Star Trek, Me, and Pedophilia

It’s time I came out of the closet about something.

I… am a nerd.

Yes, that’s right, I am part of that discriminated-against minority. I love math and science, I enjoy puzzles, and yes, I enjoy science fiction—including, especially, Star Trek. I’m not just a nerd; I’m a Trekkie.

Ahem, pardon my fun there. Although there actually was a time in my early teens where I think I saw being a nerd as a bigger obstacle in life than being a pedophile! (It was when I was still understanding just what my attractions were.) In truth, both identities have affected me deeply, and they’ve intersected in interesting ways.

For example, Star Trek really shaped my morality growing up. I love its aspirations. I love how it paints a picture of a humanity that can get better, even if that journey takes time, and even if we take some steps backwards before taking steps forwards. I love the constant struggle to tell right from wrong, to understand what justice is, to learn how to build a society. I love the characters; it’s filled with outsiders who tell me something about myself.

You can learn a lot about me from Star Trek. Since this blog is, after all, meant to share my own story, and to talk about morality, what better way to accomplish its mission than to talk about these shows, and to show how they impacted my perception of myself and my pedophilia?

Don’t worry. Even if you’re not a Star Trek fan, this will be a friendly (and interesting!) post for you. Let’s go ahead and talk about the Star Trek of the ’80s and ’90s.

Musing 1: On Star Trek and Improvement

One of the premises of Star Trek is that several hundred years in the future technology has largely addressed human needs. Food and housing are plentiful, and (depending on the show), humans don’t even use money anymore. Instead, people strive better themselves and that drives a lot of their choices. As someone who has always striven to improve myself, and who’s also always wanted to contribute to society, this really resonated!

The core point of Star Trek is that in the future, humanity has improved itself by building a better society. Yes, it says, things might be bad now, but by working together and unifying we can make them better. The way people talk about the world now, it seems wildly optimistic—and yet, by almost any metric, we are already seeing humanity improving itself. Broadly speaking, the trend for statistics across the world has been for improvements in child poverty, hunger, life expectancy, education level, and the percentage of people living in relative freedom. (Look it up!)

Improving, of course, does not mean that we’re anywhere close to the Star Trek world. The world has a lot of suffering and injustice. Nonetheless, on a global scale things seem to be getting better. (You do have blips, and the past decade does indeed have mixed signals, but the overall trend remains strong.) There are so many things that could be better, but humanity compared to centuries ago, or even decades ago, is so much better than it was. So yes, I believe and hope society can move to a point more like Star Trek.

In a wildly overused quote, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” (I’ll also note that there are even some arguments that this quote is misinterpreted from Dr. King’s purpose.) I don’t believe that arc is preordained, but I believe it is possible. Dr. King believed that too. It’s always a pretty great piece of Star Trek lore that he was a fan, and in fact encouraged Nichelle Nichols to stay in the role of Lt. Uhura, a Black woman in a leadership role on the bridge of the Enterprise. (Read that link; it’s pretty remarkable.)

I believe things can get better. And yes, that resonates on a personal level too: I believe we can get to a point of greater understanding, where perhaps society improves, and perhaps society recognizes my attraction without demonizing it. Although obviously never addressed in Star Trek, I believe it’s a world where I would be treated with respect.

Musing 2: On Star Trek and Outsiders

Lt. Commander Data. For ’90s makeup, they did OK making an android!

A favorite character among many fans is Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s an android, fundamentally an outsider and observer of humanity. Despite being unable to experience human emotions for much of his arc, he still seems lonely; he’s essentially the only being of his kind. Above all, he wants to become more human.

I too often feel like I am observing humanity from the outside, and certainly I felt that for much of my life. Not having sex (because I don’t want to harm anyone, and don’t enjoy adult sex very much) means that so much of human experience is different for me. Especially in high school, I looked at everyone shifting their lives to try to have relationships and I just… didn’t. Why would I? I couldn’t have a meaningful sexual relationship. I’ve never been in love. So, like Data, I watched my peers from the outside, wondering about their internal lives and what it felt like to be in love.

In a rather bizarre plot line, Data did actually have sex at one point. I always wondered what that felt like for him. He couldn’t feel emotion, not even pleasure. (When I had sex with an adult woman for the first time, that was effectively my experience as well!) Somehow, though, the experience became quite meaningful to him. I always tried to understand how that could be.

For a long time, I was the only pedophile I knew, and had few or no connections with others like me. (Nor did I want them, since I didn’t know of other non-offending pedophiles.) Loneliness is a core experience of being a pedophile. Yet Data eventually overcomes his loneliness through a kind of friendship. His experience of friendship might be different from ours: “As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs eventually are anticipated and even missed when absent.” If he couldn’t feel some human emotions, he found another way to have a similar experience.

Data addresses his isolation in part by throwing himself into his work. That, too, is something I’ve done. Although (like Data) I have a lot of friends, family felt unlikely and so I asked myself how I could contribute and how I could find meaning in life. My meaning now comes from giving back, contributing through work, and improving myself. All things Data strives for, and all things I strive for.

(Don’t worry, I don’t model myself on an android! I am describing these as places of similarity and empathy I’ve found, not as any kind of conscious role model experience.)

There is even a famous episode where Data is put on trial, asking if he is truly a sentient being, since after all, a man constructed him. It goes beyond this one episode; Data constantly has his humanity and his rights questioned by others. Nonetheless, he always deals with it with aplomb. I wonder what would happen if I were put on trial and judged. Data was eventually ruled to be a life form and not merely a possession. Would society decide that I am fully human?

