Has the gay movement failed?

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Three quite separate issues are at stake here: adults having sex with prepubescent children; adults having sex with postpubescent teenagers; and teenagers having sex with each other. As for the first of these - adult molestation of prepubescent children - there can be no rational or moral dissent from the view that the law must be sweeping, airtight, and vigorously enforced. And it must be acknowledged more than it usually is that in most cases involving the sexual abuse of minors, family members and adult family friends - or clergy - are the perpetrators.

As for teenagers having sex with each other, the current consensus among the experts (not to be confused with the teenagers themselves) is that age sixteen somehow marks the magical moment when sexual readiness becomes manifest. That consensus is well established but far from impregnable. Several problems with it immediately arise. For starters, the fixed rigidity of sixteen ignores the dissimilar timetables at which individuals reach puberty - that point at which the body announces its physical preparedness and the mind has trouble focusing on anything other than sex. For many youngsters, that point is reached well before the age of sixteen. At summer camp I and my prepubescent bunk mates (age ten? twelve?) used to regularly derive pleasure from lying down and rubbing up against each other - "fussing" we called it. Were we "having sex," or is orgasm a prerequisite? That our pleasure was guilt-ridden - we "fussed" in secret, beyond the gaze of the counselors - probably does qualify the activity (in our still-puritanical culture) as sexual. [...]

Why the blindness - or is it indifference? - to the severe consequences that descend on minors caught having sex with each other? Isn't it perfectly natural that fourteen-year-olds want to explore their sexuality - that such experimentation isn't a crime or a sin? After all, Freud revealed (in Three Essays) that children much younger than fourteen are curious about their bodies, engage in sex play, and masturbate. The real crime is to tell ourselves that we're "protecting" the young; they do need protection - from "sexual predators" but not usually from themselves or one another. What we’re protecting when we interfere with and condemn youthful sexual experimentation is our own excessively priggish selves. To punish sexual experimentation in the young is the surest way to turn out yet another generation of guilt-ridden prudes, of adults who associate sex with shame and filth. [...]

Why aren't we talking more about all this? Why aren't sexual rights being championed (when mentioned at all) with anything like the enthusiasm with which we defend "human" rights? Why isn't freedom of sexual expression just as important a "rights" issue as, say, freedom of speech? [...]

During GLF's heydey any number of crusty orthodoxies relating to sexuality came on the chopping block, and questions relating to the age of consent remained high on GLF’s agenda. Even as late as 1976 after the forces of gay assimilation had pretty much routed the firebrands and seized control of the movement, the Canadian writer Gerald Hannon published a piece in Toronto's radical gay magazine, the Body Politic, that debunked the "archaic" notion of the innocent child disinterested in sex and immune to its pleasures. In the body of his essay Hannon makes clear that he defines the children he's talking about as post-, not prepubescent teenagers - though (mistakenly) he doesn't explicitly say so.

Hannon argues that most adults link sex with "the most explosive human passions" and thus conclude that a youngster is "simply incapable of surviving such a situation" - they're "too innocent... too defenseless." (As I argue earlier, many teenagers in today's "hookup culture" don't tend to link sex with "the debilitating passions of the heart.") In any case, Hannon champions youthful sexual exploration not simply because it's "natural" and provides pleasure, but also because sex "is a centrifugal force which leads one outward into the community," helping young people to discover sooner rather than later that - another radical notion no longer of much interest to the mainstream gay movement - "your family is not necessarily the only locus of human warmth and affection." Hannon then dots the i: "Happiness," he writes, "could be something other than living with one other person... for the rest of one's life."

source: From the book 'Has the Gay Movement Failed?' by (Professor Emeritus of History at the City University of New York); Quotes taken from: www.boychat.org/messages/1540545.htm; Book from June 2018