'Homojournalist' Fights For His Job p.9

By: Allan Wolper GERALD HANNON WALKED to the front of the journalism classroom at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute last fall and made a short announcement: "I am a homojournalist."
Hannon, 51, a popular teacher of freelance journalism at Ryerson and the winner of two Canadian National Magazine Awards, is known for his gay activist articles in assorted publications, including the Toronto Globe and Mail.
He was giving a lesson in journalism salesmanship ? a writer with a point of view had a better chance of selling an article to a disinterested editor than somebody without one.
Hannon told the class he had used his belief in "intergenerational" relationships, or sex between men and young boys, to capture the attention of editors.
It was a routine Hannon had performed before during his three-year tenure at Ryerson, but this time his lesson plan would unravel in a potpourri of hot headlines and breathless television reports.
He was charged with promoting his views on pedophilia in his classroom, then unmasked as a part-time prostitute who offered to "work my fingers to your bone" in salacious ads in gay magazines.
Ryerson administration officials called his man-boy sexual theories abhorrent, interviewed his students to see if he promoted his philosophy in the classroom, then suspended him with pay after he gave student reporters explicit details about his life as a hooker.
When things quieted down for a media moment, Ryerson had cleared Hannon of pushing pedophilia on his students, and reinstated him for the spring semester.
The university also rebuked Hannon for talking to the media about his after-hours activities, and placed a letter of discipline in his personnel file.
As the spring semester ended in early May, Toronto journalists waited anxiously for the overheated debate that seemed sure to restart about whether Hannon should be reappointed to his $1,000-a-month (Canadian money), part-time job for the 1996-1997 academic year.
"I would certainly like to return," Hannon said in an interview. "I love to teach. I think that I have done a good job, even though all this has been an emotional roller coaster for me. My life has been hellish."

Will he be reappointed?
The journalism department academic committee, which decides on part-time and full-time faculty appointments, was reportedly split on whether to bring Hannon back.
"It will be a very close vote," said Don Obe, professor of journalism, who originally recruited Hannon to Ryerson and is a close friend. "Gerald is a very good teacher, a very good writer and a role model for his students."
Obe noted that he knew Hannon was a part-time hooker when he recommended that he be hired for the spring 1995 semester.
"Prostitution is legal in Canada," Obe said. "Gerald is doing it on his off hours and it doesn't have anything to do with his teaching. The hooking thing never crossed my mind as being any kind of a problem."
But Bronwyn Drainie, an ethics professor at Ryerson, wrote in her Toronto Globe and Mail column that Hannon should do the "decent thing" and leave quietly.
"By giving a copious, salacious interview to the [Toronto] Sun about his prostitution activities, Hannon has turned a serious issue of free speech into a farce, Drainie wrote.
Ryerson's administration officials hope the journalism department will reject Hannon so they won't be forced to make a decision on whether to get rid of him.
The Canadian Union of Professional Employees (CUPE), which represents Hannon in his attempt to get the university reprimand removed from his personnel file, says Ryerson has never overruled a departmental recommendation.
Hannon's teaching ability has become a moot point as people like Obe, who despise his position on pedophiles, fight for his right to express them outside the classroom.
The great majority of the student journalists on the two campus newspapers have criticized the professional media for what they saw as cheap and inaccurate attacks on Hannon.
Meanwhile, the journalists and editorial writers from the Toronto Sun, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Globe and Mail have all chipped in with articles, columns and commentary on the life of Hannon.