Musing 3: On Morality

A famous scene in Star Trek has a beloved character sacrificing himself to save the ship. “The needs of the many,” he says, “outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” (To be pedantic, that quote is not said by one person, but a second person finishes it for the first.) In some sense, that movie, and movies after it, grapple with that very question: to what extent should one person sacrifice themselves for others?

I have desires. I don’t act on them because that would be putting my needs, or desires, above those of others. This core idea, of living your life so as to contribute to the overall goodness of the world, is really important to me. (In the real world, in my life, I seek a balance: of course I do many things for my own happiness, just as I try to live in a way that supports the happiness of others.)

Star Trek is filled with these kinds of moral questions and considerations. The holdings of tolerance within the Federation are constantly tested as they come into contact with new societies that are different from their own, and the crew must decide between letting these societies continue on their course or interfering to make them better according to human norms. They encounter races that are different in thought, in sexuality, in gender, in legal viewpoints, and so forth, and the Federation must adapt to meet these cultures where they are. Central to the show are these questions: how you can be yourself, let others be themselves, and still act according to your morals? These are big questions, and they’re important to me, because moral choice is a big part of my life experience.

Science fiction is such a good way to play this out. By creating a world that is so different from our own, you can abstract to the core issues you want to consider. There’s a reason this show has shaped me so much.

Musing 4: On Open-Mindedness

In the ’90s, one of the highlights of Star Trek was its open-mindedness towards different cultures and ways of thinking. As I mentioned above, a constant dilemma was meeting new cultures that had practices the Federation found strange, but it wasn’t just that sometimes their practices were strange. Sometimes, their practices felt morally wrong. The Federation was committed to allowing individual cultures to develop on their own, so inevitably there was conflict. There were lots of interesting and really substantive discussions about how to respect people and cultures while also maintaining your own moral outlook.

It’s one thing to be tolerant of people who are doing nothing objectionable to you, even if they’re different; it’s another thing entirely to be tolerant of people you disagree with or fear. Star Trek genuinely wrestled with those kinds of issues. This is, of course, especially important to me: I am one of those people whom others might disagree with, or whom they might fear.

(As an aside, I once wrote to a journalist about my pedophilia, asking him to be cautious in how he refers to pedophiles. He responded extremely well, citing this Scott Alexander essay, which I really appreciated. The first section, in particular, is quite relevant. Although I’d read the essay before, it meant something to me that this journalist was driven by the essay to be more tolerant.)

Musing 5: On Role Models

Captain Picard lived a good and important life without ever having a family. While he sometimes had regrets, it also painted a way for those of us who might struggle to have a family.

On a final and more personal note, Star Trek provided role models for me, especially the captain from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Picard was unmarried and had no children. He was dedicated to his work; successful; respected. I never thought about this consciously, but there isn’t a lot of representation of successful men who don’t have a clear sexual outlet. Captain Picard was such a man.

I wonder if seeing him made it easier for me to imagine a successful life course for myself. Even as I’ve grown older, and I’ve realized that I can find nonsexual life partnership with adults that fills at least some needs, that vision of how to live one’s life remains deeply important to me.

Some Conclusions

I wonder if we’ll ever get to a world that is as tolerant as Star Trek‘s world is. I hope so, and I do believe we can continue to improve.

I wonder if that world will be tolerant of my pedophilia. I wonder if Star Trek itself might ever choose to address that question. (Not likely, given both how the world perceives pedophilia and Star Trek‘s seeming turn towards moral safety, but maybe we’ll get there sometime.)

But mostly, I think about those core ideas. Of self-improvement. Tolerance. Striving, and being vigilant, to make society better. I’m proud to have been shaped by this particular artifact of pop culture; there’s a reason that it means so much to me.

Star Trek helped shape my views. It helped me to really think about where each person is coming from; to celebrate individuality; to value different perspectives; and to seek to grow and to help others grow. It pushes me to seek alignment with others while still holding my ground over what I believe. I hope you can see all of these threads underlying how I approach questions on this blog.

Personal Reflections on Difficult Issues

Note: This article is the final in a six-part series on child pornography and artificial child pornography. This series covers:

  1. The morality of child pornography.
  2. The morality of artificial child pornography.
  3. To the best of our data, what effect do both of those have on offending?
  4. A story from someone recently arrested for possession of child pornography: how he got into it, how it affected his life, what happened next.
  5. Two former users of child pornography talk about how they stopped viewing it, and their feelings now that they’re off of it.
  6. My own experiences with artificial child pornography and the role it’s played in my life. (this post)

I hope you’ve found this series helpful and interesting. I feel like I’ve learned a lot writing it.

Additonal note: Please read the above posts before reading this one. These are personal reflections. They’re more raw than my other writing, and I don’t know how you’ll interpret them if you haven’t read what comes before. Up until now, I’ve tried hard to explore different opinions on these issues fairly; this post is really just me, and my thoughts. It’s not the place to start.

I first came across shota (drawn sexual images of boys) when I was about fourteen years old, back when the internet was much younger than it is now. I remember the feeling of it. How arousing it was, especially for a teenager with hormones. How it was also weirdly isolating: my own new big secret. I had to be careful that no one could see me viewing it and that I couldn’t be traced. I’d never had a secret like this. Nothing that made me jump in fright if I heard footsteps in the hallway.

I wonder, a little bit, if that’s what looking at porn is like for “normal” teenagers. Of course, the consequences of being caught were much greater for me.

I remember wondering if the artwork was illegal, and if I’d get in trouble for looking at it. I remember limiting how often I looked or masturbated, as proof of my willpower. And when I did let myself dive in, I remember the hours spent browsing poorly organized forums, seeing the same images again and again, hoping for something new and different and better, something that might be a bit more of a rush, like I knew must be out there.

