NAMBLA Answers Questions

by Eric Tazelaar, May 14, 2020

What are your views on a sexual relationship between a man and a boy below the current age of consent?

Close, intimate relationships between older and younger males are intrinsic to human beings as well as to other primates. They occur spontaneously within a healthy society and are as normal as any other relationship. In the past, such relationships tended to be seen as just a typical aspect of homosexuality that, unless someone complained, was widely de facto tolerated, especially when seen as an outlet for youthful male sexual energies that had no socially sanctioned heterosexual outlet.

What are the benefits of these kinds of relationships?

Man/boy relationships provide affection, protection and mentoring for the younger partner as well as sexual and affectional expression and companionship for both. This view is widely held by many anthropologists, behaviorists, historians and other experts.

Do you consider man/boy love to be a sexual orientation in and of itself?

It can certainly be a preference for both men and boys. It can also be a transitional orientation for either or both that will change over time. Regardless of whether this preference is fixed over time or transitional, it certainly is both a sexual and affectional orientation.

What has the public’s view of these relationships been over time? When and how have these views changed

The public’s view of man/boy love has changed a great deal in recent history. The single greatest and most destructive social change in viewing intergenerational relationships has been in the last half-century and has gone on to infect most of the world. Much of this can be traced to social movements that devalued privacy among individuals and came to see all human interaction as rightly subject to the mediation of majoritarian prejudice. The confluence here of both feminist victimological theory and religious fundamentalist intolerance within the last forty years posed a devastating threat to man/boy love and to the rights of the individual. This happened at the same time as the world became smaller and more interconnected through technological change. As a result, the early children's rights movement was thoroughly co-opted by victimist moral entrepreneurs who saw kids, of whatever age, as essentially sexless and without any legitimate self-authority or agency. Laws became rapidly more draconian and more rigorously enforced with the consequence that, today, society has become organized along strictly hysterical and oppressive lines as they relate to child and adolescent sexuality. A deeply ironic feature of this regime is that kids, themselves, are routinely marginalized as sex offenders for freely exploring their own sexuality and suffer ruinous social consequences, such as inclusion on “sex offender” registries, as a result.

Views of those periods in antiquity in which man/boy love was not only tolerated but celebrated and even socially regulated are, to the extent that they are discussed at all, dismissed out-of-hand by the left as emblematic of the oppressiveness of a patriarchy that can provide no positive lessons or models for today and by the right as an immoral, paganistic depravity which can no longer be tolerated. There are still societies in which man/boy love may hang on by a thread but they are under siege by ever more pervasive Western propaganda and chauvinistic busybodies. Most of these have not survived.

As with classical man/boy love, these societies have found in such relationships the means for social bonding and mentorship as well as temporary, alternative outlets for sexual expression that allow for delayed parenthood and greater personal development during adolescence. Close, intimate relationships between older and younger males has been the dominant form of male homosexuality across history and human societies. Indeed, these relationships are intrinsic to human beings and even extend to our closest primate relatives.

As you know, there are laws against these kinds of relationships. What is NAMBLA trying to do about this? What is your approach to changing this?

All we can do is to speak to the injustice which surrounds man/boy love and to provide a rare, alternative view to the terrible unreason which prevails today with the hope of influencing younger generations. That perspective is essential and otherwise largely unavailable. This is the most important role which NAMBLA can play today.

What kind of anecdotal evidence have you collected from young men of the benefits of these kinds of relationships?

We hear from men all of the time who were once the younger partners in such relationships and who emphatically state that they have benefited from them. We have published a book, "Boys Speak Out" to attest to these positive feelings held by so many. The gay community once included many who openly proclaimed their positive experiences as boys with adult lovers. Today, there are far fewer who will dare to speak openly about these positive, personal experiences since any voice dissenting from the dominant victimist narrative is now quickly silenced and stigmatized. The gay community today has completely whitewashed this central feature of gay culture from its history.

Do you feel that you are persecuted by society? In what ways?

Of course, we are persecuted. Those who violate a society's reigning sexual mores often face terrible, irrational vengeance. Man/boy love is a supreme example of that stigmatization and oppression. That is the position we occupy today. We are so persecuted that few of us will openly admit to being persecuted for fear of retribution. Even saying that you're persecuted for your feelings is enough today to destroy your life. Real freedom of speech is, effectively, dead today.

