This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Exploitation Of Teens And Gay Culture
Did Nicholas Ray molest Sal Mineo?
We are all aware that the primary rationalization for homophobic efforts in Western countries, to exclude sexual minorities from full and open participation in all aspects of community, to exclude sexual minorities from the full protection of human rights legislation, is the idea that Gay men are inherently oriented toward abusing minors. All Progressive persons also know, or should know, that this bigoted perception of an inherent relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia is false. The truth about this, frequently deliberate, misconception can be found here:
Religious Tolerance site facts about homosexuality and child abuse
Nevertheless, this misconception persists and is gleefully perpetuated by many "conservative" propagandists. A clear example of how this misconception is currently being exploited and promoted by such persons can be found here:
The "traditional value" of hating homos
I'm a Gay man and I'm going to confront this bigoted misconception, here in this posting, but not the way you are used to seeing this done - for example on the Religious Tolerance site. This is not going to be another regurgitation of GBLT 101 counter-propaganda. I'm going to speak Truth, here. Some of this truth may be disturbing for Progressive readers, but it has to be brought forward - and by Gay men themselves - so that the underlying realities can be understood and addressed, and the full enjoyment of our human rights can be enabled.
I'll begin by cleaning house. I was horrified by Socrates' disclosure that a former member of this Blog had posted rationalizations for sexual relationships between teens and adults, elsewhere on the 'net. Rationalizations for sexual relationships between teens and adults are inevitably built on delusions and false premises, because such relationships are inherently abusive - as I will demonstrate. Such rationalizations will inevitably be interpreted as an endorsement of child abuse - whether their author intended that or not.
Homophobes love to exploit the existence of such rationalizations in Gay literature. From the 'traditionalvalues' site linked above:
"Eberstadt cites the Village Voice, which states that "Gay fiction is rich with idyllic accounts of 'intergenerational relationships,' as such affairs are respectfully called these days."
They are able to exploit this, because it is a fact. It is reality, they are not inventing fraudulent documentation ala The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is also a fact, that some Gay men including some historic leaders in Gay advocacy movements, internalized 'romanticized' rationalizations about sexual relationships between teens and adults, to protect themselves from the ugly truth of their own victimization, and made the tragic mistake of publicly proclaiming these defensive delusions. It's ok for Gay men to admit this and discuss it publicly, however, because a fully informed understanding of how & why Gay men historically developed such rationalizations powerfully supports the need for complete social normalization of the GLBT community.
Sexual relationships between teens and adults are inherently abusive
I'm not going to reproduce quotes from any of the delusional arguments in favor of such relationships, (and there are many), that can be found on the'net. This is not going to turn into intellectualized porn. If you were hoping to find that here, kindly f*ck-off and go away.
There are some recurrent themes in rationalizations for such relationships, that I will now confront and debunk.
"I had sexual relationships with adults when I was a young teen. I wasn't exploited, because I sought and initiated these encounters. Therefore, it's ok for adults to have sex with boys who 'come on to them' "
Wrong. I'ts quite natural for adolescents to be attracted to adult physiques and to fantasize having sex with mature persons. On top of this, adult persons have many things that teens crave and aspire to sharing in; greater autonomy, their own vehicles & dwellings, wealth, status, power, etc. Young teens may fantasize a relationship with an adult wherein they would be treated as an equal, as an adult, and experience sexual and material fulfillment. They might make the mistake of seeking such a relationship, because they cannot foresee the potential for tragic consequences.
But you, as an adult, can foresee the harm that could befall them and - as the more mature person - it is your responsibility to protect the younger person, by turning them down and redirecting them to their peers.
They cannot imagine contracting sexually transmitted diseases and the suffering that might cause them, but you can. They cannot foresee that you will only treat them as an equal when you are alone together, that your friends and family will not accept them as an adult and when you are around those person you will treat them like "a kid" - because that's what they are. They cannot foresee the emotional devastation this reality will cause them, but you can.
They lack the life experience to foresee that they will have to hide the true nature of your relationship from everyone else in their lives, so that you don't go to prison, and that hiding your true self from everyone around you necessarily poisons your soul.
An emotionally disturbed Gay man might be able to rationalize away other aspects of such a relationship that are inherently abusive - such as your superior social, psychological and financial power in the relationship - but there is no way to escape the reality that engaging in a sexual relationship with a legal minor will force that person to hide a part of themselves and their life experience from everyone else in their lives. That will necessarily cause them harm, it will f*ck them up just as surely as the social necessity for hiding your true self, that you have experienced at one time or another in your own life, f*cked you up. They will experience trauma, as a result of your relationship with them, which makes such a relationship inherently abusive.
"I'm a Gay man who had relationships with adults when I was a teen, and so did several of my friends, but we weren't traumatized by those experiences"
BULLSHIT. The well documented prevalence of drug abuse, alcoholism, psychological disorders, self-destructive behaviours and suicide in our community is completely unrelated to the high rates of sexual exploitation by older persons that Gay men have historically reported experiencing in their youth? Can we please stop lying to ourselves about this?
