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Power always bothered me. I was always intensely aware of it. At my volunteer job, which worked to help struggling immigrants and families on welfare, I could never actually talk to the people. The power imbalance was too much. I was on the wrong side. I did menial tasks instead, cleaning and filing papers. For most of my life, I was not on the powerful side; I know better the rush and struggle of prevailing even in a miniscule way than I do the assumption that my requests will be heeded. This is a source of pride for me, the knowledge that my strength is my own.

Even before I started thinking of myself as a boylover, I thought a lot about the concept of 'pedophilia.' What did it mean? Who were the pedophiles? What were their lives like? Do they always go to prison? What about when they get released? I wrote many stories where a secondary character was a pedophile. In the first, the pedophile was a morbid, sick man who craved death and dressed in dark suits and drove a dark car. He preyed on children. He had no depth. I quickly realized that nobody is as hollow as this character was.

In my next story, I wrote about an older teen named Taro who was a pedophile. He lived with his adopted brother. There was sexual contact in the relationship, and banter, and discussion. The two people treated each other like equals in each other's presence. But in private, they were both tormented. Taro battled against his feeling for the younger boy. He hated himself and engaged in self-destructive behaviors. The younger boy had lots of aggression, which he took out on others by manipulating them with his high intelligence and reasoning ability. A vicious cycle existed with the younger boy: he hated the sex, and felt horrible afterwards, and thus needed more sex in order to drown out his emotions. This was my second story about pedophiles. There were other, shorter, less developed stories as well that also used the Taro model of pedophilia.

I focused on pedophiles because I knew that they were not powerful in society. They were scapegoats, preyed upon by politicians and the media. They were loathed. What is it like to live in America and be loathed, to be considered to be subhuman? It must push a person into the underground, and so most of my characters lived an underground life. It must create guilt and negative self-image in all but the most hardened individuals, I thought. It must give a person a hard edge; their heart must be surrounded by ice for self- protection, they must never show too much emotion in their speech lest they betray their true inner selves. They must be afraid of discovery.

I stopped writing for a little while after Taro. The end of the story, for those who care, had Taro kill himself and his young lover transferred to another adoptive home. I still did not sort myself into the category of pedophile. I did not sort myself into any category. It was during that break from writing that I saw something that filled my mind with questions. In the parking lot at a local McDonalds, one summer day, I saw a beautiful little boy. I was stunned by his beauty. I caught myself staring at him and he noticed me. He gave me a startled look, and I looked away. In the moments that followed it occurred to me that there might be pedophilic leanings somewhere in my soul.

Through most of my life I have been fiercely individual, resentful of power and fearless of challenging authority figures. In eighth grade I was a Communist. Suddenly in the chaos of sexual discovery I became a Republican. I pledged my allegiance to the law; I supported the war in Iraq with all my heart, and red-white-and-blue became my favorite colors. John Ashcroft was my hero, during the year that ensued. I became soft-spoken and mindful of my place as a child with no rights. Far from the wild protester who had risked (and lost) a great many things the year before to combat abuse of power by authorities around me, I swore to follow blindly anyone with power. Why? Because suddenly I needed to prove to myself that I was a good person. I needed to prove that I was not one of the tormented, sick souls that I had written about before. I found myself at odds with the messages in society. I felt that the only way to redeem myself was to swallow every message sent by the media and my peers about what was 'acceptable.'

When I think of all the things I could have accomplished that year, I cringe. The only thing I achieved was not falling into a pit of depression. I could have joined student groups to trade ideas about social change. I could have started some of these groups. I could have used that time to use the political knowledge and awareness that I had steadily been gaining to launch dissent against the war in Iraq...but instead I declined offers to go to protests, in the name of showing my inner traitor that I was a "good" person.

I found NAMBLA completely by accident.

I was actually doing a research project on the dangers of the Internet. I had picked that topic because of course it involved the topic of pedophiles, one that I still had basically no knowledge of outside of my own theories. NAMBLA was offered up as an example of the sickness on the Internet. I googled the organization and visited its site; what I found both horrified and thrilled me. I was amazed that I was not the only pedophile who had a good conscience, who wanted to organize for rights and who didn't want to hurt anyone. But I was horrified at the suggestion that the youth should be allowed to have sex. I was still a Republican at that time, but sliding back towards my original political leanings.

Now with the knowledge that people like me existed who had intact morals, I went off on a search of my community. Most of the sites I found were dead, archived versions of sites that had long ago been active community centers. By some coincidence, all of those whose death-dates I could track down were in 1998. Research showed no reason, no new law in that year for instance, that would have caused this shut down. I began to worry that my community was a ghost-town, closed out by some hidden conspiracy. I wondered what had happened to all the old community leaders I saw; were they dead? Had they just given up? It's one thing to go to a protest and get shot by cops; there are many causes I would do that for. It's another thing to die online; you post something one day, forget about it, then months later you're in your kitchen, eating a sandwich and reading the paper, and you hear someone Knock. Is that how it was for these people?