I’m really lucky I never went over to real child pornography. Some of it leaked over to forums that weren’t supposed to have it, so I did occasionally see some, but it was rare. From those leaks, I know how much I would’ve liked it, though.

How much of this feels familiar to any teenager? How much of it is just my story? It’s so hard for me to tell.

Anything that is even a little bit adjacent to child abuse drives an intense emotional reaction from people. It makes sense, of course. But this “proximity alarm” means that we equate drawings and computer renders with photos that depict the real abuse of children. (In fact, in many countries, the laws treat both the same way.) It means that therapists feel like they have to report people with pedophilic desires even if those people pose no danger to children. It means that we can’t do research on pedophiles, and how to prevent child abuse, because that’s not where the money is.

Of course, it also makes it hard to talk about pedophilia. It drives people like me to more distant corners of the internet, because even Twitter won’t have us. I worry about everything I say, because I know different people will read each word so differently.

As a kid, viewing those images and unable to talk to anyone about it, that proximity alarm really got in my head.

I was getting those images from online forums. Like on any forum, those with artificial cp have lurkers, and the people who contribute often don’t like the lurkers who get the content without contributing to the discussion. So not just did I feel guilty for looking at the stuff, but I also felt guilty for not contributing to the community. I was caught between two opposing sources of strange guilt.

It took over a decade for me to get to a point where I could say, “you know what, it’s ok for me to find release with this material,” and for me to realize that finding release didn’t make me weak-willed. Slowly, I got to thinking it was OK, and eventually, I decided I wanted to contribute. I’m not artistic but I can write, and so I started to write stories and share them, and those stories have been pretty successful.

Writing and sharing those stories, and getting feedback on them, made me feel a part of the community in new and important ways. I started to talk to people, to have “fans” and others with whom I’d exchange short messages. It made me feel like I was giving back.

It was through the stories that I met my first real pedophile friend. For all this time online, I’d avoided talking in depth to people. I felt shy; I felt worried it would draw attention to me; it still felt somehow wrong. I didn’t know who was on the other end of the computer screen. But I remember being especially taken by a story about an alternate world. The care in the story was obvious. The writer had really thought about that world, down to the gritty details of population size, genetics, and more. I recognized a kindred spirit in the writer: a methodical thinker with a scientific mindset. And so… I wrote to him.

It became a great friendship. We were each the first other pedophile we’d really spoken to in depth. We exchanged letters for months, maybe a couple of years, and each letter would often run two or three or four pages. Our correspondence explored our stories, what it felt like to be a pedophile, and normal stuff like movies we liked. He had a fondness for bad pedophile jokes, and so I’d collect them and share them with him. Eventually, we moved to real-time chats once we found a secure way to do it. We even met in person and learned about one-another. He was older than me, and married, and calm and joyful. We got lunch together, took some walks. He remains a friend to this day.

A friend I made through stories. Through “artificial child pornography” of dubious legality that would get me hated by the vast majority of people. He’s such a great guy.

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash.

The high emotions surrounding anything near child abuse lead to all kinds of strange contradictions and irrationality.

For example, they led to the Satanic Panic where not just did innocent people get convicted of horrendous child abuse, but kids were psychologically manipulated (sometimes by trained psychologists!) into accusing their own parents through supposedly recovered memories. (The podcast Conviction: American Panic has a terrifying description of this time, with interviews with some of the now-grown children who are still trying to sort through their beliefs and actions.) Fast-forward to today, and we’ve graduated to conspiracy theories like QAnon.

Meanwhile, we’re so driven by fear that parents irrationally educate their kids about “stranger danger” when the vast majority of abuse comes from family members and other people that kids know. Family-based abuse is often hushed up.

Even kids’ sexuality is complicated. Young kids are teased by adults about boyfriends and girlfriends, pushed into sexuality from a younger age. Young girls are often dressed in clothes that imply sexual maturity. People buy shirts with oddly suggestive text for their young boys.

Through all of this, admitting to the attraction means total ostracism. Teachers have to watch everything they say and do, lest people get the wrong idea. Mere discussions on the topic are blocked from Twitter and many subreddits and lots of other places. Pedophiles fear coming out to therapists lest they get reported. Academic careers are endangered by coming to the “wrong” conclusions about pedophilia. And if you try to have a discussion about the right way to work with pedophiles, you can’t get very far before someone says to just kill them all.

It’s really hard to deal with this attraction, and it’s really hard for me here to talk about it. I hide behind veils of anonymity and internet proxies. I fret over every word, lest someone interpret it wrongly. Lest someone think that because I look at artificial child pornography, I’m a danger to kids.

Once I realized how much I got out of talking to others like me, I started to seek them out more. I wrote to other authors whose stories I liked, and engaged others in conversation. I felt like part of a community. There are other communities of non-offending pedophiles too, but they never had the same impact for me. Often, other communities are centered around emotional support, which means that currents of sadness run through them. There are currents of sadness in all communities of pedophiles, but I think there’s more self-acceptance among those of us who have a release we’re comfortable with. Going to the imageboards led to more real (and joyous) connections for me.

I have friends I met because of their art, or my stories, or their stories, or role playing. Some I know in person, some just online. A programmer. A psychologist. A doctor. A lawyer. A security guard. A paralegal. A history grad student. A writer. Many where I don’t know what they do, because we’re compelled by secrecy to protect ourselves. While my pedophilia is far from the most important thing in my life, it has become an important thing in my life, and part of that is because a community was created where I can find friends and we can talk openly about our fantasies.

