Real social awareness begins for most children at eight to ten years of age.
This is when they begin to read newspapers and can follow television subtitles, when they start to discuss nuclear policy with their friends and to take an interest in the adult world around them.
This is also the age at which they begin to discover their erotic needs - that is, if the adult world has not succeeded in instilling in them restrictive sexual inhibitions. And it is at this age that boys become attracted to men they admire and can identify with.
If erotic feelings arise between a boy of this age and an adult male whom the boy likes and trusts, the adult will, in general, not show that he is erotically attracted to the boy, even in those cases in which the boy is impatient and tries to make his desires known. Also, boys of this age experience the strongest homophobic influences. (Homophobia is the fear of homosexuality, present in most men.)
Let us look at a story which shows what may happen when a boy's sexual curiosity and his desire for emancipation are frustrated.
This is not about one particular child, but rather a compilation of the experiences of various boys we have known: Rene, Brian, Kenneth, Dennis. We will call our boy Peter. The object of Peter's first erotic interest is his father. Peter tries to approach his father sexually when he is four; however his attempts are so consistently rejected that sexual play with his father remains physically impossible.
At the age of nine Peter becomes attracted to his uncle, however the uncle also rejects his advances. Peter reconsiders his rejection and is on the look-out for, or perhaps quite accidentally meets, a man who dares to accept his advances.
It is relatively easy for a young boy to make contact with an adult male outside the home when such contact within the home environment is refused him. In Copenhagen, for example, one of the city squares is known by the younger generation as the "Square of Friends." As one boy says, "If you sit down on the Square of Friends you'll have a gay friend within 15 minutes."
Perhaps Peter makes his first contact at the Square of Friends. He is invited to the man's home. They have a good time consuming soft drinks, watching videos and having sex (the days of bonbons have gone forever). Peter leaves with the urgent instruction - perhaps even threat - not to speak about this to anybody. And he is told not to come again.
The next time he goes to the Square of Friends the same thing happens. But now Peter discovers that money can be earned this way. When he asks for a loan for bus fare home the cash is given immediately, or perhaps he gets it without even having to ask. The whole thing seems easier to understand if money is involved, as though money, in some way, absolves those concerned from emotional engagement and responsibility.
Peter becomes acquainted with a man he is allowed to visit more than once, "but not too frequently - and be careful of the neighbours."
At one point in this process, Peter attempts to make the important adults in his life aware of his erotic needs, but his hints are so vague that nobody takes any real notice. Peter soon concludes that his needs are not understood. Young boys in such situations have sharp intuitions and Peter feels that his needs are being intentionally ignored.
Peter isolates himself. He withdraws from his parents, his teachers, his friends. Things begin to go badly for him at school and at home. The conflict cannot be resolved, as open communication is impossible.
Peter's adult lovers are powerless. They cannot come into the open without the risk of judicial punishment and public condemnation. They are all afraid of a more than superficially erotic involvement with Peter. Young boys like Peter can only experience one-time sexual contacts or be party to secret, illegal relationships, at least until they are fifteen.
Peter begins his conscious erotic life when he is nine or ten; it is restricted to casual sex, usually in the form of prostitution, for more than five years - five tender years that have a decisive effect upon one's future social behaviour.
When Peter is twelve or thirteen the inconceivable happens and he meets a warm-hearted man, a man who dares to give free expression to his own and Peter's love. Peter hopes that the relationship will continue, however the decision lies ultimately with the adult. Peter settles down in this relationship and recovers from the unfulfilling life of casual contacts. But now, although he is more at ease in his old surroundings, he dislikes staying at home.
The man tells Peter, "You may come and go as you like. My home is your home. You can be yourself here."
Peter prefers to pass his time with his friend rather than stay at home with his parents who find him difficult and closed. There he can neither talk about nor express his feelings, and so they are not understood. All authority figures around Peter unconsciously react negatively to Peter's homosexuality rather than let him live with it.
Peter's friend would like to talk with Peter's parents. He would like to say: "Hello! I'm your son's closest friend. He's on the verge of rejecting you as parents and turning me into a kind of substitute father. In a marriage you cannot be father and mother to each other, and in a relationship of this sort we shouldn't play the roles of father and son. It's best to stay close to one's biological parents rather than look for substitutes."
He does not, however, dare talk to them. At the worst he would be immediately reported to the police. Perhaps Peter's parents would "only" throw him out of the house and send Peter to a boarding school in the country, depriving the boy of his lover/surrogate father, his mother and his father.
