Why I Do This

We’ve really come a long way as a society in acceptance of sexual minorities in the last few decades. Growing up, I had no idea what being gay meant. I remember boys in school made fun of other boys that liked to play with girls and called them fags, but I doubt they knew what it really meant either. In all likelihood, those boys weren’t even gay. These days, there is a lot more awareness about homosexuality and even young kids know what it means. In most environments, we have come to accept that homosexuality is unchosen, unchangeable and says nothing about the personal qualities of an individual. Even in some conservative religious environments sensible people are starting to acknowledge that people don’t choose and can’t change their sexual orientation and that homosexuals deserve as much respect and acceptance as individuals as anyone else, even if they still consider the act of homosexual sex as sinful — and thus believe homosexuals should remain celibate — or openly oppose same-sex marriage.

However, we still have a very long way to go. There are still many sectors in our society that are prejudiced against homosexual people simply because they are different, not to mention societies where homosexuality is still prosecuted and acting out on homosexual attractions is even punished by death, as sad and terrible as it sounds. No one doubts that many young boys and girls still go through a lot of pain and angst when they discover their ‘unconventional’ sexual feelings. They are afraid of how their family and friends would react. The fear of being rejected by the people that are supposed to love you unconditionally can be terrifying.

Suicide rates among LGBT teens are four to six times higher than among the general population of teenagers. The teenage years are already a challenging phase for many, while they struggle to figure out how to transition from childhood into adulthood; if on top of that you add discovering and having to learn to cope with a still very stigmatized sexual orientation, with all that entails, you have a great recipe for a lot of pain and suffering. Most people these days are very sympathetic with the struggles of young homosexual teens, and luckily in a lot of environments they receive the acceptance and support that they need and they have plenty of role models that have led the way in past rougher times to look up to.

That is hardly the case for young boys and girls who discover — typically in horror — that they’re sexually attracted to younger children. To be clinically diagnosed with pedophilia, you have to be at least sixteen years old, and be attracted to children at least five years younger than you. However, many of us knew before that age, even before reaching puberty. The process of discovery is pretty much the same as with any other sexual orientation — including heterosexuality. Before puberty you can already know that you have special feelings towards certain people, without even having the knowledge that those kinds of feelings are sexual in nature, and without fully understanding what it all means until much later, probably well into puberty. Many of us already recognize feelings like those towards much younger children when we aren’t even into our teen years yet. Obviously, a ten year old boy that has a crush on a ten year old girl (or boy) is not necessarily a pedophile. But some pedophiles acknowledge feelings like those for children as young as toddlers at that age. For many others, we don’t realize there’s anything inherently wrong about our attractions until we reach certain age, and the people we are attracted to have not quite grown up with us.

For me particularly it was a two-phase process: I am sexually attracted to boys, so before I realized I was a pedophile I had to come to terms with the fact that I recognized those feelings towards other boys and not girls. This was over thirty years ago — I remember liking other boys as far back as when I was eight years old. Like I said, there wasn’t the awareness or acceptance of homosexuality that we have today, and I didn’t quite understand what it meant, but based on those comments I talked about earlier I quickly internalized that it couldn’t possibly be a good thing, so I realized it was something I couldn’t talk to anyone about. I was raised Catholic, and back then sex — let alone homosexuality — just wasn’t something families talked about at home. I never got any sex ed at school either. I knew nothing about sex and I knew nothing about homosexuality, but kids aren’t stupid and can take hints from society pretty well.

That continued for a number of years. It wasn’t until I was around fourteen years old that I started to realize that the majority of boys I was attracted to were quite younger than me, often as young as seven or eight years old. Watching the movie Lord of the Flies (the 1990 color version) was quite the eye-opener, for obvious reasons. I was still occasionally attracted to some boys my age — those that looked younger than their years; so for some time, probably a year or two after that, I just continued to hope that I was just gay. You know you have it rough when your best case scenario is being homosexual. I also have to say that, at that age, when I finally knew what being gay meant, I had no idea what a pedophile was. It wasn’t until much later that the idea of there being adults interested in having sex with children crept into my consciousness. However, today I can confidently say that when I was fourteen I already knew I was a pedophile; I just didn’t know there was a word for it.

For obvious reasons, pedophiles that are attracted to girls don’t go through this two-phase discovery process. They typically don’t recognize anything inherently special about their attractions until they reach certain age and the girls they are attracted to are suddenly too young for their age. This can happen at different ages, like I said, but it’s not uncommon to hear that this happens right before or around puberty.

I know how it feels like to discover you’re gay, and I know how it feels like to discover you’re a pedophile. I can confidently say though, that this day and age, discovering you have sexual feelings for children is much more terrifying than discovering you are gay.

The level of stigma and hatred directed towards those who are attracted to children, regardless of whether they have ever acted on their attractions, is mind-boggling. With that kind of attitude, how do you think young boys and girls who discover these feelings feel about them? The vast majority internalize the messages they hear about pedophiles in the media and the internet: they are depraved, manipulative monsters who are destined — if they haven’t already — to sexually abuse a child and ruin their life forever; they are less than human, the scum of the earth; they deserve to be isolated from society, if not chemically and physically castrated, or outright shot on the head or used to conduct medical experiments. That makes many pedophiles, often teenagers, develop intense feelings of self-loathing and shame, all for something they never chose and cannot change. Many have constant suicidal feelings; they’d rather die than ever harm anyone — let alone a defenseless child. Too many will actually attempt to commit suicide. In the little time I have been involved online in the Virtuous Pedophiles community, I know of at least four pedophiles of different ages who have attempted suicide — some of them more than once. A lot of people disappear from the community after a short time. Given the stigma and the risk of identifying as a pedophile online, anonymity is very important. Thus, you never know who these people are, and perhaps many of those who have left the community have actually left the world of the living altogether, and we will simply never know.

Some people won’t care about this. If there is a news article about a young gay or trans* boy or girl taking their life because they weren’t accepted by their intolerant parents or they were bullied in school, tears are poured and everyone is in grief — as it should rightfully be. However, if news were to break about a pedophile killing himself, people would loudly cheer and clap. After all, the only good pedophile is the dead pedophile, right?

But I do care. And I know those who will lose their children to suicide because of this will care too — although perhaps they’ll never know why their child took his or her life; it’s often too terrifying to admit even in a suicide letter. And because I care, I want to change things. No, I do not want to make adult-child sex neither socially/morally acceptable nor legal in any way, shape or form. I repeat: I do not want to make sex with children acceptable or legal. But we need to be able to understand that being a pedophile doesn’t make anyone a monster by definition. We need to understand that pedophile and child molester are not the same thing, and that most pedophiles actively choose to refrain from having sex with children because they realize it would be wrong and they don’t want to harm anyone. We need to stop making young boys and girls who discover feelings of sexual attraction to children believe they are irrevocably destined to ruin someone’s life, that they are not a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, that they are decent — or as decent as any other — human beings that deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life, in spite of never being able to form relationships with the kind of people they are attracted to. Lives are at stake here, and all lives matter, including the lives of pedophiles.

This is why I do this. This is why I want my voice to be heard. This is why I am a member of Virtuous Pedophiles, and this is why I’m writing this blog. Because I care.

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