A quiet beginning
Hannon began teaching at Ryerson three years ago in its continuing education program with no public notice, even though he was involved in one of the most talked about obscenity trials in Canadian history.
In 1977, Hannon wrote, "Men Loving Boys Loving Men" for Body Politic, a gay magazine, where he described in positive terms three sexual encounters for men and young boys.
The Canadian attorney general charged Hannon and Body Politic with using the mail "to distribute immoral, indecent and scurrilous materials," but he and the magazine were acquitted after two trials.
Hannon said he became a part-time prostitute in 1987, when Body Politic folded and he needed money. He found customers by buying classified ads in Toronto area gay magazines.
His place in Canadian magazine journalism circles was assured in 1992 when he won the first of two National Magazine Awards for articles in Toronto Life.
But just two years later, Hannon's pedophilia philosophy was back in the news.
Judy Steed, a Toronto Star reporter, authored an investigative book called Little Secret: Confronting Child Sexual Abuse in Canada.
Steed interviewed Hannon for her book to see if his man-boy sexual theories had changed since his 1977 article in Body Politic. They had not and Steed criticized him for it.
Hannon struck back at Steed with a caustic review of her book in Xtra, a gay magazine that accepted ads from the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), whose members openly practice pedophilia.
"She has let pity and outrage run away with her senses and produced a book that takes as its premise the notion that sexual contacts between children and adults can never be ethical," Hannon wrote. "I find that position intellectually unsatisfying."
Hannon and Steed then went their separate ways until last fall when students from Bronwyn Drainie's ethics class decided to embark on a class project on child abuse.
The students interviewed Steed and mentioned as an aside that Hannon was a part-time instructor at Ryerson, which enraged her.
"Pedophilia is not an academic subject," Steed remembered thinking, and wondered to herself whether Hannon had brought his man-boy philosophy to his students. "I called the journalism school and asked if it were really true that he worked there.
"John Miller, the journalism chair, told me he knew about Hannon's sexual theories and it didn't affect his work in the classroom."
Miller, a former deputy managing editor at the Toronto Star, was livid at Steed's implication that Hannon was giving his students lectures on pedophilia.
"Gerald is not a pedophile," Miller said. "We have not received a single complaint from students on his teaching or on anything he has said in his classroom."
Several days later, at a Women In Media conference on child abuse, sponsored by the Canadian Association of Journalists, Miller and Steed squared off in a nasty debate on Hannon's views on man-boy sex.
Heather Bird, a Toronto Sun columnist who attended the conference, caught the exchange, interviewed Hannon, five of his students, all anonymously, and wrote a column the paper tagged, "The professor of desire."
She accused Hannon of using his classroom as a pulpit for pedophilia and quoted his Xtra book review in which he compared a child sex ring to a boy's hockey team.
"I got a lot of calls," Bird said. "People didn't like the fact that Hannon said that a hockey coach played a sex role to a kid's team."
Bird's column prodded Ryerson's bureaucracy into an investigation about whether Hannon was proselytizing his man-boy point of view onto his students.
Michael Dewson, Ryerson's vice president of faculty and student affairs, ordered Hannon's students to the human resources offices where they were grilled about his lectures.
"It was ridiculous," said Bruce Weir, a 30-year-old reporter with the Ryersonian, a student newspaper, who was in Hannon's class.
"Gerald brought up pedophilia once in connection with a police investigation of a child sex ring in London, Ontario. He said police had exaggerated the situation there."
Hannon's lecture referred to a front-page article he wrote in the March 11, 1996 Globe and Mail which charged that London police investigated an alleged kiddie porn ring long after it ceased to exist.
The Ontario Press Council, a nonprofit group that adjudicate disputes between the public and the media, said Hannon's article was a one-sided "expression of opinion" that was mistakenly labeled "analysis."
Sarah Murdoch, an associate editor at the Globe and Mail who assigned the article to Hannon, called the council decision "absurd."
Weir said he recalled only one other Hannon classroom reference to male adult-child sex.
"He said the movie Home Alone was more exploitive than child pornography," Weir explained. "He never elaborated on that and we never asked him to."
Professor is a hooker
As Ryerson officials finished its questioning of Hannon's students, he became immersed in another sexual brush fire.
The Toronto Sun was given a copy of Fuse, an arts magazine, that included a publicity photo of Hannon posing in a film short on the life of a prostitute.
The five-minute segment, part of a longer feature called Symposium, was scheduled to be shown later this year at the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in Toronto.
The Sun wanted to know if Hannon was playing a role he knew from real life experiences, and learned later from the movie producer that it was indeed autobiographical.
"I couldn't bring myself to lie to the paper," Hannon said. "I told them I was a part-time prostitute. I knew it would eventually come out anyway."
Hannon told the Sun he enjoyed his life as a hooker and had no intentions of giving it up. "A lot of people have to get grants," he laughed to a Sun interviewer.
The Sun trumpeted its new disclosure on its front page, with a bulky, three-inch headline: "Ryerson Prof: I'm a hooker."
And then Hannon provided explicit details of his after hours activities to the Ryersonian.
Hannon told Christine Purdy, a Ryersonian reporter, that he had serviced more than 2,000 mostly middle-aged men, many of them married, for the same standard $50 fee.
"There was a man who wanted me to stand naked on the bed and he would stuff $20 into my mouth and I was to try and talk dirty to him while he jerked off listening to me," he informed the young reporter.
Hannon told her he had serviced clients who were in wheelchairs, without limbs and some who dressed up in baby clothes and asked him to defecate on them.
That confession to the student newspaper appalled the Ryerson administration, which felt its reputation was taking a relentless public pounding.
"When you have an individual who willingly defecates on other people for $50 and is proud of it, I say there are limits," Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse told the Ottawa Citizen.
Ryerson suspended Hannon with pay one week before the semester ended and forbade him from appearing on campus, a move that threw his class into chaos.
The students protested en masse, pointing out they needed Hannon to evaluate their three-month-long freelance writing projects that he had been supervising.
The university cut its losses by allowing Hannon to edit and mark the student projects, but insisted he collect them from the journalism department secretary at an off-campus meeting place.
Dewson, the university vice president, then issued a dual ruling: clearing Hannon of lecturing on pedophilia, but finding him guilty of "conduct unbefitting a member of the teaching community." For his sexual revelations to the media, Ryerson said Hannon had violated the university collective bargaining agreement, gave him a letter of discipline, and permitted him back on campus to teach his class for the spring semester.
But Angela Ross, a CUPE union representative, said the university violated Hannon's due process rights and his academic freedom.
"We called Gerald right after this started and told him we were going to fight for him," she said.

