A stage, not an age, underpins BL desire


Heretic TOC is delighted to present a guest blog today by Edmund, author of the BL novel Alexander’s Choice, set at Eton College and somewhat improbably hailed in the Daily Mail as “the Etonian version of Fifty Shades Of Grey”. The book was being “feverishly read by as many Etonians, past and present, as can get their hands on it”, enthused columnist Richard Kay. And who better to write about hot lust and love between man and boy at Britain’s fabled hothouse for future leaders than an Old Etonian such as Edmund himself? More relevant today, though, as will be seen below, is another observation I once made about the author: “I think he must … be some sort of time traveller, a former citizen of ancient Athens, judging by his amazing evocation of pederasty’s golden age and the ideals of pedogogic eros and mentorship.” Edmund now has his own fledgling website, hatched only a few days ago and in a very preliminary stage of development, called Greek Love Through the Ages.


On the lowering of the usual age at which boys have attracted men

A few years ago, when I wrote a novel about a love affair between a fourteen-year-old boy and a young schoolmaster, I was already aware from long study of ancient Greece, the best-known pederastic culture ever, that my protagonist was a little below the average age of boys to which Greek men were attracted.  However, it was only through extensive correspondence resulting from my novel that it was first impressed on me that most men today identifying themselves as boy-lovers are more attracted to younger boys.  Put together, this suggested a serious discrepancy between Greek and modern preferences. This both surprised me and struck me as having important implications, so I have done some investigation which I am now reporting.

I firmly believe that attraction to boys is a natural impulse which has survived millions of years of evolution because of its benefits to the species. The evidence for this was best summed up by Bruce Rind in his Hebephilia as a Mental Disorder? (2011), showing that pederasty has been so widely practised not only throughout recorded human history, but also by other primates, as to indicate that it is an “evolutionary heritage” for which “most mature males have a capacity” (pp. 20-1). Moreover, one indication of its evolutionary function is “that mature male erotic interest in boys, when expressed, is generally coordinated with the ages at which mentorship and enculturation are most useful and efficiently effected, from peripubescence through mid-adolescence” (p. 24).  But how can it be thus co-ordinated if boy-lovers today are drawn to significantly younger boys than were the Greeks?

Much the strongest evidence for the age of boys with whom men chose to become sexually involved in any era comes from Renaissance Florence, thanks to Michael Rocke’s exhaustive study of the copious records of the Office of the Night Watch set up to police pederasty there.  In Statistical Table B.2 of his book Forbidden Friendships (1996), he gives the “ages of partners in the passive role, 1478-1502” in 475 cases recorded by the Office of the Night.  They range from six to twenty-six, but 90% (428) were aged twelve to nineteen, while only 16 were under twelve, and only 31 were aged twenty or more.  At 82 cases, sixteen was the peak as well as the mean.  A smaller sample of 58 passive partners whose ages were found in a tax record of 1480 yielded a mean age of fifteen.

The best evidence for the youngest age at which Greek boys receive amorous attention is poem 205 of Straton of Sardis’s Musa Puerilis:

My neighbour’s quite tender young boy provokes me not a little, and laughs in no novice manner to show me that he is willing. But he is not more than twelve years old. Now the unripe grapes are unguarded; when he ripens there will be watchmen and stakes.

This implies that at twelve or a little less, a boy had not quite reached the expected age.   In his poem 4, Straton says he delights in the prime of a boy in his twelfth year (ie. aged eleven).  I believe this is the sole reference in Greek literature to boys under twelve being sexually attractive.  Plutarch, in his Life of Lycurgus, says that Spartan boys “were introduced to the society of lovers” at twelve.

Straton considered seventeen beyond bounds and there are copious references in Greek literature to boys losing their desirability with the appearance of body and facial hair.  However, an eighteen year-old could still be referred to as a pais (boy) in an amorous context and fully-grown but still unbearded youths are commonly depicted as men’s beloveds on vases.  Aristotle says beard growth occurs some time before twenty-one (History of Animals 582a).

According to P. G. Schalow, translator into English of Ihara Saikaku’s The Great Mirror of Male Love, the most important source of our knowledge of the pederasty ubiquitous in Japan for a thousand years, the age of the passive partners usually corresponded to the age of the wakashu (adolescent boy), defined by hair-shaving ceremonies performed at the ages of eleven or twelve and eighteen or nineteen.

