Actions

Work Header

Twenty Thousand Gold Stars: A Novel about an Internet Community

Chapter Text

Crossroads home page, February 28

It was a foundation of his life that he must tell no one. The first signs that this foundation would be shattered came on a windy day at the end of February, as he sat in a room lit only by the bright colors glowing from his computer screen.

The color shining upon his face at that moment was green: he was bent over the laptop, looking at a Website with a pasture-green background. At the top of the site was a logo showing a signpost with markers pointing in two different directions. Beside the logo was a single word: "Crossroads."

He glanced down at the subject headings of each message on the message board. Ignoring the subject heading that read, "DEATH IS TOO GOOD FOR YOU," he instead stared at the message just above this, entitled, "You are sick! You need help!" It had been posted by someone named Concerned & Angry.

He moved his computer mouse with his hand until the screen's arrow lay over the subject heading that linked to the message; then he used the mouse to click on the link. The opening words of the post flashed onto his screen.

o—o—o

You are sick! You need help!
Posted at Crossroads by Concerned & Angry on Wednesday, February 28, at 8:36 PM

I mean it. All of you people are really, really sick, and you need professional help. Please get it before you hurt any more—

o—o—o

At that moment, like a path suddenly diverging, he caught a flicker of movement beyond the computer screen. He leaned forward to see better.

The movement came from outside. Through the window, he could see the bright neon light of the Art Deco marquee, and below it, two figures hurrying along, their coats swishing under the force of the wind. They were both carrying plastic bags, and as he watched, the wind blew one of the bags against a drainpipe that was sticking out from the streetside wall of the movie theater. The plastic tore, and the groceries tumbled.

He moved with an instinct he did not even fully know he possessed, like a fireman who has trained himself so well to respond to an alarm that he is out of bed from his sleep before his mind fully grasps that the alarm has rung. Pausing only to grab an empty plastic bag sitting on the kitchen counter near the door, he rushed out of the apartment, ran down the flight of stairs, and crashed open the door to the street.

The figures were on their knees now, trying to collect the scattered groceries. A magazine lifted itself out of the grasp of one of the figures and blew away into the dark. The taller figure, pausing to put his books down on the sidewalk, said something to the smaller figure, who gave an exclamation of frustration as she attempted to fit cereal boxes into the remaining bags.

So absorbed were they in their task that they did not notice him until he was at their side. Leaning toward the smaller figure, who was dusting off a can of frozen orange juice, he asked, "Will this help?"

He held out the plastic bag he had brought. As he did so, the smaller figure gave a screech that she truncated as she looked up and saw who was standing over her. Placing her hand against her heart, she said breathlessly, "Good lord, John, you frightened me! I'd just been reading an article about the FBI's hunt for sexual predators, and for a moment I thought you were a rapist."

"Sorry." He knew that his smile was overly rigid, but he couldn't seem to relax. "I shouldn't have crept up on you like that when it was so late." As he spoke, he dropped onto his knees and began placing a can of cocoa in the bag.

From this vantage point, he could see better the middle-aged woman kneeling on the sidewalk, her coat fluttering open in the wind. Used as he was to seeing Sandra in business suits, it was startling to view her in a lycra blouse that outlined her full breasts and her narrow waist. Without looking down further to see whether her bottom was just as shapely, he said, "You're out late."

"Yes, it's so frustrating. I told Kim that if he wanted to drive Milano and me home from the school play, he'd need to be there at eight p.m. sharp, because I had a bunch of groceries I needed to get home. It's not as though I was forcing him to drive us; he volunteered for the task. And then, of course, he didn't turn up."

Sandra flashed him a smile. She was wearing lipstick the color of ripe grapes, and her eyelashes were delicately darkened to emphasize her olive eyelids and bark-brown eyes. He tried to ignore the growing stirring within him, instead saying, "Do you have far to walk? I'm afraid I don't have a car, but I'd be glad to help you carry the groceries back."

"Gosh, that's sweet of you, John, but we don't have far to go at all. We're just headed for the subway stop at the end of the block, and our house is right around the corner from the stop at the other end of the line. There's really no need for you to trouble yourself."

As she rose, though, she made no move to take the bag from his hand. He said, "It's no trouble at all; I'll be glad to walk to the subway with you. Here, let me take that bag." He reached over and took the paper bag from the taller figure, who was struggling to balance it on top of his pile of books.

"Why, thank you, John. If you don't mind . . ." She handed one of the bags to the taller figure, reserving the bigger of the plastic bags for herself. "To be honest, I'm a bit nervous about us walking alone at this time of night. I know that the subway here is safe, but you never can tell what might be lurking on dark streets like this."

"It's a dangerous world," he agreed. They were walking side by side down the street now, passing late-night couples holding hands. Groping for conversation, he stared down into the bag and said, "Safety locks. Outlet covers. Anti-scalding devices. You seem to take child safety seriously."

"I do my best," she said brightly. "Of course, it's hard taking care of three of them, with no one to help. I can't tell you what I went through tonight to find a babysitter."

"Oh, yes?" It was an opening, but he decided to let it pass. His gaze was on her left hand, with its bright red fingernails and its ringless fourth finger. "You don't get much help from Kim, then?"

She snorted. "You saw how much help he was tonight. He lives in the suburbs, but I swear, he might as well live on the West Coast for all the help he gives. Not that I expect any help for me, but they are his children. He didn't divorce them when he divorced me."

"Perhaps," he suggested tentatively, "you can find someone else to help you."

He was a bit nervous that he'd been too bold, but she accepted the suggestion immediately, saying, "Yes, I often feel there ought to be another male figure in our lives – for the children's sake, you understand. Milano is especially in need of a male figure."

He decided that it was time he directed his attention toward the tall figure trailing behind him. He turned his head for the first time to look, and as he did so, a jolt went through him.

It took him a moment to realize that he had stopped dead on the sidewalk. By that time, Sandra was at his elbow, saying, "You haven't met Milano before, have you, John? Honey, this is Mr. Steadman, who works in the department next to me. —Oh, lord, is that a taxi? Hold on here, guys, I'll go check." She left them standing together, buffeted by the hard wind.

