three pairs of lovers with space

THE IDENTITY AND SELF-UNDERSTANDING OF PEDERASTS BY PARKER ROSSMAN

 

The following is the fourteenth chapter of Dr. Parker Rossman’s Sexual Experience Between Men and Boys, originally published in New York in 1976. Though what is reported here about pederasts purports to be general, it appears from the content to be based entirely on the experiences of pederasts in the USA and western Europe in the third quarter of the twentieth century, and much of it would not apply to other times and places.

 

Identity and Self-Understanding

A sense of identity as a pederast may begin diffusely with a growing awareness that one is erotically attracted to boys, but it starts to consolidate with the demanding emotion, so powerful it cannot be ignored, of being enamored with a specific boy. For the majority this experience first happens in adolescence, at an age when most youngsters are plagued with self-doubt and emotional growing pains, and when few boys are prepared to cope alone with such a crisis. Yet few of these budding pederasts dare admit the crisis to anyone, for most are keenly aware of the penalties of being different, or “queer,” in our society. It may well be that those whose first experience of being enamored of a boy happens very young grow up to accept and accommodate to the fact much as they would a crippled leg. Those who live with the fact the longest may find it easier to accept the identity and label, and to integrate the accompanying sexual behavior and preferences into their total personality structure, step by step, incident by incident, as they grow and develop. The opposite seems clearly to be true, on the basis of our interviews, that those who were adults or older teenagers when they were struck with the first overwhelming powerful infatuation have a more serious crisis in self-understanding.

 

WHO AM I?

In the general adolescent and young adult quest for a sense of identity, a person at times may seek to affirm his uniqueness, and at other time to prove that he is the same as everyone else. If he is unique in being more intelligent, better-looking, or a better athlete, he will take more pride in his uniqueness, and he may organize his personality around these special characteristics. A person’s identity consists of more than his own self-view of his physical, mental, emotional and character-personality traits, however. The view of himself which an adolescent constructs must take account of, and be reshaped by, what he sees in the eyes of others. A crisis in identity can result from many types of rejection or self-rejection, but none is so severe as the self-awareness of society’s fundamental disapproval. The adolescent is caught up in questions: why am I different? why did this happen to me? Some pederasts report that they later had successfully repressed or ignored a second enamoring, since it was something one was not allowed to consider as a possibility. In one way or another, many pederasts as adolescents were plagued emotionally by the word queer, which was frequently on the lips of their contemporaries. To this question - Am I a queer? - was often added the question: Am I wicked or sick?

 

PROFILE OF THE PEDERAST

If one can speak of a “typical” pederast by listing the characteristics of the majority as shown by questionnaires and psychological tests,[1] he may be described as follows. He is in young to middle adulthood. He has an above-the-average education, a good job, and is not yet married. He became aware in his young adolescence that he was erotically attracted to boys thirteen or fourteen years old. As he has grown older he has continued to be smitten with boys of that age, one after another. When he had the chance to carry on mutual masturbation with one of these boys, his infatuation and fantasies increased the pleasure and power of the experience over what it would have been for another boy. If he had other adolescent sex play or experience it was with relatives or very close friends. In mid-adolescence he began to date girls, perhaps a bit more than other boys his age, because he was anxious to prove to himself as well as to others that he was normal. At that time he still hoped that his crushes on boys were a temporary phenomenon and that he would grow out of it. He had the supporting conviction that he had never done anything very bad - a bit of oral and anal experimentation, perhaps but mainly just mutual masturbation. In mid- and late-adolescence he developed a generalized fondness for the company of boys which led him to concentrate his activities in areas of interest to younger boys. For example, he stayed in the Boy Scouts longer and became a patrol leader or else his athletic interests turned to coaching. He intended to put his sex play with boys behind him, but every now and then a younger boy he was enamored of would respond with affection and sexual gestures. One or more of these relationships – each lasting a year or more with increasing sexual involvement - would be so happy and emotionally rewarding as to set a pattern for future such relationships. When he consciously came to terms with this fact, usually in his early twenties, he had also chanced to meet other pederasts. His accepting of the pederast identity involved his decision that this aspect of his nature was the core of his experience around which he would define himself. The underground then became important to him, not as a place for illegal behaviour but as a place of self-definition, where he could assess himself in comparison and in contrast with other pederasts. For many pederasts the underground therefore, as a place for testing, validating and interpreting experience through conversations and sharing of experiences, has become a substitute for actual sex acts, at least of the promiscuous sort which are provoked by a continuing quest for self-affirming experiences.