Boys and girls have, in recent decades, come to be viewed as largely interchangeable in their responses to relationships with adults, a view refuted by scientific evidence. Misguided feminist ideology has been responsible for misidentifying gender as a social construct and has indiscriminately conflated the sexual vulnerabilities of boys and girls while simultaneously advantaging girls educationally and socially, leaving boys today at a crisis point for their futures.

Simultaneously, Christian fundamentalists have played a critical role in fomenting hysteria, especially in regard to man/boy love, in particular and homosexuality, generally. Were it not for these combined, sweeping forces of an ascendant, intolerant brand of feminism, on one hand and right-wing religious zealotry, on the other, the extreme oppression under which we suffer today would be far less. This combined impact has been especially devastating for us.

Do you see any problem, or potential for problem, in these kinds of relationships?

It's hard to recommend affectionate and sexual man-boy relationships today in the West given the terrible, irrational, and unjust consequences upon discovery. NAMBLA does not encourage anyone today to make themselves or boys whom they love vulnerable to the vicious predations of the state. We urge them to remain within the confines of laws as they exist today simply because the consequences of breaking those laws are so ruinous, both to them and to boys.

We think that it is far better for older males to remain in boys' lives as a positive source of love and affection, without sex or, very regrettably, physical affection (which is, effectively, now illegal) than to open them both up to state violence against their beings and their freedom, a process that will inevitably rip them forever from each others lives. These incursions by government thugs into their lives have been just as devastating for boys as they have been for the older males who love them. This should be seen as the scandal and the profound injustice that it is.

What you won't hear from us is condemnation of these relationships. Man/boy relationships happen and have been happening since there were men and boys. We understand when they do happen even if we feel them to be ill-advised in today's climate. This is a time when the culture demeans the lives and feelings of men and boys, regarding them largely as problems to be "managed." If one cares about males of any age right now, the first duty is to protect them from the forces that would gleefully and instantaneously destroy them for expressing what are natural feelings and affections.

Is there an age that NAMBLA considers too young to participate in these kinds of relationships?

Let us flip that around and ask, which specific behaviors should be withheld from boys and at what age should they be legal? Rubbing their shoulders? Kissing them on the cheek? Telling them that they are attractive? Giving them a hug? Having frank discussions about sexuality? I ask this because there are men serving life-destroying prison sentences now for doing only such things. The net of illegality is being cast wider-and-wider with no end-point in sight in the absurd lengths to which laws and punishment are being extended and which now routinely ensnare kids, themselves for doing nothing more than exploring their own sexuality in ways still regarded by serious professionals as entirely normal and healthy.

You won't hear this from any of the media and certainly not from the criminal justice system who are now engaged in a massive crackdown on thought crimes and those they think must be committing them. The laws are now so broadly construed that they serve not just to punish those engaged in specific sexual or affectional acts but to punish individuals for what they think are their beliefs and propensity to act in ways contrary to an emerging state of enforced hysteria. This should scare the hell out of all reasonable people who value liberty.

NAMBLA has consistently held that relationships mutually desired and freely engaged in are the business of those in that relationship, alone and are of no business of the government. Consent in all relationships is paramount but, when it is not extended by both parties, such a relationship no longer enjoys the support of this organization.

What information do you think is missing from the public that could potentially change the social perspective?

Virtually everything I have just said. It's all missing from public discourse. Every bit of it is regarded as forbidden discourse in contemporary society.

Has anyone reached out to you to conduct research looking at the biological and sociocultural underpinnings of this issue? For instance, there’s been a lot of studies recently around transgender individuals. Just wondering if anyone has reached out to your organization.

We are occasionally approached to participate in a study or as interview subjects by academics. Many bring their own agendas and preconceived notions, very few do not.

Do you know any junior participants who could potentially speak to what a positive experience this is, specifically someone who would have been a young partner in the seventies?

Decades ago, we did, indeed, have such participants. Today, however, we cannot, in good conscience, recommend to anyone that they share these views publicly. There have just been too many bad consequences for individuals when they have done so.

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