Johnnie felt a wild impulse to whirl and grab hold of Sandra, which he carefully curbed. Instead he remained stiffly where he was, hoping that the hair being blown over his eyes from the wind hid some of his expression. There was an awkward moment of silence.

"I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Steadman." The words, spoken in the tone of a youth whose voice is starting to crack, were flat. The boy's expression was stoic. After a moment more, he realized why and cursed himself inwardly.

It was too late now to pretend that he hadn't been staring. Resisting the impulse to look back at Sandra, who was carrying out an excited conversation with a cabdriver in an unlit taxi, he put forward his hand and said, "Call me Johnnie."

Milano took his hand and shook it in a perfunctory manner before dropping it. He looked as though he was having to make a strenuous effort to keep from ducking his head. As it was, the light from the approaching subway stop fell full upon his face, emphasizing the bulge in the left cheek, the involuntary twist of the mouth next to that bulge, and the blue-black mark that darkened most of the left half of the face.

Realizing that he was staring again, Johnnie looked hastily down at the books. "Are those your scripts for the school play? Your father's an actor, isn't he?"

"I wasn't in the school play." Again the voice emerged flat. Then something closer to an emotion came to the surface as the boy added, "They didn't accept my audition."

For a minute, Johnnie was at a loss for what to say. He moved aside to make way for a giggling teenage couple that was walking by, hand in hand. As he did so, Sandra came into view again. Her hands were tracing patterns in the air while she excitedly told the taxi driver what she thought of him. As Johnnie watched, she flung her head back, so that her long dark hair streamed back like a banner.

"That happened to me too," said Johnnie finally. "I had my heart set on playing Romeo and climbing up the balcony to hold secret conversations with Juliet, but the school director didn't think I was convincing enough in the scene where I described how I was going to defy my family. I suppose I was a bit too conventional as a teenager. I was miserable until I found other school projects to occupy me. Are those textbooks, then?" He nearly stepped forward to look closer at the titles, which would have brought him out of view of Sandra, but he stopped himself in time.

"Yeah," said the boy, in a voice closer to normal. "Geometry."

Sandra, whose presence he had never ceased to be aware of, suddenly spun away from the taxi, shouted back at the driver a round of invectives, and stomped over to where Johnnie and her son stood. "Filthy bastard," she announced, glaring at Johnnie. Then, seeing his look of alarm, she added, "I mean the taxi driver. I offered him twenty bucks extra to drive us home, but no, he'd rather see us struggle with our groceries. Good Samaritans are hard to find these days." She rewarded him with another of her bright smiles. "What are you guys talking about?"

"The horrors of math homework," Johnnie replied.

"Oh, lord, Milano, I hope you weren't talking about how much you hate math," she said. "Mr. Steadman is an accountant, you know. He majored in math in college."

Johnnie was momentarily startled until he remembered that, as an executive assistant, Sandra had access to his company records. Then he felt uneasy, as though his records could have told more about him than he wanted anyone to know. To distract himself from this thought, he said to Milano, "School math can be really boring. It all depends on how it's taught."

"I suppose so," said Milano cautiously. "My seventh-grade teacher was better at explaining things than the one I've got this year."

"I know some books you could read on your own that would help in learning geometry." He was acutely conscious of the woman standing next to him; he could smell her perfume.

"Maybe you could bring them over to our place and show him them," suggested Sandra. "You deserve a home-cooked dinner for rescuing us tonight."

"Mama makes a terrific lasagna," agreed Milano. He was looking now from Johnnie to Sandra, as though weaving a connection in his mind.

"Well," said Johnnie, feeling his heart pound, "perhaps we can set something up some time. I'd better be getting back to my apartment, though. I was busy with some work."

"Thanks for your help, Mr. Steadman," said Milano as he took the bags from Johnnie. He was only two inches shorter than Johnnie, having reached one of those spurts of early adolescence.

"Yes, thank you, John," said Sandra, smiling at him as she took from her son the plastic bag Johnnie had brought. "I'll see you at work tomorrow?"

"Of course," replied Johnnie. He hoped his voice sounded normal. His heart was pounding so hard now that it was difficult to tell.

He watched them until they had disappeared down the escalator into the subway; then he turned. A man was walking down the opposite side of the street, in the shadow of the buildings. His gaze had been upon the woman and boy, but it flicked over to Johnnie for a brief moment before the man turned to walk into an alley next to the building at the corner. Johnnie felt his breath tighten as he wondered how much the man had seen. He wondered too how much the man had guessed.

He often wondered that.

He felt something brush against his leg. Looking down, he saw a bedraggled magazine travelling down the street from the direction of the movie theater. He scooped up the magazine, saw that it was the one that had belonged to Sandra, and was trying to decide whether to toss it into the garbage can nearby when his eyes caught sight of the headline. "Sexual Predators," the cover said. "How Can We Protect Ourselves From Them?"

He felt a chill go through him then, removing all the warmth that he had begun to feel while talking with Sandra. For a moment more, he stared down at the cover. Then, remembering the curious man, he carefully rolled up the magazine so that its cover was hidden, stuffed it into his left pocket, and made his way back down the wind-tempestuous street.

o—o—o

His apartment was black but for the glow from the marquee. Johnnie paused to turn on lights at the kitchen end of his efficiency, then walked over to the darker end of the room, where the computer waited, outlined against the theater lights. Tossing the magazine onto the desk, he sat down and moved the mouse. Concerned & Angry's post returned to the screen.

o—o—o


You are sick! You need help!
Posted at Crossroads by Concerned & Angry on Wednesday, February 28, at 8:36 PM

I mean it. All of you people are really, really sick, and you need professional help. Please get it before you hurt any more children.

I am one of those "evil" CAs (child advocates) that you men complain about all the time. I help heal children from the wounds inflicted on them by predators, I fight to give children the right to live a life free from violence and abuse, and yes, I track down you sexual predators – oh, excuse me, you "boylovers." I mustn't be politically incorrect.

Let me tell you what "boylove" is like from the perspective of the boy. When my son was nine, he was befriended by one of you "boylovers." During that time, my husband and I were separated; you predators always target kids from broken homes. When a family friend offered to serve as a male figure in my son's life, I was naive enough to think he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart, rather than for his own selfish lusts. I entrusted my son to him, and I've never ceased to regret what I did or to warn other parents against the dangers of "boylovers."

