chicken hawk: the controversy
august 14, 1994
by john anderson
for a documentary, it's got a little of everything: #s****l aberration and #family values, #radical#sodomites and rabid reactionaries, ancient #greece and allen ginsberg. and when it was shown last march at the #newyork underground film festival, adi sideman's "chicken hawk: men who love boys"--a 55-minute documentary about the north american man-boy love assn.--started the feathers flying.
founded in boston in 1978 and currently claiming 1,500 members, #nambla celebrates s****l liaisons between adult #men and #underageboys. not surprisingly, its existence has provoked every response but ambiguity: #conservative groups loathe the nambla-ites; most #g*y groups despise them because their predilection #feeds into the oldest homophobic stereotype about g**s in general--that they are, by nature, #childmolesters; and even those who would ordinarily defend the #civilliberties involved are put off by nambla. the group holds meetings, operates a hot line and publishes a newsletter, all in the face of a dearth of public support.
so it might be surprising that a film would give such a group a platform, allowing them to air their positions while showing them being threatened, reviled and going about nambla business.
but amid the protest marches, angry press conferences and widespread fury about nambla--something that is certain to follow the movie to los angeles when it opens friday at the los feliz--director sideman sat in a sea of relative calm. because, with the exception of his nyu film school professor--who questioned whether the film was socially responsible, and then gave him an a on the project anyway--no one on either side of the issue has had a bad word to say about it.
“i'm pro-'#chickenhawk' and anti-nambla," said tom mcdonough, 47, founder of the conservative, anti-homosexual organization straight kids #usa, whose virulent opposition to nambla is a major component of sideman's film.
A #chickenhawk or chicken hawk is slang used in american and british gay culture to denote older males who prefer younger males for partners, who may less often be called "chickens",i.e., the prey of the chickenhawk. other variations includechicken queen and chicken plucker.
it is sometimes used as a disparaging vulgarity within the lgbt community, or seen as a slur against people in that community. the label can be applied to a man who seeks partners with the look of someone young, regardless of their target's age. "chickenhawk" also indicates a man who uses underage boys for his sexual pleasure. the usage was publicized by members of the controversial group nambla in the 1994documentary film chicken hawk: men who love boys,although time magazinereported it in this sense in 1975.