Huffington Post’s commentary on the Penn State tragedy written by Cindy Abel plays into all the false and damaging stereotypes about gay people that I’d expect to hear from Pat Buchanan and other right-wing homophobes.
I have no idea who Abel is or what qualifies her to weigh in on these topics, but by labeling Jerry Sandusky as “gay,” she engages in reckless, dangerous speculation that should have no place in the Huffington Post, a mainstream site with a wide audience.
Abel refers to homosexuality as shameful and suggests that somehow it’s worse for a male pedophile to target boys rather than girls. Further, Abel reinforces the false notion that gay men can’t be “macho” (tell that to the gay men now openly serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan).
Abel writes, “in the eyes of a homophobic culture, a gay pedophile is much worse than a straight one.” Really? I thought all pedophilia was equally disgusting and evil.
She continues, “Fear of the gay factor, in a very twisted way, probably protected Jerry Sandusky.”
More likely, university officials feared the shame of pedophilia, not homosexuality, staining Penn State’s reputation. Abel neglects to mention that Sandusky, by all accounts, is heterosexual. He was married with children. Surveying the faces of the Penn State scandal — Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, coach Mike McQueary, athletic director Tim Curley, vice president Gary Schultz — all are straight men. This scandal isn’t about gay men; it’s about greed and a culture that prized money over doing the right thing.
MORE IN THE BLADE: A GAY ALUMNUS REFLECTS ON PENN STATE TRAGEDY
Abel — and the rest of the misinformed folks at Huffington Post — should do their homework and exercise some informed judgment before publishing their work.
Abel cites “pedophilia,” but that term refers to an “adult psychological disorder characterized by a preference for prepubescent children as sexual partners,” according to medical experts. A preference for children has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
“Many child molesters don’t really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or children of both sexes,” according to experts at University of California-Davis.
Despite Abel’s claims and her references to the Rene Portland scandal, Penn State has made tremendous strides in improving the campus climate for LGBT students. I’m an alumnus and serve on the campus LGBTA Student Resource Center’s board. Campus Pride awarded Penn State its highest ranking for LGBT-friendliness just this year. Only about 7 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities operate LGBT centers on campus and I’m proud that Penn State has emerged as a national leader in this area.
When I asked for Abel’s credentials, the Gay Voices editor told me that “she’s a member of the LGBT community.” Wow, they’re setting a high bar over at HuffPo. Further, the editor there refused to publish my response to Abel’s screed. So, I’m publishing it here instead. Huffington Post bills itself as an “internet newspaper,” yet apparently allows anyone with a keyboard a platform to spout inaccurate, false information. It’s the antithesis of journalism.
Sandusky’s alleged crimes are sickening and the resulting scandal has broken the hearts of Penn Staters everywhere. Let’s not make a bad situation worse by reporting false and reckless speculation and reinforcing long discredited stereotypes. Abel and the Huffington Post should apologize and retract this inaccurate and sloppy piece of error-ridden rumor mongering.