Khaled El-Rouayheb in his Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World 1500-1800, also describing a society where men’s attraction to boys was taken for granted, quotes the opinions of numerous primary sources on the age of boys’ attractiveness. He concludes that the range was wide, at seven or eight to twenty, but “that the boy’s attractiveness was usually supposed to peak around halfway through, at fourteen or fifteen.”

To determine the ages to which today’s self-identified boy-lovers are attracted, I consulted two of their forums. In a poll held this year on one called boymoment, seventy-six voters replied to the question “What ages do you like?” 8% opted for under eight, 81% for eight to fifteen and 10% for 16+.  The ages brackets of 10-11 and 12-13 were most popular and virtually equal choices, confirming what an old hand there told me that the many polls of this sort conducted in the past had consistently shown 11-12 as the most preferred age, in other words towards the end of Tanner stage two of pubescence.  A poll of 88 voters on a forum called boylandonline ongoing since 2011 showed 10, 11 and 12 as the roughly equal most popular choices.

Based on the foregoing, I think it is fair to postulate twelve to nineteen as the typical age range of boys to whom men were attracted historically, with fifteen the likely average and peak, and eight to fifteen as the age most online boy-lovers are now attracted to, with eleven to twelve the average and most liked.  How can one explain the discrepancy of three or four years?  Here follow three hypotheses in order of importance.


Watch a film with boys from the 1930s and look up the actors’ ages. Those who look like today’s 13-year-olds with voices that have not begun to break are more likely to have been 16. The handsome Jürgen Ohlsen in the Nazi propaganda film Hitlerjunge Quex (1933) is a good example of one presumably chosen partly for his pederastic appeal, since the Nazis were not averse to exploiting such imagery.  It has happened again and again that the 14-year-old I thought I was looking at in a Victorian photo turned out to be 18.  Necessarily subjective judgements of this sort are useful as expressions of visual response to a substantial drop in the age of puberty that has been going on for well over a century.  Abundant but complicated evidence and supporting anecdotes have already been discussed in Tom’s blog of 25 September 2014, so I shall only point out the one I think best for accurate comparison over a very long period.  The voices of Bach’s choirboys in the years 1727-48 began breaking on average at 17.25, whereas those of London schoolboys in 1959 did so at 13.25 (studies cited in Politics and Life Sciences 20 (1) p.48).

This has far-reaching implications.  For example, the debate on whether historical individuals like Oscar Wilde were pederasts or gay should end.  Seen in the light of the age at which Victorians started looking like men, Wilde, with his lovers’ age range of 14-21, was unambiguously a pederast in the Greek tradition he claimed.


Sexuality is heavily influenced by culture.  I cannot see how else it is possible to explain the wild variations in degree of sexual interest in boys implied by cultures like Renaissance Florence where Rocke found (p. 115) “at least two of every three men were incriminated” over it despite religious denunciation, state persecution and the provision of women in brothels to lure them away.  The antagonism of the Florentine state failed mostly because the culture of pederasty was too strong.  By contrast, fierce opposition to sex between children and anyone significantly older pervades the entire culture of the Anglophone countries and, to some extent,  most countries. It follows then that in a culture such as today’s that is deeply antagonistic to pederasty only those innately least capable of attraction to adults will become boy-lovers, the others either shunning boys in favour of adults or never awakening to their latent capacity for attraction to boys. Tom has said in one of his blogs that hebephiles are far more likely than paedophiles to be capable of attraction to adults. This is bound to cause under-representation of potential hebephiles in boy-love forums.

Also, in several populous countries the age of consent is fourteen, and in most it is no more than sixteen, which must have the effect of disincentivising some men attracted most to boys of fourteen or more from participating in forums defined by longings for the forbidden.


Much of what is considered sex today was ignored as insignificant by pre-modern societies. Greek men sought intercrural or anal intercourse with boys, and not, as far we know, to be masturbated. Japanese men sought anal intercourse.  Masturbation only interested Florence’s Office of the Night if done with a view to seducing a boy into being sodomized.  If, as has been frequently asserted on this blog, paedophiles are much less inclined to penetrative acts than hebephiles, then more of them will have passed under the radar in pre-modern societies, while being represented in the boy-forum statistics.  However, this is only a minor point.  Excluding masturbation may have raised the mean age of the boys in the Florentine records, but cannot explain why Florentine men preferred to sodomise 15-16 year-olds rather than 14-year-olds.