The more a boy's adult authority figures ignore his erotic needs, the more likely it is that he will be tortured by homophobia for the rest of his life, in which case prostitution will, perhaps, be the only way for him to satisfy his sexual desire for men.
Neither Peter nor his friend dare discuss their relationship with others - they are alone with their love and feel they are being persecuted. "Someone's at the door - don't open it."
At home Peter becomes more and more withdrawn, until one night it becomes too much for him and he shows up at his friend's house. "I've run away," he says and goes inside. "I'm going to live with you."
Although Peter is by now only thirteen, he thinks of himself as an adult. Nobody will decide over his life any longer. Never again!
"You can't do this, Peter," the man says, frightened. Peter has no idea how troubling his fear is. Peter is allowed to spend the first night. His friend suffers a sleepless night and stays home from work the next day. They talk and talk. Towards the end of the afternoon the man tells Peter he must go back home. Peter leaves, but does not go home. He goes to the Square of Friends. "I'll find a new man, damn it!" he thinks.
He manages to carry it off for three days by staying overnight with casual acquaintances. On the fourth day he is caught on the street by one of the many people searching for him.
So Peter does go home again. His father is a little proud that his son has managed to take care of himself for three days. His mother is relieved and cries hysterically - her little boy is back.
Peter will not tell anyone why he ran away. Mad at his big friend, Peter abandons him. He feels betrayed and badly treated.
A month passes, then Peter runs away a second time. He is tracked down and caught, and perhaps put under supervision or enrolled in some service for after-school care. He runs away yet again and now he gets to know about hustling and the drug scene.
When questioned as to what is the matter, he will only say that he wants to be himself, to be his own master, and to make his own decisions about his life.
Peter does not dare to open up and talk about what he wants and how he feels. Nobody has the insight to see what it is that Peter wants to be free from, and if a few people do start to suspect, they will simply shake their heads and think: "He is still too young."
The expression "coming out" originated in gay and lesbian circles. To come out as gay or lesbian is to openly acknowledge that homosexuality is an integral part of one's life style.
To come out as a paedophile is to openly acknowledge having sexual desires for boys or girls.
For most gays and lesbians the coming out period is a trying one, often marked by an identity crisis. Coming out for paedophiles is usually even more difficult than for gays and lesbians; many never actually succeed. At first the young paedophile (like most people) experiments with the more accepted forms of sexual expression, having sexual relations with male and female peers or with older males. But not with the most forbidden class of potential partners - boys or girls.
But whichever substitute form of sexual expression the young paedophile may try, it will never give him the sexual satisfaction he is longing for.
Several years will perhaps pass by in this way, with the paedophile seeming to live a harmonious life. However, something is missing and he cannot discover what it is.
He has been aware for a long time that he is fond of children or adolescents. He has played the part of "favourite uncle" on several occasions and the children liked him very much. However, the idea of having a sexual relationship with any of these children is something he has never dared imagine. He has, of course, read about "child molesters" and can in no way identify himself with that kind of person. They are described as evil and cynical child abusers while he could never imagine himself ever hurting a child.
But finally it happens. One day he meets a child that feels a need to be close with him, a child that shows him so much affection that he falls in love. Self-awareness can now no longer be repressed.
It is the beginning of a somewhat awkward friendship. He is miserable because, afraid of his own feelings, he dares not touch the child. There is no question of sexual relations, as he is much too troubled by his own feelings, and the friendship soon deteriorates.
However, self-awareness has been attained and he now begins to actively look for contacts with children.
At first he is not particularly at ease with himself. He is shy and feels ashamed of his own behaviour. At times he returns to his former "normal" life, attempting to persuade himself that his feelings are only imaginary; however he slowly learns to accept that he has to live as a paedophile with all the risks this implies.
The amount of time this coming out process takes varies considerably from person to person. A paedophile who has already lived with other men for some years and who has already attempted to come out as gay will, of course, more easily recognise his paedophilia than an individual who has previously experienced only heterosexual relationships.
Of course, it is even more difficult for a female paedophile. She may never have heard that such people exist, and so it will be most difficult for her to understand that what she had heretofore thought of as her "motherly instinct" was really the mainspring of her sexual drive.
Some paedophiles come out when they are still quite young, others only when they have reached the age of 30 or 40, still others never do. This is a very individual process. Some paedophiles claim they always knew they were. boy- or girl-lovers. Occasionally you will hear a paedophile say that even back when he was ten years old he was drawn to little boys, and has felt the same way ever since. It sounds paradoxical to hear of a ten-year-old "paedophile" seducing a thirteen-year-old, but this is undoubtedly a more common occurrence than most people would like to believe.