My son loved one of you with all his heart, and you rewarded that by taking advantage of his innocence and scarring him over and over, as though you were beating him bloody. He's twenty-six now, and he still can't talk fully about what happened; it hurts him too much. But I remember the first time he came and told me. I remember how he cried and said, "Why is he doing this to me, Mommy? I thought he loved me!"

So that's what "boylove" really is – molesting and discarding and abandoning boys – and that's why I fight against "boylove" organizations such as NAMBLA and Free Spirits and Crossroads. I want a world where no more boys and girls will endure what my son endured.

I read below the post by Lynch Em, suggesting that non-pedophiles should murder all pedophiles. I can't agree with that sort of sentiment at all; I think that only continues the cycle of violence that you pedophiles began. I've met recovering offenders, and I know that some of you can be helped. You just need to get yourself off of these "boylove" boards and go into therapy! Once you do, you'll be able to keep yourself from hurting any more children.

I'd urge you to call your local police and turn yourselves in, or, if you haven't committed a rape yet, to call your local child abuse center and ask for information on sex addiction groups. That's the only way a "boylover" can ever truly love a boy.

CA stands for Concerned & Angry

o—o—o

Johnnie reread the message twice, feeling the tension grow in his body each time he did. After a moment, he pushed his chair away and walked over to the refrigerator.

He returned several minutes later, holding a glass of apple juice and a dinner-for-one carton of microwaved lasagna. He sat down at the desk and ate half the tasteless noodles before moving the mouse again.

The "back" button took him to the main index of Crossroads. The page automatically reloaded itself, showing him that two messages had been posted in reply to Concerned & Angry's message, one of them since the first time that he had looked at the index. He clicked the mouse on the link to the earliest reply, his left hand reaching automatically for the apple juice.

o—o—o


Take your blinders off, ma'am
Posted at Crossroads by Conscientious Objector on Wednesday, February 28, at 9:17 PM
In reply to You are sick! You need help! posted by Concerned & Angry

So your son didn't like making love to a man. Big deal. I'm sorry for your son, CA, just as I'm sorry for friends of mine who get divorced, but just because half of American marriages end in divorce doesn't mean we should outlaw the institution of marriage. (At least, not for that reason alone. More on this in later posts.)

If you're as educated about boylove as you pretend to be, then you should know that the best meta-study done of this subject – a study that collated the findings of 59 other studies, most of them done by scientists who oppose man-boy sex – showed that, on average, one-third of boys react negatively to man-boy sex. That's one-third in a world so hostile to the concept of boylove that your child advocacy sites talk about boylovers like Plato and Michelangelo as "sexual predators."

Your son may have been (I say "may" because I'll believe it when I hear it from his own lips) one of the boys who didn't enjoy making love to a man. Well, it happens; I don't enjoy making love to women myself. (By the way, you haven't explained why your son didn't simply tell the boylover, "No, thank you." Any true boylover will take no for an answer.) So your son and some boys like him would rather not have sex with a man. But what about the perspective of other boys?

Let me match your son's story with my own. When I was twelve years old, I became lovers with a man in my neighborhood. It was my idea that we engage in bed-play, and it took me two years to convince the man to see things my way. (Yes, that means I fell for the man when I was a prepubescent. It happens.) We were lovers for five years, and no, we didn't tell my parents, any more than I tell my parents now about the men I go to bed with. They're Oral Roberts Moral Majority; they wouldn't understand.

So we were lovers for five years, and then he "discarded" me. Yeah, right. I told him that my sexual interests had turned elsewhere (namely, to the younger boys in the neighborhood). He was disappointed, but of course he let me go.

So then he "abandoned" me. This "abandonment" consisted of him and me exchanging phone calls nearly every night for thirty-five years. My lover is now seventy-one years old, and I have a standing invitation to join him and his family – especially his gorgeous grandkids :) – for Thanksgiving, New Year's, and Fourth of July. We love each other as much as we did when I was a child, even though we don't have sex with each other any more.

Lest you think that I'm not an objective observer as to the effects of boylove on a boy, let me tell you about a remark made by my sister, who is (to my great regret) a pro-life Republican Christian who has "family values" written all over her. Last year she asked my lover to be mentor to her youngest (very cute) boy. My lover warned her that he was attracted to the boy and that, if the boy requested to enter into an affair with my lover, my lover wouldn't object.

My sister's response? "If that happens and my son ends up as fine a man as [insert my real name here], I'll be very pleased indeed."

Now, I know the standard response you "child advocates" make to stories like this. I was "brainwashed" as a child; I was really abused but just don't know it. With the help of the therapists that you inflict on loved boys, you can aid the boys to see how much they suffered at the hands of "sexual predators" like my lover.

People like you can twist the evidence to say anything you want. We're not the sick ones, ma'am. You are.

Conscientious Objector, because I won't be party to injustice against boys who are deprived of the right to choose whom they want to love

o—o—o

Johnnie spilled the apple juice as he set down the glass. Hastily he moved the mouse away from the spill and mopped the liquid up with a paper tissue. Then he carried the glass, fork, and empty carton over to the counter before opening the refrigerator again.

He returned to the desk bearing a piece of the apple cake baked for him by his mother in honor of his thirty-fourth birthday. Absentmindedly spreading the whipped cream with his fork, he read the second reply to Concerned & Angry's post.

o—o—o


Welcome to Crossroads!
Posted at Crossroads by Pedo-Hag on Wednesday, February 28, at 9:23 PM
In reply to You are sick! You need help! posted by Concerned & Angry

Welcome to your new home. :) (The symbol at the end of the sentence is a smiley face, in case you're not familiar with Internet jargon.)

I'm Pedo-Hag, Co-Webmaster of Crossroads. I'm a single female, twenty-two years of age, and I've never been attracted to children. In addition to my duties here, I also run a forum for survivors of incest abuse. I was molested by my father when I was a teenager.

