three pairs of lovers with space



The following is one of the sections of the first chapter of Dr. Parker Rossman’s Sexual Experience Between Men and Boys (originally published in 1976), entitled "Dimensions of a Complex Problem", introduced here. His intention in this chapter was to give an unavoidably simplified but general idea of the different types of pederast and their prevalence. Actually, however, his evidence was mostly limited to what was then recent in countries with a Christian tradition.


Paiderastia: The Tutor in Sex

It may be that nature intended older males to tutor adolescent boys in sex, and unconscious or repressed pederast or homosexual tendencies are intended to stimulate an interest in such tutoring. Some of the dynamics of pederasty are at work in the warm, platonic relationship between boys and men who are unaware, or only dimly aware, of sexual overtones. Within this category it is important to distinguish the practicing pederast who actually seeks sexual relations with boys from those men who perhaps only once slip unintentionally into a bit of illegal sex play with a boy as a passing phase. Such “accidental” offenses most often take place among younger men who are not far removed from the time when they engaged in sexual horseplay as adolescents themselves. This is a constant danger (a sort of occupational hazard) for many men who work closely with young adolescents. All boys need human, companionable, tutoring relationships with men outside the family - be they teachers, Scoutmasters, club leaders, employers, priests - as well as uncles and fathers. Both boys and men should be helped to see that it can be quite normal for one or the other to experience sexual arousal once in a while, even for one to develop a crush on the other. If properly understood and interpreted, this need not be the occasion for actual sexual contact, although it is a type of sexual experience which can stimulate the sexual imagination and create a desire for sex contact - at least for touching and for psychic interplay and teasing. Emotionally, anti-homosexual men may so repress any conscious awareness of the experience that they are unable to interpret it in a healthy way to the boy, sharing instead their homosexual fears and taboos in ways that may lead the boy to fear that he is homosexual. The repressed pederastic temptations, however, may build up steam in the man’s unconscious in such a way that he can blow up unexpectedly and unintentionally in some moment of weakness, in an act of violence, or in an irrational sex act with a boy. Less homophobic men may also lack the awareness that a happy platonic relationship may be a first step down the ladder into illegal sex play; as when, for example, a boy gets hurt and needs comforting, or when a moment of wrestling gets out of hand.

The Scoutmaster by Norman Rockwell, 1956

Some boys, precisely because they are moral and want sexual intercourse only with girls in a loving relationship, have a strong need for substitute horseplay to resolve their erotic tensions. Others, less principled and disciplined, may be eager for experimentation, which, in turn, may lead them to make almost unconscious sexual gestures to a man in a situation where exuberant wrestling or horseplay may easily involve genital touching and sexual arousal. A sexually aroused boy may practice a form of unconscious sexual blackmail in order to continue something which he finds pleasurable and satisfying. Because pederastic temptations and dangers are repressed by society and are kept secret from both men and boys, most males are simply not aware of where a line should be drawn between acceptable horseplay and illegal sex play. Once a man has engaged in a moment of mutual masturbation with a boy, he is vulnerable not only to the boy’s unintended blackmail but also to his own conscience, as his moral restraints are eroded by the knowledge that he is now a criminal sex offender; so he may cynically decide that it doesn’t matter any more. Instead of being helped to interpret this sex play as an incident that could have happened to anyone; instead of helping him to strengthen himself to guard against future illegal incidents, society may label him a “sex monster.” He may wrongly assume that he is in an Either/Or situation: either he must commit suicide or he must rethink his moral position so as to justify the behavior which he found to be innocent and enjoyable - with a consequent moving into a sex freedom or libertarian position.

The unintended incident may therefore lead into the type of practicing pederasty which is called paiderastia (the tutoring man-boy experience of ancient Greece), a mutual, affectionate sex-play relationship between man and boy which is sometimes called “Greek love.” In ancient Greece this type of man-boy relationship was idealized philosophically as love for a boy’s soul and was intended to lead the youngster into mature adult heterosexuality.[1]

An Episcopal canon, in a book on counseling homosexuals, draws a distinction between gay-homosexuality and paiderastia, describing the latter as not being primarily interested in sex but as having “strong and tender love feelings toward one he thinks of as a person, not merely as a sex object.” In Greece, the canon says, such relationships between an adult citizen and an adolescent boy were “marked by high principles.” The adult, generally married, was pledged by his love for the boy to teach him good citizenship and courage, and it was shameful if the boy adopted an exclusively homosexual life-style as an adult. Other authors also note that such Greek love did not die out in ancient times, but has continued through the ages in various forms and in different cultures down to the present time. Even though U.S. law condemns and punishes such man-boy relationships, they are sometimes defended as having a “therapeutic effect on the individuals involved and a positive influence upon society as a whole.”[2]