We have all had the experience of crawling around on our knees and playing with a two-year-old, so soft and cuddly that we would like to just sit and caress him for a half an hour. Then, when after several minutes he gets restless and wants to be put down we know we have to concede to his wishes if our cuddling him is to remain acceptable. Younger as well as older children show very clearly just where they fix their limits and we have to learn to interpret these signals. It is, thus, a combination of knowing your own limits and learning those of the child.
- Nini Leick in the magazine Seksualpolitik, No. 1, 1983.
The standard image of "the paedophile" is of a sinister old man with a big bag of sweets who lurks around the playground and entices young, innocent children to go with him to a big forest where he cruelly abuses them, then cuts them up in small pieces and buries them in a shallow grave.
With such an idea in their minds, many people, understandably, see the paedophile as a monster of the worst sort. That most child-lovers, or paedophiles, are ordinary, friendly people, aware of their responsibilities, is something that neither the children nor their adult lovers ever tell other people. The fear of scandal, nerve-racking police examinations, severe prison sentences and the fear of losing each other keeps them from talking about their good experiences together and about why they are drawn to one another. This is why we never, or only seldom, hear of successful and happy relationships between children and adults.
The author Dan Turell wrote an article several years ago in which he suggested that in every neighbourhood there should be a child-lover whom parents could call upon if they had problems with their children. This article attracted, perhaps, less attention than might have been expected, considering its quite sensational central argument. It was just not taken very seriously. Obviously, in contrast to the traditional image of child-lovers, it pushes its advocacy to an extreme. However, the article does show a rare understanding and knowledge of the social function of the child-lover, particularly in interaction with some of society's most vulnerable and exposed children.
It does occasionally happen that a child-lover, under stress, will behave badly, and then the well-known newspaper story becomes a reality. But that is contrary to the general nature of a child-lover. As is implied by its derivation from the Greek, a paedophile is a lover of children. And someone who loves children will not want them to suffer mental or physical harm.
Turell's point of view was that child-lovers do not pose a threat to children's social development. On the contrary, the "community paedophile" could constitute a good counterpoise to the frustrating environment in which many children live.
We find many unhappy children in well-to-do homes where an authoritarian upbringing often restricts and inhibits the child's personality. Many children and adolescents from this kind of setting are deeply troubled by a lack of identity.
Others come from homes with frequent crises and insufficient care, home situations which could lead to early delinquency.
Institutions for crime prevention mainly work with people from the lowest levels of society. There the flood of people in care continues to grow, and the clients are younger and younger. Many child protection agencies uncritically entrust the children in their care to foster families. These boys and girls, already with weakened ego, are exposed by their "punishment" to still greater frustration than they had experienced in their previous surroundings at home. The chance of their establishing a stable relationship with a responsible adult becomes even less likely.
Politicians are burdened with economic considerations, or they are simply not aware enough to see the extent of the problem. We have numerous expert opinions at our disposal and factual reports telling us what could be done, if there was only a real desire to do something about them. One of the many is called Report Number 5 and was written by the Council for Crime Prevention. It deals with the necessity of close collaboration with the clients in their immediate environment.
The conclusion of these reports is that children and adolescents can be helped to stay out of the world of crime by efficiently run interdisciplinary collaboration within the community.
And it is just here that we think the paedophile could play a constructive role. The child-lover, who knows his section of the town and the children living there, who is interested in them and able to gain their confidence, could be a most valuable helper in this kind of social work.
There is often a problem with boys who lack all confidence in adults. Parents, foster parents and pedagogues cannot have any real influence over them, as the boys think they are simply stupid.
In his book, the sociologist Parker Rossman (1979 - see bibliography) describes several cases of delinquent boys whose violent behaviour proved to be based on sexual frustration. Meeting their erotic needs proved to be the key to obtaining their confidence. It is this phenomenon which outsiders find the most difficult to accept. However, it is an experience which thousands of paedophiles have witnessed.
The experienced paedophile has qualities which are lacking in many teachers and other pedagogues: the ability to identify with the child's world, to talk with children on equal terms and to offer guidance without being judgmental.
The affection given and the sexual contact help to shape a mutual return of trust which makes it possible for the paedophile to assist the child in areas other than the emotional and sexual - not rarely with surprising results. Several child-lovers have set themselves up as self-appointed social workers, performing this task with great enthusiasm and without demanding any sexual "reward". There are still few municipal social workers who dare risk their jobs and reputations by collaborating with the local child-lovers, but we know it happens.