Sometimes reading the posts here sickens me, especially when they're about incest. I remember that, after a long thread one day in which some of the participants here calmly discussed whether parent-child sex is beneficial to the child, I had to go offline and cry for an hour. But then I came back. As calmly as I could, I posted a message recounting (for the benefit of those who hadn't already heard it) the tale of what happened between me and my father. Afterwards several of the boylovers here said that I had changed their views on parent-child sex.

That's why I spend so much time helping at this board – because I know that stories like yours and mine can change the views of boylovers and help them to act more responsibly.

When I first arrived at the boylove boards, I was just as angry as you are. I yelled at the people here, asking them how they could hurt children. Gradually I realized that some of the people here have never abused a child, some have abused a child but regretted it afterwards, and some are abusing children now but don't realize this. I've never met a man here (we've had only one female boylover here during my time) who deliberately hurt a child. If you explain to them why adult-child sex hurts children, and they're able to take to heart what you say, then they're eager to help stop the abuse.

That's why I hope you'll keep posting here, so that we can learn from your story, just as I've learned from the stories of the boylovers I've met here.

Oh, by the way, another child advocate nicknamed me Pedo-Hag because I spend so much time with boylovers. It's a label I wear with pride.

Pedo-Hag
Co-Webmaster
Crossroads

o—o—o

Johnnie was beginning to grow cold. He stood up, turned on the apartment heat and then stared awhile at the lamplit street below. The street was empty; the evening show for the theater was not yet near its end, and no line had started for the late show. He returned to his computer and pulled up his Web browser's bookmarks page.

Crossroads was the third bookmark on the list. He clicked on the second bookmark. A sun-yellow page appeared; a logo with a blue triangle behind a cross shone out from the screen.

He scrolled down the page and saw that there had only been one new post there since the previous night. Seeing the subject heading, he hesitated, then clicked open the message, clicking his way down the replies in the thread of messages.

o—o—o


Are you Christians? Or are you boylovers?
Posted at the Christian Boylove Forum by A Visitor on Wednesday, February 28, at 11:30 AM

I hope you won't mind if I ask this question. If this forum is closed to outsiders, just let me know and I'll leave. I don't want to break any rules here, but I'm genuinely puzzled as to how you can call yourselves Christian boylovers. If you're Christian, you must know that the Bible forbids us to enter into sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage, and even if you're pro-gay, you must know that Jesus condemned the abuse of children. So either you're Christian or you're boylovers. I don't see how you can be both.

Please understand that I realize you can struggle with the temptation to abuse children. Many of us struggle with sexual temptations; Jesus himself was tempted by Satan. Temptation itself is not a sin, but I don't see how you can allow yourselves to act on your temptations and then go up to the communion rail on Sundays as though nothing has happened.

Again, if I'm out of place in asking this, please do let me know. I'll be praying for you in any case.


Of course you can post here!
Posted at the Christian Boylove Forum by At Peace on Wednesday, February 28, at 7:48 PM
In reply to Are you Christians? Or are you boylovers? posted by A Visitor

First of all, let me welcome you here, brother. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them," promised Jesus, and I see that there are at least two of us here tonight :)

Yes, of course you can post here. This forum is open to everyone, no matter what their orientation or creed. You don't say whether or not you're attracted to children yourself, but we've had pedophiles in the sexual recovery community participate here, as well as a number of non-pedophiles. Non-Christians have also posted here on occasion. One of them, White Rose, is a regular participant at the moment.

As for myself, I belong to an evangelical church and have lived for all of my forty-plus years in a Christian community: a small Midwestern town full of fellowship and communion.

Brother, you have no idea how much it warmed me to read your words and to know that you understand our struggles. We're not as far apart from each other as you may have thought. Like you, I believe that God wants us to reserve sexual activity for the holy bonds of marriage. Like you, I believe that homosexual and pedophilic behavior are sinful (though by no means the worst sins; hardening one's heart against the Holy Spirit is far more sinful).

That is why I and many other here post at this forum: because we are struggling to abide by God's laws, and because we need each other's help to battle against sexual temptation and to find ways in which we can put our orientation to a godly use. I do not believe, as some others here do, that God made me a boylover. I believe that my sexual desire for young boys is a result of the Fall, in which all of nature became captive to the evil that came into our world when the first man and woman sinned. But neither do I believe – and it is clear to me from your words that you share my views on this – that I am an enemy of God because I find myself to be attracted to boys. I was blessed by God with free will, and I have used my free will (with the help of God's grace) to prevent myself from abusing any children. I am a sinner, of course, as all humans are, but I have not committed that particular sin.

But just a failure to act – refraining from having sex with a boy – is not enough for me. I believe deeply that Satan can only bring about evil by twisting that which is essentially good, and I have faith that God can help me to recover the good that Satan has tried to twist. Behind my sinful desire to have sex with boys is a true love for boys that I believe I can use to bring good into the lives of the boys around me. Of course I have to show caution, just as a man who is attracted to a married woman must be cautious about permitting himself to enter into situations where he might commit adultery. But with the support of the other participants here, I have been able to help many of the boys in my community in nonsexual ways that allow me to share with them the love of God. So what might have been a tragedy for me has instead become a blessing from God. Christ has allowed me to suffer and be tempted as he once was, and has also given me the strength I need to help build his Kingdom upon earth.

Please do write more and tell us about your own sexual struggles. I'm sure that everyone here would benefit from your story.

In Christ's Name,
At Peace with the Lord
Webmaster of CBF


I'm glad to be here
Posted at the Christian Boylove Forum by Paul on Wednesday, February 28, at 8:46 PM
In reply to Of course you can post here! posted by At Peace

I'd like to apologize for my earlier post. Obviously I should have read the messages on this board before posting. I had only heard the word "boylove" in connection with NAMBLA, and I hadn't realized that you were using the word "boylove" in a different sense. Of course if the type of love you are trying to exercise is agapé, then you truly are boy-lovers. I'd just caution you that the word could be easily misunderstood, since in our society "lover" usually has an erotic meaning.

Thank you for inviting me to take part here; I would indeed like to do so now that I understand your purpose. I'm sure that you can be of as much help to me as I hope I can be to others here.