 

ARE PEDERASTS HOMOSEXUALS?

This process of self-definition frequently goes through two phases. First, there is an effort to answer negative questions and deal with the brutal opposition of society; then, second, there is a positive effort to develop a pederast identity, along with self-acceptance and even pride. The first of the negative challenges, which some pederasts struggled with even before puberty, is “Am I a homosexual?” As the growing child discovers what it means to be male or female, sexual identity includes knowing what he can do and what he is forbidden to do. To be “gay” usually means accepting, and being committed to, a homosexual life-style which is more or less exclusive, rejecting sexual relations with the opposite sex, and therefore ruling out conventional marriage and life. It comes to mean far more than defining oneself as “different” or “queer.” There are three typical answers that pederasts tend to give when confronted with this question.

I’m Not Gay

One pederast said: “I’m happily married, with fine children. I don’t know what to call the secret identity I have which is known only to a few intimate friends. Pederasty is a minor aspect of my life which I refuse to let overweigh more important things. I have two friends who gamble. One of them deserves the label of gambler because he is a compulsive gambler, continually losing his wages. No one thinks of the other as a gambler, although he enjoys himself at the races. He keeps his life in balance, and his gambling - like my pederasty - is not compulsive but is something he enjoys. Certainly my pederasty is as much a part of me as a mole on my face. If that mole becomes cancerous my identity would become ‘cancer patient.’ My whole life would then be altered and I would no longer be the ‘sex freedom’ advocate whose wife also has her little sex diversions on the side, by mutual agreement. I’m pleased that my 16-year-old son sleeps with his girls, and if my younger son has sex fun with a boy friend, that is fine with me. I want my boys to have happy lives in every way, in contrast to my own childhood, which was sexually miserable. Is it only the poor child who secretly dreams of being a prince, entitled to wealth and pleasures presently denied him? When I was fourteen I had my eye on certain very sexually attractive boys that I planned to reward by making them pages in my palace when I became king. I had no guilt about my sex play with them, because as a prince I was entitled to special favors. As I grew older I had to divest myself of the notion I was a prince, but the conviction remained that I was unique, a special sort of person, with sex tastes that were different, more varied, perhaps more enjoyable. I was never a homosexual. I was crazy about girls ever since I can remember. I knew it was wrong to have sex with little girls, for they were going to be wives and mothers and should be protected, not abused. It never occurred to me as a youngster that sex with a boy was wrong or against the law. I knew that ‘hustling’ was bad, but I thought that was because one sold oneself for money. When I was in the navy I took a violent dislike to gays, and after observing their lifestyle I knew I wanted marriage and a family. My decision was that I was a pederast and that I was not gay, but was simply a normal man who happens to enjoy sex horseplay with boys of thirteen or so. To be honest, I suppose I do consider myself to be a ‘fag,’ as defined by boys on my street in Brooklyn when I was a kid. They thought that except for priests all kindly, warm, sympathetic and educated men were ‘fags.’ “

Another pederast said: “I’m definitely not gay, for I have strongly resisted situations where boys wanted to make love or to become emotionally involved. I didn’t know the word gay at fifteen, but I knew that lovemaking was with girls and my daydreams were about romantic honeymoon trips to gardens of love, something quite different from the hilarious and delightful sex games that I’ve played with boys.” Said another: “A gay is a sort of feminine type, and there’s nothing of that in me, even if I do love boys.” Another said: “I’m engaged, and I’ve made it with many girls even though I’m younger than I look. One thing I’ll never do is tell a boy that any kind of sex is wrong. What I love about young adolescents is the gleam in their eyes and the expression on their faces when they have had some good sex. The boys I find erotic are those who are first coming into adolescence, that wonderful shy and secretive age of first sexual experience. If I were gay I couldn’t so much enjoy and share that marvelous time.” Said another: “I’m absolutely not gay, nor did I think of myself as a pederast until recently when, after a string of losing games, I got bumped down to junior-high-school coaching when I was over forty. Not all the boys are erotically attractive to me, but I have to admit that some are, especially the ones who are both good-looking and athletically promising. I never touch one of my boys, except as necessary as a coach, but they got me so aroused that recently, on vacation, I went to a place where I could sleep with a boy prostitute to see if it was true - and it was. My pleasure in working with boys is now greatly enhanced by the glow and memory of that sexual experience, which fills my fantasies. One nice thing about limiting sex play to fantasy is that one can do whatever one wants.”

