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destroyer magazine
Frightening Stockholm horses

 Queer n There Queer n There Archive  
August 2006 Email this to a friend
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Scandalized Scandinavians
Swedish LGBT group joins neo-Nazis in denouncing gay mag

Start your own gay zine in 2006, and the likely worst you'll face-- besides being stuck with a printing bill-- is getting roundly ignored. Karl Andersson, a Swede living in Prague, printed up 1000 copies of the first issue of Destroyer this spring, and hasn't wanted for attention since.

In June, his zine was denounced on Swedish radio as "not morally right" by the president of the country's main lesbigay group RFSL. Destroyer is condemned on the website of Sweden's neo-Nazi National Resistance. And Lena Nyberg, the government's " Children's Ombudsman," has called on the Swedish parliament to pass a law banning the zine.

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Destroyer's goal, says editor Andersson, is to restore the adolescent male to what he contends is his rightful place-- think Greek vases, Caravaggio, Von Gloeden-- in homoerotic iconography.

At first glance, the chirpy, perky English- language zine about knabenkultur would seem like nothing to frighten Stockholm horses. There's a review of Larry Clark's film Wassup Rockers; an ode to the almost- teenage Ritsuka, cartoon hero of the Japanese anime series Loveless; a meditation on the ideal gay sauna; and advice on how to run a twink website. From some of those twink sites are drawn a smattering of soft-core, certifiably 18-to-twentysomething guys. It's all packaged with flair-- Andersson honed his skills heading Sweden's first glossy gay magazine, Straight, and has worked at the main daily newspaper Aftonbladet.

Of course, the first issue reviews feminist Germaine Greer's 2003 book The Beautiful Boy-- whose program of restoring the adolescent male to his erotic pedestal-of-yore is close to Destroyer's own mission. Greer claimed that the fading of the boy as erotic trope in recent generations was a consequence of patriarchy run amok. The taboo protects, she contends, the status of older men.

On many fronts, Greer's is a contrarian view. Most would say that fear of sexual victimization, driven by prevailing feminist currents-- not any patriarchal cabal lurking behind-- is key to present obsessing over youthful eros.

Judging by the words flying in the Swedish media, those feministic fears are what's firing up, at least Destroyer's non-neo-Nazi critics.

RFSL president Soren Andersson complained that Destroyer opens the window to exploitation of the vulnerable, with the zine's juxtaposition of young naked guys with other photos of boys, making the sexual models "appear even younger." In addition, the RFSL president said, Destroyer was giving gay people a bad name by suggesting that teenagers are a gay male preoccupation.

"I do not recognize it, neither from my circle of friends, nor from those that I meet professionally in the GLBT sphere," Soren said on national radio.

On the same show, Ombudsman Nyberg called for a new law to criminalize sex pictures of adults who look like they could be under 18, or attempts "to picture young boys, children, as beautiful in sexual contexts." Nyberg's office said that it handed over Destroyer to Ecpat, an anti-sex-tourism NGO that works closely with police, to investigate; though for now, the inquiry appears to have gone nowhere. Nyberg was on vacation, and her office wouldn't comment on the matter.

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Clearly, the Swedes whom Destroyer has ruffled can get someone in trouble-- and not just the government officials. Slurring gay people in Sweden can mean prison-time, as Pentecostal minister Ake Green learned in 2003, when he was sentenced to 30 days for pronouncing from his pulpit that gays are, among other things, "the Devil's strongest weapon against God," and likely pedophiles, to boot. Does RFSL likewise want editor Andersson jailed?

"Obviously the magazine from our point of view doesn't give a good picture of gays and gay life," RFSL vice chair Anna Karin Skantz told The Guide, "but I don't think that we could, according to this [anti-defamation] law, prosecute it."

Skantz said RFSL has no position on the government's proposal to ban erotic images of young-looking adults. "There is a moral question and then there is a legal question," she said. "We don't necessarily always think that there should be a change of the law for a moral reason."

But such coyness in the face of a threatened new leap in European sex censorship is surprising. A law to treat arbitrarily defined "young- looking" adults as legal children has been rejected so far even in porn-hysterical US. Such a law could send a Swedish gay man to prison for possessing, say, a photo of his formerly furry boyfriend's now smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom shaved crotch.

"Soren Andersson thinks that I give the wrong picture of homosexuals," Destroyer's editor protests. "The problem with that view is that you imply that there exists a 'right' picture of homosexuals-- in which case you'll have a lot to work against if you're to suppress every little thing that stands out, from too-promiscous gay men, to guys in leather chaps, to masculine lesbians, sissy gay men, and so on."

In joining forces with neo-Nazis and anti- sex censors, what's up with RFSL? The L in its name stands for "liberation"-- but maybe in the same way words such as "people's" "democratic," and "republic" figured in the names in some of the regimes fondest of gulags and reeducation camps.

In the meantime, at least, Destroyer remains available in Sweden, and pretty much anywhere gay publications are tolerated, via www.destroyerjournal.com, or by sending US$15 to Destroyer, PO Box 101, CZ-120 00 Prague 2, Czech Republic, or at gay bookstores in Amsterdam (Intermale) and Berlin (Prinz Eisenherz).

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