In conclusion, I suggest it has been shown that if one were to allow that the age of attraction expressed by online boy-lovers has been skewed a little downwards by my second and third hypotheses, men today can be said to be responsive to roughly the same state of physical development in boys that they always have been, in harmony with their evolutionary heritage.  That the age at which this development is attained has gone down is at the heart of the modern boy-lover’s unhappy predicament.


After the Ball and After the Fall


The impossible just happened. The “unelectable” socialist Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour Party in the UK by a thumping majority, making him potentially the next prime minister. This earthquake was entirely unforeseen by the know-alls of political punditry, just as the equally improbable rise of Bernie Sanders in the US, another incorrigible old leftie, has amazed and baffled the American political establishment, not least Democratic front-runner (until now!) Hillary Clinton.

Be realistic: demand the impossible! So ran a famous slogan of the 1968 Paris uprising, and now that the impossible is indeed suddenly seeming quite realistic, it may be time to examine a radical plan recently put forward by a commentator here. Responding to Lensman’s blog on consent last month, Observer (“not minor-attracted, but hate the way you are treated”) introduced a plan he said could bring about positive change “in a few decades”, comparable to that achieved by the gay movement.

And what a plan! This is no mere sketchy outline of a few bullet points but a full-blown, detailed, 15,000-word exposition of what must be done and how to do it, set out in After the Fall: A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying Pedophobia in the 21st Century. This anonymous piece (Observer’s own?) asks how the gay movement managed to advance so far so quickly, and answers by referring to a game plan co-written by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen entitled After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90s. The style of After the Fall, and no doubt After the Ball too, is very professional, as though the writer has a background in advertising or public relations. We hear about geeky concepts such as Availability Cascades, and we can be sure it’s more than just clever-sounding BS because the gay movement has been stunningly successful using the concepts and techniques described.

Just a brief, jargon-free glance at some of these tactics, though, will suffice to make it obvious what was going on and why it worked. Perhaps the most important idea, though it long preceded After the Ball, was to take control of the language: people attracted to their own sex are “gay” (friendly, light-hearted, unthreatening) rather than “homosexual” (medical condition to be cured) or “perverted” (depraved evil-doers). As for who gays are, you go for prestige figures: famous kings, writers, etc., are claimed as gay even when the claim is a bit dodgy: Shakespeare, for instance. The point is not biographical accuracy but the kudos of being associated with the “world’s greatest playwright”.  And what gays do is emphatically not anal sex, with all its unfortunately messy implications. Sex is played down. The “message” is about love and relationships.

Numerous such tactics are adapted in After the Fall for application in a paedophilic context – oops, sorry, make that a kind context: homos are gay; paedos are kind.  But how much, really, is genuinely adaptable? One new idea, available only right now, in the digital age, looks exciting: anonymous donations using bitcoins in order to achieve a serious level of funding for slick, highly professional advertising campaigns, not just via videos on YouTube but billboards and a mainstream media presence. Unrealistic? Not necessarily.

The biggest single defect in the plan, though, is its lack of a historical perspective. The Kirk and Madsen game plan set out in After the Ball was published in 1989 and was spectacularly successful within a couple of decades. But this was merely the endgame. What a study tightly focused on this phase ignores is that the gay struggle began much earlier, before even the travails and trials of Oscar Wilde, towards the end of the previous century. Thomas Cannon published what is said to have been the first defence of homosexuality in English as long ago as 1749, more than a hundred years before the word itself made its way into the medical literature. Jeremy Bentham, advanced the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around 1785. Paedophilia these days is arguably at the same historical point as homosexuality was in the 18th century, when you could be hanged for buggery.

In those days it would have been suicidal to come out as a “bugger” or a “sodomite”, or even as a “pederast”, a word which could at least be said to evoke the cultured ethos of Socratic Athens. But coming out, and facing similarly extreme perils to those living two centuries ago, is precisely what After the Fall prescribes as a tactic for kind people. Indeed, it is claimed as essential: many other aspects of the overall strategy depend upon it, such as having presentable, media-friendly spokesfolk.