To be sure, there’s the part of this where I can get my sexual release, where I can get off to the things others would find horrifying. I would go back—I did go back—just for that. However, it takes on a different meaning when you also find others, like you, to talk with. I can’t talk about artificial child pornography, and the effect it’s had on me, without also talking about the community it’s connected me to, and that’s not captured in the relatively academic debate from my prior articles in this series. They talked abstractly about philosophy or statistics of abuse.

So, yes, my personal reflections are in part about the community that I’ve found, but it’s not only that. It’s also about how this is viewed by the justice system.

Because anything even vaguely associated with child abuse has this aura of evil, we end up treating all kinds of offenses almost equally. Viewing child pornography is seen as almost as bad as actually molesting a child. Both get you long prison terms and put on the registry. (Let alone the places where artificial child pornography is held to be just as bad.)

Yet I know people who’ve viewed child pornography. Some of them have stopped. Some want to stop, but are having trouble getting away from it. I genuinely think they’re fundamentally good people. Should they be sentenced to years or decades in prison? (Of course, some would argue yes; they’d say it might prevent future crimes against children. I don’t think it would, because most of them aren’t actually a threat—and more importantly, I just don’t think that’s what justice is.)

One friend, in Canada, spent time in prison and is on the sex offender registry because he looked at artificial child pornography. This will hang over him his whole life, with any job he might apply to or any apartment he wants to rent.

I’m not trying to sugar coat this. Of course my examples are those who seem “good,” and there are plenty of pedophiles who would disagree with what I say here. There are people who don’t think watching child pornography is wrong (“the harm is already done”) and they view it guilt-free. There are also people who believe sex with children is OK, and of course there are people who do have sex with children. I’m not denying they exist, but I am challenging the idea that most of us hold those beliefs.

At the very least, viewing cp and actually having sex with a child are not crimes of equal magnitude. There are people who could live good lives, who want to live good lives, but instead of getting help to move away from cp, they’re thrown in jail for years upon years. We punish it not in proportion with the harm it does, but because of our disgust. What we’re doing now isn’t working, and it’s not justice.

Of course, politically, it’s very hard to change that. Who could speak up to say that viewing child pornography shouldn’t be punished quite as harshly, that we should focus on helping people get better? Who could speak up to say that drawings of children having sex shouldn’t be illegal, and that making them legal very well might save children from being abused? You’d never get voted into office again, and that’s a charitable interpretation of what might happen to you.

It’s hard for people to think clearly about this, let alone for society to think clearly about it. It’s caught up in emotion, and I’m as guilty of that as anyone else. Maybe I am missing something important here because I know people who’ve been so affected by this; because I’ve been so affected by this.

But if you ask for my personal reflections on child pornography and artificial child pornography, there they are.

It’s… so strange to say that artificial child pornography is important to me. To talk about it creating a positive community, or how it provides a valuable release. This is meant to be a general audience blog, and the thought of someone reading that… what will you think? No matter what I do, I can’t get away from the high emotions and the societal stigma. But it’s true and this is where I have to say it.

It’s worse because it’s hard to keep “articial child pornography” and “child pornography” separate. I need to trust you to remember that one doesn’t involve real children, and one does. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with artificial child pornography, even though I think that real child pornography is morally wrong. Is that a distinction we can keep up even with such high emotions?

Worse, am I a trusted source? I’ve tried to talk about facts and philosophy when describing child pornography and artificial child pornography and to cover many sides to the debate, but it’s an emotional topic for everyone and it’s personal for me. I’m too involved for it to be otherwise.

Moreover, when the punishment for this stuff is too severe, it hits people I know and it makes me angry. When people struggle with embarrassment or self-worth because they view something that shouldn’t carry so much stigma, I feel it. I know them.

Yes, I presented both sides of the question about artificial cp. We don’t actually know for certain that artificial cp reduces crimes against children, even if I think it likely does. I would change my opinion if I thought research showed that artificial cp made real-world offenses more likely on average (although I really don’t think that’s what the research outcome would be). But despite my focus on facts and evidence and science, I’m not neutral. The way we treat this subject hurts people and hurts society, and it really bothers me.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post, it’s that the emotions surrounding pedophilia cloud us from acting rationally about it.

I can only hope that over time, we can get funding to do more real research. That we can have more open conversations. That we can find a way to discuss, beyond emotion and visceral reactions, to understand how to really make things better. It will take a long time, but I’m an optimist. I think we can get there.

And in the meantime, despite my raw emotions in this post, I hope you’ll still trust me to guide you through and genuinely follow what the research says. It’s really important to me that we start to change this conversation, and that we do so carefully and rationally, wherever that takes us.

How do you end up viewing CP, anyway?

Note: This article is the fourth in a six-part series on child pornography and artificial child pornography. This series covers:

  1. The morality of child pornography.
  2. The morality of artificial child pornography.
  3. To the best of our data, what effect do both of those have on offending?
  4. A story from someone recently arrested for possession of child pornography: how he got into it, how it affected his life, what happened next. (this post)
  5. Two former users of child pornography talk about how they stopped viewing it, and their feelings now that they’re off of it.
  6. My own experiences with artificial child pornography and the role it’s played in my life.

I hope you’ll enjoy and follow all of the posts as they come out.

Content warning: This post is about someone who was arrested for viewing child pornography. It may be troubling to read on multiple levels. Please be careful.

A little while ago, I received the following message on Quora:

Hi, sorry that I’m messaging you instead of asking publicly, but I’m really sensitive about this.

