Are Gay Men More Accepting of Sex for Pay Than Straights? Says Yes
BY Lucas Grindley
August 31 2011 9:33 PM ET
The Huffington Post and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation are having a public disagreement about gay men's attitude toward "sugar daddies" as a solution for paying college bills.
Is the cost of higher education so punishing these days that some gay men are offering sex to daddies who can pay for tuition? The Huffington Post reports that not only is that sad story line happening but also that this sort of sex-for-something deal is more accepted among gay people than straight. GLAAD disagrees vehemently, saying that notion is merely a stereotype being furthered by bad reporting.
In a news release calling for an apology, GLAAD complained that the story is "riddled with stereotypes that the author presents as facts."
After interviewing almost a dozen anonymous men who are selling sex for tuition, reporter Amanda Fairbanks came to a conclusion that strikes to the core of GLAAD's disappointment.
"Unlike in the straight world, many say they find working as an escort on the gay scene to be an accepted, even applauded practice," Fairbanks writes. "While none of the nearly dozen men interviewed had told their parents about their sugar daddies, nearly all had discussed them with their friends. And unlike the young women engaged in similar behavior who reported feeling great shame and remorse, the men generally seemed less traumatized by their decision. In fact, they often felt emboldened by the money they were able to earn, rather than shamed by the stigma."
In the more than 3,600-word-long story, Fairbanks interviews the leaders of hookup sites and scholars who seem to back up the claim. And The Huffington Post did not back away from the story when confronted. The Huffington Post confirmed that the story was reviewed by multiple editors. And it absolutely supported findings by Fairbanks, who has been reporting on the debt load facing graduates amid a sluggish economy. Fairbanks had written previously about women who resorted to prostitution to pay for school.
"Our coverage of students who sell themselves to manage their college debt has aimed to be sympathetic to their plight — not sensationalistic," said Mario Ruiz, vice president of communications for AOL Huffington Post, in a statement. "But based on our reporting, we found that young women and young gays are part of communities that often view the matter differently. We found that for many gay men, the use of escort services and the exchange of money for sex appear to carry less of a stigma, according to extensive interviews with gay escorts and members of the gay community."
For its part, GLAAD has launched a petition calling for The Huffington Post to retract the story. It's titled, "Tell Huffington Post to Stop Masquerading Anti-Gay Stereotypes as Journalism."
A GLAAD blog about the story claims that Fairbanks's conclusion deserves to be debunked, not defended.
"These are the false stereotypes put forth by the staunchest opponents of marriage equality," wrote Aaron McQuade, GLAAD's deputy director of news and field media, in a blog post. "These are the false stereotypes that were used as rationalization for 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' and they’re the false stereotypes that anti-gay activists used to fight against its repeal. These are the false stereotypes responsible for the bans on domestic partnership and civil union recognition. These are the false stereotypes put forth as reasons why gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children."