Regular Heretic TOC readers will not need reminding that we had an extensive discussion of this coming out theme very recently, and I do not propose to reprise it, except to say that I broadly agree with those, such as Edmund and Josh, who feel coming out in present circumstances – or at least urging others to do so – veers towards the irresponsible. After the Fall recommends the use of direct action, taking protest militantly onto the streets, just as the gays have done, to demonstrate strength by being “loud and proud”. All this would achieve at present is to demonstrate our weakness, not our strength. The numbers we could draw upon, and the support from others in alliance with us, would be pathetic. We would be crushed and seen to be crushed. Already perceived as a bunch of losers, we would merely prove the point.

This is not to say there should be no coming out. As Dissident pointed out, the recent Czech documentary Daniel’s World, was about a young man’s coming out that did not wreck his life: as with so much else, it’s not necessarily what you do but when, where and how you do it. Another example, albeit from the more propitiously radical 1970s, is that of “Roger”. I’ll stick with the first name as he may well have gone back in the closet by now, in these more difficult times. He was not shy about being a boy lover in those days, and he came across as a rounded, grounded figure who did good work for a number of radical causes. So when he spoke up for children’s rights as well, he had real credibility.

After the Fall, however, is a fundamentally flawed plan. But that does not mean it is entirely without merit. One of its strongest aspects is identifying issues slightly at a tangent to hard-to-sell paedophilia, but which aim to address people’s feelings rather than their opinions. All successful advocates know that if you can tap into an emotional response, opinions will follow: the heart follows the head, not the other way around. Rational arguments fall on deaf ears unless there is some deeper connection to what we feel. The plan identifies our cultural heritage of sexual shame and guilt, expressed through obsessive body covering, as all-important. In the age of internet porn there is a tendency to think we are all (well, the guys among us at least) totally cool about seeing genitals and sexual action. But the collective feeling that porn is not OK finds revealingly vehement expression in the view that such things are absolutely not to be seen by kids.

After the Fall sees the encouragement of naturism as a great way to counteract such feelings: “Normalization of the genitalia (aka naturism) and sex-positivity are inextricably linked. We think penises and vaginas are weird because we don’t see them enough in normal settings, on normal people…. Once we begin to see them as normal parts of the body, we will naturally ask why we feel children cannot give others permission to touch there and nowhere else.”

As the plan astutely perceives, this approach is capable of promoting nudity in safely non-sexual ways: naturism can be about enjoying the sunshine and a sense of bodily freedom. It is about doing all sorts of ordinary things with no clothes on, and not just – or perhaps not at all – about sex. And naturism is very much for kids as well as grown-ups. Continental Europe already has a great naturist tradition that goes unacknowledged in After the Fall, which is very oriented towards addressing American cultural hang-ups. But the message needs vigorous reinforcement and development globally, including in Europe. Note that all of us except those who have unwisely come out, are well placed both to enjoy naturism ourselves and safely propagandise for it.

The other really good part of After the Fall is about the language we should use, especially the kind word. Let’s go for it, starting right now. I already did, actually, when I was interviewed by mad, man-hating lesbian feminist extremist Julie Bindel earlier this year, an improbable encounter I mentioned in passing in a comment here a couple of months back. She had asked if she could interview me for the Sunday Times. I emailed back saying she was the last person on earth I would want to be interviewed by. But like the scary heavy dyke she is, she wasn’t too troubled by my lack of consent: she just kept on harassing me until I gave in!

I tell a lie. Although there is no shifting her crazy anti-male prejudice, she did at least quote me fairly and accurately, as well as being surprisingly good company over dinner. Her piece was not, alas, accepted by the Sunday Times, but it has now turned up in the September issue of the right-wing cultural and political periodical Standpoint.  Anyway, here is what she quoted from me:

“I would have quite liked [to be labelled as] ‘kindly’ because ‘kindly’ . . . relates to the Dutch and German kinder — children. So yes, being intimate, but also being nice with it. I would say that if someone had sexual relations which were in the realm of what I called earlier the ‘kindly’ sort then that would not be abusive. Although these days one has to be careful because anything you do, no matter how kindly it is, it’s always subject to trauma later on — secondary trauma as a result of society’s hysteria over the whole thing.”

So, I like kindly. But kind is better, I must admit: a very straightforward monosyllable, easily seen as analogous with gay.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of language, the author of After the Fall would surely chide me for calling this blog Heretic TOC. Whereas he wisely emphasises going with the grain, where possible, identifying with majority sentiments rather than setting oneself against them, being labelled a heretic could hardly be more counterproductive. Sure, it draws fellow heretics here, so we can talk among ourselves, but arguably this language defines us as outcasts and bad guys. It’s a bit off message.