I’m a pedophile from [redacted] and I’m having a real bad time. Please excuse my broken english. I’ve pretty much always been a pedphile from the moment I started puberty. But I only used drawn porn until i reached my twenties. But now im 27 and I got arrested last december for downloading child pornography. The amount was so much that I might be going to jail.

And it hurts because I’m no criminal and I’ll probably be beaten daily in prison. I’m a really sensitive guy and won’t be able to defend myself. I’m seriously thinking about suicide if I get a prison sentence.

I’ve been for 6 months now trying to get what help there is for pedophiles out there to prove that Im no danger to children. I went to rehab, I’m seeing two therapists (which i can only see once per month) and I joined a group meant to help people with mental illnesses except I am the only person there that can’t talk about my issue unless I get ridiculed and my therapists agree. But that’s it. There is no more help. If you are a pedophile, you are just supposed to be ashamed of yourself and not exist.

Just last week I went for an interview at the police station. And they asked me if I had been downloading or viewing any child porn since I was arrested. I had viewed drawn porn once and I just cant bring myself to lie to the police so I admitted of having viewed drawn porn. I didnt know that was illegal but apperantly it is and now my chances of going to jail are even more. No one told me it was illegal, how should I have known? I knew it wasnt illegal in most countries and to me there is no victim in drawn pictures. I am going to go to jail because of some fucking cartoons on the internet. I cant eat. I cant sleep. Im so scared and I cant admit this to my family because they’ll reject me. And if I go to jail everyone will know. I cry so much that I get exhausted. I just cant live like this anymore.

I dont know what Im asking of you exactly but I just needed to talk to someone that gets my problems. What should I do? What can I do to not hate myself? How can I survive jail without killing myself? Why me? I haven’t done anything to anyone…

The writer and I talked some more. His court-appointed lawyer isn’t helping, and so he has no way to understand what’s required of him or what the best path forward is. He doesn’t know how likely prison is, and he hasn’t been able to get the help of therapists to avoid viewing child pornography.

I asked him to write up his story, and he responded with a beautiful and more detailed writeup than I had imagined. My sense is he feels that even if his life is crashing down around him, at least he can turn this into something that will help others. There are very few stories out there of just how someone ends up viewing child pornography, and I think understanding that process is essential to preventing it. Ultimately, I think it’s a deep and sad story about how someone can be so frustrated by their struggle for normalcy that they are driven to awful depths.

Above all, though, this story serves as a warning. Avoid child pornography. It doesn’t end well.

To understand this, you should know: 4chan is a notoriously popular and under-moderated image board that has many dark corners; “lolicon” or “loli” and “shotacon” or “shota” is artwork depicting girls or boys respectively in sexual situations; “cp” stands for child pornography.

And now, his words.

I’m a paedophile. I’ve known for a very long time. I believe I was born this way. I’ve had these feelings ever since I started puberty at like 10 or 11 years old (I was an early bloomer). My first crush was at that age. She was in my class and my heart would race around her.

Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash.

At that age there wasn’t really a problem yet. These feelings were normal to me since we were both the same age. But this never changed for me like it does for most people. This is still the age group that I’m attracted to today.

I discovered internet porn at 11 years old and I used to occasionally look up porn. Like most people do when entering puberty, I was just figuring out my sexuality. But even though most porn was interesting to me, it didn’t manage to excite me all that much. Sex seemed weird to me and I just couldn’t get off to most straight porn. There is just something about adult men that still today kills it for me. But solo women and lesbian videos worked for me and as you can probably guess the younger they were the better. At such a young age that wasn’t really a conscious choice I made; I just watched what felt right and that was as close to right as I could get using tube site porn videos.

I used to draw a lot as a kid. So naturally I would gravitate towards Anime. Mom had shown me a cool Anime called Inuyasha. It has a lot of action scenes which I used to imitate on paper. One of the protagonists is a 15 year old schoolgirl called Kagome. I was browsing google one day and found a nude picture of her. I had always thought she was pretty and now I found porn of her. I finally found something that felt right. I discovered Lolicon and since I was just a kid myself I didn’t really question this. At this time Kagome was still older than me and other Lolicon I’d look at were of kids my own age so it just felt natural.

Later on when I became a teenager, about 14 or 15, I started realizing that these feelings may not be entirely normal. Since the drawn pictures I was looking at were of kids younger than me, I started asking myself if I was a paedophile. But “no, come on, I’m no monster. I’ll stop this once I’m an adult.” I thought “These kids are still around the same age as me.”

However the thought that I might be what was and still is considered the worst that society has to offer weighed heavily on me. I became heavily depressed. I couldn’t reveal it to anyone unless I outed myself as a monster.

I once admitted to my dad that I and another boy had experimented with each other when I was 11 years old (something my therapist tells me is completely normal for kids at that age). He was furious. He yelled at me for what felt like an eternity and stayed mad at me for the rest of the day. I didn’t ever dare admit these feelings to him or what I was watching online. Mom had also left us so I had no one to talk to. I felt so alone with these feelings of guilt and shame.

It wasn’t long until I started abusing drugs and alcohol to escape. When I was 16 I was partying roughly every weekend and smoking weed daily, trying to get laid with girls to prove to myself that I was just a normal straight guy with a problem. I went through many bouts where I deleted the porn and said “never again!” But I just couldn’t ever maintain a boner through sex with girls. It didn’t matter how much I abstained from porn.

My depression grew with every year that passed and around my early 20’s I was still attracted to children. This is the part of my life that I’m least proud of, and I’m sure many who read this will be disgusted with me. But if it prevents this from happening to anyone else it will have been worth sharing.

