Sex between teenage boys and older men is not always coercive

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When I was a tormented young homosexual of 15 (actually, a tormented homosexual wannabe is more accurate, since it would be five more long years before I could muster up the courage to allow myself to be seduced), I went to see "Summer of '42," one of the sleeper hits of 1971. For anyone under the age of 40 or so, the movie, which takes place at a seaside community, tells the story of Hermie - about my age at the time ' as he fumbles through his first attempts at dating while nursing a crush for Dorothy, the young wife of a soldier away at the front. When the soldier dies, his widow - played by the achingly lovely Jennifer O'Neill, in her first and only significant role - pulls Hermie into her arms and, in her grief, into her bed.

At the time, the movie was praised for what it was: a touching coming-of-age tale that explored, with sensitivity and taste, the issue of teenage sexuality and the eternal horny-boy fantasy of being initiated by an older and experienced beauty. I cried while I watched, but mainly because I so yearned for the tender moments that Hermie found - although I craved a seducer with, unlike Jennifer, a penis I could touch, kiss and hold onto.

It's hard to imagine that a film that spoke to my deepest longings could attain the critical acclaim and popular appeal of "Summer of '42." In fact, in the current era of Catholic Church sex scandals, it's hard to imagine a film like that not being blasted top to bottom for promoting child abuse and all manner of other evils, even if it portrayed as thoroughly mutual the desire of both man and boy to find solace in each others' bodies.

source: Article 'Minor report - Sex between teenage boys and older men is not always coercive -- and it can be more ecstatic than traumatic' by David Tuller; www.salon.com/2002/07/22/coming_of_age/; Salon.com; 23 July 2002