Beyond Pride #2: Candles in the Dark
When I was about ten years old, I had my bedroom in the basement of our house. That room may not fit with the image that the term ‘basement’ typically conjures to mind. This was no austere storage room or dreary storm cellar. Instead, the place was comfortably finished: carpet on the floor, paint on the walls. It had electricity. There was a large closet under the stairs. It was a fantastic place to spend time and play. What I remember best, though, is none of those perks. No, what impacted me most was that when the lights went out the room descended into a darkness so total that it was nothing but unbroken black.
As I’ve grown older, my fear of darkness has mitigated. As a boy I wasn’t so brave. I didn’t sleep in that inky seclusion, and a tiny nightlight wasn’t enough. Instead, I opted to leave the closet light on. It threw back the shadows and provided a pool of glowing warmth that I clung to.
I desperately didn’t want to be alone in that total darkness. Mostly this was because in the dark you can never be truly certain you are alone. The imagination becomes a terror as every creaky board and thumping footfall becomes a monster lurking beyond sight. In the dark, you can know that your friends are not huddled next to you, but you can never be certain that your enemies aren’t creeping closer.
This is the best analogy I know to explain what it’s like growing up attracted to minors. It’s waiting in the darkness, terrified and alone. It’s being afraid to call out for help because all that might do is alert the waiting monsters to your existence. It’s knowing that questing out for help might be the exact wrong choice because instead of aid you might find someone willing to destroy you.
In light of that the question bears repeating: Why on Earth would I come out to the public?
The answer is simple: I’m ready to bathe this horror in light.
The first time I shared my struggle with a friend, I was absolutely terrified. Would he hate me for what I wanted, or would he recognize that these were desires I didn’t want to act on? I remember stumbling through, not even sure how to talk about it. Much to my surprise and relief, he didn’t walk away or condemn me or tell my secret to others. Instead, he became the first in a long chain of people who would become a light into that basement.
Having people to share my burdens not only made the journey easier, it also kept me in line. Every single friend who helped me shoulder the load became yet another flare of light, a candle standing against the darkness. As the number of those candles grew that darkness retreated, and the evil it inspired slowly began to shrink. The fears that ruled my life began to shrivel up and die. The lie that no one could love me vanished in the glaring intensity of truth.
That’s why I’m here, confessing my struggles to the world. We don’t know how many people struggle with attraction to minors, but if that number is even 1%, (a number which would place it in line with asexuality) then it means there are almost four million men and boys in the US who are waiting in that same darkness. How many of them won’t find the courage to share their trials?
I’m here because it is essential that we create a society that can see the difference between desire and action. As long as we equate the two—particularly on this issue—those who want to seek help won’t. They’ll fear condemnation, and that silence could well lead them to failure where support could have spared them.
I’m here because I believe it is important for non-offending minor-attracted people to know that they are loved and appreciated. Struggling silently against one of the purest evils alone in the dark is the most soul-draining, heart-wrenching, self-hating quest anyone has ever trod. Trust me, I know.
Most of this is because we know the world at large wouldn’t acknowledge our victories, only our potential for failure. Denigrating and dismissing people who are striving to do the right thing is counter-productive and unhelpful. You can’t inspire success with a hatred for trying. Instead, we must generate celebration for victory. This is important since a minor-attracted person succeeding in the fight against his desires is, truly, a win for all of us as. It means one more child protected.
That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m fighting. It’s time to gather our small flickering candles and turn them into a raging wildfire ready to burn away the darkness.
If you want to share anything with me (whether that manifests as questions, comments, or even angry rantings), my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.