Destroyer features in doctoral dissertation

Tim Warburton’s doctoral dissertation From AIDS to Assimilation: Representations of Male Homosexuality in Swedish Literature (University of Washington, 2014) describes – as you can gather from its title – which cultural expressions of homosexuality were favoured and which were criticised, not to say dismissed and persecuted, in post-AIDS crisis’ Sweden. It’s an immensely interesting story, one in which Destroyer plays an integral part.

Warburton zooms in on how the gay program Böglobbyn on Swedish public service TV dealt with Destroyer (which is also described in my book Gay Man’s Worst Friend):

Although he is openly gay, Hilton’s tone during the voiceover of the program was disdainful and condemning; his presentation of Destroyer in Böglobbyn conveyed the message that respectable gay voices like his wanted nothing to do with Destroyer.

Warburton uses Gayle Rubin’s theory of sexual hierarchy to analyse the harsh condemnation of Destroyer:

The anxious need to maintain the line between good and bad sex drives the tension in the discourse surrounding Destroyer. The drawing of this line is demonstrated by gay rights voices like Johan Hilton, who have much to benefit politically, socially, and economically when this line is clear and pronounced.

He concludes:

The tension along the culturally determined barrier between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sexual expressions is demonstrated in the scandal of Destroyer magazine and the outrage it sparked within gay rights debates.

I think he’s right on the spot, and I’m happy that Destroyer’s role in “gay” politics – or to be more exact: Destroyer’s virtue of illuminating the less flattering sides of “gay” politics – is being brought to academic light again.

If you want to read the dissertation, it can be found in all academic library systems, for example here:

From AIDS to Assimilation: Representations of Male Homosexuality in Swedish Literature

The chapter about Destroyer is called “Cultural Amnesia of the AIDS Crisis” and starts on page 129. It’s well worth a read! The rest of the dissertation also seems interesting, but I haven’t read it in full yet.

Yes, Destroyer has been the subject of academic research before. The thesis The Beautiful Boy, The Destroyer: Sexradikalers förhandlingar om tidskriften Destroyer (in Swedish) was written by Reb Kerstinsdotter at Stockholm University in 2008. (Destroyer reported.) It is also referenced in Warburton’s dissertation.

Note to Swedish readers: My Swedish book Bögarnas värsta vän (2010) contains a detailed chronology of the Destroyer scandal. Buy it here in print or as a download. It is also available (to a higher price) at all major book and ebook retailers such as Adlibris, Bokus, Dito …

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