> You don't say whether or not you're attracted to children yourself

I'm sorry; I ought to have introduced myself. My name is Paul, I'm 46, and I've been attracted to other males since my late teens. I belong to an ex-gay ministry, and though I have not yet experienced the shift in feelings that some of the other members have, I am dating a woman from my church, and we remain hopeful that matters will change as I grow closer to the Lord.

In my adulthood, nearly all of my same-gender attractions have been to men my own age, but when I was a twenty-one-year-old senior in college, I was attracted to a seventeen-year-old freshman, so I suppose that you could call me an honorary ex-boylover (using the word "boylover" in the NAMBLA sense).

So you see, I'm the last person who would want to judge a fellow Christian who is trying to withstand sexual temptation. A number of my ex-gay friends are minor-attracted, and in fact I stumbled across this forum while looking for support groups for an out-of-state friend of mine (minor-attracted but not ex-gay) who is searching for a support and accountability group to help him in his journey. If anyone knows of real-life groups of this sort in the Chicago area, please let me know. I've posted my e-mail address above.

I will be praying for all of the participants at this forum, and I hope that you will pray for me as we share together our struggles.

Paul (the sinner, not the saint)


Sexual change and the Lord's purpose
Posted at the Christian Boylove Forum by At Peace on Wednesday, February 28, at 9:42 PM
In reply to I'm glad to be here posted by Paul

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.' Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (II Corinthians 12:7-10)

Don't feel obliged to respond to my post tonight – I know that many of the participants at this board prefer to post in a more leisurely manner than at other boards – but I just wanted to express to you a concern of mine, not about your participation here, but about what you mean when you say that you are "ex-gay."

I should explain that, before I found the Christian Boylove Forum, I had spent nearly twenty years trying to rid myself of my attraction to boys by various means, including, at one point, participation in an ex-gay ministry. The effort very nearly destroyed me. Like Paul, I discovered that the Lord wanted me to continue with this "thorn" and that efforts on my part to change my sexual orientation were doomed to failure. Now, you say that you've been homosexual for over twenty years and you haven't yet changed your feelings, yet you're continuing to try to. Are you sure that this is a wise course for you to take? I don't want you to end up like I did, broken-hearted because I thought I could not serve God unless I changed my feelings.

I hope you're not offended by this post.

In Christ's Name,
At Peace with the Lord
Webmaster of CBF


I'm not offended in the least
Posted at the Christian Boylove Forum by Paul on Wednesday, February 28, at 9:51 PM
In reply to Sexual change and the Lord's purpose posted by At Peace

I'm often asked this question, naturally, and the only reply I can give is that this seems the best course for me. I know of other ex-gays whose feelings have not changed; we call ourselves "ex-gay" simply because we do not take part in the gay community. If you would prefer to call me a celibate homosexual, I don't mind at all. I'm not stuck on labels. But I do know many ex-gays whose feelings have changed, and I hope that mine will some day. Celibacy (as you yourself know) is a hard road to travel. I would like to be married.

If we're taking up too much space on this board, please feel free to e-mail me. I've linked my e-mail address again at the beginning of this post.

Paul (the sinner, not the saint)


Thank you!
Posted at the Christian Boylove Forum by At Peace on Wednesday, February 28, at 9:59 PM
In reply to I'm not offended in the least posted by Paul

Thank you for your kind explanation, Paul. I agree that all things are possible with the Lord, and I'm glad to hear that you understand that life as a celibate homosexual or a celibate boylover can be a calling from God, even if it is (and God help me, it is) hard at times.

Just a minor security matter before I let you go for the night. I notice that you've been linking to an e-mail address that reveals private information about you. For this reason I've deleted the e-mail links you've left. I urge you to get an anonymous e-mail address (I've posted a link to a page describing how you can do this), because even non-pedophiles here may be harassed by people who are not in sympathy with what the Christian Boylove Forum is doing.

Until next time—

In Christ's Name,
At Peace with the Lord
Webmaster of CBF

o—o—o

Johnnie drummed his fingers on the mouse for a moment, then hit the "Back" button. He ran his arrow over Paul's linked name. Sure enough, the memory cache of his browser had preserved the unedited version of Paul's post, and the e-mail address was still there: paul@chaplaincy.oldcityuniv.edu.

He hesitated a moment more, staring at the address, and then transferred the address onto an e-mail form. For a moment more, he looked at the e-mail form. Then he set it aside and returned to his bookmarks page.

The first of the bookmarked sites arrived rapidly: it had a sky-blue background, and the blue triangle logo here had no cross. The logo was not of a single blue triangle, but of a small blue triangle nestled within a large blue triangle.

Johnnie scanned rapidly through the subject headings on the message board: "I'm in love!" "Does anyone know the age of consent in New Zealand?" "News: Policeman confesses he murdered pedophile; jury acquits him." "My young friend and I go to the circus." "NAMBLA Website has posted revised U.K. child abuse law." "Survey: Is it okay to have anal sex with a boy?" "Boy in my town murdered – very sad!" "Saw a cute 5-year-old today." "I'm collecting gay youth site links." "Survey: Should we ally ourselves with girl-lovers?" "Suicide prevention resource site for boylovers seeks volunteers." "I'm new here and I need help!"

The last message already had twenty messages posted in reply. Johnnie clicked on the link.

o—o—o


I'm new here and I need help!
Posted at BoyChat by True Boylover on Wednesday, February 28, at 3:13 PM

Gosh, guys, I can't tell you what it means to me to find this site. I located this board while visiting a picture site, but this means FAR more to me than any pictures.

Let me introduce myself. My name is [deleted by moderator], I live in [deleted by moderator], and I graduated from high school last year. I've been attracted to boys since elementary school, but as I grow older, the boys I'm attracted to stay at elementary school age, and I guess that means I'm a boylover.

I've read some of the posts here, and I think that my story is different from that of most of the people here, which makes me scared to tell you, because I'm afraid you'll send me away. I know everyone here loves boys and doesn't want to hurt them. Well, I feel the same, but sometimes I get fantasies about raping and murdering boys. It really scares me. These fantasies started back when I was little myself, when I was going to a boarding school where I was beaten by other kids. I've been in therapy since I was ten, but I've never told my therapists about my fantasies, because I'm afraid that, under the mandatory reporting laws, they'll have to report me to the police, and I'll be locked up. The school I went to as a kid had bars in its windows, and ever since then my greatest fear has been of being locked up in a place with bars.