My inner protester slowly began to revive. I started drafting articles by the dozens on the topic of pedophilia. I was going to resurrect this community. My articles were diverse and wordy. 'Moral pedophilia.' 'On the topic of activism.' 'The next steps towards freedom.' 'Alternatives to sex.' At that point I discovered BoyChat, a living, active forum. The community wasn't extinct! It was still alive! And, reading the posts, I could see that there was a majority consensus about adult-child sex. Wonderful. I stopped planning my own activism; which is just as well, because honestly the articles I wrote back then were horrible. Self-righteous and opinionated, with little supporting evidence or tolerance for opposing viewpoints. Plus, I disagree with all my conservative stances from that time period.

I spent the next year lurking on BoyChat. I kept asking myself questions during that time. What does it mean to be a member of the boylove community? I came up with many potential answers. We are moral, regular people. We are the forgotten little siblings of the gay community. (Investigation of this led be to the conclusion that boylovers were ditched by gays after the outbreak of AIDS in the 80s, when gays were under fire for immorality and needed an easy scapegoat.) We are soulless; this idea came out after BoyLover.net got broken up during the winter and I witnessed, sadly, as the BC community divided itself against the BL.net community. We did the work of the FBI for them. I still believe that, although I no longer consider BC to be soulless.

I saw the strength and compassion of my community after Kevin Brown made his brave announcement on Rick Robert's radio show, challenging Robert's crusade against NAMBLA. Watching Kevin Brown go through ordeal after ordeal, and always turn out on top, showed me what it means to be a strong representative of your ideals and to have inner strength. They can take everything in the world away from you, but you always will have yourself.

Things were getting better in my life. I was slowly rediscovering my own strength and my original political ideology. I had access to examples of strength and courage within my community. I had a growing list of people who had my utter respect, heroes. I had a feeling of community bond that I'd never had, or really needed, before in my life; usually before I could lean on my strength as an individual, but at this point in my life I felt the need for community.

Sure Quality Radio also opened doors; it is a boylove radio station, for those who don't know. The first time I tuned in, I pumped my fist in the air and laughed. I am extremely auditory and hearing the voices of my fellow people was a very powerful experience for me. I listened to Dylan Thomas' show every night; he went on the list of people who I respected highly. I also discovered religion; I suppose the best explanation for this is that I am a Deist; like some of the founding fathers of the USA, I follow an ad-hoc spirituality that worships nature and natural symbolism, that is not organized and teaches no specific principles. My religion grows and shrinks in importance as my need for spirituality and trust in a higher power changes.

At this point in my life I met a new person who showed me new ideas. These ideas are current; this happened only a few weeks before I turned 18. I do not know what I will believe in the future, or how this story will end.

I was in the Sure Quality Radio chatroom during one of Dylan Thomas' shows when I got in a debate with a very conservative boylover. I love debating; be my opponent stupid or brilliant, I love the challenge and the spotlight. I love the feeling of putting myself and my reputation on the line for an idea that I believe in strongly and I love the feeling of trapping an opponent in a corner with my arguments almost as much as I love escaping from a corner in which I had been "trapped." The debate was about youth rights.

By this time I had come to the conclusion that there would be no liberation for a people that refused to challenge the status quo. Whatever my personal life choices, there could be no freedom for boylovers unless there was complete freedom for the youth. My ideas were barely formed; they still focused on sexual freedom primarily. Unless we challenged the status of youth, we could not challenge our own status and would continue to be oppressed. There is no activism without challenge; thus I believed we should not be afraid as coming out as "anti-family" or "soft on crime."

I do not believe that the nuclear model of the family is an effective model, as it leaves all but the male head of household vulnerable to exploitation by lowering their status. I do not believe in prisons either; they are the greatest way to ENSURE that more crimes will be committed, in my mind. I was arguing some prototype of this idea in the chatroom, trying to defend against the notion that all youth are equally ignorant and incapable, and loving the hell out of it.

I got a PM from another person in the chat. He advocated the viewpoint that there is no such thing as a pedophile, that it is a faulty notion based on social constructs of childhood and of sexuality. The construction of any dichotomy...white-black, male- female, or adult-child can serve only one purpose: to delegate power. People just don't fit into categories; we all know stories like the 8-year-old who reads at college level, Rosie the Riveter who challenged notions of what it means to be female, the black man at Pearl Harbor who seized a gun and shot down enemy attackers in spite of claims that black men were less loyal or skilled in combat. The concept of a 'prodigy' is the offspring of this. There are no adult prodigies; only child prodigies. Children are expected to be dependent and weak and unintelligent; any contradiction of this makes them remarkable, an object of fascination and conjecture, when in fact I think such people are only natural on the spectrum of human abilities, that exists regardless of age.

I have rejected all identities: all dichotomies and pigeon-holes that people try to stuff themselves into. This revelation has made me a much happier person individually. I do not consider myself a bl, gl, or cl. I do not consider myself anything. I am me, and I am happy with that. Compared to myself, I am absolutely normal, I am absolutely fine, I am absolutely what is expected of me. I cannot compare to others because I see no standard by which such a comparison could take place.

I hope this is meaningful for someone. I know it is long. It is how my life has brought me full-circle, from a person who questions what it means to belong to a very oppressed group in the USA, to a person who identified as part of that group, to a person who wonders what the oppressed groups mean and wants to challenge that meaning.

Thanks for reading.

David's advice for living

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