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  WINDY CITY TIMES

DePaul professor explains controversial article
by Matt Simonette
2016-06-01

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Jason Hill, professor of philosophy at DePaul University, published, in late May, a harsh critique of gay culture in The Federalist, a conservative web magazine.

In the article, titled "Loveless, Narcissistic Sex Addicts: A Gay Man Critiques His Community," Hill asserts that gay men foster a hypersexualized, decadent culture that renders them unable to participate in meaningful relationships. He is blunt in many assessments, including that until gay men can get their moral house in order, that marriage equality is "a colossal waste of time."

Online commentators quickly took aim at the article. Queerty said, "If you're looking for a lesson in how internalized homophobia can mix seamlessly with antiquated puritanism to produce a toxic sludge dressed up in a three-piece suit of 'social analysis,' your search is over!"

LGBTQ Nation said the article "was sure to make your blood boil" and tagged it under the category of "internalized homophobia."

Hill told Windy City Times that the editors had changed his title and equally harsh subheads—one of which read, "We're so lonely, we almost want AIDS"—but stood by what he wrote in the main text of his article. In an age of Grindr and Scruff, he said, gay men will be unable to find harmony in their relationships unless they can develop a stronger moral contract.

Windy City Times: Did you come up with the titles and the subheads?

Jason Hill: That was my editors.

WCT: Do you you think they reflected what you wrote?

JH: To some extent. I've worked in journalism before, and I know that writers have very little control over the subheads and headlines. The actual title of the piece was "The Content of Our Sexual Character: Gay Identity in the Age of Marital Equality," not "Loveless Sex Addicts"—that was The Federalist's titling. When I saw it, having worked for many years in journalism before I came to America, and realizing this is what happens, I just rolled my eyes and said it was fine.

WCT: What made you write the piece, and where do you place it in the context of your work overall?

JH: I wrote the piece because I'd been observing what I thought were not just pathological but very self-destructive tendencies in the gay community that went against what gay men themselves seemed to have been aspiring towards—sustained intimacy, long-term relationships. There were just certain behavioral traits and patterns both in the dating world and gay community at large that kind of upset me.

I'm a moral philosopher, an ethicist by training. I tend to look at things from an ethical standpoint. I thought I needed to write a piece that would hold those members, some members of the community guilty of these sorts of behaviors, accountable. But I [also] wanted to talk about the culture itself, and what constitutes gay culture itself—the ethos, pathos, mores, norms and protocols under which the people that suffuse that culture under which people are socialized. There seemed to be something pretty skewed in many respects.

WCT: What do you see as the key disconnects?

JH: One, I think, is the way I think the culture fosters sex addiction, I think, through the proliferation of certain apps that I think are incompatible with the desires and aspirations of gay men who I think want a monogamous or sustained relationship. I thought there was a huge disconnect in the aspirations of those individuals who want a certain life for themselves, and have certain behaviors or habits that cultivate and foster it. The two are diametrically opposed. One can't have one's cake and eat it as well. …If you are faced with a multiplicity of options, the impetus to get to know one person, to hone in on one person and now them intimately, and to build up a bond, is completely lost.

WCT: How pervasive do you think that disconnect is, or is it just something that applies to certain segments of the community?

JH: I think it is pervasive. I think even among gay men not inclined to follow that behavior, the culture is one that I find quite broken and bankrupt. …I don't see any pockets that are encouraging the kinds of things I articulated in the article. I'm not puritanical or a purist, but there is something old-fashioned in my approach towards sex that I don't expect everyone to hold. I don't expect everyone to hold to those sorts of values. But I do think it's pervasive. I do say in the article that most gay men are sex addicts and I would stand by that. That's a harsh statement to make, I know, and, having said that, I know that even those who are not are being socialized under the auspices of an ethos that I think is very self-destructive.

WCT: Do you think that there might be some men who are "hard-wired" for multiple sexual relationships?

JH: I think that's a problem for men in general.

WCT: So you would see that as a problem?

JH: It is a problem, and this may sound heteronormative, but there is something about the female impulse, coupled with procreation. I think heterosexual men do sacrifice a great deal when they get married and do almost become sexual altruists. There's a way that the expenditure of their sexual energy is grossly curtailed, so they have to do it on the sly in the form of extramarital affairs. There are open marriages, of course, in heterosexual culture, but that's the exception and not the norm. There's nothing in heterosexual culture that encourages men to go outside the hearth. Whereas I do think gay culture encourages that sort of thing. As a cultural norm, I just don't see it as being sustainable.


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