The great majority of paedophiles recognise their social and moral responsibilities to the children they happen to meet, to the parents of these children, to society and to themselves.
In every human relationship there arise little battles in all kinds of areas about who shall dominate whom and how. What is finally achieved is a kind of balance acceptable to both partners. Obviously such balance is established more easily between approximate equals.
Children are often considered - by grown-ups - to be weak, vulnerable beings easily manipulated by adults with superior power, greater knowledge, experience, authority and position. Most paedophiles are extremely sensitive to these power advantages and act more out of the child's needs than their own. They are very much aware of the great responsibility they have resulting from their close contact with the child.
But of course it is much easier to support this ideal than to put it into practice. Criminal laws and moral prejudice place in the path of the paedophile all sorts of traps, snares and stumbling blocks. The paedophile must always be aware of these; in every aspect of his relationship with the child, and not just in their sexual experiences, he must put the child's needs and desires before his own.
An example. If you love someone, you delight in pleasing him, surprising him. The paedophile, on the one hand, wants to make sure that he has in his home things which the child enjoys; on the other hand, he must not be too generous with presents - toys or cigarettes, depending on the child's age. The man should be especially careful not to find himself in the sort of situation where he is buying the child's favours with his gifts. Then the child's participation is likely to become a kind of prostitution where he grows calculating and finally wants the sexual contacts to be over with as quickly as possible and visits the man only for his money or gifts. Here the child's desire and need for affection are pushed aside. Obviously when a relationship follows such a course, it can have long-lasting psychological consequences.
Another example. The paedophile has most of his contacts with children who have problems, be they at school, with age-mates or with parents. Feeling protected in the company of the paedophile, the child stays away from his home, avoids his peers, and so he becomes more and more isolated at school and at home. What the paedophile must do is both help the boy and at the same time push him out to make his way in his world.
A third example. There is always the possibility that somehow the police or the child protection authorities might become involved. Disastrous as this may be for the paedophile, the consequences for the child can be catastrophic: panic in the family, a major investigation by the police where the child is interviewed at great length to uncover every unimportant detail about their sexual relations. The child's best friend becomes an object of deep hatred by everyone around him. To the child, none of this makes any sense at all. The paedophile must, if the child is old enough, prepare him for what could happen, tell him that no adult in such circumstances could help him in any way. The paedophile should tell the child how such a catastrophe might come about, and do so without terrifying him. This is a great responsibility which the paedophile has to the child, the child's parents, society and himself.
Most parents have no understanding of the sexuality of their own children. It is still generally believed that only as a child reaches puberty does sex enter his life. Therefore the majority of people find it totally incomprehensible that a child can feel attracted to and love an adult friend and wish to express that attraction and love sexually. The idea that a child involved with an adult in a sexual manner is always abused is very deep-rooted indeed. Equally deeply rooted is the conviction that in such relations it is only the adult who derives any physical satisfaction.
Fortunately, the child will form his own opinions on these matters, based upon personal experience. When he responds with affection and trust, this is the best indication of the truth about their relationship. Unfortunately that is not always enough: outside pressure can become overwhelming.
Today, sex between children and adults is viewed very much as homosexuality was a few decades ago. Many parents are happy when they discover their offspring has made an adult friend; they can be very accepting of such a friendship, with never a suspicion arising. But the moment they realise sex is involved, they feel they must at the very least intervene - perhaps not because they themselves condemn the sexual contacts, but more because they are afraid of the prejudices in the people around them. The pressure to conform to social norms affects parents, too. They feel it is clearly their parental duty to prevent their children from having sexual contacts with mature partners before those children become mature themselves.
A mother who strongly suspects that her child is playing sex games with someone else behind closed doors may decide not to interfere, but the moment she opens the door and sees the dancing buttocks of the children, she may feel obligated to intervene and condemn. She may, of course, later, on calm reflection, regret this, but at the moment of confrontation her way of reacting will be determined by her upbringing and how much joy and how much revulsion she finds in sex.
A child involved in a paedophile relationship with very dominating and intolerant parents will often have a conflict of loyalty and feel very guilty. How great this problem becomes will depend very much on how condemning the parental attitude is. At the age of puberty he will most likely experience such a conflict as a natural event in the process of forming his own identity, but before puberty it will often be more troublesome, frustrating and divisive.