I was browsing 4chan one night and stumbled on this Shotacon thread. (Shotacon is essentially drawn porn where the focus is on boys.) I wish every day that I had never found that thread because it would take me down a rabbit hole that I would otherwise never have discovered. Coupled with the fact that I was a substance abuser at the time that made my judgement even worse.

Someone on the thread started posting pictures of real boys. Please don’t let this make you think that drawn porn is then somehow a “gateway drug” to the real deal. Because it isn’t. For many drawn porn is their only way to deal with these feelings. Banning drawn material only increases the likelihood of a real child getting abused!

Many on the thread were reporting the guy, but it took a while for the mods to respond. So before he was banned, he had already explained to two others how to download real cp.

I won’t go into details for obvious reasons but at that moment I had read instructions on how to download real cp.

It would take me a week to make up my mind on whether I would do it or not. After another failed sexless weekend, I was frustrated enough to try. I would only take a look… out of curiosity…

I downloaded the smallest video clip I could find. It was literally less than 10 seconds long and I didn’t even finish watching it. I freaked out too much. I immediately deleted it and deep cleaned my computer. I even quit drawn porn for the millionth time. I was sure I was now on some watchlist somewhere and the police would come knocking on my door any day now. But nothing happened.

I kept trying to change myself over the years and it wouldn’t be until two years later that I tried to download real cp again. This time I downloaded more than before, maybe like 5 videos. Then I stopped again. And again nothing happened.

I repeated this pattern through most of my early 20’s until at around 25, I think, I just completely lost control. I was day drinking and high all day every day. I hadn’t held a job for months due to my depression. At this point I was just downloading non stop. I remember looking at a portable hard disk drive where I stored the porn and thinking to myself “this can ruin your life…”

One night I just snapped. I needed help, but I didn’t know what to do. I certainly couldn’t tell my friends or family. I knew well what they thought of paedophiles. A therapist maybe? But I had heard that they have to report to the police if their client is planning to or is currently abusing a child. I had never abused a child nor would I ever. I had always been adamant about suicide before it would come to that. I didn’t know whether downloading cp was also something they had to report, but I had to do something! So I saw a therapist that specialized in porn addiction.

I may very well have a porn addiction but I doubt that I’m a paedophile because of that addiction. I didn’t really start using porn that frequently until my 20’s and I’ve had these feelings for way longer.

Anyway, I started seeing the therapist without admitting to being a paedophile. But he suspected it and he tried to get it out of me. Still, I just couldn’t admit to it out of fear. I didn’t want to be put on a registry and go to prison where after I’d be branded as a predator or a potential rapist.

It turns out other than following those 4chan instructions, not talking to that therapist right then and there was the biggest mistake of my life so far. I write this in hindsight of course so I try not to blame myself too harshly since I just didn’t know any better. But my life would be far less shitty right now if I had just known that talking to that therapist about my problem would not have involved the police.

If you are viewing real cp or live in a country where drawn cp is illegal… stop now! Seek help before you ruin your life.

I could go on a whole another tangent on how there needs to be more information out there for people struggling with paedophilia but I’ll leave that to Leonard.

The aftermath:

One night last December I had drunk and smoked myself to sleep like I had many nights in a row watching some video game video on YouTube. Just a normal typical night. I was still downloading cp and I had stopped seeing the therapist. I had gotten a job as a security guard just 3 months prior.

Things were looking pretty good actually. I was planning on dating a co worker and having another go at quitting the cp and the drugs. She was different from other girls I had dated before. She was a cute nerd basically and I was really hoping she’d be the one to save me. I really, really liked her.

I didn’t have a shift until 4 pm so I had fallen asleep early in the morning. I woke up to a knock on my door at 3 pm. I thought it might be my grandmother, she had wanted to visit me. I open my door and immediately get a paper pushed in my face. “We have a search warrant and an arrest order on you under the suspicion of downloading pornographic content concerning children.”

It didn’t take anything more than that. I knew then that everything I’d been dreading but pretending I was safe from had finally happened.

Leonard here again.

It won’t surprise readers of this blog that the story above breaks my heart. I can imagine other replies. I can imagine someone saying that this person deserved no sympathy. Maybe that he was a ticking time bomb. I don’t believe that. It also just… I feel like it’s fundamental human empathy not to condemn someone, not at that stage of their life, for this.

But it is what it is.

The author above stayed in touch with me for a while. I know that his trial was coming up, although he didn’t know exactly when it would be, and his lawyer seemed to be completely uninterested in helping him out. I never heard what happened next; it’s been a few months since he wrote to me.

I don’t know what happened. He was writing to me from a separate e-mail address; perhaps he decided to try to put this side of his life behind him, and simply stopped using that e-mail. On the other hand, perhaps he was convicted and is now spending many years in prison. I just don’t know.

Readers might wonder if I’m trying to make a point here. I suppose I am; I’ve already said that I think the laws are too harsh for this kind of thing, for someone who has never committed a hands-on offense. But the debate isn’t my goal. My goal is to share a story. To people who ask, “how can anyone possibly end up watching child pornography?,” well, this is one way. It’s not the only way, not at all. But it’s one.

I hope it adds to the discussion. I hope that my friend’s wish to help other people out can be realized, at least a little bit, through this post.

Discoveries on Attraction and Life Partnerships

The evolution of my sexuality and my search for a life partnership.

Warning: This post discusses elements of sexuality, mostly between adults, including pornography and BDSM. It is not particularly graphic, but sex and body type preferences are discussed. Please use discretion when reading.

