A columnist for the Huffington Post site says it is homophobic to criticize gay men who use Internet sex sites to meet teenage partners and only "bigots" are offended by such "nurturing intergenerational bonds."
Publicity about a relationship between 39-year-old Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and 19-year-old British diving champion Tom Daley has inspired criticism even from some gay rights activists.
Joshua Epstein, a blogger who identifies himself as a gay progressive Democrat, reacted to the Black-Daley affair on Twitter: "He could be his father. Yuk." That reaction was condemned by Huffington Post columnist Michelangelo Signorile, who said only "internalized homophobia" could cause gays to criticize such relationships.
"There is an undercurrent in these comments -- the 'chicken hawk' charge -- that suggests that gay men are more likely to sexually abuse underage teens, the ugliest lie about gay men out there," Signorile wrote Friday in Huffington Post's "Gay Voices" section. "Hardcore homophobes are predictably pointing to Black and Daley as supposed proof. But many gay men too, so defensive about the charge and deathly fearful of how it's used, overcompensate by saying 'yuk.'"
Signorile specifically defended sites that promote "intergenerational" gay sex. "Some younger people are attracted to older people, and vice versa," he wrote. "There's even a gay website called Daddyhunt. The famed novelist Armistead Maupin's 27-years-younger husband, Christopher Turner, founded it. They met on another one of Turner's sites, HotOlderMale.com. If that's not your thing, it's totally cool, but in that case just shut your mouth." Gay people who criticize older men having sex with teens need to "open our minds, refrain from the impulsive outbursts and stop feeding the bigots," Signorile wrote.
Such relationships are an important part of gay culture, Signorile argued: "Historically, gay men have engaged in intergenerational sexual encounters, brief romances and long-term relationships -- among consenting adults -- probably much more than straight people have. . . . And often, but certainly not always, that's been about older people teaching younger people -- again, consenting adults. Yes, there are older (and younger) gay men who are selfish and narcissistic and exploit people who are young and naïve, just like a lot of older (and younger) straight men. But that's often a gross generalization that doesn't account for the great many nurturing intergenerational bonds."
Conservative writer Robert Oscar Lopez criticized the Black-Daley relationship: "I can hear right now the response from the pro-gay press: 'But Daley's nineteen, so he's legal.' People who say things like that just prove that the gay male community has a lot of growing up to do." A professor at California State University's Northridge campus, Lopez wrote: "Toying with a nineteen-year-old's sexual identity, when the person is still at a tender age, still not secure enough in himself to piece together what homosexuality means, or even know why he's embarking on such a risky erotic journey -- that's just wrong. And until I see gay writers in Queerty and Thinkprogress acknowledging that this is a problem with the gay male community, I can't deny that I feel uncomfortable with this . . . A community led by people like Dustin Lance Black, a community that thinks this is normal and acceptable, is simply not a community that is prepared to have custody over defenseless pubescent boys."