In the whole debate about paedophilia, we are inclined to focus rather narrowly upon the sexual element. But there is another aspect which can be almost as upsetting to the parents: the child's identification with an adult other than themselves. Often the adult friend becomes a kind of father-substitute or second father to the child.
Every parent knows that sooner or later the children will leave home, but when, as a child, their offspring consciously chooses for himself a new father, the biological father often feels deprived of his "natural right" to live on through his progeny. This is perceived as a very personal defeat.
The antagonism between the child's parents and the child's adult friend is therefore not necessarily based upon different values of sexual morality. The conflict boils down to who, through his sheer presence, will shape the child through affection and example - a conflict which also lies at the roots of the frequent battles between young married people and their in-laws.
Because of this, adult/child relationships tend to develop most harmoniously where the social and cultural background of the adult friend is much the same as that of the parents, or where the adult friend belongs, in the parents' view, to a social and cultural level higher than their own. In other words, parents are more likely to accept their child's relationship if they feel it is somehow moving their child closer to the path of life they had always envisioned for him.
Where the parents disapprove and condemn, or even try to prohibit the friendship, the partners may be forced to meet in deepest secrecy - and sometimes this may work out surprisingly well. In any case, it will strengthen the youngster's independence, and perhaps with it his self-esteem. This, too, will tend to bolster their relationship.
If the adult friend sees that sexual intimacy is too heavy a burden for the child, he should accept the fact that their love will not be physically fulfilled; that is, after all, better than placing the child in a perpetual situation of stress.
The existing norms and laws of our society make certain that the child and the adult in a paedophile relationship are up against enormous odds. Such a relationship demands much love, immense capability and much diplomatic sense simply to be able to survive.
Ideally, the parents and the paedophile are on speaking terms and can discuss the relationship. We have, somewhat polemically, set up some "good advice for child-lovers". It is not our aim to provoke our readers into committing sexual offences. Our advice also applies to the parents and children involved.
If you, as a child-lover, have a close, confidential relationship with your friend, you will undoubtedly get a great deal of insight into his social situation. At some point you might want to intercede. Maybe you think the child has a miserable life. Maybe you do not like the upbringing he is getting.
Before undertaking anything there are two points for reflection. Firstly, your view is rather one-sided, as your knowledge is based only on the child's point of view. Secondly, parents have legal power and authority over the child until he is 18. Parents decide where the child lives, goes to school, etc.
It would be best, therefore, to discuss the situation with your young friend and try to find a way in which he can improve the life he is living. If this proves insufficient, it will be very important to set up amicable relations with his parents, so that you, as a good friend of the child, can also become a good friend of the family.
Everything becomes more difficult if you have no contact with the parents. Wherever you go, people will wonder what kind of fellow you are, what is your interest in the boy.
Open contact with the parents by introducing yourself as a good friend in whom the child has confided. Be very calm. Introduce yourself with your full and real name; freely give some information about yourself. Be relaxed. You have nothing to hide except the most intimate details and the forbidden sex life, which are only a part of your mutual relationship.
Talk with the boy's parents just as you would talk with anyone else and you will find that they will open up to you, unless they have something to hide.
Perhaps you get on confidential terms with the parents. Perhaps not. You must act accordingly. But always remember that the child is not your son or daughter, but your friend. You can help the child to solve his problems, but you cannot solve them for him.
If the situation seems hopeless, if you cannot communicate with the parents at all, you could approach the child's teachers. Be just as open with them. Tell them that you do not want to meddle in other people's affairs, but only wish to draw attention to the fact that it is your impression that the child has certain problems. Teachers have the authority to take action, whereas you have no authority whatsoever.
Be very prudent when and how you interfere. Parents will often be shocked by the fact that their child went to another with his problems, particularly problems about the home.
If things go very wrong you should contact one of the help organisations. Introduce yourself as a friend wanting to help another friend.
The more suspicious an impression you make, the more distrustful the people you have come in contact with will be. It cannot be over-stressed: if you are discussing the child's case with adult authorities, you should simply forget that your relationship has erotic elements. This is not what is under discussion. Forget them! Nobody will dare to suggest that there is something sexual between you and the child unless you suggest it yourself.
It is quite possible that the question of sexual relations will be asked if you come in contact with certain public officials, but you should realise that this is generally a matter of routine. Most authorities would rather not know whether there is a sexual connection between you and the child. If a child has problems everybody would like there to be at least one adult whom the child likes and trusts. Everybody knows that such a contact is the best means of helping the child to solve his problems. Those with whom you are talking may find it necessary to ask this question, but they would really prefer a negative answer. Reply "no" to the question, as if this was something far removed from you, as if it would never enter your mind.