As a teenager, I discovered something devastating: not just was I attracted to young boys, but I wasn’t attracted to adults. Pretty much as soon as puberty came in, my attraction phased out.

At the tender age of 14, I essentially concluded that I would likely die a virgin, and I just had to come to terms with that. Eventually, I did accept it, even if I’d sometimes flare up with jealousy at those who could have sex. My virginity was simply an immutable fact of life. And with it, another fact: I would probably never marry, because how could I marry someone without being attracted to them? How could I love someone, and how could they love me?

With COVID-19 raging, I’ve had a lot of time alone to think, and more than ever I find myself wishing for a life partner. But even just believing in that wish is somewhat amazing to me. Over the past few years, I’ve reconsidered my options; I’ve reconsidered my attractions; and while I still think of myself as an exclusive pedophile (or close to that), I now realize things are more complicated and more possible for me than I’d thought before. This post is a weird journey of self-discovery, one I think everyone can relate to in a weird way, even if it’s about a pedophile. It’s about how we understand ourselves, and the random events in life that help us discover what we really want.

Photo credit: John T on Unsplash

One of my big fears growing up was if I’d ever be able to find a life partner: someone to marry, to go through life together. It seemed impossible, especially because I’d decided that if I became close to someone, I’d have to tell them about my real desires. I longed for that closeness and intimacy, even if I was pretty sure I’d never have it. More than anything, I worried that all my friends would marry and drift away, leaving me alone.

It was in college that I first became attracted to an adult. They were, at the time, going by female pronouns although they’d later take they/them pronouns. They were a great friend, but the truth was my sexual desire had somewhat darker undertones. I think I liked them because they felt like a boy. Boyish tendencies, a boyish way of walking and holding their body, shorter, thin, flat-chested. We never had sex, but we cuddled, and I liked it. In a typical teenager story, I orgasmed once while cuddling (that was… embarrassing). I ended up telling them about my pedophilia and they accepted it and supported me, although it didn’t work out in the end. There were too many headwinds to the relationship. (Let alone my concern that in a long-term relationship, my desire would fade as they got older.)

However, even if that relationship didn’t work out… it might have! I was 19, and for the first time in my life, I’d been attracted to an adult. Maybe there was hope.

When, in my mid-20s, I went to see a psychologist at the recommendation of a friend I’d come out to, he suggested I masturbate to adult pornography to try to condition myself for attraction to adults. I was skeptical but dutiful, and besides, I had been attracted to an adult even if it was years ago. I decided to pick up real physical porn rather than venture into the wilds of the internet, so I stopped at a sketchy all-night porn store in the middle of nowhere out in rural Ohio. (The kind of place that might’ve been named “The Lion’s Den” or something like that. And yes, kids, I know those don’t exist any more.)

Let me tell you: if you want to make me feel out of place, stick me in a palace to adult pornography in rural Ohio. I nodded curtly to the big bearded guy sitting bored at front desk, trying to pretend like I belonged, worried he’d somehow see through me and realize I was a pedophile. I browsed shelf after shelf of women in compromising positions with the typical nonsense porn titles, trying to look like I was interested. How long should I stop to look at this one? Would he be able to tell I wasn’t really interested? What if he thought I was gay, was that going to be a problem? Was he going to look at what I bought and judge me?

Eventually, I returned to the front. What I’d taken was simple: magazines and DVDs filled with flat-chested women, like the one adult I’d ever been attracted to, except… smuttier. It made sense: hairless body (which disqualified adult men), flat chest, smaller – they were like boys, just… women. Right? Maybe with this, I could develop my attraction.

Needless to say, it didn’t work. It turns out that porn just sucks, and I found myself decidedly unstimulated.

By the time I was 27, there’d been two more adults I was attracted to, although less strongly. One also originally presented as female but later chose to use they/them pronouns; the other was a thin guy who had a very young personality. In both cases, no relationship was possible. We were friends, and that was fine. They never knew there was any interest from me.

But that… was it. No more adults ever caught my eye. That moment passed, and once again, it was just boys. Again I thought I’d never be able to find someone to marry. I did lose my virginity when I was 29, thanks to a woman who decided she wanted to try to “convert” me even though I told her I was asexual. That’s a story for another post, but I was happy to be converted, so we tried. The sex was boring, almost as much as the porn, and so that was a bust. Back to a life of sexual isolation.

It took years for that to change.

The change came about, of all things, through online sexual role playing.

You’ll hear more about this in other posts, but imagine for a moment that you’re me. You’re only interested in sex with boys, which you don’t want to have. You look for outlets. One potential outlet is finding adults who want to role play as boys. Especially through text over the internet, your imagination can fill it in; meanwhile, they react to what you do, surprising you just like a real person would – because they are a real person. I always found it surprisingly fulfilling with the right partner, and as it happens, there are people who want to be on the other side.

And then, with one person… I started to taunt him in real life.

It started small. He’d tell me he was at a party, and I’d say something by e-mail to get him horny. He liked public exposure, and so he was turned on by it. Meanwhile, I found myself enjoying getting him hard.

It made no sense in my head. He was an adult. Why would I be enjoying this? But I really, really did. My taunts got stronger, and we both got more and more turned on by the experience.

My fantasies about boys often involve elements of control. Hypnosis, bondage, etc. Yes, I know… how can you come up with fantasies that are even worse than just being a pedophile? I’ve wrestled with that deeply, but that truth doesn’t change: I wouldn’t act on any of these desires. You’ll likely see another post on my struggle with these thoughts in the coming months. But in the meanwhile, please bear with me. It leads to somewhere good.

What I soon realized is that this man, who had played a fictional boy opposite me, was being controlled by me, and I liked it. We even met up in-person, had sex… and I liked it.