I’m Gay

A pederast who accepts the gay label says: “Society obviously thinks that I am homosexual, since I am now homosexually involved with a young male. I try always to obey the law, except when I’m overseas, which means that I’ve tried to transfer my pederast activity to boys of legal age - one can find some very nice boys who are eighteen, or who at least have papers affirming they are that old.” Another said: “I’m definitely gay in that I enjoy sex with males my age and older, as well as with the younger boys I prefer. I discovered that preference when I was in the university, and discovered how sexually hungry and desirous some boys are, and that’s what attracts me. I find some women sexually attractive, too, but I’m satisfied with my life as it is, and I’ve made my friends in the gay organizations.” Another said: “Yes, I’m gay in that I simply don’t like women, because they are always trying to trap me into marriage, especially the mothers of boys I grow fond of. One even wanted to leave her husband for me, and I see now she was using her son as bait. I suppose you would say I’ve had bad experiences with women, compared to the fun I have had with boys. However I’m not gay in that I’m not attracted to males over sixteen. Perhaps I’m not really a pederast either, in that I never do the things that are proscribed under the sodomy act. I’m too fond of kids to get them into trouble. I’m a pederast in that I enjoy picturing boys as I masturbate, and I enjoy taking pictures of boys playing with each other, which will be the solace of my old age, although if I had sexual intercourse with a boy I probably would think of a woman as I did it.”

The ambiguity of definition is illustrated by this statement: “Yes, I’m gay, but to me the word means someone who admits to himself that he isn’t bound exclusively to women, but can enjoy sex with males as well as females – and that sex is for pleasure and not just making babies. How can I deny being gay when I so enjoy sex with young males? I do not consider myself queer. A ‘queer’ is someone who can’t stand women, a ‘queer’ is someone who denies himself some of the natural pleasures which God gives. In my early teens I discovered the fountain of pleasure which many people search for all their lives, and having found it I decided to bask in it and enjoy it. I think some of the people who call me ‘queer’ are simply jealous. Gay means ‘enjoying.’ “ Another said: “In the tough, lower-class neighborhood where I grew up it was taken for granted that boys, at any age, would spend their spare energies trying to take advantage of girls. If you masturbated, it meant you were either a ‘queer’ or admitting failure. When my friend and I discovered that we enjoyed playing with each other, we decided we were criminal.” This pederast then reported how he and his friend joined a “gay group” at their school and the friend became gay-homosexual in life-style, continuing to have sexual involvements with persons his own age as he grew up: “As we grew apart, he said I was ‘queer,’ for continuing to be interested in younger boys.”

Ambiguous

The third and perhaps most typical response of pederasts is ambiguity: “I don’t know if I’m gay or not, for the word is puzzling. My girl friend says I’m certainly not gay and she ought to know, although she is aware that I play around with boys. She tolerates that because she doesn’t want to sleep with me any more until we’re married. Also, she accepts my word that I’m an honest person who admits the truth about himself and about the boys, who are irrepressibly sexed young animals who enjoy it with me. Do I seduce kids? Never! I have to fight them off. This whole anti-homosexual taboo is a fraud and myth, as is most sex education. I’m not gay in that I don’t care for kids that are queer, just the sexy little buggers.”