But then again, so are Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. They have been saying the same “wrong things” for decades, sticking to their principles and fighting for what they believe rather than slavishly following the opinion polls and focus groups. And now, suddenly and unexpectedly, they find they are being respected for it. They are seen as authentic.

I wouldn’t mind a bit of that sort of reputation, even if it is only for me to be judged authentically odd, as seems likely! So, it may not be in the After the Fall plan, but I don’t think I’ll be changing the name of Heretic TOC anytime soon!



I had a very welcome email yesterday from James Gillespie of the Sunday Times, letting me know he intends to use some information I gave him after he approached me last month in connection with the so-called Westminster VIP paedophilia scandal.

Gillespie has long been sceptical of the crazy murder claims made by “Nick” and “Darren” via Exaggero (sorry, Exaro) News, and nonsense about Edward Heath and others mentioned in Heretic TOC last time. I have seen several of his excellent reports.

And now he has sent me a PDF of his latest, which informs us that the police have at last admitted they no longer believe “Darren’s” claim that my friend the late Peter Righton was a murderer. Their investigation has accordingly been dropped [“Police drop ‘VIP sex murder ring’ inquiry”, James Gillespie, Sunday Times, 13 September 2015]. Gillespie’s report is behind a paywall online, but his story was picked up by the Daily Mail. The first big breakthrough against these dodgy Exaggero witnesses was also in the Mail recently. This was a front-page lead saying the VIP scandal shows signs of “unravelling”, with the police finally getting cold feet over the lack of evidence to back up the claims of star fantasist “Nick”.

Sanity at last!



Another email, received a couple of days ago from Robin Sharpe’s daughter Katherine.

“I’m glad you are posting something on your blog,” she wrote, “That would make him happy. Thank you for doing that.”

In a tribute to her father, whose death was recently reported here (under “Sad news from Canada”), she says that as a child he instilled in her a love of camping, nature, architecture and art. As an adult, though, she had unsurprisingly found it difficult to deal with the high profile controversy he generated, or the “fallout”, as she calls it.

“Maintaining a relationship with my dad has been an exercise in compartmentalisation I would say. You box up and set aside what you cannot agree on, and try to work out the rest.”

Sounds very sensible; and I’d say she seems to have done a pretty good job.

Angus Stewart, inspiration of a generation


Get to Edinburgh this week if at all possible, where Angus Stewart’s Sandel, “a notorious novel about underage gay sex”, as Gay Times puts it, “has been dramatised in a production playing at the city’s Festival Fringe until 24 August.

The particular interest for heretics here is that the notoriety is about paedophilia rather than a relationship between two minors: both of the lovers depicted are teenagers, to be sure, but one is 19 and the other 13. The older partner, being over 18, is defined as an adult in English law, and his boyfriend is more than five years younger, an age gap large enough to warrant a psychiatric diagnosis of paedophilia in an older partner who is over 16.

We can call things what we want, of course: we can speak of minor attraction, intergenerational sexual relations, Greek love and so forth: there is nothing sacrosanct about legal and medical constructions, far from it: indeed there is much in them to take issue with. If I draw attention to the rhetoric, it is to note that this is a play that presents an unusually positive view of the relationship in question, so the producer and everyone concerned with its promotion in the present climate are presumably rather keen not to frighten the horses: the dread P word must not be mentioned. This is sensible, no doubt, and politically astute, although personally I find myself wishing people would call a spade a spade. Otherwise, the P word will only ever be associated with “abuse”, and that needs to change.

But back to Sandel, a play written and directed by Glenn Chandler, a gay TV drama producer who created the detective series Taggart, which became the longest-running TV detective series in the world. In other words Chandler is a major player in his business, and his involvement in this production will surely create a buzz. For the 13-year-old, Chandler has cast 17-year-old Tom Cawte, who is only five feet tall and said to look “much younger than his real age”. Presumably, putting an actual 13-year-old into this role was considered too controversial. Choosing an older teenager who would truly look the part was thus a challenge. In an interview with Scotsgay, Chandler said there was another one too:

“How could I cast someone able to play the eponymous hero, Antony Sandel, a choirboy outwardly innocent and pure but with a cunning, Macchievellian streak who manipulates the older youth into a relationship neither of them can get out of?”

