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BM-37 - "John", a young gay man in his early twenties answers questions from interviewer Brandon K. Thorp about his relationship with an elderly man when he was a teenager: 

Brandon: Alright, John. Just for the record, you do understand why we couldnít publish your article, correct?

John: Sure. Sure. My viewpoint canít be safely sanctioned by anybody, without a fear of legal reprisal of some kind.

Brandon: Because ...

John: Because thatís just the climate. 

Brandon: But itís not that itís illegal to want to abolish the age of consent . . .

John: No. Opinions are still legal in a lot of places around the world. But itís only a very short leap from expressing your opinion to being stuck in a room filled with men in suits who want you to name names, and thatís pretty scary for anybody.

Brandon: Letís talk about why weíre here. When you were thirteen, you began a relationship with a . . . with a what?

John: With a human being, who just happened to be sixty-seven years old. His name was Malcolm.

Brandon: How did that happen?

John: I was volunteering at a museum, and so was he. We started talking a lot, and he thought I was a very weird kid ó and I thought he was a pretty weird guy. I still havenít met anyone quite like him. 

Brandon: Weird in what way?

John: Him or me?

Brandon: Both.

John: Okay. Me first, then ó I was weird, because I hadnít been very popular in elementary school and I wasnít very popular in junior high, and I had spent a lot of time reading books. That was my entire development ó by the time I was thirteen, I already understood a great deal about literature and culture, and I was very actively interested in that. It wasnít some casual thing ó I actually looked forward to sitting down with big stacks of library books and devouring them. I made time for it, and I didnít resent the fact that books had been my friends for most of my childhood. I liked it. I think that was something that Malcolm really responded to ó it was a very pure thing, and guys who go for much younger guys are really into purity. Purity is a big turn-on for those people.

Brandon: And what about him?

John: He was genuinely excited about things ó the things I was into, science and learning. He was very passionate about his interests, and he didnít have to fake it. Thatís something that ó I donít want to call them ďpedophiles,Ē but ...

Brandon: We can call them hebephiles. 

(* Editorís Note: ďHebephilia,Ē or ďephebophilia,Ē is a term for sexual attraction to adolescents ó ďpedophiliaĒ is attraction to pre-adolescents, though it is often used in the broader, more general sense of attraction to minors.)

John: Okay, then ó thatís something that a lot of hebephiles donít do a lot. I think they always pretend to share the interests of whoever theyíre pursuing, but itís very rare that you actually encounter a situation where the interest is completely unforced ó totally genuine and mutual. I mean to say that Malcolm wasnít interested in me solely because I was young ó he thought I was an interesting person, he thought spending time around me was a really enjoyable thing to do. The fact that I was young just made it a little extra novel, I think.

Brandon: Okay. But what about parents? It takes a certain kind of person to be willing to help a kid pull the wool over his parentsí eyes for ó how many years?

John: Seven. Yeah, but you donít know my parents. Haha. Iíve had to pull the wool over their eyes about almost everything forever. Theyíre not the kinds of people you can actually talk to. 

Brandon: Why?

John: Theyíre . . . um ..., theyíre very cold. I donít think theyíre bad people, but theyíre just not the kind who were born with very well-developed parenting instincts. They were good disciplinarians: They taught me about hard work and they definitely kept me in line, they taught me how to conform, when need be. And I donít think that this is unimportant, especially these days, when it seems like no oneís willing to do anything unless itís easy and pleasant ...

Brandon: You know that, but did Malcolm know that?

John: Eventually, he got it. He definitely thought he should get to know my parents, as, like, my older best friend. He ...

Brandon: But thatís deceitful, isnít it?

John: No! God, no. I thought of him in pretty romantic terms long before we actually consummated anything.

Brandon: How long?

John: About two years, I think. My parents ...

Brandon: So you were fifteen before you actually slept with him?

John: I think so. And long before that, my parents knew that I spent most of my free time with this older guy named Malcolm, whom theyíd met and liked. But it wasnít like they were actively involved. It was more like, as I got farther in my teenage years, I had more and more time that was just my time, where my parents werenít structuring every aspect of my life.

Brandon: Did you feel, throughout your relationship, that there was any kind of power differential?

John: Power differential? Do you mean, like, could Malcolm manipulate me?

Brandon: Right, that. Or did you feel in any way subservient?