Said another: “I don’t know if I’m gay, but I’m definitely pederast in that I enjoy all types of play with young boys - wrestling, boxing, basketball, tennis, and sex play, too, but only if a boy wants it. If I were gay I’d be interested in the gay kids, in a possessive, emotional relationship, instead of doing all I can to help boys relate to girls. If sometime I get caught, the newspapers will probably say that I abused my position at the boy’s club, but it isn’t as they would think. I’ve never solicited a boy. It all began when a scared kid crawled in bed with me on a camping trip, and the next thing I knew he was playfully rubbing himself against me. We spent half the night talking about sex, not saying a thing his father wouldn’t have approved of. Now, whenever a boy shows up at my house at night, saying he’s got a problem to talk over, I wonder if he has learned something about me from other boys. Whatever my pederast friends say, however, it isn’t my intention to solve boys’ problems by talking things over with them in bed. I’m always genuinely sorry when that happens, and I do all I can to help them make it with a girl.”

 

ARE PEDERASTS CRIMINALS?

One problem with any label is that it tends to freeze a person into a lifestyle or sex role which otherwise might change as the young person develops. Some young gay persons marry as they grow older, and some pederasts give up such activity altogether as they grow older. A European legislator[2] is of the opinion that many young persons come to accept a criminal identity through the discovery that their sex activity is against the law. Such a relationship between pederasty and delinquency is evidenced in this statement: “Of course we didn’t realize at first that our sex play was so wrong, for we were just clowning around even when we sodomized each other. My hair really stood on end when I learned I was guilty of an act that could send me to prison for many years. We were criminals, therefore, who enjoyed doing things good people weren’t supposed to do. As partners in crime we were bound together in a close friendship as closely as committing a crime together. So we discovered that breaking into a house or a store was as exciting as sex, exploring forbidden territory to find treasures we could keep. Even today, when a boy consents to go to bed with me, I have the same thrill of excitement I felt when I was a kid and we broke into a store and found boxes of candy, cartons of cigarettes, and money in the cash register. Sex play then and now is all the more exciting because it is exploring forbidden territory like that. The body of another person is a fascinating world to explore, for each boy is sexually so different in how he responds and what he likes. I find it highly arousing when a boy decides he is criminal because he enjoys illicit sex. I think my current boy is much more uninhibited in bed because he knows that somehow he and I are outcasts, secretly bound together by the scorn and disapproval of good people if they knew. If it were legal neither of us would enjoy it so much. Already when I was seventeen and eighteen, since I knew I was a criminal anyway, I had no hesitancy in seducing innocent boys, exploring virgin territory, and the easiest way was to take him stealing first. Then when he was elated with a successful breaking and entering expedition, and had wicked money in his pocket, it was easy to get him to consent to celebrating in bed.”

For every pederast who accepts a criminal identity, however, there are a hundred who deny any criminal intent, asserting that the laws should be changed, that the “age of consent” should be lowered, and that their relationships with boys can be wholesome and good.

 

ARE PEDERASTS SICK?

Pederasts take varying positions in answering to their own satisfaction the question: Am I sick? Some of them say that everyone is sick in our culture! We have previously quoted those who affirm that the pederast considers himself to be a healthy person in a sexually sick society. For example: “As far as I am concerned our whole sex system is mad. I think it hilarious that some people think me mentally ill because I can enjoy myself sexually with anyone I like. I think I’m one of the few healthy people I know, and it is equally crazy that some people think I would make a boy gay by having sex with him. I bring boys alive sexually so that they are crazy for girls and are much freer to enjoy them, instead of being all tied-up and repressed sexually. It is our sexually repressive culture that twists kids, and I help them untwist themselves. I was so girl-oriented myself that I might never have found out how enjoyable boys can be if I hadn’t gotten in some trouble that led to my confinement in an all-boy institution for a time. There were a lot of sick boys there, and some of the staff seemed to me just as sick, and I was helped to see what was sick and what was not. The psychiatrist himself said I didn’t belong there and got me out because he said I was a very healthy boy.”