With Cawte, he thinks he has succeeded. It will be interesting to see whether the reviewers agree, along with any heretics here who are able to see for themselves. For those who cannot, though, there is another treat: Sandel the novel, which has been out of print for decades, has been republished this month by Pilot Productions Ltd (£18.99; Amazon: paperback £9.99, Kindle edition £5.99). According to the blurb at Amazon, “Sandel became formative reading for a generation of boys growing up in the 1970s who knew their feelings fell outside the heterosexual male stereotype. Stephen Fry, a teenager at the time, lists Angus Stewart among those who opened his eyes to his homosexual identity, alongside Oscar Wilde, Gide, Genet, Auden, Orton, Norman Douglas, Ronald Firbank, H. Montgomery Hyde, and Roger Peyrefitte.”

See, here we have it again: a clearly paedophilic book (to my mind at least) presented as a gay one, positioned within a tradition of other literature also labelled gay, even though Douglas and Gide were well known for their active sexual interest in small boys, while Peyrefitte took up with Alain-Philippe Malagnac when the latter was a 12-year-old. The boy had a non-starring role in the film of the writer’ first novel, Les Amitiés particulières (Special Friendships), which depicted a romance between two schoolboys, one considerably older than the other: the younger boy, played in the film by the gorgeous Didier Haudepin, would also have been about 12 at the time of filming and who looked decidedly pre-pubescent on screen.

Admittedly these writers were all “cross-over figures” though. Peyrefitte and Malagnac were an item into the latter’s adulthood, while Douglas and Gide both hung out in gay social circles, in an age when little distinction was made between homosexuality and paedophilia: if they used words for it at all the hostile one would have been sodomy, while pederasty could be used in a neutral way. Both of these terms, significantly, referred to a sexual act rather than an orientation. And the age of the younger “boy” seems to have been very flexible for many:  Douglas and Gide probably thought of a “boy” as aged no more than 10-14 but had older partners too; Wilde is rumoured to have had flings with rent boys as young as 14 but his youngest lover with age documentation (Alphonso Conway) was 16 and Wilde’s preference seems to have been for young men rather than for boy boys, as we might say. But that did not stop him hanging out with André Gide. Bluntly, the pair were sex tourists together in Algeria, where Wilde (though accounts differ) helped break the ice for a hesitant Gide with a boy waiter in a restaurant. Good old Oscar! What a shame that Wilde, so honoured now as a gay martyr, would be martyred all over again if he were alive today – this time not by the British criminal courts but by politically correct gays rushing to denounce his complicity with “child abuse”.

Anyway, if corners of the gay community are now interested in reviving Angus Stewart’s paedophilic writing, good for them, even if they are being rather coy and euphemistic about what they call it: it’s a start. And I must admit it had never occurred to me that the original version of Sandel might have had a genuinely gay readership of those who personally identify with the boy in the relationship rather than the older partner. I had assumed, wrongly, that by the time gay boys are old enough to be interested in sophisticated adult literature they would want to read about relationships between grown men, not stories of first love.

That is a striking failure of imagination on my part, which I suppose derives from the very different way in which I came to the book, not as a gay youth back in 1968 when the novel first appeared but as a young paedophile: at that time I felt this wonderful novel had been written entirely with a reader like me in mind! I was such a fan that I wrote to the publisher, and was delighted to get a friendly letter back from the author himself. After a short correspondence, he kindly invited me over to his abode in the Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire, where he told me he used to divide his year between quiet rural England and an altogether livelier scene in Morocco, where he would always have at least one young boy living with him. Just like Wilde with Gide, he took me under his wing, encouraged me to forget my hang-ups and inhibitions with boys, and let my hair down. He was not so crude as to say or imply or even think that all the boys in Morocco are “up for it”, but he did persuade me, based not least on visual, photographic, evidence of his own experience, that many boys, certainly in that culture, were indeed open to intimate friendship with a man.  This was a revelation to me: a liberating experience that changed my life.

