Destroyer – Journal of Apollonian Beauty and Dionysian Homosexuality (f. 2006) was a Swedish-based gay magazine published by Karl Andersson, containing features, photos, essays, interviews, reviews, columns, culture articles and fiction. Unlike most gay magazines, it focuses exclusively on boys and younger men, who, says the editor, were once a part of gay culture, but have vanished in recent years.
Destroyer was the brain child of Karl Andersson, a Swedish magazine professional. In 1999 he headed Straight, Sweden's first glossy gay magazine, and he has since then worked for Aftonbladet, Sweden's biggest daily, Slitz, the biggest men's magazine in Scandinavia, and for IDG Sweden. He has a bachelor of arts degree in language consultancy, MA in Visual and Media Anthropology, and lives in Berlin.
The magazine was printed and officially published in the Czech Republic, but distributed globally through its website, destroyerjournal.com. It has received a lot of criticism from the media and child-protection professionals for allegedly "sexualizing" children, but Andersson has been quick to defend his publication and gives interviews to argue against his critics.
Destroyer contained no images of nude boys under 18, and claimed to be legal in all countries where homosexuality was legal. Whilst the risk of prosecution for owning a copy of a gay magazine is probably very low, some countries have moved to criminalize clothed images of youth under the age of eighteen. Readers should always study the law in their jurisdiction before ordering a magazine of this nature.
Destroyer was subjected to massive criticism by the gay establishment in Sweden, because of its young male models. In a live radio debate, the chairman of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights accused Destroyer editor Karl Andersson of "giving gay people a bad name", an accusation they stood by when questioned by international LGBT media. The magazine also received criticism from child-protection activists for allegedly "sexualising" children.
Destroyer's final issue (#10), published in January 2010, was limited to 1,000 copies.
Karl Andersson is a Swedish publisher and researcher of male homosexual desires directed towards boys, and representations of boys. He is best known for Destroyer Magazine and the controversy surrounding it. In 2022, Andersson was involved in a social media outrage with Twitter conservatives and radical feminists, concerning a peer reviewed journal article, written for Qualitative Research, while studying for his PhD at the University of Manchester, England. In the below-linked article (published on April 26, 2022, over 3 months before it was discovered by regressive feminists on social media), Andersson used masturbation as an ethnographic technique, gaining insights into boy-directed desires in Japanese culture:
Abstract: I wanted to understand how my research participants experience sexual pleasure when reading shota, a Japanese genre of self-published erotic comics that features young boy characters. I therefore started reading the comics in the same way as my research participants had told me that they did it: while masturbating. In this research note, I will recount how I set up an experimental method of masturbating to shota comics, and how this participant observation of my own desire not only gave me a more embodied understanding of the topic for my research but also made me think about loneliness and ways to combat it as driving forces of the culture of self-published erotic comics.
From I am not alone – we are all alone: Using masturbation as an ethnographic method in research on shota subculture in Japan
After Alice Sullivan, a radical (i.e. conservative) feminist professor from University College London tweeted her disgust at the paper on 8 Aug, 2022, a social media firestorm ensued, later rousing the ire of the Rt. Hon Neil O’Brien - a Member of Parliament for the Tory Party. Further negative reactions came from the NSPCC Children's Charity and members of the online parenting community, Mumsnet (which is famously considered to be a bellwether for social attitudes in the UK). The article was soon removed from the journal website, with the following message:
Due to ethical concerns surrounding this article and the social harm being caused by the publication of this work, the publishers have now agreed with the Journal Editors and have decided to remove the article while this investigation is ongoing in accordance with COPE guidelines.
Books and publications
Karl Andersson's Swedish book Bögarnas värsta vän - historien om tidningen Destroyer, was published in October 2010 and covers the reactions to Destroyer Magazine. The book made headline in several national newspapers. Aftonbladet published a favorable review, which was criticized by the culture editor of Expressen. Key players in the initial scandals were interviewed by Svenska Dagbladet, including Andersson himself and the former chairman of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights. The English translation Gay Man's Worst Friend: The Story of Destroyer Magazine was published in March 2011, and is listed at the foot of the article with a link to a free PDF version.
The reactions to Destroyer have repeatedly been used in academic discourse as an example of what kind of expressions gay culture or sex radicalism may or may not include, and how that can change over time. One doctoral dissertation describes Destroyer's relevance thus:
The tension along the culturally determined barrier between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sexual expressions is demonstrated in the scandal of Destroyer magazine and the outrage it sparked within gay rights debates.
Some time in the early 2010s, Andersson returned to publishing with Breaking Boy News. Both this, and the original Destroyer were featured as a tangent in the Jacob Breslow controversy , with both being wrongly referred to as Child Pornography magazines, or otherwise grossly misrepresented.
- "P1-Morgon" Sveriges Radio. 2006-06-22.
- [archive.guidemag.com/magcontent/invokemagcontent.cfm?ID=037192F4-1B60-4C89-9222F5F3DCBF629E "Scandalized Scandinavians] The Guide. 2006-08-01.
- ""Tonårspojkar är väldigt vackra" Unga pojkar visar könsorgan i ny gaytidning" Aftonbladet. 2006-06-21.
- Manchester University taken to task for publishing ‘PhD in masturbation’ - Telegraph
- PhD student did ‘research’ on masturbating while reading ‘young boy’ comics
- University investigates PhD student’s paper on masturbating to comics of ‘young boys’
- PhD student publishes research paper telling how he masturbated for three months over extreme Japanese comics featuring young boys - Daily Mail
- Journal website archived after removal
- Stahre, Ulrika (27 October 2010). "En sorglig pojkdröm". Aftonbladet.
- Olsson, Karin (3 November 2010). "Gossedyrkan". Expressen.
- Andersson, Karl (2011), Gay Man's Worst Friend - the Story of Destroyer Magazine, ISBN 9789163368998.
- Kerstinsdotter, Reb (18 February 2008). The Beautiful Boy, The Destroyer: Sexradikalers förhandlingar om tidskriften Destroyer – en intervjustudie om anständiga bögar, fula gubbar och sexualiserade barn (Thesis). Stockholm University.
- Warburton, Timothy Ryan (2014). From AIDS to Assimilation: Representations of Male Homosexuality in Swedish Literature (Ph.D. thesis). University of Washington. p. 131.
- I Publish a Magazine Full of Half-Naked Little Boys - Vice
- Jacob Breslow (Newgon)
- Destroyer Editor: Karl Andersson
- Categories: Gay
- Frequency: Twice a year
- First issue: 2006
- Final issue: 2010
- Country: Sweden
- Language: English
- Website: destroyerjournal.com
- ISSN 1801-8203