A European psychologist[3] has administered tests to pederasts, homosexuals, and non-pederast adult males in order to determine how pederasts differ from the normal heterosexual men. On the Amsterdam Biographical Questionnaire (ABV), a group of pederasts recorded more psychological and physical complaints than is common for the test - at least in part because pederasts were much more openly self-critical and undefensive in answering. The extent to which their complaints resulted from neurosis, from a tell-and-be-damned attitude toward the test, or from the stress of keeping illegal activity secret, is difficult to determine. The psychologist concluded that the test indicated that pederasts are not necessarily (by nature) more unstable than the average person, indeed that many are above average. On another test, the Scale of Interpersonal Values (SIV), which measures the person’s need for support, recognition, conformity, independence, and so forth, pederasts showed a greater-than-average need for support and recognition, less-than-average need for leadership roles or for conformity. Their felt need for support and admiration seems understandable in view of a common lack of these, as does their low valuing of conformity. Perhaps their lesser need for leadership activity arises from the necessity for keeping a low profile. On the other values on the scale, independence and altruism, the pederasts resembled men in general. The European psychologist is administering these tests and others to persons in other countries in order to expand the results, but the tests have not thus for convincingly shown pederasts to be intrinsically sick any more than the general population - although the pederasts have more problems which might be expected to make them so. Of the pederasts who took the test, 50 per cent had been arrested at one time or another.

One pederast reported for our study: “My psychiatrist has simply helped me to confine my activities to boys over sixteen, legal in this state.” Said another: “Perhaps you can say I was sick at the time I was struggling to deal with the problems society caused for me as a result of accusations and disapproval. It was good that I went to a psychiatrist; for, while he did not ‘cure my pederasty’ in any sense, he helped me to accept it and to build up my self-control so that I can stay out of difficulty with the law. I think I am now healthier than most persons because I know my weakness and how to handle it, whereas most persons lack that much insight.”

POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE

For some pederasts the underground is a source of similar self-acceptance and self-control as the result of psychiatric therapy. The underground is a place where pederasts examine together their behavior statements, verbal statements, and emotional statements, defining themselves in response to each other, and to the challenges of society which lead them to emotions of guilt, anxiety, fatalism. In the underground they tend to develop an awareness of their pederast identity by comparing themselves to other pederasts rather than to non-pederasts, ranking or scaling themselves in terms of behavior and attitudes with which they agree or disagree.

Am I a Sinner?

Says a pederast: “I’m not one of those promiscuous playboy types who are chasing after every boy on the street. I’m involved with only one boy at a time, over a period of months or years, and I judge everything we do in terms of his welfare.” Said another: “I wouldn’t do anything to hurt a boy’s ego or feelings, and I won’t have anything to do with those pederasts who simply want to use boys for their own erotic pleasure.” Said another: “I wasn’t the only service man who felt entitled to a bit of sex fun before going into combat. I saw myself as being foolhardy in the air and also with boys, since I might be killed the next day. I doubt if I would have become actively involved with boys if I hadn’t decided that society owed me some pleasure in return for the sacrifice I was making. The little sinning I did in bed must seem trivial in contrast to the persons who suffered as a result of the bombs I dropped. I feel like the pederast in the movie, The Conformist, felt when the priest in the confessional was less interested in a murder he had committed than in the sodomy he had been involved in at the age of thirteen. I’m not going to organize my life around guilt over a few such acts when I was a kid, or things of lesser import that I do now.”

The pederastic scene in Bernardo Bertolucci's film The Conformist (1970)

Am I a Criminal?

One pederast said: “I’m not chasing babies who are barely pubescent. The ancient Greeks didn’t approve of cradle robbers, either.” He and many others made a strong point out of distinguishing themselves as different from pederasts who seduce boys. “That’s criminal, this pederast said. Said another: “I try to be responsible and avoid illegal acts, whereas those who relish forbidden fruit are frequently selfish and exploitive.” Said another: “When I compare myself to pederasts who have been arrested, I see in them certain unfortunate tendencies. Their judgment is poor, they are impulsive, they have been conspicuous, often even in their own neighborhoods. They have engaged in criminal use of alcohol and drugs, and frequently indulged in other types of criminal behavior. They are likely to be loners who seek out maladjusted boys. Those of us who have not been arrested are, I think, more realistic about what is possible. We are more successful in our family relationships, our careers, and so on. We are more successful in all our endeavors, including our relationships with boys and their parents. Maybe when I was young I was foolhardy at times, rushing a boy fast and acting impulsively, and I take it upon myself to point out to others the possible consequences of abusing relationships.”

