Ender is a long-time member of Virtuous Pedophiles, and he also has a terrific blog over on Medium. Well, he recently published a beautiful article about his experiences with joining the VirPed community and with coming out to his wife. It’s called Comfortably Numb, after the Pink Floyd song of the same name, and you really should read it. I think it’s my favorite article he’s written so far.
I decided a few weeks ago to finally participate in a documentary that featured me speaking about my life and my sexuality. I had been offered docs before but had turned them down for one reason or another. This time I was approached by John Balson of Barcroft Media, and initially I wavered on participating but ultimately decided to go ahead and do it. What I liked about this one is that it would only require two days of filming. And I’ve been working my way up to more and more exposure, so I suppose I was just ready.
John and his cameraman, Rauridh (pronounced like Rory) Connellan, flew down last Wednesday night, and I met up with them at 1 PM on Thursday in my local McDonald’s parking lot. I liked them immediately. They were younger than I imagined they would be—in their mid-twenties—and both were originally from London and had pronounced English accents, though they’ve lived in New York City for the last couple of years. They were generous, pleasant and very down-to-earth. I was still a bit nervous that first day and I’m sure it showed, but they just had a way about them that put me at ease. I took them to a local restaurant called the Saw Meal, where we ate lunch and discussed what we were going to be doing over the next few days.
Then I led them to the local boat ramp to do some initial filming. It was about 2:30 PM at this point and the temperature had climbed to the high 90s on the Fahrenheit scale, with a heat index of 105 degrees. I began to sweat buckets immediately and had a soaked t-shirt in minutes. For some reason I had opted to wear long pants, socks and tennis shoes instead of my customary shorts and sandals for such weather. I suppose I thought it would be more stylish on camera. Needless to say, it was a choice I soon regretted, and I am relatively certain almost none of that footage will be usable in the end. Oh, well.
I then decided to go ahead and take them back to my house, even though I had initially told them I didn’t want to do any shooting at or near there. I live in an old, well-worn mobile home inherited from my grandmother, and it’s currently in the midst of being repaired and redecorated. Moreover, I’m a pretty typical bachelor as well as a creative type: not a disgusting slob (I don’t leave old food lying around or anything, and I regularly wash my dishes and clean my bathrooms), but not exactly neat and tidy either. There are books, note-stuffed folders and artist’s implements lying everywhere. Meaning that my place isn’t exactly photogenic, though Rauridh assured me the backgrounds would be blurred out anyway. I’m holding him to that. You hear my, Rauridh? You better not make me look like a slob! 😉
I changed my clothes and we shot some interior stuff. I was still sweating somewhat, even though my house was much cooler than the outdoors. It just seemed like everything was at such a hectic pace, something I’m not used to. Again, they both assured me I was doing fine. I’m still not sure if they were being sincere or just encouraging me to continue, but for the most part it worked. Eventually they departed for their hotel room to get some supper, but they returned about an hour-and-a-half later and we resumed shooting till about 8 PM, including another go at the river. This time it wasn’t as hot, but some river-dwelling dolt was running a loud, obnoxious machine right across the river the entire time we were there, disturbing the sensitive sound equipment Rauridh was using. I don’t think much of that is going to be usable unless they overlay some of the sound portion from an earlier interview session over it and just keep the video portion. After that we called it an evening.
The next day they showed up at my place about 11 AM. I was much calmer on Friday, and it was also not nearly as hot and humid, so I wasn’t as prone to sweating my behind off. We did the bulk of the heavy interviewing in my house that day, and it was quite successful, I think. They also wanted to talk to me out on the front porch, but as it was quite cluttered, we had to do some rearranging first. As the guys were in the process of moving around some pieces of plywood, I spotted a huge spider sitting on the wood and called them over.
“You guys know what that is?” I asked.
“It’s a brown recluse. You don’t want to mess with those.” I grabbed a broom and prepared to nail it, but John stopped me.
“No, don’t, it’s bad luck to kill a spider!” he stated firmly.
Raurigh was more sensible and refused to proceed until it was dead. I reassured John that I wouldn’t kill it but merely shoo it away as he went inside to visit the bathroom, and when he was out of sight, I promptly bashed the critter with the broom, much to Rauridh’s amusement. Sorry, John. I have no problem with non-venomous spiders at all, and if it had been nearly any other species I would happily have let it be, but I take no chances with brown recluses or black widows, the two major venomous varieties of spider in my region. With the spider defeated, we did some more of the interview here, until I again started to sweat. Though it took longer to get to that point, so I think most of that will come out all right in the end.
Finally, we jumped in the silver Dodge Charger the guys had rented and sped toward Nashville to shoot the final segment. It was around 6 PM when we arrived in Nashville. We left the car in a parking garage and walked down to one of the nearby bar districts, which was booming that Friday night. The guys had some really fun ideas for shooting amidst the crowd, and we managed to get most of it without too much interference from drunk and/or curious revelers on the street.
With John and Rauridh’s mission complete, we said our goodbyes and they hired an Uber driver to take me home, as they were catching a plane back to NYC from Nashville. It was around 7:30 PM at this point. My driver was an older fellow, quite chatty and personable. I liked talking with him but was more than eager to get home. This had already gone way past my comfort threshold. The things you do for art . . .