Right now, I'm unemployed and living away from home (it's a long story, but basically my parents found some pictures I'd been collecting of boys), so I can't afford to see a therapist. I'd really like to talk with someone about my fantasies and what I can do to stop myself from acting on them, which is why I'm so glad to have found you guys. I'm picking as my nickname "True Boylover" because that is what I'd like to be. I don't want to hurt any kids.

Is it all right for me to post here? I know that the rest of you don't want to rape kids. (I mean have forced sex with them. I guess some of you think it's okay to have sex with the boy if he wants it, but that's not what I want.) If you think I'm disgusting and a monster, all I can say is that I agree with you, and I'll go away right now if you say so.

[Name deleted by moderator], trying to be a TRUE Boylover


Welcome to BoyChat
Posted at BoyChat by Brick on Wednesday, February 28, at 3:22 PM
In reply to I'm new here and I need help! posted by True Boylover

You'll get lots of replies to your post, but I just wanted to give you official reassurance that you're more than welcome here. Anyone can post at this board, provided that they follow the BoyChat rules, which I've linked to below. Please do note what Rule #6 says about not posting anything that would imply you're engaged in illegal activity. I hope that you'll show appropriate caution in future posts.

In another matter of security, I've deleted the information in your post that tells your real name and address. Please don't post this again. Very few of us here have outed ourselves, and even those of us who have done so generally use nicknames when posting. It's just not safe to tell people that you're a boylover in this world. Anyone could read these boards and track you down to your home.

Now, a little about myself. My nickname is Brick because I sometimes feel like another brick in the wall, though BoyChat is helping me to overcome that feeling. Like most of our participants, I live in North America. I'm in my twenties, and I've been posting at BoyChat for the past three years. I'm presently Webmaster of BoyChat and head of the Free Spirits Committee, which runs BoyChat and several other boylove boards (but doesn't run independent boards such as Crossroads and the Christian Boylove Forum). Free Spirits also sponsors a Web directory of boylove-related links – but check our rules before submitting links. All sites must have legal content.

Like you, I thought of myself as a monster when I first came here. Now I don't feel at all guilty about my love of boys. Like you, I've decided to remain celibate, because I believe it's wrong to break laws even when they're unjust. I would rather put my efforts into gradually changing the world's views on boylove, in particular by serving as a model citizen myself, so that anyone who meets me and learns I'm a boylover will know that we're not monsters.

I'm sorry to hear about your fantasies of hurting kids. I've never dealt with such a problem myself, nor has anyone else I know on this board, but perhaps someone can offer you suggestions on how you can stop having these fantasies. I'm a little hesitant to recommend therapy, because a therapist I went to years ago made me hate myself so much for being a boylover that I nearly threw myself onto some railroad tracks near my house. But perhaps someone here knows of a therapist who is boylove-friendly and won't try to change your love of boys (as opposed to your desire to rape them).

Brick
Webmaster and All-Round Dogsbody
BoyChat

o—o—o

Other messages were posted in reply. "You are sick! You need help!" posted by Concerned & Angry. "Don't be ashamed of loving boys," by Conscientious Objector. "We're here for you, TB; talk to us," by Pedo-Hag.

When Johnnie refreshed the index of BoyChat a few minutes later, a new message had appeared.

o—o—o

Have you tried online sexual recovery groups?
Posted at BoyChat by White Rose on Wednesday, February 28, at 10:29 PM
In reply to I'm new here and I need help! posted by True Boylover

I know that others here will warn you about the dangers of these groups, and certainly I wouldn't recommend them for the average boylover, but it sounds to me as though you're dealing with some serious problems and could benefit from talking with people who are in recovery from having abused children. But please don't stop talking to us. We'll give you any help we can.

My name is White Rose. I'm male and am attracted to boys from ages twelve to sixteen. My AOA (age of attraction) can go a little above that and a little below, but anyone who's prepubescent or adult just doesn't attract me.

I've been a boylover since my early teens, though I didn't realize what I was until college, and I didn't know what to call myself until two months ago, when I discovered the boylove boards. (I arrived here on the solstice. Coincidentally, that's a big holiday here.)

This place has transformed my life. I no longer believe, as I once did from reading news stories, that I'm doomed to molest a child. I still haven't made up my mind on the sex issue. Some of the boylovers here think that having sex with a willing boy abuses him, some don't. But one thing I do know – and I needed to be told this – is that I'll never force a boy to have sex against his will.

It's still scary to write all of the above. I'm really a newbie like yourself, and part of me keeps screaming, "You're attracted to boys! You should be taken out and shot!" If it weren't for BoyChat, I don't know what I would have ended up doing. Probably raped and killed a child, like society expects me to. (No, I don't think I'd actually have done that, but I know some people here who were on the point of doing that and were saved by discovering BoyChat.)

I'd also like to echo what Brick said about protecting your privacy. When I first posted that I was a boylover (it was at another board, Crossroads), I mentioned which city I lived in and told what the view was outside my window. Fortunately, one of the moderators of the board edited my post to remove this information, and he even sent me an e-mail explaining that, if anyone had been reading my post who lived in my city, he might have been able to guess where I lived from what I wrote.

It's a shame that most of us can't talk with people in real life about what we are. Sometimes I'd really like to get a non-pedophile's perspective on my decisions. But I suppose I'm lucky that we have non-boylovers like Pedo-Hag who are willing to come here and talk with us.

Still, it would be nice to talk with someone in real life.

White Rose

o—o—o

Johnnie, suddenly restless, shut off his modem connection to the Internet before walking over to the refrigerator again. This time he took out milk and poured it into a saucepan. Placing the pan atop the stove, he turned on the gas flame and returned to the desk, where he saw at the bottom of the computer screen the icon for the unfinished letter to Paul. He clicked on the icon and looked at the e-mail form. After a moment's consideration he began to type. "My first e-mail to you," he wrote in the subject heading. Then: "Dear—"

The phone rang.