Am I Queer?

One pederast said: “The members of my midget football team are crazy about me because I’m really tough. I’m not one of those boy-lovers who make ‘queers’ out of kids, and I’m roughest on the boy I really go for. I really make him toe the line and act like a man.” Said another: “I think it is despicable to manipulate a boy into playing a female role. In any healthy man-boy relationship the two males are equal and the man’s aim should be to help the boy become more masculine and heterosexual.” Said another: “My friend is queer over pretty blond boys with long slim legs, but I don’t care for pretty boys. If they are really masculine they can be cute, but I prefer dark-complexioned Latin or Indian toughs.” Said another: “I’m not interested in nice, well-behaved boys, but a whiff of delinquency really turns me on, because that indicates a boy is fighting back with his balls.” Said another: “In theory I love a kid who hasn’t a father, because I see myself as paternal and brotherly, there’s nothing queer in that.”

Am I Anxious?

Through this process of contrasting himself with others many pederasts seem to talk themselves through their guilt feelings, but anxiety remains until the pederast withdraws from the underground and gives up his illegal activity, or until he establishes an identity which is able to transform the anxiety into heroism or in some other way begins to discharge it. The anxiety of the young pederast portrayed in a recent novel[4] led him once to run away and another time to crash his car deliberately so he would not be able to go to bed with a boy as he wished. This “heroism” may take the form of solving his problem by provoking arrest; one psychiatrist concluded, for example, that a client had performed an act where he was sure to be caught because his anxiety over furtive activity had become unbearably acute. It appeared in our interviews that anxiety was greatest among those pederasts who actually had done very little that was illegal, or who had put their illegal activity behind them and now had much more to lose by exposure. Among others, anxiety frequently seemed to provide motivation for an identity quest, rather than serving as an inhibitor of illegal behavior. Through the process of comparing himself with other pederasts, and rationalizing or in some other way centering upon what he considers to be his own positive self-image, many a pederast seems to come to a sense of identity as (1) adventurer, (2) rebel, or (3) advocate of sexual freedom, or some combination of these.

(1) The Adventurer

“My, how he has changed,” one pederast said of another, whom he had previously known as very guilt-ridden and anxious. “He even looks different. As a pederast he now has a positive style.” The pederast of whom this was said, replied: “I suspect my sense of pederast identity has developed as a continuing process, shaped in the heat of my imagination, in response to other persons and their attitudes, to sexual incidents, and to the emotions which I have felt in such experience. More recently, however, my identity seems to have jelled in the conscious emergence of three convictions, i.e., that a) I am somehow different sexually from others; b) having affirmed my pleasure in sexual experience with boys, I do not intend to give up my nature, and c) I can affirm myself as loving, not evil or sinful. As a physician who has sought various types of counseling and treatment, I am now convinced that I could escape my pederasty only by suicide or through surrendering myself to some sort of brain operation or aversion therapy which might not work, anyway. So I have decided, instead, to adopt a life-style as explorer and adventurer, which is in keeping with my professional interests in any case. All at once I seem to have recovered - not so much wholeness of personality, as the ability to do what most people have to do in one way or another - that is, live in two worlds at once. My life is not devoted to exploring the world and anything within it that interests me, and my sexual adventurism with boys - especially overseas - fits into my self-understanding of myself as mountain climber, deep-sea diver, and one who is prepared to take on many other dangers.”

Another pederast said: “I was not strong as a child, and perhaps my fantasy life was more important to me, as a way to keep up with the larger boys. I loved stories about heroic men, and I had a crush on first one and then another. I dreamed that some hero would come to invite me on a Batman-Robin type of adventure. I determined to be healthy and strong so I could become a pilot, and when the war came I much enjoyed the adulation I received from boys, because I could see myself in them at their age. It is perhaps foolish of me to keep that self-image in my present flabby condition, but when I was shot down — as I was falling — I said to myself: To hell with those who disapprove of what I do. All the time I was in prison camp I thought about little else than my determination to be true to my nature, and to enjoy myself when I got home. I did not die there, I came home, and so I now feel free to be heroic in my own way, and it takes a lot of guts to pursue my hobby!”

