Who Gets to Advertise in DirectDiscourse?



DirectDiscourse is BENT's personals section. When we initiated it five years ago I announced that we would not publish the first listings until we had received at least a dozen. Brave words. I reneged in the face of reality: I think we opened the section with five. Today our listings include sixty-seven guys in search of friendship, partnership and no doubt, a few steamy things in between.

Who gets to advertise here? Like BENT itself, DirectDiscourse is meant primarily for gay men with disabilities. Our current listing does include a few nondisabled men, however. I had not given this much thought until I received the following e-mail from a reader:

I take exception to the able bodied-advertiser who claims he's looking for "amputee men that can appreciate being admired." When I first fell in love with an amp, I had never heard the term "devotee" before and I didn't find the disability anything more than an interesting facet of his personal history. After years and much discussion later, I still find the devotee world inexplicable and often very creepy. Why do you let guys like that advertise?

We let "guys like that" advertise because I am wary of being paternalistic. I give BENT's readers credit for being a bunch of unusually intelligent guys (why else would they be reading BENT?!), guys who know what's best for them. Furthermore, what criteria would I use if I wanted to censor ads? Prohibiting all so-called devotees from advertising would be censoring with a very blunt instrument.

I do appreciate the writer's sentiments, however, and I will always reserve the right to edit personals or decline to print an ad should I think the content offensive.

I would like to know what readers think.

Bob Guter




BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/January 2004