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Boy Crazy

May 2001
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Gay bookstores are putting up barricades of their own, choosing not to carry the NAMBLA Bulletin for the first time in the organization's history. At Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia, the store's owner, Ed Hermance, says he pulled the NAMBLA Bulletin off the shelves last year after his staff threatened to strike if he didn't.

"I think it's a strange day for gay culture when we start banning something because it makes us uncomfortable," Hermance says. "Especially when that thing is a foundation of gay literature. If we pulled all the books that had adult-youth sexual themes, we wouldn't have many novels, memoirs, or biographies left."

The shirtless kid has a huge smile on his face. After all, he's years away from puberty, about 7 or 8 years old, but he's already shaving. He has a razor in one hand and a glob of shaving cream in the other. He looks happy.

Two shirtless boys stand on a beach. The older boy, about 12 or 13, has spiky brown hair and a surfboard tucked under his right arm. He's talking to the younger boy, who looks about 8 and is holding a toy shovel in his right hand.

Those are two of the images from the October issue of the NAMBLA Bulletin. The Bulletin publishes news pieces, opinions, semi-erotic short stories, and pictures of boys, most of whom have not reached puberty.

"I never felt very comfortable with how the Bulletin had pictures of so many young kids," says Steve, the NAMBLA founder from an eastern city. "I felt that it was politically stupid."

NAMBLA members have long disagreed over what they are and what kind of unified front they should show the public. Socrates insists that the group is made up of a majority of pederasts (as NAMBLA defines them, people attracted to boys in or after puberty) and a minority of pedophiles (people attracted to prepubescent children). Yet the Bulletin has rarely reflected that, angering many of NAMBLA's members.

"The Bulletin is turning into a semi-pornographic jerk-off mag for pedophiles," NAMBLA cofounder David Thorstad wrote in a December 1996 letter to the magazine. "Has the Bulletin forgotten that NAMBLA has always consisted not only of pedophiles, but also of pederasts? In fact, were it not for the pederasts, there would never have been a NAMBLA. . . . What has happened to the political goals of NAMBLA, which are to struggle for sexual freedom and liberation, not merely for the right of dirty old men to get their vicarious jollies?"

The Bulletin's then-editor, Mike Merisi, replied angrily in print: "I well remember visiting Mr. Thorstad's NYC apartment in the early '70s, and viewing in his library books and magazines . . . [that] featured nude boys apparently between 6 and 16, and I can assume Mr. Thorstad has since shredded these artifacts of our culture, at which time he became a good pederast, only interested in age-appropriate teens, leaving the rest of us bad 'pedophiles' behind, in much the same way as the larger gay movement left him."

Nearly every year at NAMBLA's annual convention, a small faction requested that the organization decide on an age at which the group believed a boy could give consent. Every year, NAMBLA chose not to do so.

"Politically, we made a disastrous choice," says Socrates. "We were going to lose with that choice, and we did, big time. And while we could have said, 'Okay, we favor an age of consent at 12 or 14,' that goes against our philosophy that the important issues to consider are coercion, manipulation, and ultimately violence, not age. We hoped we could strike a blow to the core of the problems in society. Philosophically, we know we made the right choice."

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User Comments:

Posted by Anonymous | Aug. 2, 2008 at 10:40 AM
Just because you feel an attraction to some slutty looking young boy or young girl doesn't mean you can get them into a sexual situation. Let all the hypocritically stupid media with their commercials, shows, movies, and god knows what else tell the world how the parent establishment wants non-sexuality in pre teens but constantly showcases heterosexuality among children as young as four and thinks it's "cute" for young boys and girls to be attracted to each other. Some think movies like "My Girl" are cute. God help them if Culkin was over the age of 17 instead of under. God help those filthy young 10 year old boys being in love with ten year old girls in school. You 10 year old pedophiles!!!

Posted by Zachary | May. 28, 2009 at 11:16 AM
I belive that it is a wrong thing to be attracted to underage children but i do see their point although it has been proven that children's brains are not fully diveluped where they have the full amount of judgement as an adult and this has been through lab tests so even if they think they are happy with an adult it will turn out badly in the long run
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