Appx 1,200 words
Kid-sex hooker prof scandal!
The Gerald Hannon Affair, 1995-1996, as told in two contemporary websites
Rick Bébout, May 1997
In November 1995, freelance writer Gerald Hannon became the focus of media attention after author Judy Steed learned that he held a part-time job as an instructor in the Department of Journalism at Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnic University. This discovery -- new to Steed, if not otherwise news -- led to a sudden and classic media-generated moral panic.
Hannon had been author of the 1977 article "Men Loving Boys Loving Men," published in The Body Politic and leading to a prolonged legal battle that ended -- in victory for the paper -- only in 1983.
That battle had also begun as a media panic. In fact, the 1995 "Hannon Affair" seemed almost history repeating itself, many of the same players reprising roles from nearly two decades before. But the Toronto Sun's revelation of Gerald Hannon's other career, as a prostitute (also not news), gave this later rendition a distinct spin -- often nearly comic. In time we would even see Gerald Hannon jokes.
Just as people came together to defend The Body Politic in the late '70s, so too did people -- some of the same people -- rally round in 1995. An ad-hoc "Committee to Defend Gerald Hannon" was set up. Attending a strategy meeting on November 25 (the same day the Sun broke the "hooker" story) were: artists Lisa Steele, Kim Tomczak, and Richard Fung; academics Nancy Nichol, Maureen Fitzgerald and Ian Lumsden; media critic Max Allen; Rachel Giese and David Walberg from Xtra; and some of Gerald's erstwhile colleagues at The Body Politic: Mariana Valverde, Ken Popert, Ed Jackson, Gerry Oxford, and myself.
But if not all the players were new, one of the political tools we now had at hand was: the Internet. Within a few days of that meeting, a website had been set up to alert people to the story. Soon afterwards Jeff Lindstrom, with Xtra's parent company, Pink Triangle Press (also publisher of The Body Politic until its end in 1987), began adding related pieces to the wide-ranging material he gathered on his personal site.
This page leads you to the story of the Hannon Affair as told by those two websites. Together they hold more than 60 separate documents.
About the sites
The first site, titled Gerald Hannon Case, was set up by Gerry Oxford in late November 1995. The address of its initial page was: http://www.io.org/~goxford/hannon.html
That page originally contained an essay followed by a chronology -- neither designed for easy on-screen reading. In time a new "home page" was added (the one included in the site as archived here) with links to this and other material. Key documents on this site:
(Hint: If you do, it's much quicker to move back to the chronology from these related pieces by using the "Back" button of your browser, not the "Chronology" link offered on each page.)
That site was not much updated after mid-December 1995. But later material got picked up on
Jeff Lindstrom's Hotlist: The Gerald Hannon Case. This was part of Jeff's much larger and still-active site, at: http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/~au834/ .
Documents from this part of Jeff's site are listed on its initial page. They include:
(Warning: This is a big piece I did in late 1995 and never got a chance to clean up -- it and its related "Sources" document still even include notes I made to myself. However, to preserve the integrity of material as it appeared on Jeff's site, I have made only a few annotations in this version, mostly to explain potentially cryptic local references.)
Jeff also added many links (listed on his initial page) to material on the site first set up by Gerry Oxford -- which in turn had links to Jeff's site, for the later chronology and for pieces post-dating November, 1995. Jeff last updated his site in September 1996. (For more on developments to that date and beyond, see The final chronology (so far), a separate document that was not part of either of these two websites).
Files from both sites were downloaded for "archiving" in the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives website on May 15, 1997.
Websites as archival records
Websites -- notoriously fluid and ephemeral -- are only beginning to be valued as historical records in their own right. In deciding to tell the story of the Hannon Affair through two "archived" sites, we were conscious of them not just as sources of data but as integral parts of the story.
So we applied the archival principle of respect des fonds (see Terms and concepts): both sites have been preserved intact, each in its own subdirectory, and modified as little as possible. Here are the only changes we made:
So take a tour through a modern media panic, presented -- and confronted -- on the Internet as it happened.
[Gerald Hannon Case] (Gerry Oxford site)
[Jeff Lindstrom's Hotlist: The Gerald Hannon Case]
[The final chronology (so far)]
[List of online documents] [General periodicals: Related documents]
[TBP / PTP Inventory: Archival resources] [TBP / PTP Inventory: Legal defence]