National Review Online Wants To Talk About Gay “Cradle-Robbers”

National Review Online pushed the baseless myth that gay men prey on youth, arguing that unlike relationships between much older men and younger women, “May-December creepiness” between gays gets a free pass.

In a May 8 post for NRO (subtitled, “In a culture where everybody's outraged about everything, old gay cradle robbers are A-OK.”), Christine Sisto took note of the controversy surrounding an affectionate photo of 13-year-old Willow Smith and 20-year-old actor Moises Arias, which got her thinking about the gays:

However, reading about Willow and her eagerness to grow up, I cannot help but think, “Why are we surprised?” In a recent edition of “Civilities,” the Washington Post's advice  column “covering LGBT and straight etiquette,” a concerned mother asked for advice about her 19-year-old son, who just came out to her about his homosexuality and his boyfriend, a man 20 years his senior.

The desperate mother asks for advice, pointing out that this man began dating her son when he was still in high school. She explicitly says, “I think he's a predator. . . . Please help!”


[Washington Post advice columnist Steven] Petrow basically advises the mother not to worry so much because these age gaps in homosexual relationships can be common. That may be true, but why is it okay? I'm sure if society didn't frown upon it, straight relationships between fifty-year-old men and 15-year-old girls would be common as well. As it stands now, a relationship between a female high-school senior and a male in his late 30s or early 40s would strike many people as, if not technically illegal, at least pretty creepy. It's certainly hard to imagine such a heterosexual relationship getting the “Who are we to judge?” treatment from a Post advice column.

The mother's letter to the Post stated that her 19-year-old son and his partner met “last year,” meaning that her son would have reached the age of consent by the time the two men began a relationship. Nevertheless, Sisto saw fit to compare a consensual relationship between two adult men to what many consider inappropriate displays of affection between an adult male and adolescent female.

Sisto's post relies on the old, discredited trope that gay men are predatory child molesters. While there's no factual basis for the claim that gay men are disproportionately likely to prey on youth, the myth persists in right-wing media and among anti-gay hate groups.

Sisto's larger problem, however, appears to be that she thinks gay men who date younger men aren't judged enough, regardless of whether their younger partners are adults. All she betrays here is her ignorance of the judgment older gay men have faced within the gay community for dating younger men, to say nothing of the work produced by people like her in right-wing media.

With nothing left to do but grasp at straws, Sisto predicted that thanks to marriage equality, polygamy and pederasty will soon become socially accepted practices:

Same-sex marriage has ushered in a new phase of “not judging” anyone or anything. A mother concerned about a middle-aged man's pursuit of her teenage son is called  “accusatory.” A lesbian “throuple” should be allowed to raise a child in a polygamous relationship because who are we to judge? The abundant acceptance of same-sex marriage is enabling those who want to push the limits of what we as a society accept. Who knows what will be acceptable in another ten years?

Who knows? One day, same-sex couples could be afforded the same civil rights as straight couples, and the next, you could have two adults engaging in a consensual relationship. Quite the slippery slope.