John: No, I wouldnít say so. There wasnít a power differential, though there was a wisdom differential. I understood that, and I liked it ó I didnít expect to know as much about people or the world as Malcolm did, and neither did he. But he took me seriously, anyway.

Brandon: And you werenít manipulated?

John: No, I donít think so. He could have manipulated me if he tried, maybe, but thatís true in almost every relationship. Someone has the ability to manipulate the other person. Thatís not whatís dangerous: Itís actually using that ability that causes problems. Besides, I could manipulate Malcolm, too ó I was younger and could get away with a lot. I probably could have wrapped him around my finger, but I didnít need to, because he gave me most of what I wanted anyway. Thatís the difference between exploitation and love.

Brandon: And the sex ó was that his idea, or your idea, or what?

John: I canít really recall. It just seemed to sort of develop. It seemed very natural ó it didnít seem at all weird. If it had, I probably wouldnít have been into it.

Brandon: But you were into it? 

John: Oh, absolutely.

Brandon: You were physically attracted to a seventy year old man?

John: Well, I was attracted to him in every way. Looks only get you so far, you know: Once you know a person really well, you stop seeing what they look like. You see through the surface. You canít really help it. You start seeing the whole package, and once you do, you canít unsee it.

Brandon: Let me read you something from the article you submitted. You said:

 ďThe decadent Greeks had their problems with pederasty, but pederasty had its perks, too. The passage of knowledge from one generation to the other is very seldom a function of love anymore, and this deficit makes all development as cold and sterile as the word used to encapsulate so much of it ó Ďinstitutioní ó would seem to imply.Ē 

Did you really see this as some kind of Greek thing?

John: In retrospect, yes. I think itís pretty natural to want that kind of relationship ó though, obviously, not everyone will. 

Brandon: Okay. I think youíve addressed most of the concerns that a lot of people would have about this sort of thing, and ...

John: But Iím not saying that all trans-generational relationships are good, you understand.

Brandon: Right.

John: In fact, in this culture, most of them are probably bad, because people have such warped views on sex and propriety, and also because that kind of climate has made it so that most of the older guys who would consent to this kind of relationship are scum-bags.

Brandon: Iíve got you. But, let me ask you this: What about ordinary friendships? I understand you werenít popular with your peers when you were younger, but thatís true of a lot of people who wind up becoming popular in high school or college. Did Malcolm get in the way of any of that?

John: No. My social life really started picking up when I turned sixteen, or so ó when I discovered fags on the internet. And there was time for them. But I always made sure that there was time for Malcolm, too. This was not because I felt obligated: Itís just what I wanted to do. I spent maybe a little less time with Malcolm, once I started developing a social life, but I still saw him at least once a week. And we didnít always have sex, or even that often. Sometimes, I was in the mood and he wasnít, because, you know, a lot of the hormones kind of disappear when you hit a certain age.

Brandon: Did you date other people while you were still seeing Malcolm?

John: Yes. I donít think this trans-generational thing works really well if you plan on being completely monogamous, because then you wonít learn how to deal with ordinary dating scenarios ó the kind youíre going to run into when youíre an adult, looking to settle down.

Brandon: Did your boyfriends know about Malcolm?

John: The serious ones did, but itís funny ó they werenít threatened. Itís hard to feel threatened by a seventy-year-old. Especially since, when I was dating other boys, Malcolm and I wouldnít sleep together at all.

Brandon: At all?

John: No. It wasnít that important to him. 

Brandon: Cool. Last question: Whereíd it wind up?

John: The relationship?

Brandon: Right.

John: Malcolm died when I was twenty. Heart attack.

Brandon: Was that bad?

John: Yeah, really bad, but it was also kind of okay. He enhanced the quality of my youth, and his influence will likely enhance the quality of my entire adult life. And I enhanced his old age. We both got something out of it. I was never under the illusion that he was going to be around forever ó I understood that we found each other at very different stages of our lives, and that the dimensions of our relationship would be defined by that difference. I miss him, but I wasnít heartbroken when he died. He was old. Thatís the way itís supposed to work.

Brandon: Itís been two years.

John: Two years.

Brandon: I donít suppose youíve struck up any relationships with any much-older men since then, have you?

John: No. You canít just go out, looking for people-replacements. 

Brandon: All right. Thanks for your time.

John: Thank you! Sorry you couldnít use the original story . . . 

Brandon: Yeah, me, too. Try to write something a little less felonious, and weíd love to see it.

John: Haha. Got you. Thanks.

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