Angus is no longer with us, alas, having died a good many years ago, which at least means I can speak freely – although it appears he all but outed himself (albeit under the pen name John Davis) when he wrote what was stated to be a factual account of his real relationship with the boy “Tony” which appeared as part of a book published in 1961, seven years before Sandel. This was Underdogs: Eighteen victims of society, edited and introduced by Philip Toynbee, himself a substantial public intellectual of his day. Incidentally, another measure of the quiet support that Angus, son of an Oxford University professor, managed to garner in the literary world, is that when he published a book of his very lightweight “satirical” verse – mere doggerel, really, in my view – it came with a foreword by W.H. Auden, no less, widely considered amongst the greatest poets of the 20th century as well as one of the most famous gay figures of his era.

There is a Wikipedia entry on Angus Stewart, and quite a lot more information about him is to be found at the magnificently eclectic and eccentric website of gay American historian Prof. William Armstrong Percy III – who gave a very glowing review of my book Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons, so he has to be a great guy, right? See the excellent notes compiled by Walt Kauffmann on Stewart at Bill Percy’s site.



Toynbee, Philip, ed., (Angus Stewart writing as John Davis, et al.) Underdogs, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1961

Stewart, Angus, Sandel, Hutchinson, London, 1968


Begad, sir, you’re an impostor!


It’s the end of the year again, and what more appropriate time for leisurely reflection over the past twelve months and a look forward to the future?

Well, sorry, but sod that. Heretic TOC has been up to his ears in something far more exciting, and is bursting to tell you about it. Not since Oscar Wilde was accused of “posing as a sodomite” (speaking of sodding it!) over a century ago has anyone been more improbably insulted than I was yesterday. We paedophiles are well used to insults on a daily basis, of course, but not like this one!

The thing about old Oscar is that far from “posing” as a sodomite he actually was one. To the modern ear, at least, the Marquess of Queensberry’s accusation sounds much queerer than its intended target: why accuse someone of “posing”, or pretending, to be a homosexual, when Wilde really was one, and would have been mad in those days to “come out”? The solution to that riddle, as we know, is that Queensbury was accusing Wilde of being an active gay, not of being some sort of impostor.

Bizarrely, though, I was accused yesterday precisely of being an impostor: that very word was used. So why on earth would anyone accuse an out paedophile like myself of such a thing? Who in their right mind would pretend to be a paedophile, thereby guaranteeing themselves pariah status?

Again there’s a riddle: I was accused not of “posing” as a paedophile, nor even of being one, but of an altogether more serious offence in the eyes of a leading figure on the amazing and wonderful Sexnet forum. I was accused – and you must imagine me now uttering this in hushed tones, portending the most shocking and shameful revelation – I was accused of, of…

It’s no good. I can’t even bring myself to say it. It’s not the guilt and shame that’s holding me back, though. It’s more that I cannot quite get my head around what the offence was. Let’s skip that for a moment, then, and turn our attention to the accuser.

This was none other than my old adversary James Cantor, he of the theory that white matter deficiency is implicated in the allegedly “crossed wired” brains of paedophiles (see The dubious analogy of the ‘extra arm’, 14 December).

James, aka Jimmy “the screamer” Cantori, notorious hit person of the Toronto mob, has been squealing like a stuck pig again, this time denouncing me as an “impostor” unless I can “produce an alternative explanation for the handedness findings”.

Uh? See what I mean?

“Impostor” suggests to me the sort of guy who would con his way into practising as a gynaecologist with no more than a plumber’s qualifications – or perhaps some bogus researcher who might fancy a go at putting on a lab coat and conducting experiments at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto, where quite a few Sexnetters (the Toronto mob!) are ensconced. But I was hardly being accused of that kind of thing.

Beyond the bafflement, though, a man knows when, if not why, he is being insulted. Yes, sir, oh yes! Impostor indeed! This clearly called for pistols at dawn. I would have considered handbags instead but that might have given James an undue advantage.

Diabolically, though, just when I was about to shoot off an email throwing down the gauntlet, in steps the moderator. Hold your fire, gentlemen, he insists! No duelling hereabouts, pray!

What set all this hullabaloo in train, you might ask? What spark reignited the dry tinder of our passions? The telling, in truth would be tedious: he said this, I said that, he came back with…

What I tried to do today, though, was something a little more substantial: a lengthy Sexnet missive addressing the handedness issue, and others. If James makes the effort to answer it with more than just defensive shrieking and wild accusations, I’ll let you know. This tittle tattle is fun, but a real advance in the debate would be much more significant, and of far more lasting interest.

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