He jumped as though a bullet had entered his body. Then he reached over and picked up the receiver. "White Rose here," he said automatically.

"Johnnie?" said the voice of an older woman. "Is that you?"

"Oh, gods," Johnnie said under his breath. Then, fearing his caller had heard, he added rapidly, "Yes, it's me, Mom. Sorry about that. I was so caught up with an e-book I was reading that I guess I began to identify with one of the characters."

"White Rose, eh?" It was his father's voice, coming from the second family phone; he sounded amused. "That sounds like a spy novel. Is White Rose the secret agent?"

"Sort of," said Johnnie, twirling the phone cord around one of his fingers. "He leads a double life. He seems like an ordinary man by day, but his friends and family members don't know about the secret life he lives during the evenings."

"Ordinary office worker by day, but at night he becomes Superman." His father chuckled. "It's wonderful how those old plots stay around."

"This one's sort of updated," said Johnnie. "One of the secrets about White Rose is that he posts on the Internet, so thousands of people around the world read his posts every day, but no one in real life knows that he's White Rose."

"And does his family ever find out who he is?" This was his mother, trying, as always, to see the parents' perspective on the matter.

Johnnie was silent a moment before he said, "I'm not sure. I haven't finished the story."

"You'll have to show it to us when you come to visit next," said his father. "It sounds as though it's a rip-roaring good story, like the type of adventure stories you used to write when you were in middle school."

"I remember you telling me that it's more exciting to write about dangerous lives than to live dangerous lives," said Johnnie, abandoning the phone cord and beginning to play with the mouse. His computer screen, which had turned black when he abandoned it, leapt open again to show White Rose's post.

"That's what we're calling about, Johnnie," said his mother. "There was an article in one of the newsmagazines this week – which one was it, Tom?"

"It had a picture on its cover of a pedophile grabbing a child," his father offered.

"Yes, I'm sure you can find it at the supermarket," his mother said. "It had tips on how to keep yourself safe from crime. You know, Johnnie, we've always worried about you moving into the city among all those violent people."

"There are crimes in small towns too, Mom," said Johnnie, turning his gaze away from the post to the marquee light outside. "Last year, just a block from our house, a man was beaten up because someone thought his face matched the one on a 'Wanted' poster in the post office."

"Your mom's right, though," contributed his father. "There are special dangers in the city that we don't get as much out in the country: stalkers, predators, that sort of thing. Why it's been eight years since anyone in this town has been raped."

Johnnie suddenly felt tired. "Mom, Dad, I'd love to talk longer, but I have something on the stove that's boiling over. Could I call you in the morning?"

"Of course, Johnnie." His father's voice was understanding. "We probably shouldn't have called you this late, after you've been working all day."

"You get some rest," his mother advised. "And don't feel you have to call us in the morning. Just fit us in whenever you have the time."

"I'll phone you before work tomorrow," he assured her. "Thanks for calling."

The milk was scalded by the time he reached it; he put the pan aside to cool, then returned to the computer. The e-mail was awaiting him. He drummed his fingers, then reconnected the modem and returned to the green board.

A new reply had been posted to Concerned & Angry.

o—o—o


The purpose of Crossroads
Posted at Crossroads by Gold Star on Wednesday, February 28, at 10:16 PM
In reply to You are sick! You need help! posted by Concerned & Angry

Like Pedo-Hag, I'd like to welcome you to Crossroads. We don't have as many non-ped participants as we'd like, so I was glad to see your post.

I'd just like to clarify to you what the purpose of Crossroads is. You talk about NAMBLA and Free Spirits and Crossroads all in one breath, as though they were the same thing, but as I've belonged to all three organizations, I can assure you that these three groups are very different.

The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), to which I belonged for a couple of years, is an advocacy organization. Its purpose is to press for changes in society and in the law to allow underaged boys various freedoms, including the freedom to choose their own sexual partners. NAMBLA does a bit of support activity, but that's not central to its mission in the way that advocacy is.

By contrast, Free Spirits is a support organization. It aims to support all boylovers, whether or not the boylover in question believes that boys should be able to have sex with men. For example, when I was a member of the Free Spirits Committee, if a boylover had come to me and said, "I want to start a message board for boylovers who believe that it is morally wrong to have sex with boys," my reaction would have been, "Great! How can I help?" I wouldn't have said this because I believe that having sex with boys is inherently wrong (though it can be wrong under particular circumstances, such as when it is illegal). I would have said this because the Free Spirits Committee wants to help all boylovers, regardless of their ideology.

Now, Crossroads is something entirely different from NAMBLA and Free Spirits. You refer to Crossroads as a boylove organization, but in fact it is a BL/non-BL board, jointly run by boylovers and non-boylovers for the benefit of both groups. Our mission is to provide a neutral space where boylovers and non-boylovers (including non-peds) can discuss their differences and their common beliefs.

Unlike Pedo-Hag, I'm not here to change anyone's views on the sex issue. I don't think it's likely I'll change Pedo-Hag's beliefs about this any more than I think it's likely that she'll change mine. The reason I'm willing to work with her is that I believe that, despite all our differences, we both care about children and we both want a world where children will be less likely to be hurt. I'd like to work with non-peds to help create such a world, and I hope that you'll join us here at Crossroads to make your own contribution.

Maybe I can even convince you to work to prevent violence against boylovers. Okay, so I'm a dreamer. :)

Gold Star
Webmaster
Crossroads

o—o—o

Johnnie stared at the post for several minutes, his finger stroking the mouse indecisively. The only sound in the room was the howl of the wind against the window. Then he moved quickly, copying, pasting, and deleting until he had the e-mail in the manner that he wanted.

o—o—o

To: goldstar@freespirits.org
From: whiterose@anonymail.com
Date: February 28, 22:49 EST
Subject: My first e-mail to you

Dear Gold Star,

I hope you don't mind my writing you out of the blue like this. I expect that you remember my nick, since I post at Crossroads fairly often, and you and I have exchanged posts.