Homophobic persecution forced Gay men into unhealthy behaviours
The prevalence of romanticized, rationalized, "idyllic accounts of 'intergenerational relationships,' in Gay literature is not evidence of an inherent relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. It is, in reality, evidence that historic homophic repression and persecution of homosexuality in our culture had forced Gay youth into inappropriate relationships and at the same time facilitated the exploitation of Gay youth by sexual predators.
My first encounter with a Gay community organization happened when I was 20 - way back in the late 1970's. The men that I met through this group could overwhelmingly be divided into three categories, with respect to their initial "coming out" as a Gay person and subsequent involvement with whatever homosexual underground existed where they were living at the time. (None of us had "grown up" with an open, public, Gay support group operating in our community).
Some of these men claimed that they had "always been out", but only with respect to their sexual behaviour - they hadn't always been open & public about their orientation with their families, schoolmates or co-workers. Guys with this background often talked about having been sexually precocious from a young age, engaging in mutual seduction with their agemates but also "seducing" older boys and later - adult men, that they found attractive. These tales almost always had a romanticized interpretation of their exploitation by older boys or men, these were "love affairs" in their memory. Some of these "lovers" were described as having been adonises of heterosexuality, athletic and macho teens or men who were nevertheless seduced by the "charms" of a young Gay boy that they would end up loving more passionately than any girl or woman they had ever known. I'm not saying that this kind of scenario is impossible, or that every guy claiming such a history was deliberately misrepresenting the nature of these relationships, but...
As I got to know these men better and developed friendships with several of them, less romantic details came up. Some had a history of teenaged prostitution and drug addiction, and their adult "lovers" turned out to be romanticized Johns. Some admitted to having been forcibly raped or even gang-raped by their teenage "lover's" friends or schoolmates/teammates. Despite the romantic spin they put on their experiences, it was apparent that being openly attracted to other males as a child/youth, that being known - just within neighborhood gossip - as "that queer kid", had made them easy prey for a certain class of sexual predator. Being "queer" meant that they were somehow inherently morally corrupt and therefore as "legitimate" a target for callous male lust as any "whore" would be.
Some other men in the group described having their first homosexual romances when they were in their teens. For most of these, their initial partner was a college-aged or older man that they knew through family or other social networks, who was known or rumored to be "queer". Men with this background sometimes talked about having sexual or romantic attractions to their peers, as a youth, but never revealing or acting on those feelings for fear that doing so would be at best complete social suicide and just as likely to result in the serious, routine beatings and/or rapes that other boys suspected of being "queers" had been subjected to. For these men, their initial partner was "safe" enough to risk revealing their homosexual attractions with. Their partner was old enough and secure enough to survive being "known", at least within their own circles, as having homosexual inclinations - whereas their teenaged peers would all be just as paranoid about "letting their secret slip" even if any of them had been gay-identified at that point in their lives. These men had no hope for a peer partner, if they were to find an outlet for their sexual and romantic expression it would necessarily have to be with an older male. If they were lucky, their older partner might actually be a well-adjusted gay man who could and would welcome them into a thriving gay underground through which they might find more appropriate partners closer to their own age. That is the romantic rationalization spin often placed on this life history, they had a fleeting affair with their older partner which affirmed their gay identity and gave them entry to "the community", so it was a positive relationship and not an abusive one. But this same scenario is also a predator's dream - young, naive boys desperately seeking out someone who is "like them", someone who will accept or even love them for the person they really are. I have to wonder, how many of the predatory Priests working in church youth groups or boarding schools specialized in spotting and exploiting exactly this type of gay youth? How many experiences of meeting an older person who callously exploited the boy and then dumped him out of their lives, did these Gay youths have to expose themselves to before they found the one sincere man who became the romanticized lover of their memory?
The third 'category' of men in our group were those who had remained completely virginal and closeted - with respect to their homosexual inclinations - until well into their 20's, 30's, or 40's. Deeply repressed and closeted gay men, most of these guys were still "living the lie" outside of our group. Some were married, or had been married, to women. Others had never had a sexual or romantic relationship with anyone of either gender. Their failure to mature as a sexual person seemed to have stunted their develoment in other ways - they were able to pose as "adult" in a job or career but their social behaviour was annoyingly childish and their receational interests were fixated on childhood hobbies. 30-year-old salesmen whose homes were filled with model trains and stacks of pornographic magazines. For many of these men, their only sexual interactions with another human being were of the demeaning, anonymous, public washroom variety. They seemed just as neurotic and screwed-up as the drug-addicted male prostitutes.
