Tumblr's sign-up page. (Tumblr)

John Paul Brammer is a writer and advice columnist.

“Do you have a Tumblr?”

I asked this question a lot in college after coming out as gay my junior year. I joined the campus Gay-Straight Alliance, sure. I downloaded dating and hookup apps. I met people. But in my “baby gay years” in Oklahoma, nothing ensured a connection like meeting a fellow user of the micro-blogging site.

First, it meant you were probably queer; the platform is a hub for LGBTQ discourse. But being on Tumblr also meant you had an offbeat sense of humor, an interest in social justice and, of course, a fondness for utter filth. Tumblr, more than any other social media site, has been a veritable clearinghouse for porn.

So it was with great sadness that I learned about Tumblr’s decision Monday to ban all adult content. The announcement came shortly after a child pornography incident, which is a horrid problem that deserves a serious and careful solution. But Tumblr chose a lazy one. Effective Dec. 17, Tumblr will remove anything that “includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations.”

It’s a setback not only to the many sex workers, kink fans and artists who populate the site but also to the Tumblr ethos itself, which drew in so many queer people and made us feel at home, especially those of us in remote parts of the country without an immediate community to connect to. Explicit content played a crucial part in creating that space, so it’s unsurprising the ban has been widely received as Tumblr’s death knell.

I don’t condone all of Tumblr’s explicit content. What’s wrong on Tumblr, such as depictions of abusive or nonconsensual sex acts, would be wrong elsewhere. But with the ethical stuff, Tumblr exposed me to forms of sexuality I had not previously considered and, even if they weren’t for me, expanded my thinking about sex and about myself.

It’s not that this content can’t be found elsewhere; it’s just that you probably won’t find it sandwiched between a “Queer Eye” meme and a character analysis of “Wonder Woman” anywhere else on the Web. Porn set side by side with not-porn empowered queer people to explore the full breadth of our interests in one scroll. It gave us the freedom to create and present a version of ourselves that didn’t minimize our sexuality, which we are so often pressured to do offline.

Such seemingly disparate elements finding a home together affirmed that art, sex, criticism, poetry and comedy need not be compartmentalized. One does not come at the expense of any of the others. It’s an especially important message for queer people whose content, sexual or not, often gets flagged as “adult.” Tumblr was a refuge from this kind of stigmatization.

Ultimately, what I appreciated about Tumblr when I first started using it was that it introduced me to a new kind of person — one who read books, watched porn, liked memes, was a feminist and was super, super gay, all at once. This was a person for whom sex wasn’t bad or scary. It was just part of your personality, another interior terrain of likes and dislikes. You like “Adventure Time.” You like Harry Potter. And you like BDSM. Oh, and “The Great British Bake-Off.” They’re all just parts of you.

I can look back now and recognize a lot of elements in this Tumblr persona that were pretty corny. But I won’t deny that at the time, as a person dealing with a lot of internalized shame about being gay and, consequently, being into gay sex, I found in Tumblr a path to access a different kind of knowledge of myself — of my desires, my interests and my intellectual pursuits.

For that, I have the sex workers and creators of not-safe-for-work content at Tumblr to thank. As so many fellow mourners have pointed out, Tumblr is nothing without smut. Without it, the site is just a battle arena for teens who got a taste of queer theory and are ready to fight to the death over the politics of “Riverdale.” And, I suppose, there will be high-def photographs of foggy forests in Oregon and blinking GIFs of string lights at night or something. Stuff Pinterest does better.

I think the good people on Twitter, a platform many Tumblr users will no doubt be heading to now, had the right idea when they trended #RIPTumblr. We all recognize that it was the erotic stuff — and the way it stood unapologetically alongside clothed cultural content — that gave Tumblr its character. It’s a shame the folks in charge are shuttering such an important space for the vulnerable people who called it home.

Read more:

Anthony Oliveira: Pride Month is over. Welcome to LGBTQ Wrath Month.

Charles Lane: From polygamy to pornography, Americans are getting more permissive

Nora Reed: Why Bert and Ernie’s sexuality matters to LGBTQ people

Julia Long: Pornography is more than just sexual fantasy. It’s cultural violence.