1970 advertisement for Big Brothers

Consider, for example, this case: A school social worker in a large Northern city was astonished when four brothers all under sixteen years old - young hoodlums, the eldest of whom had been arrested 81 times for stealing, mugging, and other violent offenses against elderly citizens - suddenly calmed down and behaved themselves for two months running. They started attending school regularly and doing good work while there. The social worker reasoned that the explanation must be that some dominant personality had become involved with the young delinquents. Her investigation found that a “boy-lover” (her term for pederast) had entered into a relationship with the family which was transforming the boys into good citizens. The social worker asked herself: “Shall I ask the police to tail the man, who is the first constructive influence the boys have let into their lives in two or three years? How important is it to have this type of sex offender arrested, when the result may be a new reign of terror for the elderly of the neighborhood?” The man involved might well have been like Ben Burden - the name is fictitious - who in 1970 was given a testimonial dinner for his effective work in redeeming delinquent boys who had been given up as hopeless. When asked to lecture on his methods, he said to his wife: “How can I explain that many of them are violently delinquent because of their sexual frustrations and that they come to love and trust me because I help them meet their sexual needs?”

Ben later put his reputation and life on the line in order to salvage and change a boy everyone else had given up on. Ben was not the type of pederast who deceives himself about the sexual dimension of paiderastia relationships, but this does not mean that this type of pederast seduces his young friend or is necessarily involved in oral or anal intercourse. However, such sexual activity was the price the delinquent boy demanded before he would trust Ben and let him into his life. If, in his adolescence, a man like Ben had engaged in highly pleasurable sex play with boys, this may later strike him with a sort of erotic thunderbolt which many romantics describe as love - in that the touch of an attractive boy causes the heart to skip a beat and the breath to become short, and the discovery that the erotic arousal is mutual may inhibit both common sense and reason. On the other hand, for a man to refuse affectionate and sympathetic contact can be cruel and damaging to a fatherless or affection-hungry boy. The boy who is denied the affectionate reassurance of a good man, frequently seeks this from less principled persons or in more destructive relationships, as vividly portrayed in the film Montreal Main. This Canadian film, which premiered at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in March of 1974, explores a paiderastia relationship between a 28-year-old American artist and a 13-year-old Montreal boy, whose father enjoys consorting with avant-garde persons and “gays” (homosexuals), until he discerns the growing closeness between his son and the artist. The American agrees to terminate the relationship before it becomes sexual, but at the end of the film the disappointed boy is loitering in the area of town where less savory pederasts come to pick up boys for sexual liaisons.[3]

Montreal Main, directed by Frank Vitale, 1974

Most men of the paiderastia-type interviewed (nearly half employed by youth-serving agencies as staff or volunteers) were horrified at the thought of abusing such connections. They take great pride in avoiding any illegal sex play with boys they are responsible for in such programs, limiting their physical contact to the friendly hug or playful wrestling - except perhaps when they are far from home or overseas on vacation. Most of them are angry with the adventurous pederasts who sometimes wreak havoc in the Boy Scouts or Big Brothers. Occasionally such a paiderastia type, if he has been involved in sexual intercourse with a boy overseas, will, when he returns home, become heavily involved with a favorite boy, usually a boy who is especially sexy and aggressive. However, this seems to take place with great frequency only in residential institutions such as boarding schools - especially those schools filled with boys whose divorced parents have largely abandoned them.

Even then, this type of pederast - who has the good of the boy at heart - generally does not intend to have sexual relations with the youngster. The recent novels Sandel and The Boys[4] illustrate pedagogues of this type and portray their dilemma. In the former, a teacher at a British choir school is personally convinced that his relationship with an orphan boy is wholesome. He debates with another adult the moral issues involved in his affection for the boy, who is aggressively seeking a sexual relationship. The teacher is troubled enough to run away each time he is confronted by the possibility of overt sexual intercourse, such as when the boy’s knowing aunt proposes that teacher and pupil take a vacation together in Italy. In the novel the boy asks: “If a pederast is a man who loves a boy, what is the word for a boy who loves a man?” There is perhaps something boyish in every pederast of this loving tutor type. His sexual experience with boys is for the most part at the center of the scale - that is, simply joking, teasing, horseplay. When he takes a step into more illegal sexual activity, it is nearly always because his affection for the boy makes it impossible for him to refuse the boy’s overtures and deny the pleasure the boy requests.


[1] J. Z. Eglinton, Greek Love (London: Nevill Spearman, 1971) is a 504-page defense of paiderastia.

[2] Clinton Jones, Homosexuality and Counseling, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974, p. 95.

[3] Other films with related themes include The Victors, Germany Year Zero.

[4] Angus Stewart, Sandel. London: Panther Books, 1972; Henry de Montherlant, The Boys. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969.

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