The Magazine

"Pedophilia Chic" Reconsidered, Part 2

Jan 1, 2001, Vol. 6, No. 16 • By MARY EBERSTADT
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As for the related matter of gay non-fiction, here too, judging by the public domain, the subject of boy pedophilia has a manifest niche.

One book only recently available in the "gay studies" section of a Borders in downtown D.C., for example, is a peculiar classic of a sort entitled "Male Inter-Generational Intimacy: Historical, Socio-Psychological, and Legal Perspectives," edited by the aforementioned pedophile icon Edward Brongersma and two colleagues. This book, according to one of its jacket endorsements, "[sheds] critical light on the broad spectrum of man-boy love and its place in ancient and contemporary societies." In other words, it is a series of briefs using scientistic polemics in an effort to rationalize the sexual molestation of boy children. The article abstracts speak for themselves. ("Pedophilia is always considered by mainstream society as one form of sexual abuse of children. However, analysis of the personal accounts provided by pedophiles suggests that these experiences could be understood differently." "The incidence of violence is very low in pedophile contacts with boys. The influence can be strong in lasting relationships; it can either be wholesome or unwholesome." And so on.)

Of course, this opus that "gay studies" bookshelves now reserve space for did not spring from nowhere. The book itself grew out of two issues of the American Journal of Homosexuality (Vol. 20, Nos. 1/2, 1990) dedicated to the pondering of "male inter-generational love." Here again, an ostensibly mainstream gay vehicle was put to the service of advocating pedophilia. In fact, the case of the Journal of Homosexuality is particularly interesting as a case study of how a pernicious idea can spread. The editor of this reputable gay journal, John P. DeCecco, is a psychologist at San Francisco State University. DeCecco is favorably quoted in the introduction to "Male Inter-Generational Intimac"y for having praised the "enormously nurturant relationship" that can result from pedophile-boy contact. DeCecco is also on the editorial board of Paidika.

As one would expect, such cross-pollination in gay fiction and criticism is verifiable many times over via the inhuman efficiencies of cyber-correlation. It was not immediately obvious, for example--in fact, it came as a surprise--that typing "Paidika" into an ordinary search engine would turn up a reference to Gay Men's Press bestsellers; but it did not take long to see why. For one of the books on the Gay Men's Press bestseller list turns out to be "Dares to Speak: History and Contemporary Perspectives on Boy-Love," edited by Joseph Geraci--all of whose chapters but one appeared originally in Paidika itself. Another book on the same bestseller list is "Some Boys," described as a "memoir of a lover of boys" that "evokes the author's young friends across four decades and as many continents." Another on the same list is "For a Lost Soldier" by Rudi van Dantzig, advertised as involving sex between an 11-year-old boy and a Canadian soldier in Holland in 1944. There are more.

Surfing also makes plain that the better-known gay organizations, all of whom stand dead set against any conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia, are nonetheless sending mixed messages about what is and is not off-limits for the underage. Most of them, for instance, now have "youth sections" on their websites for and about legal minors. The justification for this heightened attention to the young is to ameliorate the angst of gay teenagers. At the risk of stating the obvious, though, it is hard to see how this purpose is served by encouraging boys to act and think sexually at ever younger ages, which is an all but unavoidable side effect of the type of "outreach" these sites engage in.

Consider, for example, the website of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), one of the more respected gay rights organizations in the country. It is just a click of the mouse from PFLAG's "useful links" to a site where one can read the "coming-out" stories of children aged 10, 11, and 12. Similarly, the "youth" section of GLAAD's publication list (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) simply assumes that minors are sexually autonomous--and active. One piece ("Landmark Survey Shows Gay Youth Coming Out Earlier than Ever") notes approvingly that most children now "realize" their orientation at age 12. Another piece, "Lesbian and Gay Youth Find Safe Place in Cyberspace," counsels: "Don't believe much of the hype about how cyberspace is populated with pedophiles." These citations are taken from just the first two pages of GLAAD's 15-page list of publications for and about "gay youth."