Yesterday The Huffington Post published an article entitled, “Sex For Tuition: Gay Male College Students Using ‘Sugar Daddies’ To Pay Off Loan Debt” wherein writer Amanda M. Fairbanks concluded that rising college loans and unemployment rates have turned more and more gay men into sugar babies. The only problem? Her “research” consisted entirely of interviews with sugar daddies, their babies, the owners of the websites that brought them together, and studies that merely reconfirmed her hypothesis.
Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamation explains:
The author quotes someone as saying these gay students “used the money to afford the extravagant and often lavish gay lifestyle,” while another said, “In the gay scene, all you really have is your age or your money.” Fairbanks herself writes, “Unlike in the straight world, many say they find working as an escort on the gay scene to be an accepted, even applauded practice.” Another person tells her, “The gay community were really the first to embrace the sugar lifestyle, even more so than the straight community.” She interviewed yet another person who told her that he “finds the gay culture more accepting of one-night stands and casual relationships.”
… But this article doesn’t stop at just presenting the “gay scene” as a single-minded monolith – it also claims that this gay monolith supports prostitution…
GLAAD also points out that these stereotypes are the same ones our foes repeat to oppose marriage equality, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, domestic partnerships, civil union recognition, and gay adoption. When GLAAD asked The Huffington Post why they’d bother posting such a article, HuffPo responded:
“Our coverage of students who sell themselves to manage their college debt has aimed to be sympathetic to their plight — not sensationalistic. 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.”
Yeah, except that GLAAD points out that Fairbanks didn’t bother interviewing gay parents, gay teachers, long term committed gay couples, gay women, gay church attendees or anyone else who would “embody the diversity of backgrounds and experiences that would truly represent the “’gay community.’”
So now GLAAD has a petition asking HuffPo to apologize and retract the story.
Will HuffPo own up and make good or will they delight in the scandalous page views and hope everyone forgets? Hmmmm….
It’s a shame. Fairbanks’ article idea is actually a really good one that deserved a strong hard look. But sometimes journalism feels like a job where you just churn out stories, finding only the facts that support your conclusions, so you can publish and move on. We’d say Fairbanks has fallen victim to the HuffPo writing mill and perpetuated some very bad stereotypes in the process.