Answering back

December 3, 2004

When I began my PhD at Glasgow University in 1999, I appreciated that the "reality" of researching male age-discrepant/intergenerational sexualities and relationships would likely prove a hotly contested topic.

But I did not anticipate that my mother and I would be subjected to offensive phone-calls; two lengthy Senate investigations; having sensitive material stolen from my office and passed on to a journalist; explaining my research to officers from the Serious Crime Squad; the News of the World taking a photo of me inside our house; and, finally, a series of ill-informed political attacks.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect has been that, during this time, The Times Higher published several articles (two by Marcello Mega on November 23, 2001 and August 9, 2002) personally attacking me and the research I was conducting. I was unable to respond during this time as I was a student. I would now like to set the record straight.

A major aspect of my research involved making contact with several sexual identity groups. I joined an email forum that is open to anyone. Mega claimed that I stated on this site that many male survivors had been "grateful for the abuse". This is not only offensive but it is also false.

He also claimed that subsequent interviewees "might be aware of the company" I keep. This again is a distortion. I participated in a particular forum during my research and have had no further contact.

These events should surely be condemned by those interested in academic freedom and the right to pursue difficult and sensitive topics from a critical standpoint. Because of the difficulties encountered, I have had to place a restriction of access on my thesis. But I am happy to discuss its implications for researching sexuality with anyone inter-ested.

Richard Yuill
Glasgow

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