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until sometime around midnight when we finally rolled into my driveway, as we ran into a major accident on I-40 just outside of Nashville that shut the interstate down for hours and slowed traffic to a crawl. Ironically, we were about six miles from the next exit, but it took us nearly two hours to get to it. Once we did, we took a detour that added another half hour to the trip. But boy, was I glad to be home! I thanked my poor driver profusely and tipped him $20, knowing it would be around 3 AM before he finally made it home. And that was the end of it.
The next day I just relaxed and took it all in. This was, to date, the most intimate media exposure and involvement I’ve had. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I want to repeat it again soon. Even so, I made $250 on it—not bad for two days’ work, eh?
My thoughts are with the survivors, friends and family members of those lost in the night club shooting in Orlando this morning. It’s clear that we still have a long way to go in the fight for freedom and tolerance for sexual minorities in this country. I will leave you with a quote from Leigh Hunt:
Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.
One of Virtuous Pedophiles’ long-time members, who goes by the pseudonym Ender or Ender Wiggin (after the character from Ender’s Game), has been interviewed by psychologist Ian V. McPhail on his blog NextGenForensic, and it is a brilliant interview. It’s called Disclosing a sexual interest in children to others: The experience of a non-offending pedophile. Check it out!
Among the things I’ve encountered on the internet from our opposition, the most dangerous is the desire to silence us, to remove from us the basic human right of free speech, which, at least in America, has been granted to us all through the First Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Here is an example taken from Twitter:
Ostensibly such arguments are presented on the view that to give pedophiles, even non-offending ones, a voice is to somehow legitimize the sexual abuse of children. This is, of course, absurd, but it hints at the real motivation behind this position, which is that pedophiles may actually have some valid things to say, a notion that may undermine this person’s most deeply held justification for their own hatred, that being that pedophiles are not in the same class as other human beings, and that we therefore do not deserve the same rights as everyone else. In the end this is clearly not founded in reason, but in emotion, which makes it a case of special pleading, as it is simply assumed to be true on some obscure moral principle and nothing else.
The above writer says pedophiles don’t deserve a voice. On what grounds? That our speech would be so dangerous that we might alter society’s perspective to the point where it may legally allow child molestation? This position demonstrates a terrible lack of faith in the very underpinnings of the principle itself, and therein lies the problem. If this principle stands on such shaky legs that it could be easily undone by simply granting pedophiles a voice, then clearly it is a principle which needs to be re-examined anyway. But I tell you this is not necessary. It is with great irony, then, that I, a self-confessed pedophile, assert that the principle on which we hold sex with children to be taboo is indeed strong enough to withstand any criticism or discussion. In other words, I appear to have more faith in the morality of society’s position than many non-pedophiles do. I have posted this quote before, but I think it is warranted again here:
Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?
Once again, this is taken from Areopagitica, a famous defense of free speech made by notable Christian writer and philosopher John Milton, who is here arguing that to suppress the speech of anyone whose views we disagree with is to devalue truth itself, because if one genuinely believes their ideas are correct and have faith that the majority of society will be able to recognize the inherent truth of that, then they have nothing to fear by allowing their opponents to speak freely. To suppress the speech of one’s opponent is merely to demonstrate a deep-seated insecurity in their own beliefs.
Moreover, as has been stated and demonstrated repeatedly not only by me but by many notable experts on pedophilia, to silence pedophiles is to marginalize them even more, to push them further underground, where they become far more dangerous than if they are out in the open where they can be observed, and helped. To put it another way: to remove a pedophile’s voice is to remove his humanity, and to remove his humanity is to remove his faith in the goodness and fairness of others, and to remove those things is to remove the final barriers that stand in the way of him placing moral constraints on himself, because a man who has been cornered and beaten into submission by a society that claims to be just is a man who will no longer see fit to honor that society’s notions of justice. For what difference does it make to him if society places no additional value on the pedophile who does not offend than it places on the one who does? More simply, it seems to me to be self-evident that it is much more dangerous for children when society silences and oppresses pedophiles at all costs than it is when they provide them with incentives to embrace society’s values with respect to children and sex, one of those incentives being a dignified place at the table of discussion, a sturdy and well-placed stall in the Marketplace of Ideas.
Finally, I would point out that there is but one reason, and one reason alone, that the right of free speech has stood strong since its inception: its strength lies in its universality. This is because, once a justification has been made to silence one group, it isn’t long before a justification can be made to silence another, and another, until the thing at last has no value. If one weakens the framework on which a human right stands by allowing for exceptions, then before long the entire structure crumbles. This, of course, applies to all human rights, but most especially to freedom of speech, which our legal system is founded upon, for everyone who is accused of some heinous act or who is doubted in some respect has a right to plead his case, which would be impossible without free speech. Our legal system would be a mockery of justice without this core value, and anyone who stood accused of sexual abuse, no matter how innocent, could then be demoted to the status of non-human, and one’s enemies could then be systematically demolished by simply accusing them of being a pedophile or sex offender and scrounging up some proof to justify the accusation.
These are but three reasons why freedom of speech must be protected for all, not only for those we like or agree with, but everyone, pedophiles included. Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I can think of no greater injustice than removing or suppressing a person’s voice based on some aspect of their being, particularly one they did not choose. Have we learned nothing from history? We have long embraced the notion of universal human rights in this grand country, and I hope we can say, today, tomorrow and forevermore, that we shall never get to the point where any individual or group will be silenced because they are merely disliked or disapproved of in some capacity by another individual or group.