(2) The Rebel

“Who am I?” another pederast said. “It dawned on me one day that the labels society wanted to pin on me - sick, sinner, or whatever - were really clubs used to try to knock me down, because essentially I’m a rebel. It happened at the time of the Kent State shooting when I listened to kids I liked talk about radical politics and sexual rebellion. I’m not so sure I’m different from other males, except that I am more of a rebel against the sexual establishment.”

An artist spoke of his efforts to express a similar rebellion in his painting: “It always seemed dangerously wicked to enjoy myself, and my pleasures are still more those of the mind and spirit. Partly because the sex I crave is against the law, I allow myself to enjoy it only in imagination and art. Every picture of a boy I paint is not only an emotional, sexual experience but it is also one of rebellion. Sometimes my imagination is so possessed and transformed by sexual desires that I paint a boy who is not recognizable as such, but I refuse to see myself as possessed of a devil. Why should the devil have a monopoly on beauty and joy? I was raised to the view that the devil was always close when one found joy in sex, then something slipped up on me from behind, and I discovered that I am simply a person who is sexually out of step with the majority. Call me a pederast, since that word seems to describe my inclinations, but don’t look for deep, dark psychological processes behind my discovery that sex can be fun with a friend of a very fun-loving age; call me a narcissist if you wish - but my ultimate identity, as I become only half aware of it as yet, consists of more than a total of my own fantasies, ideas, and experiences. When I paint I sometimes seem to be swept along by a current of human history which I call rebellious. Deep in myself the whole of human experience, the experience of all mankind, moves restlessly. Our sexual culture and establishment is but a fragile boat floating on a stormy sea, and our human exploration of those depths hasn’t yet proceeded far enough for us to understand how fragile our situation in that boat really is. It was perhaps foolish of me to rebel, and jump off that perilous, leaky boat, but that is who I am, one who swims!”

Advocate of Sexual Freedom

One pederast said: “I have recently affirmed my pederasty, not quite publicly but by joining a group of militant pederasts who plan to join with the other sex-freedom people in a campaign to redirect public opinion. My life seemed to fall apart when I was younger, and now I am able to put it together again by seeing myself as avant-garde, rather than gay. The wave of the future is sex freedom. The human quest for political and social freedom will never be complete until sexual freedom is also guaranteed by law. I’m a very loving person who hugs and kisses everyone, and when boys ask why I’m not married, I say because I like both boys and girls and the law won’t let me marry one of each. That really shakes them up because in their liberal sex education courses they are taught about homosexuality always being either/or, never both/and. When I see a boy who is stunned by this, I may say: ‘I’m going to bed tonight with a girl who’d just love to have you join us. You want to make it a threesome?’ That’s an invitation that is rarely refused. Almost any boy of fourteen to sixteen is likely to go wild at that suggestion, no matter what his moral or sex education has been. People who say that one could never persuade a really masculine boy to do this or that have obviously never tried giving him a cute girl to enjoy while doing it.”

Another said: “I define a pederast as a free spirit, more so than a gay who is locked into a limited life-style. When I was in the reformatory, a place designed to keep me miserable and unhappy, the best way to frustrate the system was to have an orgasm - there weren’t any drugs or alcohol, but we could have orgasm after orgasm with each other. Some inmates used gay or sissy lads as women, but that seemed wrong to me. When I was in bed with a friend, we were two men having fun together, which is how I define my pederasty. We would whisper: ‘Man, this is really living! ‘ Now, outside of jail, I find society to be almost as dull and sexually repressive as the reformatory was. I guess that through the same orgasm route I learned in the reformatory I’m still trying to escape from an oppressive system that locks a lot of poor kids out of a good life. I like to take to bed a youngster whose life is really miserable and hear him say: ‘Man, this is really living!’ “

