethics for Fundraising by reading this story online at http://bit.ly/XL7sO0. Ryan Dixon


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