Ethics or academic freedom
But Heather Bird of the Sun and Bronwyn Drainie of the Globe and Mail insist Hannon had violated journalism ethics by his behavior.
Bird says Hannon violated a journalism code of ethics in his Body Politic article because he knew of a sexual encounter between an adult male and an underage boy.
"This is not about academic freedom," Bird said "He's teaching journalism. The boy was well below the age of consent. Hannon should have identified the people in that incident. Ryerson should not have hired him in the first place."
The Toronto Metro Police investigated Hannon's role in the incident after Bird mentioned it in one of her columns, then dropped it because there was no witnesses.
And Hannon said he never really knew the depths of the incident he described because the boy and the man were in a sleeping bag and he could not see what was actually going on.
But Don Obe, director of the Ryerson magazine program, said the issue is strictly a fight about free speech and academic freedom.
"There are really only a few journalists who think Gerald is a menace to society," said Obe, a former editor of Toronto Life magazine. "This is strictly about freedom of speech. It all happened because he was candid with reporters. He has been slandered. He's a freelance writer and there already are some clients who have told him they won't use his work."
Murdoch of the Globe and Mail said the controversy hasn't affected Hannon's relationship with the paper.
"We'll use Gerald the way we always have," she said. "About once or twice a year. He is provocative. He takes readers to places they don't ordinarily go. But we have heard enough of his views on sex for a while."
The Globe and Mail, in fact, assigned Hannon a short article for one of its end-of-the-year wrap-ups, just as the debate on Hannon was heating up. And he identified himself as an instructor, a prostitute, and a part-time journalism instructor.

Newspapers speak
The Globe and Mail editorial page also stood up for Hannon, insisting college students needed exposure to people with extreme views, and warned against making someone a scapegoat because of his private life.
"If this is our standard, then perhaps we ought to seek out those academics who have purchased the services of Mr. Hannon and his escort-service peers ? a far larger group to hound out of the classroom," the paper said.
"Mr. Hannon is a man of ethics ? not everybody's ethics, but consistent ethics nonetheless ? and sees no reason to hide his private identity. If his detractors are successful, hiding will be the only option left for those with controversial views."
The Toronto Sun threw its editorial weight behind Heather Bird's columns on Hannon, and suggested that his views were more suited to a soap box than a classroom.
"Is the free speech argument here that a university, a tax-funded institution, is above all criticism when it comes to its hirings and that once someone is hired he can say whatever he likes?" the paper asked.
"Many of Hannon's academic defenders insist on precisely this ? that it would be appropriate for Hannon to expound his views on pedophilia at any time in a class on freelance journalism. Well, we disagree. Free speech, and Hannon, will survive."
The Toronto Star, where Judy Steed works, said Hannon should only be fired if he was found to use his classroom to proselytize or mislead the university, if he committed a crime.
"Everyone favors free speech in the abstract," the paper said. "It's when the speech is highly popular or at odds with our moral values that it becomes tougher to defend."
? (Wolper, professor of journalism at the Newark campus of Rutgers, covers
campus journalism for E&P) [Caption]
?(The Toronto Sun published a tearsheet from Fuse, an arts magazine, that included a publicity photo of Hannon posing in a film short on the life of a prostitute) [Photo & Caption]
?(Heather Bird, a Toronto Sun columnist, interviewed Hannon, five of his students, all a anonymously, and wrote a column the newspaper tagged, "The professor of desire.") [Photo & Caption]
?(Journalism teacher Gerald Hannon told Christine Purdy, a reporter for the college newspaper, the Ryersonian, that he had serviced more than 2,000 mostly middle-aged men, many of them married, for the same standard $50. fee. Her article led to the university taking action against Hannon.) [Photo & Caption]


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