Another member of a sexual freedom group said: “Making films as I do, I’m always meeting attractive kids of all ages and sexes, and I suppose it is inevitable that at least once in a while one will take advantage of the many opportunities that present themselves; although nothing turns me off more than a gay boy who thinks he can seduce me into hiring him, unless it is a mother with the same idea. I only go to bed with a young boy once a year or so, but when I do I have such a lovely time that I admit to being a pederast in principle. One of my friends, who chases boys all over the state, says that girls are his meat and boys are his dessert. I’d say it differently: Girls are like the sunshine that warms my days, whereas a boy to me is like an occasional bolt of lightning — illuminating my sky for a delightful moment and then gone forever. I do get struck once in a while, enough to understand the pederast who becomes enamored of boys more often, or so unforgettably that he never quite recovers enough to come in out of the rain.” Said another, a member of the medical profession: “I have a healthy body which I enjoy in many ways, and in sexually free ways I recommend to others. In my view pederasty is not a sickness, but our society forces most acknowledged pederasts to become sick, by not allowing them to be free and natural. I had a love affair with Freud for a time, but my enlightened parents raised me well, so I find it difficult to be Freudian, although I consider it unhealthy not to enjoy women, or to have sadist or masochist fantasies, or to be unable to enjoy boys, or to be frozen into any sort of rigid sexual position which says that other persons’ sexual tastes are wrong. Our personalities should flower, changing at different times of life, by growing naturally. I also consider it unhealthy to exploit anyone, certainly to indulge in pederast experiences just for kicks, as a sort of treat for the rich or privileged who can try something new and then toss a human being aside - like a wealthy friend of mine who enjoys shocking people with a new sensation each week, such as making love to a black boy with one leg. I’m sure I’m not a typical pederast. Who is a typical heterosexual? the rapist or celibate priest? There are all kinds of pederasts - criminal, compulsive, neurotic, intellectual, romantic, artistic, puritan, confused, repressed, and, like me, permissive.” In a conversation with a friend he agreed: “Somewhere along the way I got freed up a bit, so that in private I can be natural and playful with boys — perhaps I have now affirmed the boyish in me which enjoyed that sort of play when I was their age. When I say I am a pederast now, I mean to live as free as I was when I was thirteen, and as innocent, open, curious and playful. I no longer consider myself an outcast, as I once did, but as a free person who chooses to be and act in free ways. A healthy identity requires me to decide for myself what is good and bad, right and wrong for me, on the basis of my own convictions and values. Once my radar was always out to make sure I did what society approved, and I was caught in a real dilemma between resistance to what was oppressive, or dying inside a little bit each day. Like the black person who refuses any longer to act white in order to adjust to a white majority in society, I have decided to give up the pretense of being something I am not. I have decided to be free.”

 

SOME CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS

-At the beginning we warned that evidence can be misleading when it is twisted to fit categories, and this chapter in its effort to describe some styles of pederastic identity tends to gloss over the extent of guilt feelings, anxiety and confusion, by concentrating on a minority who have clarified their sense of identity.

-In addition to the life-style identities listed in this chapter for pederasts - adventurer, advocate of sexual freedom, and rebel - there are several others, of course, such as “persecuted person.”

-This chapter - and perhaps this entire book - tends unintentionally to lose sight of the extent to which a significant minority of pederasts identify with the militant gay movement. A gay identity seems least acceptable to some married pederasts, who are also frequently handicapped in accepting a “pederast identity” if it seems to be defined as an exclusive life-style. Many pederasts live in two worlds, with two identities and life-styles.

-This study tends to quote the more articulate and better educated pederasts, for they are the ones whose self-examination is more insightful. Unfortunately the typical pederast is portrayed here as less timid and more self-confident than is true of the majority. Shy and less adventurous pederasts have less to say, and their voices have therefore not been adequately heard in these pages - as the development of a true “profile” would require.

 

[1] Frits Bernard, Pedofilie (Bussum: Aquarius, 1974), pp. 42 ff.

[2] E. Brongersma, Das Verfemte Geschlecht (Munich: Lichtenberg Verlag GmbH., 1970).

[3] Frits Bernard, Pedofilie (Bussum: Aquarius, 1974), pp. 71 ff, and T. soc. Geneesk, no. 53 (1975).

[4] Angus Stewart, Sandel (London: Panther Books, 1972).

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