It is the total situation of the child that you are dealing with and it is your right to take an interest. The assistance laws state that one who comes to know that a child under eighteen years of age is being exposed to neglect or humiliating treatment by his parents or others bringing the child up, or is living in conditions endangering his health or development, is obliged to inform the child protection authorities.
The intimacies which may be taking place between you and the child are not essential to the case at hand.
By far the majority of sexual relationships between children and adults are homosexual ones (but please don't ask for statistics!). Children who have come into contact with a homosexual child-lover will at a certain point wonder "am I also gay"? This in no way needs to be the case.
The foundation of sexual identity is laid in the first years of a child's life. Already by the age of two, sexual tendencies will, in most cases, be fixed.
In general boys need an adult male as a role model to identify with. In our culture male identification for boys is considered to be a priority in the socialization process.
However, actual physical contact between men and boys is restricted to hardy tusslings, a clap on the shoulder, a boxing blow, a quick and violent pulling of the hair and such. Affectionate caressing is not considered "manly". A boy likes to look at a man's muscles and, although the adult male can permit himself to enjoy the boy's desire to emulate him in the area of "muscles", anything relating to the erotic areas of the body is taboo. Here, the boy has no opportunity for role identification. He learns, rather, to develop his fear of sexuality and, in particular, homosexuality (homophobia).
Many boys are erotically attracted to their adult male role models, with the attraction becoming stronger upon the approach of puberty. Unfortunately, the majority of teachers, psychologists, politicians and parents refuse to recognise this need and attempt (very often successfully) to suppress these erotic desires, offering neither explanation nor justification.
Upbringing is perhaps the best example of this process, as most parents raise children in the manner they themselves were raised. Children learn not so much from the words of adults as from their behaviour, their way of living together and of relating to others.
Many enter adulthood highly homophobic. A few fortunate ones learn at this early age to accept their homosexual tendencies.
Gays generally agree that what they missed most during this difficult period of transition from childhood to adulthood was recognition of their sexual identity and the possibility of sexually identifying with other adults. While still children, they had no opportunity to discuss homosexuality with anyone. Homosexuals were invisible. The homosexuals in their family or in their wider circle of friends and acquaintances never disclosed their true sexual proclivities. The pubescent gay could only identify with heterosexuals. Nevertheless, they were gay.
Most knew they were different in some way. Many thought they were alone in their difference.
It is typical that gays who come out later in life have experienced many long, troublesome problems with identity, while gays who by puberty had already recognised their homosexuality have often had an easier existence. Characteristically, most gays at the start of their lives as homosexuals have had close, intimate relations with more experienced men.
Boys learn about the way men behave towards women in the home, from movies, from books and in the street. They have not the slightest idea, or only a very vague one, of how gay adults relate. And what they do learn (from books, movies, etc.) is usually distorted. This leads to a fundamental uncertainty which often lasts for years.
Many boys, not only gay boys, reject their fathers as male ideal at puberty. Boys of this age are looking for male models, models with whom they can identify and, most of all, in whom they can confide. They need to know that a man can be kind, and can be pleasant company. Physical intimacy creates the deepest familiarity, trust, and confidence in a man's body. And a boy's body will one day become a man's body.
Boys have a need to experience the certainty that there is somebody who likes them, especially during puberty, a time when they are generally dissatisfied with themselves. They have a need for appreciation and respect at this period of mental and physical change. Love and admiration instils personal strength.
They also need to be accepted into the adult world sexually. And they need the companionship of peers for comparison and competition. They need the total spectrum.
Boys learn how to relate to the things they experience from their adult lovers - everything from playing chess and washing dishes to living with others and having sex.
Not every boy in a paedophile relationship is looking for a gay identity. Most of them will later live an ordinary heterosexual life, raise a family and live harmoniously in it. Those boys who are gay will gain experience from the relationship, which will help them cope with an adult gay life.
Some people may form the impression that the foregoing considerations confirm the elsewhere rejected "seduction theory", the proposition that boys can be seduced into becoming homosexuals.
In some cases it may prove possible to seduce a person into a single atypical sexual experience. However, if this experience is not pleasing it will remain an isolated one. No one is likely to voluntarily repeat an experience which he has found to be distasteful or unpleasant.
Thousands of homosexuals have been seduced into having heterosexual experiences. Even more have been forced into heterosexual relationships, but that has never diminished the individual's homosexual impulses.
