Ivo

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BM-31 - Ivo van Hove, a Flemish theatre director recently wrote a letter for the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, published on December 4th 2010.

"I never did anything I did not want to do."

Among other things, Van Hove states:

"I absolutely cannot make any general statements about 'pedophilia', so I want to talk exclusively about my personal experience. [...]

I deliberate call it a 'relationship', because that's what it was for me. I never felt like a victim. I also want to stress explicitly that I didn't become a homosexual because of this relationship. 

I already knew that I was gay at a very early age - well, I didn't even know the word in those days - but I soon noticed what my feelings were about. When I was twelve it was crystal-clear that I was gay; which doesn't mean that I never kissed a girl, of course I did. But I soon felt: this is not what I want. 

My homosexuality never was a problem either. Not that I used to talk about it - you have to realize we're dealing with the [very Catholic] Flanders of the seventies - but it didn't bother me, I was not confused or anything.

Feeling like an outsider

My story is classical as well, I think. When I was eleven, I went to a boarding school in Hoogstraten. Not that I was out of control as a teenager, my parents just wanted me to go to a good school. 

It was there that I started a relationship with a teacher. This developed very gradually, very naturally. Of course there was sex involved, but it meant much more than just that. 

Thanks to this relationship I got to see plays for the first time in my life, I read all kinds of books, I listened to records I never would have discovered on my own. Isn't that how it goes in relationships?

I've had a relationship with my present partner for thirty years already and he's constantly telling me what strikes him as beautiful or good too. Life amounts to continuous learning, and that's how it was then as well. [...] 

There never was any penetration. Everything happened the way I wanted it to happen, I never did anything I did not want to do. There was no harshness involved, or any extreme activity, but there was tenderness. There were also days when we didn't have sex. [...] 

I never thought: this isn't normal. Afterwards, I never felt that this man robbed me of my childhood either. This relationship was not my first experience with love. [...]

The relationship took on new shapes with the passing of time: we stayed in touch even when I or he didn't feel sexual needs anymore, because there still was so much left. 

Injustice

I'm 52 now, and if this relationship ever had any negative consequences, I should have noticed it by now. [...]

It would have been terrible for me if this teacher had been convicted because of our relationship. Now that would have been really traumatic. In my view, that would have been a great injustice. [...]

I never got the feeling of being dependent on him, or of being in an unequal power relationship. [...]

I simply wish to make it clear that reality is less black and white than is often thought. 'Pedophilia' cannot always be reduced to an abuse of power and horrible types of sexuality. My personal experience is broader than that."

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