There's a new boylover at BoyChat who's feeling pretty scared about the fact that he's attracted to boys. As I was reading his post, I was remembering the story you linked to at Crossroads last month, about a man and a fourteen-year-old boy who fell in love with each other. I didn't read the whole story, so I can't recall the plot, but I was wondering whether you remembered the link so that I could post it to the new boylover. I remember that the story was quite old, and I thought I could point him to it to show him that boylovers have been around for a long time, so he wouldn't be frightened of what he is.

I hope all is well for you and whatever young friends you have in your life right now.

Johnnie (White Rose)

o—o—o

The reply arrived almost immediately.

o—o—o

To: whiterose@anonymail.com
From: goldstar@freespirits.org
Date: February 28, 19:59 PST
Subject: The link you wanted

Dear Johnnie,

(Thanks for honoring me with your name, by the way.) The story you're thinking of is "The Priest and the Acolyte," which was written in 1894 by John Francis Bloxam. I'm not sure whether it's the best story for the purpose you mention, but feel free to give the new boylover the link. (I've pasted the link below.) It's certainly an interesting story from a historical point of view. It was written by one of the authors of the English "Uranian" movement, a loose association of authors and artists who celebrated their love of boys.

> I hope you don't mind my writing you out of the blue like this.

Jesus, no need to apologize; I was planning to write to you myself. I've really been liking your posts at Crossroads, especially the one you wrote about how boylovers and anti-BL people have more in common than they often think.

The other members of the Crossroads Committee have liked your posts too, and we were wondering whether you had the time and inclination to join our committee and become a moderator of Crossroads.

We lost a lot of moderators last year, partly as a result of too many flame wars and partly as a result of fights over whether the committee was too unbalanced. We always have a harder time getting non-peds to join us than we do getting boylovers and girl-lovers to join us. (We haven't had any peds from the sexual recovery community join us yet; we hope that will happen one of these days.)

At the moment, three of us are moderating Crossroads, and we have to struggle to keep the board monitored at all times. All of us try to help out on the weekends, but the weekday moderating is a "shift" affair. Conscientious Objector (who lives in Europe) covers the board from three a.m. to noon EST, while Pedo-Hag covers the afternoon hours. I'm online from six p.m. to eleven p.m. Pacific Time (that's ten p.m. to three a.m. for you East Coasters). Unfortunately, I can't cover the earlier evening hours because I have a class Mondays through Thursdays at that time.

I've noticed that you tend to be online in the early evening, till around the time that I show up. Would you like to join us? All that the job requires is the skin of an elephant to withstand all the cries of outrage when you edit or delete a post. Fortunately, our rules are quite simple and confined to security matters (such as not letting participants out each other).

I suppose I ought to add that you'll be expected to keep private whatever confidential information you run across as a moderator. I'm the only one on the committee who has access to IP addresses, the code that gives the approximate location of the poster's computer. (I only need to look up this information if big security problems arise.) But you'll be able to see other delicate information, such as previous versions of edited and deleted posts, so we'll have to ask you to remain quiet about what you see. If this is a condition you couldn't live with, just let us know.

I hope you'll join us. It's not just because of our overwork that we're asking you to join us, you know, but because of your effort to understand other points of view and to learn from them, which is the sort of spirit we're trying to foster at our board. We don't want non-stop flame wars.

Yours,
Gold Star


To: goldstar@freespirits.org
From: whiterose@anonymail.com
Date: February 28, 23:10 EST
Subject: Gods, yes!

Dear Gold Star,

Gods, I'm flattered. I mean, I've only been posting at the boylove boards for two months. Are you sure you haven't mistaken me for someone who is actually experienced at this sort of thing?

It's past my bedtime, so I'll write more in the morning. Let me just say that of course I understand your security concerns and will keep private anything I see as a committee member. I don't see that it would be an ethical problem, any more than you would have an ethical problem keeping my first name private.

It's awfully nice to hear from you tonight. I've been feeling lonely—

o—o—o

He stopped, backspaced, and tried again.

o—o—o

I've been feeling the need to talk to someone, because I had something nice happen to me tonight: I was able to help out a co-worker who was in distress, and I was also able to chat a bit with her son. It's really such a small incident that it doesn't seem as though it's worth posting about it at BoyChat, but maybe you don't mind my mentioning it here. Also, being able to help my co-worker meant as much to me as talking to the boy, and I don't think that's something everyone at BoyChat would understand, but I think you would. At least, I sense that from your posts.

I'll talk to you tomorrow (cyberspacedly speaking).

Yours truly,
Johnnie

o—o—o

The milk had cooled far too much by the time he poured it into a cup, but he added the cocoa anyway, sipping on the drink as he walked over to the window. The late evening crowd had begun to gather. Since it was a weeknight, the queue was confined mainly to older men and women, some of them looking as though they were long-married couples. Johnnie watched one couple – a grey-haired man and woman – buy tickets and disappear into the theater. Then he swallowed the remainder of the cocoa and returned to the kitchen table.

It took only a few minutes for him to wash his dishes and place them on the drying rack. The cardboard carton went into the trash, and he wiped the counter clean with a sponge. He checked that his briefcase was ready for the next day, and then he disappeared into the bathroom.

He emerged wearing pajamas striped like a blue candy cane. He was about to shut off the lights when he remembered the laptop. He walked over and switched it off. His eye, idly straying, caught sight of the magazine, which had fallen on the floor. He stooped to pick it up, and as he did so, his gaze ran mechanically over one of the paragraphs before him.

"Most pedophiles lead quite ordinary lives," says FBI agent Darren Franklin, who hunts down online predators who visit forums designed for conversation about molesting children. "If you met them, you'd be surprised by how normal they seem. Only when you've seen what they do to kids do you realize how dangerous these people are."

He left the magazine lying on the desk and made his way to his bed. The sheets were cold. For a long time he lay awake, staring at the ceiling.

o—o—o


Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Posted at BoyChat by True Boylover on Thursday, March 1, at 8:42 AM

I can't thank you guys enough for all of the responses I received. Thanks to you I now know what I only suspected before, which is that I can keep myself from hurting any of the kids in my town. (By the way, Brick, I'll try to remember the security tips you e-mailed me. It's just hard to remember them when I'm posting, because I'm so excited to be here.)

I've never met such a wonderful group of people in my life. Thanks to you I'll always be a

True Boylover