You cannot seduce a person into acquiring a certain kind of sexuality, but you can, by seduction, help each other to acquire new insights.
It was a bright day in spring when I met Andre for the first time on Vesterbro Square. I was enjoying the pleasant company of some friends under the umbrella of a terrace restaurant when he came to our table and started a conversation with us. He was very nice, very talkative and we were in a ebullient summer mood. It was very pleasant and we talked about all kinds of things. At some point it became clear to Andre (if he hadn't known this from the start) that we were gay. He seemed to know a great deal about this but wanted us to tell him more. He had never before met people who sat in a restaurant talking freely about being gay without lowering their voices.
One's first impression was that he looked a bit neglected - but then no more so than many other boys his age for whom cleanliness and behavioural polish are not paramount virtues.
It was only a few months later that I met him again in the neighbourhood of Rådhuspladsen. I had never seen anything like it: he was covered with dirt, his clothes were ragged, his eyes empty. I doubted whether he would recognise me, but he did. He told me that he had run away from home and was living in Christiania. He didn't want to go with me to my home, but I gave him my telephone number.
A week later he called and said he would like to visit. He didn't look any better and he smelled terrible. He was drunk. He took a bath and I gave him some clean clothes (three sizes too large) and enough money to buy himself a meal plus a banknote of fifty crowns to help out. He didn't want to return to his home. He would look after himself.
He turned up again the following weekend, late in the evening, and asked if he could stay for the night. I let him in. I was very uncertain about what I would and should do, but decided that I must try to talk to him. Perhaps together we could find some solution to his problems.
When it was time to sleep we lay down in the same bed. We talked a lot, and I don't know how it happened - probably in the way such things always do - but suddenly we were in each other's arms. He told me he had done this before, and that he was hustling on the Rådhuspladsen. It was nice, tender I thought. We chatted. But I must admit that now, after all that subsequently happened, I am not sure whether, when he snuggled himself into my embrace to pay me with his body, it had all been planned ahead of time or whether it was just fate playing a game with us.
In the following three months he came often - two or three times a week - always staying for the night and sometimes also coming on Friday or Saturday. He refused to give me the address of his parents. He wanted only to be himself. I wasn't to meddle. I decided that the best I could do was to open my home for him and give him a place of retreat from what I considered to be an ugly existence. If I were to contact his parents or an agency it should be done with his knowledge and agreement. His trust in adults was already not too great, so why should I betray him?
One day a fellow of about twenty showed up at my door. He introduced himself as Michael, was a friend of Andre's and his parents and was an assistant leader in a youth club Andre used to visit. I was glad to meet someone who knew more about Andre and we soon entered into a confidential discussion. Michael told me that he himself had once been a hustler and he wanted to help Andre to escape from this life. He told me that Andre occasionally used heroin and smoked a lot of pot. He gave me the telephone number of Andre's parents and when Andre turned up the next day I got his permission to contact them.
When I phoned, the stepfather, sounding slightly tipsy, threw down the receiver. The mother seemed more approachable and I thought I could hear in her voice that she was honestly concerned but had given up. Yes, she knew that Andre was a prostitute, she knew how he earned his living, but what could she do? She had discussed with the social services about having Andre sent to the Fulton, an officially subsidised sailing ship crewed by delinquent youngsters, but that was six weeks ago and she didn't know how things stood now. She had never heard anything about Andre using or ever having used drugs.
The next day I contacted the social services and they promised to speed things up. They also knew that Andre was a prostitute. I think I got a little bit rude and quite sharply asked them if they were unaware of the usual fate of boy prostitutes, if they had no idea of the world they lived in.
The same evening Andre went back to his mother and stepfather and stayed at home for a few days, but when he left them again it was with his mother's housekeeping money in his pocket.
To make a long story short, they didn't want him on board the Fulton, but he could join a different sailing-ship group in a few weeks time.
I've never been able to discover how the trouble really started, but the next three weeks were very bewildering. One moment Andre was at home, the next moment he was not at home, then he stole his stepfather's motor scooter, and suddenly he was completely gone. I arranged with his parents and the social services for him to stay at my place until he was to leave for the ship, and Michael assisted in spreading this information around the other hustlers on Rådhuspladsen. A few days later Andre turned up asking, with evident surprise and doubt, whether what he had heard was true - that he could stay with me. I confirmed this, but then the stepfather phoned to say that I should send Andre home if he turned up. So, Andre went home.