This was groundbreaking. I liked sex! That may not sound remarkable, but to me, it was. I soon discovered that I’m attracted to submissive adult men who want to be boys or play as boys. I started playing around with other people online, and even met up with one other person, also having a great time.

And now, during this pandemic… I realized that I’m even attracted to submissive men who don’t want to be boys. I just need them to be submissive. Give me control, and I can have fun with it. I’m a gay Dom, or at least I can pretend to be one.

Was this always true, or did it grow out of my experiences? Did my attractions actually shift, or did I just discover something new? Honestly, I have no idea, but I’m happy to lean in to it.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not “cured.” I’m still not as attracted to submissive men as I am to preteen boys. I’m sorry, I’m just not. I won’t pass a guy on the street and think he’s hot. I don’t watch gay porn; I’ve tried watching gay BDSM porn with twinks and… it does nothing for me. It is the act of dominance that turns me on, and knowing that the other person is turned on by being submissive. (If they’re not into it, I’m not either.)

But I am into it. I like it a lot. I’ve had few sexual experiences so far in real life (just the two mentioned above), but fundamentally, they worked and that’s revolutionary for me. I’ve discovered something about my sexuality; whether it was there the whole time or not, I could never have found it without blindly stumbling around for a while.

Meanwhile, I’ve realized something else. I could be happy finding a life partner who’s a pedophile, and as I’ve developed more ties in the community, I think that’s more and more realistic as well. We could share so much of our lives, so much intimacy, even if it’s not physical. If they’re not a submissive guy, I could find someone else for the sexual aspect of my life.

All of a sudden, I have options. Choices. I could find a sexually fulfilling partner with a submissive guy, or I could find a fellow pedophile whom I could be emotionally intimate with. They aren’t even mutually exclusive!

Of course, neither of them is easy. Meeting anyone like this, as a pedophile, is dangerous; we live in secrecy. And I need to be open with them. That means developing trust with someone online over a long period of time without knowing our true identities. And aside from that, we need to actually get along, be geographically compatible, and want to be partners together. And above all, trust, so I can share the biggest secret in my life.

And for once, I really see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I was wrong as a kid. It’s not impossible. It could come with time. I might be in my 30’s – it might be “late” to start this whole journey. But somewhere out there is someone who’s for me.

I see a path forward, and I’m going to try.

Moments of Joy

A global pandemic is raging across the world. So many people have lost their jobs; so many are suffering. Healthcare workers are heroes, and everyone else can do little but applaud, go to dangerous jobs, or sit at home, hoping things get better and we figure a way out of this mess. If we didn’t know already, we are all learning to be a bit lonely. What’s clear is that this pandemic is going to shape our society, and how we think about ourselves and our vulnerabilities.

It’s so easy to get lost in your head and think only about the suffering that’s going on. But a wise friend of mine once said: “I have only so many fucks to give.” She “gave a fuck” about injustice, and global warming, and many other things. But she also knew when to say: “this is bad, but there is nothing I can do about it, it’s not the thing I’m working on. I have to live my life and not worry about it.” Even if she cared about the issue, even if she knew what was happening was wrong… she had only so many fucks to give.

The moment that grips us now is filled with tragedy. So many people losing their jobs, people dying, tremendous uncertainty. So consider carefully how many fucks you have to give, and don’t spend your time freaking out about other things. Stay safe, help people, and find the things that bring you joy.

This post won’t really be about pedophilia. There’s something nice about a post that’s just about normal life, but takes the experience of pedophiles into account. Besides, this time calls for just reminding people to stop and find what they love. And that is especially true for pedophiles: isolated and hidden at the best of times, struggling with their sexuality… suddenly even more of the world is closed off. Especially for you, this is to help you settle.

Of course, it can be so hard to find the things that bring you joy. A little while ago, I was walking outside. It was my first time outside in a while, and a beautiful day. For a moment, I just remembered: there’s beauty in the world, and my whole spirit lifted. So let me share some joy I’ve found, in the hope it can bring you joy too.

I find joy in simple things. Taking a walk outside, and being reminded how beautiful it is. Taking a shower, not because I need to clean up for someone, but just for myself. Eating food, good, simple food, that I’m making myself.

I find joy in connections. I’ve reconnected with so many friends from other parts of the country (and other parts of the world!) with whom I’d lost touch because I moved away from them or they moved away from me. Now we chat, we play games together online, we solve puzzles together.

I’ve also connected with others in the pedo community. With those who share similar interests, in all kinds of variations, or people who travel in the same circles even if they’re not interested in children and are just kinky in other ways. For some people, I’m one of the first pedophiles they’ve ever just… talked to about their interests, and we’ve shared our struggles and how we overcome them, as well as some of the joys we’ve experienced. That ability to help others and connect over a forbidden part of ourselves has been powerful.

I’ve found joy in taking on a big project that I really wanted to do (a big writing project) and dedicating time to it. It’s given me something to fill my time that feels productive, and which always has something new to throw at me.

I’ve found joy in helping others. I make financial donations when I can. I talk to friends who are struggling. I think this time has also caused a lot of people with attractions like mine to reflect on who they are and what they want, and I’ve chatted with them, helping them navigate a bit of their lives.

Of course I’d rather the pandemic wasn’t raging. Of course I’d rather be able to easily go out, get dinner at a nice restaurant with friends, see a movie or a play. But there is joy in the world, and now is the time to remember that and find it. So take a moment, reflect. Ration out the fucks you give, and find some joy in life.

Photo credit: Davide Cantelli on Unsplash.