Topher Taylor (he/him) is a sex educator, writer and columnist who champions sex positivity for LGBTQ+ people.

LGBT HERO: How would you define or describe your work for the LGBTQ+ community? 

Topher: It’s difficult to describe without using 1,000 words, as I do a huge number of things on the underground or ‘behind the scenes’, as well as the stuff people see on the surface. I know that most people assume I just prance around in fishnets and talk about dildos but I do a HUGE amount of behind-the-scenes admin, writing, research, development, and motivating. My work is a bit like an iceberg, you only see the tip. All of my work circles around encouraging and celebrating your true self, intimately. Alongside helping brands develop pleasure products which make life feel better – if even for a few moments. Sex is my thing. Self-love is my end-goal.

I work with countless adult brands, a very famous queer retailer, magazines, queer charities, sexual health organisations, media platforms, television channels, adult content performers, and researchers to deliver sex-positive information, address stigmas, and help change the idea that queer sex is risky or shameful. Because it’s not.

What is the main purpose of the work you do? 

I want to encourage positive change and comfortable conversations regarding sexuality, even the conversations we have with ourselves. Our internal monologue and internalised homophobia can be our biggest enemy as queer people. I judged myself for loving sex until my mid-20s. But we aren’t all to blame, as we are trained that way by society and media.

I understand that it’s not that easy for queer people to be themselves and to have the, what should be basic, human experience of exploring their sexuality. For some its near-impossible, unsafe, and even deadly. I come from a background where my sexual identity and sexuality made me unsafe. I was physically and psychologically harmed for being queer. Realising how much I loved men and sex on top of that, only made things even scarier. I want to do my bit to help support and change the outcome for generations ahead of me. Alongside my own and those before me.

Why do you do what you do? 

Because I love people. I love queerness. I love sexuality. I love sex. I’m ‘endlessly optimistic’, which can cause me issues in my personal life but, ironically, it really helps with my career. I like to pay that forward in as many ways as I can. I also love men. 

I’ve been lucky enough to build a career out of my sexuality and I don’t want to pull the ladder up behind me. I want everyone to join. Or, if not, just slowly drip feed some goodness on those toxic internalized thoughts and learned behaviours. Which are monumentally more widespread than you may think.

What is something you’ve done with that you are most proud of? 

There’s been lots, to be honest. In the past year I’ve been featured on Channel 5 discussing my sex toy development career, collaborated with Sexual Health London on a home-testing kit campaign, hosted my first ever sex-positive talk during Eroticon 2023, wrote a monthly column for Gay London Life magazine in which I platformed some of the most amazing people on our scene, joined Virgin Radio as an queer-sex agony aunt, and co-chaired a panel about mental health in the adult industry at the Grabbys queer porn awards in Spain.

Can you tell me a little bit about what activism and advocacy means to you? 

It’s the most rewarding thing, ever. I still remember the first time I got a thoughtful email from someone thanking me for being so sexually open as it encouraged them to explore themselves in a way they’d never dared. I was 25 and, on a train, to visit my parents and it’s all I spoke about all night. It blew my mind and it still feels great to know there are some people under this sun who’ve dared to ‘dream’ or explore a little because of my work. It can be anything from trying a sex toy for the first time, trying anal again after a bad experience — or trying to ‘top’ after lacking the confidence in yourself to do so. 

I have no idea why anyone wouldn’t want to influence positive change. I really don’t. My mind is just built that way and I’ve honestly been that way when I was a kid. My Mum always knew I’d do something to help people. She used to think I’d either end up working in A&E or become a midwife. She probably didn’t realise it would involve talking about my anus on Channel 5.

What do you think is a key issue that the LGBTQ+ community is facing currently?  

There’s two and they’re interlinked: internalised homophobia and transphobia. Transphobia is something I find intellectually dishonest, cruel, and completely unnecessary. It’s definitely being used as a trojan horse for darker stuff, and anyone naive enough to not see that really needs a reality check. The most heinous behaviour I’ve ever seen on the internet has been from proud transphobes, hiding behind different causes to punch down on a minority group who happen to get a lot of coverage as it’s a ‘buzz topic’ for lots of people. I’ve lost count on the amount of pile-ons I’ve had personally. I think there’s a monumental difference between having genuine concerns or curiosities and just being a vile bigot. Don’t even get me started on the queer ones. 

The internet makes it way too easy to be radicalised with dangerous rhetoric and recruited by right-wing hate groups. And transphobia in the media is helping to normalise homophobia, once again. I’ve noticed more abuse over the past few years on the street and I unfortunately expect to see more.

What can each of us do to make society safer and/or better for LGBTQ+ people? 

Where do I begin? Be open-minded and find the bravery to speak up. Even though it’s scary to put your head above the parapet. Be hyper-aware of how your internalised homophobia influences how you treat other LGBT+ people.

Vote, post, and protest accordingly. Make your voice heard, because you’re lucky enough to be safe enough to use it. Every time you feel scared to speak and rock the boat. Think of the lives lost to AIDS, the queer people lost to brutality, queers who risk their lives to get to countries in which they’d be safer, and queer people who have lost their freedom and/or lives for simply being LGBTQ+. This may sound morbid but every time I worry about seeming too ‘gay’, I think of those people laying isolated in wards in the end stages of AIDS when it tore through in the 80s and 90s. I think about what they’d have given for the freedoms and medications we have available today. We really do stand on the shoulders of giants and it’s so easy to forget that.

Ultimately, it’s your attitude about yourself that worthy people will adopt. So be yourself and be proud of who you are. Work on that. You don’t have to be a community leader, a celebrity, of an influencer to be proud, you can just get through each day. That actually is more than enough. The internet puts too much pressure on all of us to have titles and job roles underneath our names - just be you. 

Who is your LGBTQ+ hero? 

This is a difficult one as there are so many for so many different reasons, but I would say James Baldwin. I was turned on to his writing in my teens by Madonna and he’s been a constant reference point for me throughout my self-discovery as a queer person, both in terms of my sexuality and my SEXUALITY. There’s always something Baldwin I can turn to in moments of chaos or even just boredom. On the London scene, I’ve also found Lady Phyll to be someone I admire massively. She has been constant on the scene, and it makes me feel inspired to see her continued, constant, progressive work and success. 

What else would you love to achieve in the LGBTQ+ community?

I’d like to encourage responsible sexual exploration and pleasure. Even in my adult content work, I focus on pleasure and sharing unapologetic consensual fantasies instead of porn. I am all about sensuality and granting myself to explore sexually without fear of judgement. I get amazing feedback from adults of all ages who thank me for encouraging them to try sex in an approachable and loving and sensual way. Which isn’t everyone’s cuppa, but it’s definitely mine. I don’t feel like I’ve even began to scratch the surface of my career. I’m at 1% of 100.

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