Two days before his scheduled departure for the ship he showed up again at midnight. I let him stay over, but told him to go home the next day. I began to get nervous, and was troubled by the whole situation. There was so much uncertainty. I had a premonition that there was something threatening in all of this.
The day after Andre should have gone off with the sailing-ship project his stepfather phoned me and said, "Pay 5000 crowns into my bank account before twelve o'clock Friday or I will call the police and report you for sexual activities with a minor."
I asked him to phone back later. I wanted time to think it over.
A friend quickly came to my aid and connected an extra telephone apparatus. When the stepfather phoned back my friend listened in and made notes. I made the stepfather repeat his demand and drew his attention to the fact that he was blackmailing me. Moreover, I let him believe I had recorded the entire conversation on tape. Then Michael called to say that I did actually have to pay; that it would be best for all concerned, most of all for myself.
I refused outright and asked him if this was the thanks I got for my attempt to help Andre.
A week later the stepfather called again, halving his payment demand. I again refused. Another night, the mother called and said that the stepfather was on his way to see me.
"Should I throw him out or call the police," I asked her. "No, no, just send him back home," she replied.
The stepfather didn't show up, and I heard no more from him.
I was truly shocked and afraid. Of course I was afraid of coming into conflict with the police, but the most frightening was being made aware of my own naivety - that I had just not in the least suspected that such a thing was in the making.
Hearing no more, I assumed that all had been forgotten and then, a few months later I was asked to contact a detective at the police department. Section A: violent crimes, murder, sexual delinquency.
On a bleak wintry day in January I went to the office for questioning. They were pleasant - even offered me coffee and cake. There were no glaring spotlights. They were about to arrest the stepfather, as it had been proven that he had attempted to blackmail several people. I had thought I was his only victim, but there were five of us.
Andre was taken to a closed section of a youth institute (Copenhagen's Children's Prison) and was later sent to a foster family in Jutland.
Before starting his examination the detective said that Andre had told them everything so I might best do the same. It was later shown that Andre had told them nothing about the fact that he had visited me, or that the stepfather had attempted to blackmail me, and when he was later confronted with my declaration he gave no comment, only saying it was quite true.
I spoke about my relationship with Andre - 'confessed' it, as this is called - mainly to help them prosecute the stepfather, but also because I felt that my moral conscience was pure. If I had acted in a different way, it could have given Andre the feeling that I was trying to avenge myself. I don't think the blackmail attempt was his idea.
As I believed Andre had disclosed the entire course of events, I didn't want to sit there and tell a different story that would make him appear a liar. His reputation with the police was already not too good and if there was a victim in this case it was surely he.
There was first a short trial of the five of us who had been with Andre, or whom the police thought he had been with. Two pleaded innocent and were acquitted. The other three of us were given conditional sentences on probation. This meant that if any of us were to have a similar relationship within two years after the judgment, the new case would be treated with that of Andre and they would be added together (I had never been tried before).
Michael, the assistant youth leader, was also accused of having had sexual contacts with Andre. Andre had told them this had happened three times, but because Michael denied it, and since there were no witnesses, he was acquitted on this charge, but he could not prevent his being found guilty of being accessory to blackmail. He also received a conditional sentence. They thought the stepfather had a hold over Michael and that he had more or less forced Michael into visiting Andre's clients and giving their telephone numbers and addresses to the stepfather.
The stepfather was given an unconditional sentence of 60 days imprisonment.
One and a half years have now gone by since the first threats were made. Nine months passed between the first questioning by the police and the final judgment. I succeeded in regaining my composure, but it was a difficult experience. The fear of possibly being sent to prison was at times great, even though I was told at an early stage that I most probably would get a conditional sentence. But this fear was really nothing compared to the doubts I had about my own capacity for perceiving situations. During one period I saw ghosts everywhere and hardly dared to talk to or look at a boy under fifteen. I felt my heart had frozen like a lake in winter, but now spring has returned and my heart is thawing again.
I don't know whether I'm a paedophile, and I also don't want to have different labels stuck on me. It is sufficient that I am gay. I refuse to let my love and affection for others be directed by fixed ideas about age.
Humans are humans and, after having been friend, beloved and lover with males of ages ranging from thirteen to seventy, I know that the affection is the same; the desire and the need to be united to another person are the same. Friendship and love do not raise questions about age for me.
Of course I will think twice before I start a relationship with a minor again and I'll surely try to act with more wisdom. Maybe I'll abstain from love's most intimate expression, but the love itself I cannot avoid. I won't tie it up.
Love is the flower of life.