There were very few "normal", emotionally healthy, people involved in this organization at that time. I was there, in part, because a psychologist that I was paying to "make me straight" insisted that I check it out. He wasn't a bad person, this psychologist, and must have known that my quest to become a "normal", heterosexually oriented person would end in failure. I was the one insisting that he could somehow "cure" me, demanding that he try, unconcerned that I was squandering an inheritance on a fraudulent psychological theory. My involvement with the group didn't reassure me that it was "ok to be gay", as this psychologist had probably hoped it would. For the most part, the other men seemed as damaged and broken as I felt that I was.
It was years later that I came to see how heroic each person in that group really was, (even the ones that weirded me right out), that they had all been victimized and damaged in various ways by homophic repression but were nonetheless striving to build a community capable of providing spaces of genuine safety within which the next generation of gay youths could interact and grow in a natural, healthy manner.
Several of the elders in my Gay community, guys in their sixties or older, with whom I have discussed this issue over the years, related their initial experiences in boarding schools they had attended. Their descriptions of a culture of sexual exploitation, protected by informal 'traditions' handed down from one generation to another by the boy residents themselves, seems to support
what Johnathan Gathorne-Hardy revealed in "The Public School Phenomenon".
Way back in the early history of English boarding schools, hundreds of years ago, boys aged 8 to 18 were all crammed together in squalid dormitories within these ancient buildings. Violence was commonplace, even rampant. Beatings and other physical bullying between boys was an everday occurence. Children sometimes died from this. Teaching staff beat boys with wooden whips or paddles, sometimes out of desperate efforts to maintain order, sometimes perhaps because they were sexual sadists. Older boys were recruited to help run the place and keep order, especially where the staff were to lazy, indifferent or drunken to bother doing it themselves. Teaching staff sexually abused older boys who in turn exploited their power and authority to administer whippings to extort sexual favors from younger boys. Sexual exploitation was a matter-of-fact occurence in some schools over some periods of their history.
The curriculum of these schools, which predate the explosion in natural sciences during the late 1700's and 1800's, consisted primarily of "the classics". Boys learned greek and latin and studied texts written by ancient greek and roman scholars. Among these texts were some which detailed ancient greek concepts of homosexual mentoring between men and adolescent boys, termed "pederasty". The boys in these schools were exposed to the idea that noblemen sometimes take young boys "under their wing", look after their needs, train them to take a place of responsibility in the community and facilitate their advancement up the corridors of wealth & power - but that these relationships are also specifically sexual and romantic. It is not difficult to find, in descriptions of boarding school culture from various periods, direct imitation of these ideas within the boy-run culture of the schools. Older boys had power, authority and greater "wealth" than younger boys. If you were going to survive the chaos and deprivation of boarding school life, having an older "mentor" and "protector" looking out for you must have seemed an ideal solution. If that older boy turned you into his "lover" and used you sexually, you could rationalize this betrayal by assuring yourself that this was actually an ancient and beneficient tradition. This relationship wasn't shameful or demeaning, it was "noble" and even "enlightened"! Older boys involved in exploiting younger ones could employ the same rationalizations - I'm not a rapist, I'm just following this ancient and noble tradition.
And so it went, for hundreds of years.
It is therefore not surprising that, when psychology was in its infancy and "homosexual behaviour" was first studied in the context of a pathology rather than a criminal act of sin, Gay men of the time who had the self-awareness necessary to understanding that they were "a different kind of person" from the heterosexual majority exported the rationalizations they had internalized in their boarding school days into their theories about what was "wrong" with them, of why they were the person that they were. The earliest manifestations of organizations composed of self-aware homosexual men, such as the Uranian poets, perceived themselves to be "pederasts" - "boy-lovers", because they had incorporated that romanticized interpretation of their own childhood exploitation, while it was happening to them. Their only other models of what it meant to be "homosexual" were; a sinner, a criminal or a lunatic. No doubt, some may have been pedophiles, but others were likely to have been Gay men who had only one positive interpretation of their experiences available to them - pederasty - the romanticized attraction of older males for younger ones.
This romanticization of the experience of being sexually exploited by an older male as an "initiation" into a homsexual way of life continued to be passed down and can still be found in the tragic determination of some Gay community elders that "This is who we are. This is natural, for us".
Fortunately, the rise of day schools and decline of boarding school culture, the development of Gay youth groups and safe spaces for them to interact within, and especially the advent of the internet, has forever debunked these rationalizations. Left to themselves, Gay youth naturally seek out partners within their own peer groups (surprise, surprise!). In a social climate that is more accepting of homosexuality being normal and natural for some people, participation in other forms of neurotic and unhealthy behaviour also naturally decline. There is no need to debase yourself in public washrooms, for example, and most Gay youth today express the same kind of revulsion over such behaviour that an emotionally healthy heterosexual person might express.
Social acceptance of homosexuality as normative for some persons, and the removal of social obstacles to Gay men living normal, healthy lives as full participants in our shared community, is the key to eliminating unhealthy, neurotic behaviours including romanticization of the sexual exploitation of minor persons by adults.